Basque biking’s superpower Orbea unveiled a new XC race weapon, the 26in, 100mm race rocket called Oiz. Yes, we did say 26in.
In a world seemingly obsessed with 29in wagon wheelers or the in-betweener 650b size, Orbea developed a 26in full-suspension XC race bike.
Two of Orbea’s key testers and co-developers of the bike are Luna Chix racer Catherine Pendrel and Orbea’s own Julien Absalon. Both racers required a superlight yet smooth bike for rough XC and marathon courses, opting for the benefits of suspension with a 26in wheel over a 29in hardtail.The Oiz, named after a local mountain, proved to be that bike.
In construction, the Oiz has a one-piece carbon front triangle mated to a bonded carbon rear triangle with a one-piece carbon link that has a clever tensioned steel tie bar to boost stiffness. Whilst all new the bike carry’s the Orbea aesthetic with pride, with some unique features built in, such as the down tube’s subtle flaring to create a mudguard. It all adds up to around 9kg for a complete bike.
Using a single pivot with a link-activated shock, Orbea stuck to a familiar format for the suspension. But the company designed seat stay flex that allowed them to remove the extra pivot that would normally be on either on the seat stay or chain stay (depending on which patent you’re paying for), reducing both weight and maintenance.
Orbea engineers found the elite racers’ sag requirements are much lower than that of normal riders. The racers use the suspension for extra traction rather than a plush ride, thus the suspension kinematics were developed to work within the 15-20 percent sag range, rather than the typical 20-25 percent of other systems.
The attention to detail should get bike nerds excited. For example, the cabling is a low-maintenance combination of internal routing and Gore-Tex lined cable. This should provide a season of smooth shifts, but only a long-term test through a gritty British winter will prove the theory.
Orbea claimst the Oiz is the first production bike that is fully compatible with Fox’s ICD electronic damping system.
On our initial ride around sections of the Roc D’Azur’s marathon course proved that the bike is very fast, thanks to its ultra-low weight and confidence-inspiring smooth suspension.
A 26er dual-suspension race bike might seem to be breaking with the current status quo of XC racing, but in the Oiz Orbea have certainly got a contender for a top flight XC or marathon race bike.