Custom Trail Bike
In recent years, the cycling industry has seen a split over wheel sizes. Many brands and companies have been leaning away from the 27.5-inch and transitioning their designs to only offer a 29-inch platform. While we are still seeing a handful of trustworthy trail bike options available in both sizes from the big-name manufacturers, Orbea is among those that have transitioned their trail bike model, known as the Occam, to be offered in only a 29er. Back in 2016 we tested the 27.5-inch Occam AM M10 model.
During that time, the Occam was still fairly new to the Orbea lineup, but it still stood out as a trail bike that could deliver the goods. The Orbea brand was established in Europe, and lately their name has been expanding more rapidly in the United States than ever. With more and more trailside talks with our crew about the brand’s direction, we were looking forward to seeing what was in store with the latest Occam.
The first thing that grabs the eye is Orbea’s suspension platform. It utilizes a pivot that rotates around the axle simply called “concentric axle pivot.” Although this is similar to Weagle’s Split Pivot (seen on Salsa) and Trek’s Active Braking Pivot, the Occam remains a bike that carves its own path. The frame design is focused on being a modern trail bike. With that said, Orbea’s Occam intends to blur the lines of cross-country and trail. The goal is to have a bike with the ability to climb, regardless of how steep or technical the trail might be, while being just as capable for a demanding descent. To accomplish this goal, the new Occam is sold in a carbon or alloy frame option that features 140mm of travel at the rear. It can be furnished with a 140mm- or 150mm-travel fork depending on the rider’s preference. Both the alloy and carbon frame have internal cable routing, clearance for one water bottle inside the frame, threaded bottom bracket, frame protection, tool-free derailleur hanger removal, integrated chainguide and Boost spacing. The geometry is right on the current industry trends for a trail bike, with a slack 66-degree head tube and steep 77-degree seat tube angle, combined with long-reach numbers across all four sizes.
Orbea offers eight build-outs with the option of purchasing just a frameset, ranging in price from an alloy frame with more affordable components at $3499 to the fully outfitted option coming in at $11,500. But, the decisions do not stop there! Coined as “MyO,” the Occam can be fully customized on Orbea’s website. Riders have the choice to pick any color they desire down to small logo colors on the frame. The test bike we received, however, is even further customized than what is offered within the MyO options.
Our subject has a Rotor 1×13 drivetrain and custom Enve wheels. The high-end test bike received for testing is close to the pricing/components of the Occam M10 build, but, of course, the Rotor drivetrain and Enve wheels bump up our test subject to around $9500. While we were able to check out the top of the line, it’s great to see riders can get the same geometry and suspension options starting at a more affordable price point.
Orbea teamed up with Fox for the suspension on the Occam model to deliver a frame with 140mm of travel. From there, Orbea lets riders choose either a 140mm Fox 34 or an option of a Fox 36 with 150mm of travel. Riders who encounter steeper and rockier terrain might lean towards the extra 10mm of front travel that presents a more slack head-tube angle of 65.5 degrees. Although similar to other platforms within the industry, the Occam’s suspension functionality hits a different mark. This mid-travel trail weapon has some changes to the previous version. Let’s dive into the nerdy suspension talk!
To begin with, the leverage ratio changes at the start of travel for improved feedback over terrain. From there, Orbea played with the anti-squat to adhere with the bulk of wide-range cassettes on the market. Finally, the anti-rise was adapted as well to combat the rear braking force on the suspension system. But, what does that mean for us on the trail?
To get pedaling, we first set the suspension to a 30-percent sag for our initial tuning. For this, we used Orbea’s included preload key. This is a special tool used to preload the linkage on the frame, but also has a handy sag indicator.
DOWN AND DIRTY
The intention for an all-rounder trail weapon is to have it do everything well while getting you out for a venture and back again for another day of riding. The Occam has sufficient travel and relaxed-enough geometry to tame more aggressive tracks, while its climbing ability encourages riders to go the distance for an all-day venture. You know, one of those bikes you can point out the front door and get after whatever ground is currently accessible.
As the suspension kinematic intended, this bike wants to be pedaled on really long rides, so we did just that! With the steep seat angle and increased anti-squat in comparison to a more descent-oriented machine, the rider is placed in an ideal pedaling position on the Occam. We felt the rear suspension is supportive and intelligent over uneven climbing obstacles than other bikes within this similar range of travel. To put it in perspective, the Occam is more practical to pedal than a Specialized Stumpjumper that has a similar travel range and even a similar asymmetrical shock mounting style.
The 140mm of suspension up front has nailed the mark for a variety of riders. We felt that this travel range kept the bike playful and allowed us to place the bike precisely where we wanted without question if the bike could manage it. Although the bike’s weight was praised for going up, it truly makes its presence known when pointed downhill. The low bottom bracket and shorter 140mm fork kept the handling favoring towards precision. We could see that opting for a 150mm would help stability with flat-out speed, but this might hinder the quick handling experience with the 140mm fork tested.
This particular test bike was received directly from Rotor to test their 1×13 drivetrain, but more on that full review can be found elsewhere in this issue. Given that we had our hands on a fully custom build, we were hard-pressed to find upgrades on our Occam. If we had to get nitpicky, we might opt for changing the Orbea OC2 dropper post out for a Fox Transfer or swapping the Shimano XT brakes for the even higher-end XTR option.
After long days in the saddle conquering countless mountains and demanding singletrack lines, our wrecking crew feels that the Occam sits as one of the most ideal trail bikes we’ve stepped over lately that can take on varying conditions. It’s adequate enough for the average rider, while even the most aggressive riding styles can experience how the Occam can grab a little mix of everything well. If going the long distance while being ready for most conditions is your groove, we would definitely recommend throwing a leg over this versatile all-mountain weapon.
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.