Orro Oxygen review£1,400.00

Breath of fresh air from new British bike brand

BikeRadar score4/5

Does today’s consumer need another new brand? Well, the respected UK-based distributor i-ride seems to think so. It’s best known for its high-end brands – think De Rosa, Argon 18, Fulcrum and 3T. So it was a bit of a surprise when it launched its own new in-house marque – Orro – with prices as competitive as bikes bought online, while still being sold through ‘real’ bike shops.

    The frames are designed by Orro in the UK and are manufactured in the Far East. No shocks there. But unlike most companies’ bikes, these are finished and assembled in the UK at Orro’s own facility. It’s a bold move, and seems to demonstrate that with the correct setup, UK-based building – if not manufacturing – can compete when it comes to value. The frame has a claimed weight of just 999g, which is also impressive at this level.

    Orro describes the Oxygen’s geometry as ‘all-round’, though in practice it leans towards the racy, with angles of around 73 degrees in most of the five sizes. Our 56/57cm bike has a shortish head tube too, just 160mm, and a tight 993mm wheelbase. Orro’s other model, the Gold, features more laid-back endurance-centric geometry.

    An 11-25 cassette suits faster and more powerful riders:
    An 11-25 cassette suits faster and more powerful riders:

    An 11-25 cassette suits faster and more powerful riders

    The component spec is strong and well coordinated. The BB30 frame requires an adaptor for the Shimano 105 chainset, but other than that the drivetrain is all 105, the compact chainset and 11-25 cassette creating a race-oriented combination. The bar, stem and seatpost are from 3T’s Pro Line range, and each is a high quality alloy component, with the Ergosum bar a popular shape here at BikeRadar. Its short, shallow drop is shaped so that even riders with monster-sized palms can fit into the drops, while the transition from straight top to drop is angled for plenty of wrist clearance.

    The 3T Accelero Pro 40 wheels perfectly complement the rest of the 3T kit, though the Oxygen is also available with higher-end Fulcrum Racing Sport hoops. The Pro 40s have a 23.4mm-wide, 37mm-deep alloy rim. This aero profile is excellent in windy conditions and they shape the 25mm Continental Ultra Sport tyres very well. Their brass nipples will stay free of corrosion while triple-butted spokes keep the weight down. But in spite of this, at 1803g a pair they aren’t that light. That said, we only really noticed the weight on long, stubborn climbs. Everywhere else they roll smoothly, hold their speed well and the rims’ effect on the shape of the tyres adds more comfort.

    3T’s 37mm-deep and wide rim is very stable in windy conditions:
    3T’s 37mm-deep and wide rim is very stable in windy conditions:

    3T’s 37mm-deep and wide rim is very stable in windy conditions

    Comfort is good overall, despite the stiff feeling of the frame. If anything, it feels like a De Rosa. This should be no surprise when its designers have spent years riding the Italian brand’s machines – well, you would, if you sold them. It doesn’t float over rougher tarmac and you can still feel the road’s surface, but annoying buzz is all but eliminated. And it’s a decent if not great climber – the combination of a 34x25 bottom gear and slightly hefty wheels means progress is steady rather than swift. But it more than makes up for this with fast, nimble and easily controlled handling on descents and challenging corners.

    Orro’s Oxygen brings an element of surprise to today’s bike buyer. Not that it’s a good-looking and well-equipped machine with dependable handling and an exciting ride. The surprise – and an impressive achievement by i-ride – is that it does all that for a relatively low price while still being designed and finished in the UK.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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