For many years, bike manufacturers have been searching for the Holy Grail — that one bike that will rule them all. With the new Orca Aero, Spanish brand Orbea claims to have achieved the "perfect balance" of aerodynamics, stiffness, handling, and ergonomics.
Apart from the marketing headliner — the new Orca Aero has more to it than meets the eyes. First, it's a fast and sleek-looking bike, with a horizontal top tube and improved seatstays reminiscent of both the Cannondale SystemSix's and the Canyon Aeroad's models. Not a bad start.
More substantially, though, Orbea's new killer whale is very different from its predecessor. And for a reason: all its aerodynamics features have been developed from the "ground up and side by side with the Ordu, the brand's triathlon/TT flagship," says Joseba Arizaga, Orbea's Product Manager. "We identified all the sections and tubes that will make the bike faster. Nothing from the previous Orca Aero [was taken into consideration]."
The Orca model has been in the market in several different shapes and forms, since 2003. To reach the current configuration, the bike has gone through some heavy but increasingly standard procedures: computer modelling, wind tunnel sessions, plus indoor and outdoor testing protocols, including a low-speed climbing test that targeted the stiffness-to-weight ratio. Because it's one thing to have a light bike performing well uphill, but a completely different one to have a heavier bike (made for speed on the flat) go well when the inclines get serious.
Orbea claims to have achieved harmonic balance through the use of OMX carbon fibres. The use of this high-modulus material has enabled the brand, the designers say, to reduce weight, maintain stiffness and retain power transmission from the pedals to the chainstays. Within the controlled environment of a velodrome — and compared to the old Orca Aero Disc M/Y 19 — the new model can allegedly save you up to 15W if you ride at 40 km/h and 28W one at 50 km/h. But, of course, you always need to have a good pair of legs to push your bike at those speeds for a long time. From a spec point of view, Orbea decided not to opt for a fully integrated cockpit. Instead, having a two-piece bar and stem will allow riders to rotate bars, change stem length and handlebar width — for an improved ergonomic and a better fit.
An interesting feature of the Orca is the Carbo Foil toolbox. Inspired by Ordu, Orbea has integrated the box under the downtube, just behind the front wheel. They say it can fit "a couple of inner tubes, a pair of levers, and 1/2 CO2 canisters." Of course, riders will be able to remove it, but Orbea says it works as an extra aerodynamic advantage (though it's not compliant in UCI-sanctioned events). To make the Orca even more aero-driven, Orbea has opted to use an aero bottle — and tests show the bike is also faster with this bottle in place.Last but not least, the new Orca will also accommodate tyres up to 30mm (the previous model was best fitted with 25mm), and will only come with disc brakes.
The first batch Orcas will be available in the UK from November in three different colours (red, blue and grey), six different configurations (including the new Shimano Dura Ace Di2, Ultegra Di2, and the SRAM Rival AXS with power meter), seven sizes (from 47 to 60), and more than 1 million individual configurations through the MyO customisation program.
The price range, depending on the different spec will be between £3,999.00 and £9,599.00.