The Alma has always been a very special bike for Orbea. It was their first carbon mountain bike, the first mass production carbon 29er anywhere and it’s been raced successfully at the highest level of competition.
Now, it gets a complete revamp to become lighter, faster and more comfortable. After talking to current owners and other riders to see what they’d improve, the designers went to work. In addition to the changes above, their external cable guides were thankfully on the list, too. (The guides were unique, but ended up being more hassle than necessary and sometimes rubbed the wrong spots. Check our review here).
The result is something that’s instantly recognizable as an Orbea, but is much sleeker and modern…
Much of the visual improvement comes from thinner seatstays and top tube, internal cable routing and subtler tube angles.
It’s a monocoque construction where the entire front triangle is constructed as one with the seatstays. Each chainstay is its own part, making just three pieces to create the whole.
The new tube shapes and layup give it a whopping 211% improvement (claimed) in vertical compliance. On impact, the rider’s weight will cause the seat tube to flex, using the top tube junction as the “pivot” point. That couples with a fair amount of vertical flex from the back of the top tube all the way through the chainstays. Meanwhile, lateral frame stiffness improved by 15%, making pedaling feel more direct.
It sticks with the QR rear axle they said among concerns and desires from customers, lightweight and speedy wheel changes were more important. And it didn’t need extra stiffness. Actually, they say they reduced rear end stiffness during testing different prototypes because things were getting too stiff.
Cable routing uses sealed cable liners throughout, which keeps things clean and smooth, but without the added weight of full length housing. In fact, they say this system saves 50-60 grams versus full length housing.
The result is a claimed 990g frame for small.
The other part of the equation is sizing. The overall dimensions are essentially unchanged from the prior 29er. But, their shorter sponsored riders asked for 650B, so they tested it and liked it. For 2014, the Alma will come with 650B wheels for the Small and Medium (17.5″) frame, and 29er wheels for the Medium, Large and XL. Yes, there’s overlap at the Medium frame size, giving those riders a choice.
The top level build is shown above and gets the new FSA cockpit parts with their Di2 internal battery clip…which is put to use with said power source to fuel the Fox iCD electronic lockout:
Full model run down and spec list should be live on Orbea’s website now.