A couple of weeks back, Catharine Pendrel won the fifth round of the cross-country World Cup at Mont-Sainte-Anne, in her home country of Canada. She was riding a full-suspension, 26in-wheeled Orbea prototype and won in a field dominated by 29ers.
At last week's Occam 29er launch, the Spanish brand were proud to show off this prototype. The bike is named 'Oiz', after a mountain in Spain's Basque Country, where Orbea are based. It's designed to be a flat-out cross-country race machine for those to whom money isn't an issue but precious seconds are.
Details so far
Orbea weren't giving away too much information on the bike at the launch, but we do know that the 100mm travel Oiz will use 'flexation' technology similar to that employed for the Cannondale Scalpel. Orbea have chosen to use a main pivot but have taken out the Horst-style linkage found at the dropouts. They claim this will help increase lateral stiffness at the back, and enable the bike to have 100mm of travel.
The Oiz designers found that losing the dropout pivot also saves 150g, which is a considerable saving on a race-focused XC bike. The prototype was kitted out with a cross-country racer's wishlist: Mavic SLRs, a SRAM XX groupset and carbon finishing kit from FSA. We can't image this spec will be dissimilar to that on the finished bike.
The Spaniards didn't give us an exact weight but say the production bike should be somewhere around 8kg (17.63lb).
The Oiz will be joining Orbea's Occam 29er for 2013
Head designer Xabier Narbaiza also teased us with an idea he's working on to try to replace the seatstays on the Oiz with tensioned cables. This probably won't feature on the first carnation of the Oiz but will be something to watch for in coming years. This kind of talk proves that Orbea are very forward thinking and ones to watch for the future.
Although the Oiz is a race winner, it's doubtful French XC champion Julien Absalon will be switching from his Alma hardtail before this year's Olympics, as the track is thought to be better suited to hardtail bikes.
The Oiz is due to be released in small numbers from December 2012, and Orbea have made it clear that for a race bike of this quality cost isn't a worry – expect a high price point.
Final paint jobs haven't yet been decided, although the frame shape itself looks great. The disruptive white lines are there to help hide the tubing shape from rival companies.