We love history. We dream about past races, racers, regions and bikes. When the name Orbea appears on our screens or emails or on social, we don’t think about 2020 at first, we tend to look back a bit and revere this bike brand that was founded in 1840 by two brothers in the Basque Country. We think about Orbea bikes contesting the Tour de France in 1934. We think about the Orbea-Gin MG team in 1985 and about its leader Pedro Delgado. We think about the beautiful region where these bikes are designed. And we respect the Euskadi Foundation and its renewed commitment to Basque cycling and to sport, social and cultural awareness.
We bring this respect to every Orbea we ride. We can’t help it. Add this history and focus to the stunning production of the Orbea Orca M11e LTD and our minds are blown and we feel compelled to sell everything and move to the village of Mallabia and ride bikes and eat and drink and become enlightened by Basque prowess and wisdom. We all can’t move to Mallabia due to work and family responsibilities, but we can ride Orbea’s bikes; and, out of the gate, the new Orca is an exceptional and beautiful machine.
The Orca M11e LTD frame begins with the OMX frame process—what Orbea defines as the “Pinnacle of carbon fiber bicycle manufacturing.” Then it adds seamless and simple internal cable routing (under the stem and through the head tube), giving the bike a unique and clean aesthetic. The frame also incorporates FreeFlow, which is utilized to spread the fork legs away from the wheel in an effort to reduce pressure and turbulence. In addition, the down tube, seat tube and seatstay sections are ovalized, giving the 2020 Orca a 10-percent drag reduction over former models.
All of these terms and design features are accurate, but the office-visit test is a key factor in our verdict on the Orca. Everyone who has visited Peloton HQ wants to talk about the Orca. Its design, paint scheme, integrated components and overall look prompted a variety of questions: “Is it a good bike, or is it a great bike?” “Does it maintain the Orca’s race and ride legacy?” We set out to make sure we could answer those questions with some authority so we put close to 500 miles on the bike and in doing so fell in love with this Basque machine.
You can love the way something looks and respect history and culture but in the end the bike has to be a joy to ride, and the Orbea Orca M11e LTD is a ton of fun. On our first ride we were surprised how quickly the bike reacted to input, how stiff the frame felt on out-of-the-saddle efforts and how stable the bike felt on descents. On long and slower rides, we instantly felt comfortable and were blown away at how “smooth” the bike felt even during high-intensity efforts holding on to local wheels or hustling to get home before dark. It’s possible to feel the execution and design characteristics. It has an Orbea feel. It’s beautiful, sleek, understated, fast and unique.
This is not your normal bike and that is undeniably clear once you see this bike in person and spend time on it. The handling is precise, and the bike reacts gracefully to input and quick movement; and it did everything we asked of it with stability and speed. If you are looking for a one-of-akind bike built with the history and culture of the Basque community behind it, seriously consider the Orbea Orca M11e LTD. If you need an additional reason to consider this bike, check out the amazing personalization options Orbea makes available through its MYO program.