When the carbon-framed Orbea Alma hit the Texas cross country circuit in 2006, it quickly became THE bike to have. A full year before Julien Absalon devastated the World Cup circuit, racers in the Lone Star state were quick to recognize the advantage of the lightweight, big wheeled bike on courses defined by high speed cornering on loose-over-hardpack singletrack, tons of square edged hits, and countless steep, punchy climbs.
The Alma went fast, looked sweet, and, as carbon went anyway, it was way cheaper than the handful of options coming from boutique builders. Nearly a decade later, carbon wagon wheelers have become lighter and more esoteric, as the racer niche proves willing to shell out top dollar for speed. Meanwhile, once coveted alloy frames have been largely relegated to entry level bikes. As a result, journeyman racers on a budget are often forced to choose between carbon bikes with very un-race worthy components, or the proverbial lipstick on pig: a drivetrain and brakes that can handle a season of hard racing, dangling off a heavy frame with recreational geometry.
With the launch of the new 2015 Alma Hydro, Orbea is now offering a more affordable aluminum frameset that integrates all of the features of the carbon Alma, giving budget minded XC racers – as well as ultracross and adventure riders – a competitive option.