Words: Sebastian Jayne                                                                   Photos: Tim Bardsley-Smith

Orbea has a fascinating history that dates back to the latter half of the 19th century. The company from the Basque Country region between Spain and France produced firearms under the name Orbea Brothers. A bit of an odd start for a bike company at first glance, but really the two are quite similar. Precision manufacturing of steel tubing. Sound familiar?
 
During the interwar period and following increasing weapons restrictions throughout peacetime Europe, Orbea made the full switch to producing bicycles in 1930. Skipping ahead, the economic situation in Spain during the 1960s hit Orbea hard, and on the precipice of bankruptcy, the passion for the company shone through and the workers of Orbea purchased the company to form a cooperative.

 

Fast forward a bit more, and the knowledge and passion of the previous 100+ years developed some of the finest bikes today. In the 2008 Olympics, Samuel Sanchez won the road race while a little-known mountain biker, Julien Absalon, won gold in the MTB race, both riding Orbeas! Surely there is something poetic in the transformation from weapons manufacturer to developing something as enjoyable as bicycles. Now we have bikes like the enduro focused Rallon and XC racer Oiz. Sitting in between lays the Occam, a trail focused bike looking to go wherever the rider wishes.
 
Initial Impressions
 
The Orbea Occam on test was the middle of three variants: the M-LTD, M10 tested and the M30. Picking the model is only step one though, as Orbea offers customisation including their MyO paint customisation and select part customisation. The paint customisation lets you change the main frame colour along with the downtube logo and lower seat tube/BB area. We had the stock blue/orange colourway on test, which looks ridiculously good in person and on paper.

 

The second part of the customisation is the parts selection that lets you change fork, wheels, tyres, seatpost and front hub from a couple of options. Each allowing you to tailor the ride to meet your needs. The fork options are between a Fox 34 140mm, which we tested, and a Fox 36 150mm. The wheels choice is between the very trail ‘sturdy’ aluminium DT Swiss XM1650 Spline 29” (tested) and, interestingly, the much lighter, and more expensive, carbon DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline 29”, which has been used on the XC World Cup circuit. The tyre options provided a choice between the Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR front and rear specific tyres or the more rolling friendly Maxxis High Roller II and Rekon combo that we tested. The seatpost options let you change the amount of drop and are either an in-house Orbea dropper (tested) or Crank Brothers Highline in 125mm.
 
Our combination was:
 - Fox 34 140mm Fork
 - Heavy duty trail XM1650 wheels
 - ‘Fast rolling’ tyre combo, Maxxis High Roller II and Rekon 

 

Other notable parts of the build are the good-looking carbon Race Face Next R and Shimano XT M8100 group set with the 4-pot XT M8120 trail brakes. The customisation options are pretty neat and let you lean the Occam either towards the enduro/heavy trail end of the ‘trail’ spectrum or more to the lightweight/all-day pedalling platform or a mix right in the middle, which was our setup.

 

Photographer: Tim Bardsley-Smith

Tester: Sebastian Jayne

Riding Experience: Over 8 years racing national and international XCO

Generally Rides: Norco Revolver FS 29

Height: 175cm

Weight: 65kg

Bike Test Track: Bright, Vic


 
In terms of geometry, the Occam doesn’t do anything drastic compared to the competition. The chainstays and reach are on the longer side which pushes the wheelbase out, but that’s neither bad nor good. The Occam is slung low with a BB drop of 35mm, which is a measure of where the bottom bracket sits in relation to the axels. Trail bikes can range from the mid-30s to around 15mm.

 

Overall, the Occam M10 looks polished. Not in the shiny way but in the everything was thought of way. The lines are smooth, and the finishings are what you’d expect from an $8000+ bike. The single sidearm through the middle of the bike looks cool, I’m sure it has something to do with structural support/weight savings, but I don’t know about that stuff, so it just looks cool to me. Ultimately, I was really interested to see how the Occam rode and whether the cross match of parts would bring out the best of the Occam or whether I would opt for a different kit for the riding I like doing.