2016 sees Orbea
release its latest incarnation of the Occam, as well as celebrating the Basque country brand's 175th anniversary. The 160 employee strong company from Mallabia, Spain, originally introduced the Occam range in 2008, followed by a revamp in 2011, and the addition of a 29" wheeled machine in 2012. For 2016 we see twelve models spread across a range of 27.5" or 29" wheels with 140mm or 120mm of travel respectively, alloy or carbon frame options and prices starting from $2,199 USD and peaking at $7,999. Bikes will be arriving in August/September and the full range will be on display at Eurobike if you want a closer look. Orbea.comRange Overview
Orbea market the Occam towards the trail sector, and while there is some debate as to what 'trail' means to different riders, product manager Xabier Narbaiza says that these are the bikes their customers are asking for, a majority of which are based in Spain, France, Italy and the USA. This lightweight shredder gives riders a choice between the Occam TR - a 120mm travel 29er, and the Occam AM which sports 27.5" wheels and 140mm of travel.
There are options of carbon or alloy frames, dependent on how much money you decide to part with and various build kits. The budget, alloy Occam TR H50 comes in at $2,199 USD up to the flagship M-LTD models at $7,999. The full carbon M-LTD models come lathered in Shimano XTR, RaceFace Next and DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheelsets. The 27.5" AM M-LTD weighs in at an impressive 10.95kgs / 24.1lbs. All Orbea bikes are assembled to order in the Basque Country, which means customization through the 'MyO' is a reality. MyO allows customers to choose the base model, then change parts to their preference including paint finish, and have their unique bike delivered within two weeks.Geometry
Following current trends, the Occam gets longer at the front, shorter at the rear, the bottom bracket drops, and the head angle slackens. Orbea have moved to Boost hub standards as this helped with tire clearance and chainline issues allowing them to achieve super short chainstays. Orbea suggest that you should choose your bike dependent upon your riding style and height. Taller riders, or people looking for a more cross country biased bike should opt for the TR with its 29" wheels. Shorter riders, or those looking to attack tougher trails should shoot for the AM 27.5". In Orbea's own words the"Occam TR is for trail riders who love the efficiency and speed of 29” wheels – those who prefer long days in the saddle, craving a balance of downhill speed and lightweight stability,"
and the Occam AM "is the choice of riders who want more travel and maneuverability – those who are looking for a bit more fun on the descents and want a bike with a rugged specification."
The main numbers for the TR 29" are a 68 degree head angle, 435mm chainstay, 340mm bottom bracket height and 431mm reach for a medium size. To reflect their thoughts on sizing, TR models are available in medium, large or extra large, if you need a small frame Orbea suggest you should go for the smaller wheels. Vital statistics for AM 27.5" are a 67 degree head angle, short 425mm chainstays, 340mm bottom bracket and the same 431mm reach as the AM. Whereas the AM was missing a small size the TR excludes an XL, if you have outgrown the large frame, then you need to opt for the bigger wheels.
With reach and stack numbers becoming a more useful and widespread means of determining bike size and fit, Orbea realised that some manufacturers don't consistently change reach and stack numbers through their size range. Often two different frame sizes share the same stack with a different reach meaning that choosing the correct sizing can be confusing or misleading. 'Linear reach and stack' should simplify this and get more people riding correctly sized sleds.
The main feature of the Occam suspension platform is the UFO Flexion seatstays, which were developed on the World Championship winning Oiz cross country bike. The flexible stays means the pivot that would normally be placed close to, or around, the rear axle can be eliminated. The benefits of this? Orbea say it drops 140 grams from the structure, adds lateral stiffness and takes away bearings that are placed in the firing line of hoses or pressure washers. They were also keen to point out that flexion doesn't mean stiction, as the force required to flex the stays is a fraction of the force needed to compress the shock. The alloy models don't have built in flex, instead they use a 'Concentric Boost' pivot which rotates around the Boost 148mm rear wheel axle.
The suspension is designed to be regressive until the suggested 25%-28% sag point. This makes the bike supple at the start of the stroke, then becomes progressive shortly after the sag point, to offer mid-stroke support and then bottom out resistance. High-end models are supplied with custom tuned FOX DPS shocks with EVOL air cans to beef up the bikes' capabilities. The EVOL shock can be further tuned using volume spacers.
I took a short ride on the AM and TR versions in Ainsa in the Spanish Pyrenees. Being just over six feet tall, the large sized AM bike felt small even matched with a 70mm stem, but I was more comfortable on an extra large TR. Weighing in around the 11kg mark, the light weight was instantly noticeable on both bikes when climbing, with the stiff, short chainstays directly putting the power into forward momentum and making it easy to lift the front end. In my opinion, the Occam definitely falls on the cross-country side of 'Trail', and didn't quite have the stability I'd expected at higher speeds or when things got fast and choppy, even though the head angle and bottom bracket numbers on paper suggest more potential in this area. By the same token, the stiffness and light weight allow for quick climbing and snappy acceleration, handling traits that for some riders are more important than a bike's manners on the descents.