The Orbea Carpe 40 is certainly a clean-looking machine. The Spanish company has combined a frame with aggressive, fixed-gear, street-bike like angles and a short wheelbase with a simple 1x drivetrain and efficient all-weather Shimano disc brakes, fast-rolling tyres and a design that is all about fast handling to give you the best level of confidence for commuting and urban riding.
The Carpe’s frame is made from quality aluminium tubing, and features all the fixtures and fittings that I’d look for to cater for mudguards and a rack. The internal cable routing keeps the bike looking clean and I like that the Carpe has flat-mount disc caliper fittings.
It wears its fixed-gear inspirations on its sleeve with a frame that combines steep angles, an arrow-straight fork and a short wheelbase (1,063mm). Orbea has also sprinkled some modern mountain-bike thinking with a wide bar (640mm) and short stem (70mm).
That short stem and steepness of head angle make for a bike that turns in an instant, but isn’t twitchy, thanks to that wide flat-riser bar. Throw in the short chainstays (435mm) on the rear end and you have an agile bike, inspiring confidence to throw it into hard, tight corners or slice through gaps at speed.
Orbea Carpe 40 geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||75||74||74||73.5||73|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||71||71||71.5||72|
|Seat tube (cm)||43||48||52.5||55.5||58|
|Top tube (cm)||52.1||54.6||55.9||58||60.1|
|Head tube (cm)||10.9||12.7||15||17||20|
|Fork offset (cm)||5.1||5.1||5.1||5.1||5.1|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||7||7||6.8||6.8||6.6|
|Bottom bracket height (cm)||28.1||28.1||28.3||28.3||28.5|
Orbea Carpe 40 kit and performance
The contact points are great, too. The bar is nicely shaped with a shallow rise and a slight backsweep, while the ergo-shaped grips, not as deep as some, are the more comfortable for it. The Velo saddle, with its broad haunches and supple padding, makes for a comfortable perch.
The Shimano 7-speed shifter drives the Shimano rear mech with accuracy and solidity, and the chain guide keeps things in place on the single front ring. The gearing of a single 42-tooth ring and a 12-32 cassette out back is ideal for shortish commutes.
It is, however, not without issues. The Orbea-branded chainset looks good, and the chainring works well with the KMC chain, but you can feel some flex, especially from the non-driveside crank arm when sprinting.
It also creaked out the occasional protestation when riding hard. It’s a shame because elsewhere it feels bulletproof and agile. This is one bike that would benefit from a stiffer chainset.
The braking’s an all-Shimano, hydraulic affair. Both are plus points, though the calipers themselves aren’t flat-mount standard, so the bike is running some rather clumsy adaptors both front and rear.
The movement at the lever has quite a lot of travel before the brakes really start to bite. But when they do, the feel’s nicely progressive and has plenty of power to spare. I also appreciated the lack of undue noise or brake rub in all weathers.
Talking of which, the Carpe’s drivetrain and fittings all fared well in my outside-in-the-rain storage test. Wise choices, such as black anodised bolts keep tell-tale rust browning at bay. The KMC chain features a corrosion-resistant coating, too.
Sadly, the Carpe suffers when it comes to the rubber it’s rolling on. Chapeau to the Kenda tyres’ ultra-tough construction, as well as the reflective strips running on their flanks, but the broad 38mm dimension just saps energy when you’re looking to roll at speed.
These weighty tyres with unforgivingly stiff sidewalls and steel beads are so at odds with how the Carpe wants to be ridden, it’s akin to equipping Mo Salah with wellingtons instead of his lightweight Adidas.
I switched in a set of 35c slicks and the difference was marked, cranking up the acceleration stakes without losing comfort. I’d recommend a switch to something like a Continental Grand Prix Urban, Challenge Paris-Roubaix or Michelin Protek Urban to get the Carpe motoring at its best.
Mind you, the wheels the tyres are bound to are just what I’d look for in commuter rolling stock. The 19mm internal rims suit broad tyres, and stayed true and rolled well.
And I like that Orbea has foregone quick-release wheels (that can be easily stolen) and replaced them with well-finished knurled bolts that hold captive 5mm Allen heads for wheel removal. It’s a neat, more secure alternative that looks good.
Orbea Carpe 40 overall
The Carpe is so close to being the ideal urban commuter; its core frameset makes for an exciting bike to ride and the chassis is so well put together with it. It’s just let down slightly by some middling componentry.
How we tested
We tested four bargain-priced flat-bar hybrid commuter bikes on typical commuter routes in towns and cities, up and down hills and along bike paths and towpaths.
We also locked them up outside in all weathers to see if any tell-tale browning occurred to fixtures and fittings with the onset of rust.
Also on test
|Price||AUD $1199.00GBP £519.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Tyres||Kenda K1067 700 x 38c|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano TY-300|
|Bottom bracket||Shimano BB-UN100 BSA 68mm|
|Front derailleur||Shimano TY-300|
|Frame||6000 series aluminium|
|Cranks||Orbea alloy 42t|
|Cassette||Shimano CS-HG200-7 12-32|
|Brakes||Shimano TX805 mechanical disc with Orbea trekking alloy 4-finger levers|
|Wheels||Orbea Airline Corsa disc 700 x 19c|