The new Orbea Orca Aero could save you 15 watts at 40kph

New aero road bike learns aero lessons from Orbea’s Ordu time trial bike

2022 Orbea Orca Aero

The new Orbea Orca Aero is claimed to save 15 watts at 40kph versus the outgoing Orca Aero, with the design of the new bike borrowing heavily from the brand’s Ordu time trial / triathlon bike.

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At a glance, the new Orca Aero looks very much like a time trial bike with drop handlebars. It even has an aero water bottle and integrated aero storage box on the downtube, as often seen on modern triathlon bikes. That all bodes well for speed on straight, flat roads, but Orbea is confident this bike handles and climbs like a race bike too.

While the old Orca Aero had semi-external cable routing, the new bike uses Orbea’s ICR system (Integrated Cable Routing) system (as seen on the Orca OMX and Orca OMR), which routes the cables underneath the stem and into the headset, for a much cleaner looking front end.

In a nod to practicality, the new Orca Aero also uses a non-integrated aero cockpit to maintain front end adjustability. Handlebar widths have also been narrowed by 2cm across the size range, in a further nod to aerodynamic efficiency.

As expected, the new Orbea Orca is now only available with road disc brakes. Hardly a surprise, perhaps, but no doubt some die-hard rim brake fanatics will be disappointed nevertheless. Our 2017 assurances that “rim brakes are here to stay” seems woefully outdated now…

2022 Orbea Orca Aero: what you need to know

  • The 2022 Orbea Orca Aero is a brand new aero road bike, claimed to save 15 watts at 40kph versus the previous version
  • Aero lessons learned from Orbea’s Ordu time trial bike have been applied to the new frameset
  • All cables now route under the stem and into the frame at the headset
  • The frameset is optimised for 25-28mm tyres, but has clearance for 30mm tyres
  • A size 53cm frame is claimed to weigh 1,140g (unpainted), with top-spec Shimano or SRAM builds weighing 7.6kg
  • Prices start at £3,999 / €3,999 / $4,499 for the Orca Aero M20LTD, which comes with a Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset and Fulcrum alloy wheels

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
Orbea says the design philosophy behind the new Orca Aero is “perfect balance”.
Orbea

Perfect balance

Orbea says its design goal for the new Orca Aero was to find a “perfect balance” between aerodynamics, stiffness to weight, handling and ergonomics.

It noted that improving one is often detrimental to the other – making tube shapes more aerodynamic typically comes with a weight or stiffness penalty, for example.

Orbea believes it’s found the goldilocks zone with the new Orca Aero, saying it’s “the fastest aero road bike we have ever designed”.

Aerodynamics

The headline claim is that the new Orca Aero saves 15 watts at 40kph. Orbea also said the savings increase to 28 watts at 50kph, though that’s likely only relevant to WorldTour pros.

Orbea says these figures are derived from real-world testing performed in a velodrome too, not just wind tunnel testing. The frameset tube shapes now visibly mimic those found on the Ordu time trial bike.

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The new Orca Aero has been subject to extensive wind tunnel and real-world aero testing.
Orbea

The headtube is wider and shorter due to the use of a standard fork and headset arrangement (the Ordu uses a hinge fork design), but, otherwise, it’s very reminiscent of a pure time trial bike.

The top tube and chainstays are horizontal, for example, and there’s a cut-out in the downtube around the front wheel. The seat tube to seat stay cluster also wraps around the rear wheel to shield it from the wind.

The updated fork is said to be specifically optimised for deep section aero wheels, given they’re now de rigueur for an aero road bike.

The frameset is also claimed to be aerodynamically optimised for 25-28mm tyres, but there’s clearance for up to 30mm tyres if you need more comfort.

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The integrated aero bottle and downtube storage box improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the bike.
Orbea

Just like the Ordu, the new Orca Aero also gets Orbea’s aero water bottle and cage, and integrated aero storage box under the downtube.

Orbea says the bike is more slippery with both of these in place, though notes only the aero bottle and cage are approved for use in UCI sanctioned events (the storage box acts as a non-essential fairing, which means it falls foul of the UCI’s strict technical regulations).

