PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
2020 Orbea Occam
The most 'trail bike' trail bike
Words by Mike Levy, Photography by Trevor Lyden
For 2020, Orbea consolidated several their Occam models into a new 140mm-travel trail bike meant to do all the things pretty well. Remember the more enduro-focused Rallon that we reviewed
a while back? Think of this bike as its lighter weight little bro, with the shorter-travel Occam also using a single-sided strut on the front triangle (but on the right side this time—just because), and the same concentric axle pivot for the rear suspension.
This colourful 28.1lbs test bike is their top-of-the-line M-LTD model that goes for $7,999 USD, but you can get onto an aluminum Occam with the same geometry and suspension kinematics for $2,599 USD. Not enough colour? They offer the Occam in their 'MyO
' custom colour & spec program as well.
Occam M-LTD Details
Intended use: Trail
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: Carbon fiber
Head angle: 65.5-degrees w/ 150mm fork
Chainstay length: 440mm
Reach: 474mm (lrg)
Sizes: Sm, med, lrg (tested), xl
Weight: 28.1lbs / 12.7 kg (as pictured)
Price: $7,999 USD
More info: www.orbea.com
Orbea lets riders configure their Occam with either a 140mm Fox 34 or 36 with 150mm of travel. Can you guess what we chose? The steep and rocky terrain around Whistler and Pemberton saw us go for the bigger fork, but not just for the extra travel; it also relaxes the head angle from 66 to 65.5-degrees (an earlier version of this review incorrectly stated it as 65-degrees
). The M-LTD's price tag gets you the Grip2 damper and a DPX2 shock, as well as a set of fancy carbon wheels from DT Swiss, and an XTR drivetrain with a set of carbon cranks from Race Face to match their carbon handlebar. There's not a lot of room to upgrade on this one.
The Occam uses a concentric axle pivot that works exactly as it sounds: the pivot rotates around the axle. Sound familiar? Trek's ABP and Dave Weagle's Split Pivot (found on Salsa and Devinci bikes) both use a concentric axle pivot, although the similarities end there. Compared to its predecessor, the new Occam sees the leverage ratio changed at the start for improved sensitivity, while anti-squat was bumped up by 7-percent to play nice with wide-range cassettes. Anti-rise was changed, too, dropping to a lower percentage to minimize the rear brake's influence on the suspension. Aaaand let's go riding now. Climbing
While an enduro bike has a narrower focus, a modern trail bike has to give you more than just a fighting chance on all of the climbs, regardless of how steep or technical they might be. Even so, there's a massive difference in how companies approach the challenge. The Occam is just a couple of pounds lighter than other bikes on test, but it feels like more than that on the trail - those carbon hoops sure are nice when you're accelerating out of countless switchbacks up an hour-long technical climb. The Occam is also easier to live with than bikes with longer wheelbases when switchbacks are folding back on themselves and littered with rocks and roots, but it doesn't have anything over the Norco Optic in those moments.
Orbea says they've made this bike's rear-suspension more sensitive, and while we don't have the old Occam here to compare, it does feel supple. That can only help your cause, as can the big ol' Maxxis tire we installed and then only inflated to 21 PSI, and neither Kazimer or myself made any notes about sub-par traction. Those dabs will be all you, I'm afraid.
On the efficiency front, the Occam didn't feel like it was lighting a fire under my ass at any point, but it certainly did its job. It feels like a more efficient Stumpjumper.Descending
Some bikes in our trail bike category made my brain automatically switch into 'drop your buddies' mode, especially as the speeds picked up. The Occam on the other hand has a more traditional trail bike personality that, while more competent than any of its peers from just a season or two ago, isn't quite as surefooted as the slacker "plow-style" bikes when things get rowdy.
Don't get me wrong, with an appropriate reach it ain't exactly a nervous nelly. I mean, it was tied for second in timed testing for me, so it's "lively fast" rather than "stupid fast" on the descents.
If there was a bonus side-hit of any kind, I found myself doing it more on the Occam than any of the three other bikes. While the Optic is a very different kind of trail rig, the two were easily the most entertaining of the bunch.
On the suspension front, Orbea has done well to come up with a useable 140mm that'll work for a lot of different types of riders. The DPX2 shock is ideal for this type of bike, and Orbea includes a large-sized volume spacer to add if you're looking for more progression. We spent time on the bike with the stock setup and didn't have any issues, but the added progression did work well for more aggressive riding as the bike carried more speed over rolling terrain that rewards pumping.
Given that the Occam was the most trail bike-feeling trail bike of the bunch, it's probably a good thing that we decided on the 150mm Fox 36 instead of the 10mm-shorter 34 that would have sped up the handling by a touch. Pemberton and Whistler have more than their fair share of steep and rowdy lines, and it's a place where trail bikes need to be ready for anything.
The reality is that the Occam is probably one of the best trail bikes for most riders and most places. It's capable enough for almost all of us, and I'd choose it over bikes like the Stamina if I weren't taking big chances all the time, or if my main focus was just to cover a lot of ground.