Orbea Orca M11i LTD review

A new Orca makes a splash

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

The latest Orca's lines are more, well, normal, than some Orcas of old, which stood out with angular tube shapes and profiles that may have defeated radar. This bike's glossy black paint accentuates the flowing curves, with only a hint of designs past behind the head tube. 

  • Highs: Light weight, groupset and wheels, ride precision
  • Lows: Tall head tube and cheaper bar than expected
  • Buy if: You want something a little less mainstream but still hugely capable

The Orca's wide, flat top-tube and rounded down tube flare massively where they meet the slim hourglass head tube, and with the outwardly curved fork legs, suggest plenty of front-end rigidity.

The straight, asymmetric chainstays are a huge 50mm deep when exiting the BB386 Evo bottom bracket, and very slim seatstays lead to the seat clamp, which is hidden between the top tube and seat tube, allowing the greatest length of seatpost to flex. This apparent combination of beef where it's needed and subtlety in between seems ideal.

My 55cm example's 168mm head tube meant almost no spacers for my 178cm height, and the 25mm offset seatpost allows plenty of scope for the long-legged rider. Somehow it manages to suit tall, brawny rouleurs as well as featherweight mountain climbers, although anyone wanting a very low position may need to investigate angled stems.

Those relatively conventional lines cloak a frameset of real finesse. The chunky head tube area, plus outward curving, slim fork legs give an unwavering root to any leverage on the compact bar. It's composed at all speeds, with a light, positive feel, but just a few extra watts of input sees velocity increase. Steep climb hauling or deep drop sprinting result in your energy being channelled rearwards as focused acceleration with no trace of torsional flex.

A 50/34 compact with 11-28 is a fine all-round choice, though less racy, and the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon rims are 24mm wide, 40mm deep with great lateral rigidity and decent braking. They're light and responsive enough to complement the frameset's ability, and the ideal depth to blend decent aerodynamics with handling agility. Their rim profile is pretty modern too, minimising crosswind interference and keeping things predictable.

Crisp sudden direction changes and confidently carved corners were highlights of my time with the Orca. Whether flicking around potholes or pushing on down a descent, the Orca's surefooted and utterly stable. This is more impressive considering its 991mm wheelbase, and that this is the first top race bike we've seen in a while that's come with 23mm tyres.

Now that 25mm has become the new standard, the thought of narrower rubber didn't fill me with great joy, but the Fulcrums opened the Vittoria's carcass out to a more useful 24.5mm. Orbea says the frameset is good for 27mm tyres.

It's a smooth ride, able to dismiss erupting tarmac with no more than a dull ripple. Maintaining the frame's smooth lines, SRAM's Red eTap is like a hi-spec declutterer, doing away with two cables and simplifying shifting. The overall weight of just 6.58kg confirms the Orca's heritage.

The latest Orca has transitioned in to a road terrain-neutral all-rounder that'll satisfy anyone looking for a great bike to race or just enjoy covering ground rapidly on.

Tyres aside, it's a well-specced package, with no major elements that don't hold their own, and the frameset even has a lifetime warranty.

Full Specifications

Name: Orca M11i LTD
Built by: Orbea
Price: £6,799.00 / US$8,499.00 / AU$11,899.00

Available Sizes: 47cm 49cm 51cm 53cm 55cm 57cm 60cm
Bottom Bracket: SRAM Red
Brakes: SRAM Red
Cassette: SRAM Red 11-28
Chain: SRAM Red
Cranks: SRAM Red, 50/34
Fork: Orbea Orca OMR
Fork Offset: 4.55
Frame Material: Orbea Orca carbon OMR
Front Derailleur: SRAM Red eTap
Front Tyre: Vittoria Corsa Competition G+ 700x23mm
Front Wheel Weight: 1070
Handlebar: FSA Energy Compact aluminium
Head Angle: 72.5
Headset Type: FSA Integrated
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red eTap
Rear Tyre: Vittoria Corsa Competition G+ 700x23mm
Rear Wheel Weight: 1410
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR
Seat Angle: 74
Seatpost: FSA K-Force carbon
Shifters: SRAM Red eTap
Stem: FSA OS99 CSI carbon wrapped alloy
Trail: 5.9
Weight (kg): 6.58
Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon
Bottom Bracket Height (cm): 27.5
Chainstays (cm): 40.5
Seat Tube (cm): 51
Standover Height (cm): 80
Top Tube (cm): 57
Wheelbase (cm): 99.1
Frame size tested: 55cm 

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