With Orbea’s Rallon situated as their enduro race machine and the Oiz taking on modern XC tracks like a champ, it came time to update their trail bike, the Occam. Previously, Orbea offered the Occam TR, a 29er with 130mm of rear wheel travel and a focus on rollover and pedaling efficiency, and the Occam AM, a 27.5”-wheeler with 20mm more travel including higher maneuverability. However, the engineers also learned that many people only chose the 27.5” Occam over the 29” wheels only because of its extra travel, and not its wheel size.
After two years of playing around with various aluminum prototypes to evaluate geometry, kinematics and stiffness, as well as putting it through the wringer in their own testing facility, Orbea is launching a revamped single version of the Occam for 2020, combining the best of both worlds with 29” wheels, 140mm of travel in the rear paired with either a 140 or 150mm fork, and updated geometry.
Occam M10 Details
• Intended use: trail
• Wheel size: 29"
• Rear wheel travel: 140mm
• Carbon frame
• 66° head angle
• 440mm chainstays
• Frame weight ( w/ shock): 2,720 grams
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Sizes: S-XL
• Lifetime frame warranty
• Price: $3,999 - $7,999 USD
• Colors: sky blue/orange, mouse grey/metallic graphite, custom
Running a factory in Mallabia, Basque Country for their high-end models and one in Portugal, Orbea has their research & development departments as well as quality control, testing, painting and bike building facilities located in-house, allowing them to closely focus on most steps of their production process. This also gives them the ability to offer an elaborate custom-paint program for many of their models, for no extra cost, but more to that later.Frame Details
A complete redesign, the Occam features Orbea’s high-end monocoque OMR (Orbea Monocoque Race) carbon technology, blending high modulus fibers and high strength fibers for an optimized weight to strength ratio and bringing the frame weight down to only 2,300 grams for a size medium without shock, according to Orbea. Orbea’s carbon and aluminum frames feature a lifetime warranty, if not abused.
Orbea's designers reduced weight and simplified the entire construction compared to previous models by implementing a tool-free bearing replacement system. The axle simply holds the rear end together and it is easy to remove the Enduro MAX bearings or to swap the derailleur hanger. It's a nice feature that makes it possible to quickly replace a hanger out in the wild, assuming you're carrying a spare.
The shock link is mounted to a massive axle in a similar way to the splined connection of a crank arm. According to Orbea’s findings, they were able to tune stiffness in a specific way, which would not have been possible with carbon. A special tool, which also acts as a sag meter, is required to fix or loosen the bolted connection.
The asymmetric structure with an additional stay between the shock link and down tube strengthens a high-stress area and neutralizes suspension forces to the frame. There is still room for a water bottle, which was made possible by pushing the water bottle mounts off center by 10mm. Orbea chose the bottle to be accessed via the left-hand side so you can use your right hand to modulate speed with the rear brake if necessary (that is, unless you run your brakes the other way around).
Suspension dynamics have also been altered compared to its predecessor. With the old setup, Orbea noticed that stiction could end up between ten to 20 percent higher at low pressures with a lower leverage ratio. In order to achieve higher sensitivity, the leverage ratio was changed from starting at 2.66 : 1 moving towards 2.85 throughout the travel, to a starting point of 3.14 : 1 heading towards 2.4 on the Occam 2020.
Also, anti-squat was increased by 7% to better match a cassette with 50 or 51 teeth, with anti-rise shifting to a significantly lower percentage, trying to minimize brake influence on the suspension.
Orbea has picked the Fox DPX2 model as a match for the new Occam and spent a considerable amount of time testing with Fox on various compression and rebound solutions. The DPX2 will be equipped with a 0.2 cubic inch volume spacer inside and will be shipped with an extra 0.4" spacer if you want a higher progression. You can remove all volume spacers from the 210 x 50mm metric rear shock, effectively giving you three setup options to play with. Of course, bigger spacers are also available aftermarket.
Completing the feature list is a threaded bottom bracket, frame protector at the lower part of the down tube, an almost full-wrap chainstay protector with raised ribs for keeping the noise from chain-slap down, full internal cable routing, PM180 rear brake mounts, and durable Enduro LLU MAX bearings.
Apart from the flagship carbon frames, the new Occam is also available in an aluminum version. Thanks to the combination of hydro alloy and polished welds, the aluminum version looks remarkably similar to its carbon counterpart. A nice side-effect of the expensive high polished treatment is a claimed better fatigue life of the frames.Geometry
Four sizes (S, M, L, XL) are intended to cover body sizes between 150-160cm (S) all the way up to 180-198cm (XL).
Compared to the previous Occam, the head angle for the spec with 140mm fork changed from 67.5 to 66-degrees, while the seat angle jumped from 74 to 77-degrees of steep goodness. On a size M frame, reach grew from 431 to 450mm, with a lower standover height moving from 743mm down to 736 mm. To center the rider a bit more, chainstays grew to 440mm, instead of 435mm.