The new aero handlebar, stem and seatpost are also said to cut drag by two per cent versus the outgoing model.

2022 Orbea Orca Aero bottle
The aero bottle and cage make the bike faster, but have to be used together. If you want to use standard, round bottles, you’ll need to swap in a standard bottle cage.
Orbea

Stiffness to weight

Keen to ensure the new Orca Aero climbs as efficiently as possible, Orbea says its goal with any road bike is “always to reduce the weight but keep the stiffness required for power transmission”.

An unpainted, size 53cm frame is claimed to weigh 1,140g, plus 430g for the fork. This builds out to a 7.6kg complete bike with Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 or SRAM Red eTap AXS and deep-section carbon clincher wheels.

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The Orca Aero frameset is made from Orbea’s lightest, stiffest carbon fibre blend.
Orbea

Orbea says its OMX carbon fibre (Orbea’s term for its lightest, stiffest carbon fibre blend) and a size-specific lay-up procedure results in a bike that “shows no efficiency loss, even on the hardest climbs”.

This claim is a result of real-world climb testing with Orbea’s sponsored professional team, Euskaltel–Euskadi. Riders were tasked with riding up hills at a target speed on different bike setups, and the power required to do so was recorded and taken as a marker for climbing efficiency (with less power equaling more efficient climbing).

According to Orbea’s testing, a 400g weight increase leads to a penalty of only a few watts, even on steep, 10 per cent gradients.

2022 Orca Aero vs weight
Orbea’s testing showed the relationship between adding weight to a bike, versus the extra power required to overcome that additional mass on various gradients.
Orbea

Though this may sound surprising (received wisdom is weight matters above all else on climbs), the tide may be turning in our understanding of what actually slows road cyclists down.

Indeed, according to simulations by Swiss Side, a pure aero road bike with clincher or tubeless tyres may have been the fastest bike setup for Stage 11 of the 2021 Tour de France, which included two ascents of Mont Ventoux.

Handling

Another key difference between a road bike and a time trial bike is how they handle out on the road.

Time trial bikes are typically designed for high-speed, straight-line stability. Road racing bikes, on the other hand, need to feel nimble and versatile.

Orbea says the Orca Aero’s updated geometry strikes “the perfect balance of responsiveness and stability”.

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
A short wheelbase and short chainstays are intended to make the Orca Aero feel responsive under power.
Orbea

Firstly, the wheelbase has been shortened by a few millimetres (976.1mm on a size 53cm, down from 980mm on the old Orca Aero), and the chainstays are kept short at 408mm, across the size range. Orbea says both of these characteristics should help the new bike feel more responsive.

Stack height has also been reduced by 5mm across the board, to promote a more aerodynamic riding position, and the bottom bracket drop has increased by 4mm to add more stability to the handling.

2022 Orbea Orca Aero Geometry
Frame size47495153555760
Seat tube length (mm)459474499524544564589
Top tube length (effective, mm)507.6520.8532.9545.5557.5573.1587
Head tube length (mm)93.1100.8117.2134.9155.2173.2200.4
Chainstays (mm)408408408408408408408
Bottom bracket height (mm)260260260262262262262
Bottom bracket drop (mm)76767674747474
Wheelbase (mm)9662971974.8976.1986.4996.91010.8
Head tube angle (degrees)7171.572.272.873073.273.2
Seat tube angle (degrees)74.57473.773.573.573.273
Standover height (mm)717728.5750.1775794811.6835.8
Reach (mm)370376380385391398404
Stack (mm)496505523542562580606
Fork length (mm)370370370370370370370

Ergonomics

Orbea has steered away from a fully integrated cockpit on the new Orca Aero, saying it means “massive ergonomic gains for very little compromise”.

While fully integrated front ends work great in wind tunnels, the lack of adjustability they typically have is often detrimental to ergonomics and aerodynamics once a rider is involved.

This is because optimising a rider’s bike-fit and riding position is crucial for maximising comfort and aerodynamic efficiency.

Orbea’s new 6061 alloy stem has a -10 degree rise and comes in seven lengths, from 70mm to 130mm. The faceplate and integrated bike computer mount have also been redesigned to add angle adjustment.

