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Martin Maes is Racing a Modified E-Bike in the Fort William World Cup Downhill

May 2, 2024 at 11:27
by Dario DiGiulio  
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We're gearing up for the first round of the World Cup Downhill circuit, and a fair number of the brands out there are unveiling new downhill bikes for the occasion. Amongst them (sort of) is Orbea, with an unusual one-off to be piloted by Martin Maes. This downhill rig is an Orbea Wild eMTB, with no motor or battery, and a modified linkage to provide 200mm of rear wheel travel.

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Modded Wild.
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Stock Wild.

As you can see in the shots above, the rocker link on Maes' bike is significantly longer than the stock option, and the seatstays appear to be slightly different to match. The stock bike uses carbon stays, while the DH version has aluminum members in place.

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They have the frame diapered up, but we've been assured that there's no foul play afoot and there is in fact no motor mounted to the bike. Apparently the reason for using the Wild as the base frame for this modified race bike was due to the packaging constraints in the Rallon platform - if you're going to bodge more travel into a bike, it makes sense to do it on the one with more room.

I'd venture a guess that they've machined some sort of armature that bolts into the Bosch motor housing, allowing them to run a typical bottom bracket and crank arrangement. Perhaps there's some ability to tune chassis weight, with the added volume the frame inherently contains.

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This isn't the first time Orbea has gone up to bat with a modified version of one of their stock bikes, as Martin raced the 2022 Lourdes round on a Rallon with a dual crown.

Beyond the linkage and motor/battery alterations, the bike appears to be stock. There's a gold-on-gold Fox 40 mounted up front, a mix and match Shimano drivetrain, Saint brakes, and a Fox DHX2 with mounts for a telemetry setup.

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Orbea didn't provide any concrete details about the bike, other than issuing following statement:

"As a company of passionate riders and creative engineers, we have a clear goal: to develop unique, high-performance bikes for passionate cyclists like us. We want to elevate the riding experience, whether that means faster, further, or just more fun. While we are constantly developing the next generation of bikes, we also need a space to explore new solutions and create future technologies. That is why we created our OOLab project, allowing us to experiment freely."

Best of luck to Martin aboard this unique beast.

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107 Comments
  • 87 5
 They could of fitted a gearbox in place of the motor.
  • 56 1
 Seriously! Go after the gates prize! Martin has won a WC before... could do it again!
  • 6 1
 that would be the logical next step if Orbea actually wants to make this a thing
  • 6 0
 @ridedigrepeat: for real. It's awesome that Gates has that massive prize purse, awesome marketing for their automotive and industrial products too, not just the bike line.

DH needs to bring in more big $$ nonendemic sponsors again like the 90s.
  • 6 0
 His Shimano sponsor might have something to say about that
  • 4 1
 Please Orbea Team!!
(Or Somebody!) Make an Alu/carbon Pédalier Mount to Fit gearbox or normal bb to use ebikes in summer or when motor's break.
Thanks
  • 2 0
 @f*cktoryteam: In summer ? I get the need if the motor break but wouldn't a motor be more useful in the summer heat to sweat (slightly) less than in winter ?
  • 2 0
 @Chatducheshir: summer in the alps... I wouldn't risk motor's and batterie AT the Bikepark when uplift IS available...
  • 2 0
 I am not at the point in life now, but I could totally see getting behind a frame that could swap between e-bike mode and pinion mode.
  • 69 0
 Think of how huge a storage compartment they could have put into this thing.
  • 19 0
 Could pack his foam roller in there
  • 6 0
 “Storage chest”
  • 5 0
 so much activity space
  • 3 1
 Orbea should sell this link, rear triangle and a large space bag as a package. Prefect for when your motor or battery dies to turn your wild into a downhill rig that can store your spare linen.
  • 2 0
 Could pack it with lead.
  • 3 0
 "You are carrying too much and unable to run."
  • 2 0
 @brianpark; One could easily fit two, if not three, Casa Que Pasa Super Potato burritos in that compartment..
  • 29 9
 I miss those days when all the brands who didn't have a proper downhill bike just let their riders ride a rebadged Intense. It made brands seem less ridiculous than what we see here and it showed more respect for the riders. The only thing that comes close to this is an MBA cover showing Manitou Mach logos on a rigid fork ridden by a Diamond back racer (yes that happened too)
  • 3 0
 I would love to see a photo of that MBA cover
  • 2 0
 I decided to see if I could find that cover. I couldn’t however I did discover electric bike action magazine. Which I have to say made me laugh. Still wish I found manitou’s rigid fork.
  • 4 0
 @mior: Not exactly cover photo but you can imagine the rest Wink

