Orbea has just announced the fourth iteration of its flagship cross country mountain bike, the Alma. Since it was first launched in 2006 various iterations of the Alma have been ridden to World Cup victories and Olympic medals.
Like other brands, the Alma now comes in different wheel sizes depending on frame size. The small and medium frames come with 27.5" wheels, and the medium, large and XL frames come with 29" rolling stock. Aptly named the Big Wheel Concept, wheel size is based on rider height to provide the best possible performance.
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Interestingly, Orbea is offering the flagship Alma M-LTD with a rigid carbon fork. They also acknowledge that the M-LTD build, with the Spirit fork, won’t be for everyone, targeting lighter XC racers who may not want to justify the added weight of a suspension fork.
The Spirit fork is designed to handle both traditional Boost and 100mm hub spacing with room for 2.8” 29er or 650b tyres, and is available in lengths to suit both wheel sizes. The fork itself weighs a mere 575g including parts and features internal brake hose routing.
Orbea says the axle to crown length of the 29" Spirit is 480mm, or roughly the same as a 100mm suspension fork at 25 per cent sag, and for those who aren’t after a fully rigid XC bike, the rest of the range is spec'd with a Fox Float 32 100mm fork.
There are two frame options on offer: the OMR (Orbea Monocoque Race) and OMP (Orbea Monocoque Performance). The top-end OMR frame is claimed to weigh 950g and is made with less than 130 laser cut Toray T700, T800 and M40J prepreg carbon sheets to minimize excess material and weight.
For optimal compaction and wrinkle free tubing the OMR frame receives six hours of pre-forming before it's packed into the full EPS mould, which Orbea says produces a better result than traditional air bladders. The OMP frame is claimed to weigh 1150g and is moulded using standard bladders.
With the top-end frame being completely rigid, Orbea has employed what they call 4x4 Dynamic Structure. This sees a flex point built into the top tube in the form of a bend in front of the seat tube to promote flex. The new Alma also receives thinner seat stays in an effort to improve comfort, and Orbea claims the new Alma is ten per cent more compliant than the previous model.
In contrast, Orbea says the headtube, downtube and chainstays have been beefed up to prevent unwanted flexing and twisting under power.
The updated frame also sees a few tweaks in geometry with a slacker head angle of 69.3 for the 27.5" wheel size and 69.5 for the 29ers – down from 70.5 on the previous model. This is combined with a steeper 73.5-degree seat angle and lower stack height than its predecessor should provide for added stability and pedaling efficiency.
The chainstays are also a few millimeters shorter at 420mm and 430mm for their respective wheel sizes. Orbea has also opted for a PF92 bottom bracket in lieu of a traditional threaded option. Cementing the Alma's place as a true XC rig there are two water bottle mounts on the frame.
Utilising 12mm thru axles the Alma also comes with the Boost 148mm rear axle spacing. This moves the chain line outboard by 3mm, which may not sound like much but it has allowed Orbea to shorten the chainstays and provide clearance for 2.4" rubber.
Orbea also plans to offer the Alma as part of the MyO program, which allows riders to customise paint, components and have their name painted on the top tube. Lead times for the MyO program predict to be four weeks from the time of order.
The 2017 Alma will be available from October. Prices and line-up are below, but Australian pricing and availability is still to be confirmed.
Alma M-LTD €6,499 / £5,299 / US$6,999 / AU$TBC – Alma OMR frame, Spirit Carbon Fork, SRAM Eagle drivetrain, Level Ultimate Carbon Hydraulic Disc Brakes, Mavic Crossmax Pro Carbon TL wheels, FSA bars, stem and seatpost
Alma M-Team €6,499 / £5,299 / US$6,999 / AU$TBC – Alma OMR frame, Fox Float 32 SC Factory 100mm Fit4 Remote Fork, Shimano XTR drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, Mavic Crossmax Elite TL wheels, FSA bars, stem and seatpost
Alma M Pro €5,499 / £5,199 / US$5,999 / AU$TBC – Amla OMR frame, Fox Float 32 SC Factory 100mm Fit4 Remote Fork, Shimano XT Di2 drivetrain, Shimano XT hydraulic disc brakes, Mavic Crossmax Elite TL wheels, FSA bars, stem and seatpost
Alma M10 €5,499 / £5,199 / US$5,999 / AU$TBC – Alma OMR frame, Fox Float 32 SC Factory 100mm Fit4 Remote Fork, Shimano XT M8000 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, Mavic Crossmax Elite TL wheels, FSA bars, stem and seatpost,
Alma M20 €TBC / £TBC / US$TBC / AU$TBC – Alma OMP frame, Fox Float 32 SC Factory 100mm Fit4 Remote Fork, Shimano XT drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, DT Spline X-1900 TLR wheels, Race Face bars, stem and seatpost