Running the bike with the optional 150mm travel fork slackens the head and seat angle by half a degree. Orbea is using the shorter 44mm offset on the 29er fork. With a shorter seat tube throughout all frame sizes, all models now come equipped with a 150mm dropper post, with the option to upgrade to a 170mm version.Specifications
Four carbon models are available. The Occam M30 (with an SLX/XT mix) and M30 Eagle (with NX Eagle group) start at $3,999 (€3,799), the M10 with full XT 12-speed and Fox 34 Factory goes for $5,499 (€4,999) and the Occam M-LTD featuring full XTR, carbon wheels and a Fox 36 Factory costs $7,999 (€7,599). The M-LTD supposedly comes to a complete weight of only 26 pounds (11.8 kg) without pedals.
While those are pretty competitive prices, the aluminum versions will get you into the game starting at $2,599 (€2,299) for the H30, with Marzocchi’s Z2 and dropper post. The H20 with Fox 34 and an SLX/XT-mix or H20 Eagle with SRAM’s 12-speed NX group both come in at $2,999 (€2,799). The top model with full XT group comes to $3,499 (€ 3,299).MyO
There are two stock color options each for the carbon and aluminum models to choose from. One of those versions for the carbon model (next to a mouse-grey one) is an homage to the era of the light blue and orange Gulf Porsche 917, which is to die for.
However, all models are also available for customization with the MyO program. That includes a custom paint job with a choice of 22 primary and 22 secondary frame colors as well as mixing it up with decal and detail colors with optional custom text for no extra cost.
On top of that, there are options or upgrades available for certain components like tires, wheels, saddles, seatposts, stems, brakes or even shock and fork. For instance, if you wanted to upgrade from a Fox FIT4 34 to a 36 with GRIP2 damping system and 10mm of extra travel, the final price would go up by $185 (€149).
Orbea works with a dealer network in the US and most European countries, as well as importers throughout the rest of the European countries, South America, Asia and Oceania. You can buy your Orbea bike either online or at one of the dealers for the same price, with the option to click and collect, making your own design and choosing your components and then selecting the nearest dealer to pick up the bike. However, in some countries, buying online is still not an option and you have to find a dealer to purchase the bike directly through them.
Two days of riding is not enough to write a full review about a bike, but the time I spent aboard on the Occam exploring the Spanish backcountry did allow me to get a solid first impression of the Occam’s qualities. And there are quite a few I can point out immediately.
Starting with geometry, the new Occam is a prime example of the new breed of bikes sporting numbers that only a few years ago would have made your head spin. The Occam’s steep 77-degree seat angle allows me - or even pushes me - to basically run a size larger frame than usual. If I want to stick to a short 35mm stem length, that I’m used to running, the shortened horizontal top tube length would put me into an overly cramped position while seated, due to the shorter top tube length. But the added stability delivers confidence and nothing beats the pedaling efficiency of a really steep seat tube angle. Without too much fuss, I was still able to lift the front end over rolling drop-offs or rock ledges.
Our M10 test bikes, with the latest edition of Shimano’s XT drivetrain and brakes, were set up with the longer travel fork option, the 150mm Fox 36 with GRIP2 damping. While we had the option of swapping to the lower-travel Fox 34 version on the second day, only one in our group opted for it. The bike simply felt too well balanced, the half degree slacker head tube angle didn’t hurt when gunning down rock slabs or when letting the big wheels pick up speed on the trail and the slightly slacker 76.5-degree seat angle didn’t hurt the Occam’s pedaling prowess much.
As a matter of fact, the new Occam is a fantastic climber. Even when grinding up long and silly steep sections the front end stay solidly planted, with the rear wheel digging into the ground formidably. Also, while I am usually slightly annoyed by the slower acceleration of 29ers compared to 27.5” wheels, the forward drive of the Occam was impressive. I still can’t point my finger to if the bike design itself was the biggest factor, the choice of wheels, fast rolling Maxxis Rekon rear tire, or most likely the combination of it all, but I truly enjoyed this 29er setup without any gripes.
I started out with the stock 0.2" volume spacer in the rear shock and opted for the bigger version after a few runs for some added progression in order to keep the shock from bottoming out on hard landings after jumps or medium-sized drops. Overall, that setting created a very balanced feel in most situations, and the more time I spent in the saddle, the more dialed the suspension seemed to feel, even remaining composed in rougher rock garden sections. Of course, you could occasionally bring the suspension to its 140mm-travel limits, but it was interesting to see how far you could push the mid-travel bike even in enduro-esque situations. Also, thanks to the low bottom bracket and stack height, the Occam sliced through turns with a mission.
Surprisingly enough, running the low-speed compression setting on the DPX2 shock fully open also seemed to affect the high-speed hit absorption in a positive way, avoiding spiking, but I’d have to spend a lot more time on the bike to substantiate that observation.
Grabbing the water bottle from the left side turned out less of a problem than I first thought might be the case. Orbea is building its own dropper posts and first impressions showed a smooth, stiction-free and solid function. On a personal note, you just gotta love the custom color options. A designer’s dream, to run the craziest or most subtle color schemes you can think of and adding a unique touch to your ride.
Throwing around with that much praise makes me question my objectivity, but I really can’t think of anything that really bugged me on the new Occam. If I had to dig deep, I didn’t enjoy the saddle and surprisingly hated the Race Face grips on long rides, but those are minor gripes. What remains is the fact that I think I fell a bit in love with a mid-travel 29er, something that I would never in my life have thought I’d one day say.