m.pinkbike.com/photo/26587973
  • 5 4
 Have you ridden an E-bike though? The extra weight picks up speed and tracks better. I hope he wins so the internet would explode haha.
  • 2 0
 @mtbmaniatv: This is perfect marketing if they plan on releasing a super enduro eeb in the future. Lots of people claim they want a DH leaning e bike, so it's actually surprising how few long travel e bikes there are on the market.
  • 1 0
 @allbiker: awesome!
  • 3 1
 @mtbmaniatv: I have ridden one not for me. It now has a trailer attached to it so my wife can get the kids to and from school in a fun way. And yes it’s an e-bike like people here talk about it’s a yt decoy the mixed wheel enduro version. It’s just heavy and for me not fun to ride. It did make climb easier but that’s not something I’m looking for.
  • 2 1
 @mtbmaniatv: also with no motor or battery is it even still an e-bike? The weight should be roughly that of any other downhill bike with all that removed. I’m guessing I don’t know anything about that bike
  • 3 0
 @mtbmaniatv: but....but it doesnt.....it doesnt have the extra weight.
you read the article right, or at the very least skimmed over it?
  • 2 0
 @onawalk: It's still gonna be heavier than an average DH bike. That downtube for starters is ginormous, even compared to a dh bike.
  • 3 2
 @Glory831Guy: Big tube doesnt mean heavy, its just a big empty tube. in fact, you can usually make a larger tube lighter, for the same given strength (within reason) its partially why alu tubes are much bigger than steel ones, in the same weight/strength range.

I bet its no heavier than most other carbon DH bikes.
certainly isnt heavier than the Norco DH bike, or the Gamut gearbox bike, that Norco is prolly much heavier (have you seen the dropouts/stays on that beast?

its a carbon front triangle, with alu stays, no battery, no motor, no controller or any electric gubbins, whats so heavy about that?

The carbon Transition Relay (e-bike), without battery is 38ish lbs (still has motor), which is the same weight as my 2020 alu Norco Sight (thats not an e-bike)
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: lol “without battery”…
  • 1 1
 @nvranka: why the lol?
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: reading can be cumbersome hahah
  • 1 1
 @mtbmaniatv: what now?
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: He'll line up again next race and try and do better than 21st in Semis. Still mindblowing.
  • 1 2
 @mtbmaniatv: Youve lost me bruv
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: You gotta hit reading rainbow or hooked on phonix it sounds like, mate.
  • 2 1
 @mtbmaniatv: What on earth are you on about?
Youre original comment was about the added weight of an e-bike, and how it picks up speed.
This wont have any additional weight, as its just an e-bike frame with the battery, motor, and electrical gubbins removed. It should be a similar weight to any carbon framed DH bike.

then you go on about cryptic reading comprehension comments, which i dont think make any sense.
  • 2 0
 @onawalk: you need some hooked on Phoenix bro
  • 1 1
 @nvranka: Hooked on what?

and why the "without battery" lol?
  • 17 1
 This is well weird
  • 8 8
 I hate to be the first to say it, but it looks fairly nice proportion-wise... What has the world come to!
  • 1 0
 No, it's a "Wild", did you read the article... Orbea Wild... Smile Smile Smile

JKN...
  • 9 1
 Brand execs- alright everyone, DH is dying we only need to develop enduro bikes from here on out. I can make an extra .00081 on my profit sheet by discontinuing the DH molds and teams it will be growth! That's what the investors want! Yay.
  • 11 0
 Awesome to see Martin racing DH again.
  • 7 0
 Looking at this bike makes me feel like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes. I thought I had landed on a planet where brands threw hundreds of thousands at racing to develop better stuff. It turns out it's been marketing to sell eBikes all along. Damn Youuuuuuu!
  • 3 0
 when you compare this, to what Norco has done for this season..... One seems to have invested a little more into their program.
  • 6 0
 Are the "packaging constraints" of the Rallion related to the shock yoke design and the fact that the max stroke would be exceeded per Fox and other manufacturer's specs?
  • 5 0
 I’ve often thought the when all these motors start going bad and are not worth replacing there will be a market for motor blanks that allow e-bikes to be converted to regular bikes.
  • 1 0
 the motor housing is already the blank motor.
remove the internals, but if you are going this way you might as well just fix the motor, I don't see why they wouldn't worth replacing, especially if you spent the $$ to get an e ike in the first place. unless racking miles on an emtb got you fit enough to do all the pedalling. I think it's kinda hard to lose the pedal assist once you've tasted it though. it could make sense if you move to a place where you have lifts
  • 1 0
 @geemy: or (in my case) when I travel around with my Levo SL and want to ride it on trails when Eeb's aren't allowed - Quick motor to motor blank swap, remove battery - PROFIT!
  • 9 2
 would be great if they made the 200mm ebike available to the public
  • 3 0
 This. The Pole Sonni had an option to run 170/160 or up to 200/200. If Orbea did this with the Wild, this would be my next bike.
  • 1 0
 @Aeyogi: i was going to buy a sonni but then they went out of business.
  • 11 7
 I have to imagine a lot of this is to do with the added strength of the frame to cope with the extra weight of the motor/battery. And the 90kg people who buy them.
  • 5 1
 We call that America size over here!
  • 5 0
 What's wrong with being 90kg you scrawny smack rat?
  • 2 0
 @dotman: the best thing I ever did for my riding was start going to the gym. I'm probably not as fast uphill, but I have so much more control downhill.
  • 4 1
 The demands on an ebike due to weight factors are probably similar to the demands of DH racing due to shred factor.