The new OC3 Aero road handlebar is made from carbon fibre and comes in four sizes, from 36cm to 42cm. It features 80mm of reach and 125mm drops which flare out by 5 degrees. The handlebar can also be rotated up or down by 15 degrees, for further positional refinement.

Out back, the updated aero seatpost is said to further reduce aerodynamic drag, and offers 25mm of setback adjustment range and +/- 10 degrees of tilt.

Orbea Orca Aero builds and availability

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The Orca Aero gets Shimano’s latest 12-speed groupsets, but there’s no firm dates for when these builds will be available.
Orbea

The Orca Aero will be available in six different builds, with Shimano or SRAM groupsets. There are seven different frame sizes, from 47 to 60.

Each build is available with a choice of three stock paint jobs, but builds and paint jobs can be customised via Orbea’s MyO programme. This allows customers to swap component sizes for free (a different stem length or handlebar width, for example), and make component upgrades (better wheels, tyres or a power meter crankset) at additional cost.

Orbea says some builds will be available at launch, depending on component availability, with others coming as soon as Orbea can get its hands on the parts.

Orca Aero M10iLTD

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The Orbea Orca Aero M10iLTD
Orbea
  • Price: £9,599 / €9,599 / $9,999
  • Frameset: Orbea Orca Aero OMX
  • Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9200
  • Brakes: Shimano R9270 hydraulic disc
  • Wheelset: Shimano R9250 C50 Disc Carbon TL CL
  • Tyres: Vittoria Corsa Competition G2.0 TLR, 700x25c
  • Saddle: Prologo Dimension T4.0, size 143mm

Orca Aero M11eLTD

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The Orbea Orca Aero M11eLTD
Orbea
  • Price: £8,299 / €8,299 / $8,999
  • Frameset: Orbea Orca Aero OMX
  • Groupset: SRAM Red eTap AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Red eTap AXS hydraulic disc
  • Wheelset: Vision 55 SC Disc Carbon TLR CL
  • Tyres: Vittoria Corsa Competition G2.0 TLR, 700x25c
  • Saddle: Prologo Dimension T4.0, size 143mm

Orca Aero M21eLTD

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The Orbea Orca Aero M21eLTD
Orbea
  • Price: £5,799 / $6,299 / €5,799
  • Frameset: Orbea Orca Aero OMX
  • Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Force eTap AXS hydraulic disc
  • Wheelset: Vision 40 SC Disc Carbon TLR CL
  • Tyres: Vittoria Rubino Pro IV G2.0 TLR, 700x25c
  • Saddle: Prologo Dimension T4.0, size 143mm

Orca Aero M20iLTD

Orca Aero M20i LTD
The Orbea Orca Aero M20iLTD
Orbea
  • Price: £5,799 / €5,799 / $6,299
  • Frameset: Orbea Orca Aero OMX
  • Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8100
  • Brakes: Shimano R8170 hydraulic disc
  • Wheelset: Vision 40 SC Disc Carbon TLR CL
  • Tyres: Vittoria Rubino Pro IV G2.0 TLR, 700x25c
  • Saddle: Prologo Dimension T4.0, size 143mm

Orca Aero M31eLTD PWR

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The Orbea Orca Aero M31eLTD PWR
Orbea
  • Price: £4,799 / €4,799 / $5,299
  • Frameset: Orbea Orca Aero OMX
  • Groupset: SRAM Rival eTAP AXS, plus SRAM Rival AXS powermeter
  • Brakes: SRAM Rival eTAP AXS hydraulic disc
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing 400 DB
  • Tyres: Vittoria Rubino IV G2.0 TLR, 700x25c
  • Saddle: Prologo Dimension T4.0, size 143mm

Orca Aero M20LTD

2022 Orbea Orca Aero
The Orbea Orca Aero M20LTD
Orbea
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  • Price: £3,999 / €3,999 / $4,499
  • Frameset: Orbea Orca Aero OMX
  • Groupset: Shimano Ultegra R8000
  • Brakes: Shimano R8070 hydraulic disc
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing 400 DB
  • Tyres: Vittoria Rubino IV G2.0 TLR, 700x25c
  • Saddle: Prologo Dimension T4.0, size 143mm