Don't we have ebikes to blame for the Zeb, and properly burly tires and such? Makes sense
  • 5 1
 Well that's one way to guarantee a race run when the janky nevis range gondola breaks down....
  • 8 3
 I'm sure his run will be electric!
  • 4 2
 I'm all charged up to see it!
  • 3 2
 ground fault cycle interrupt
  • 4 0
 An ebike that is not an ebike. Interesting.
  • 6 3
 E-DH. It’s the new thing. The Wild is an absolute beast, and Maes is too.
  • 4 3
 Is it bollocks.
  • 1 0
 In all seriousness, the battery area does allow for some weights to be added where they need them if wanted pretty easy and cleanly. Much better than just taping some lead to rando spots on the bike.
  • 1 0
 how about the area that housed the motor, better to keep the weight low, and if its below the bb maybe even better
  • 1 0
 How is it better? You're not going to just drop some lead weights into the battery storage area to rattle around. You'd still have to secure them, which would be not mean feat to do inside a frame that's going to get bounced around a whole bunch.
  • 1 0
 @Fill-Freakin: take a quick breath,
theyre obviously making/building some sort enclusure that bolts into the area where the motor was, to house the bb. You think they could integrate some weight into that?
or
a place to attach weight
or, in place of the battery, just make an assembly that takes the batteries place to hold weight?
seems like loads of possible options in a frame that is going to have to be modified to even be able to pedal...
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: Of course. There's all sorts of places you BUILD a spot to add weight. Same as any bike.
  • 2 0
 Please!
Somebody to make an Alu/carbon Pédalier Mount to use ebikes in summer or when motor's break..
Thanks
  • 1 0
 Plot twist...there is still a mini motor & battery hiding under there. We will see how fast he is on the motorway at fort bill.
  • 3 0
 How old are Saint brakes!?!
mad that theyre stil.WC worthy
  • 2 0
 Unlike marketing.. it works
  • 3 0
 I spy a charging port on the forth photo. Adds Maes to fantasy team
  • 2 0
 Dario, are you at First William for the race?
  • 3 0
 Whoa, that's wild...
  • 2 3
 would the lack of a motor jeopardize some of the frame integrity since there is nothing filling the void? ...but I guess it doesn't really matter if you only need it to last the weekend
  • 2 0
 Motor isn’t structural. Same with the battery
  • 2 0
 Did you not read the part where Dario says "I'd venture a guess that they've machined some sort of armature that bolts into the Bosch motor housing, allowing them to run a typical bottom bracket and crank arrangement."

If there wasn't anything filling the void, there wouldn't be anything to attach a bottom bracket and cranks to.
  • 4 4
 He should run the bike with a battery in the downtube. Plenty of teams add weight to their dh rigs--the grip is noticeably better with emtbs.
  • 2 1
 Probably riding this bike because it's what he's been spending most of his time riding lately and feels most comfortable on.
  • 3 2
 you put the motor and battery back in and you’d have a really sweet DH eMTB!
  • 4 4
 That headline is so bad. It's not a "modified e-bike", that implies is still has e-power. It's a DH bike built in the same frame as the e-bike. No motor, not "e".
  • 3 2
 Hope Martin wil kill it, Forza Belgium!
  • 2 2
 Plenty of room to play with ballast positioning with a motor and battery not getting in the way..
  • 1 0
 Considering that taping lead weights to the tubes is the easiest way of attaching weights on a bike frame, I'd say it would be harder on this bike with its big bulky frame. Fixing some weights at a precise location on the inside would be a big pain in @ss.
  • 6 5
 I'm not sure, should I be annoyed that the moped filter isn't working?
  • 5 3
 Looks like a shitbox.
  • 4 4
 With his history id do a quick bike check at the start line!
  • 2 2
 lol I would be ashamed to throw a leg over that shite
  • 1 2
 Orbea, nor any other teams, arent knocking on your door to ask you to, so no need to worry.
  • 1 1
 @ThatEbikeGuy: slow hand clap........
  • 1 0
 a dh blender
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