Cross-country is having a resurgence, with a slew of fairly rad rigs capable of taking on the techiest of tracks getting released recently.
These bikes are designed for the rigours of race courses and to be fast-climbing, mile-munching machines that hopefully won’t hold you back on the descents too much.
This latest generation of XC bikes has to handle steep climbs mirrored with rock gardens, root mats, jumps and berms on the way back down.
Orbea’s Oiz is one of these, and while it’s is an XC racer at heart, having spent plenty of time on the race course under a raft of top-end race teams, using Orbea’s MyO program you’re able to tweak the spec at the point of purchase to further customise the bike to your preferences.
Want more powerful brakes and grippier tyres? A dropper post for marathon type rides or the techiest of XC descents? No problem.
I added a dropper post during the order process for a build that focuses on marathon racing with long descents. Andy Lloyd
Orbea does offer an Oiz TR, which comes as stock with a slightly burlier build, as well as a 120mm fork for even more trail-taming. However, for the purposes of this review I’m testing the 100mm version, which I up-specced for marathon racing, with slightly wider bars and a dropper post.
Orbea Oiz M-LTD frame and suspension details
The carbon frame offers 100mm of travel, via a linkage actuated single pivot that relies on lightweight, flexible stays rather than a seatstay located pivot.
The main swinglink is carbon to help keep weight low, while all the pivot bolts are nicely recessed into the frame for a clean look.
The frame has all the usual internal cable routing options, including for a dropper, as well as routing for the shock’s bar-mounted ‘Squidlock’ compression damping lever – for on-the-fly firming up of the fork and shock.
The shock’s Squidlock cable leaves the frame just under the forward shock mount, with the shock itself nestled in the underside of the top tube.
There’s space for a couple of bottle cages in the frame and there’s some frame protection built on to the chainstays, too.
Orbea has added a small chainguide, just for that extra piece of mind when between the tapes, but it barely has a weight penalty, so is a worthwhile addition.
Orbea Oiz M-LTD geometry (L)
The Oiz’s shape is up to date for an XC race bike, with a Large coming with a 456mm reach, a 69-degree head angle, 75-degree seat angle and 1,148mm wheelbase.
Orbea offers the bike in five sizes: S, M, L, and XL with 29in wheels, as well as a Small with 27.5in wheels.
Its shape gives little doubt that it is an XC bike, but there’s more to a bike than its figures alone.
Seat angle: 75 degrees
Head angle: 69 degrees
Chainstay: 43.5cm / 17.13in
Seat tube: 47cm / 18.5in
Top tube: 61.7cm / 24.29in
Head tube: 10.5cm / 4.13in
Bottom bracket drop: 4.7cm / 1.85in
Wheelbase: 1,148mm / 45.2in
Stack: 60cm / 23.62in
Reach: 45.6cm / 17.95in
Orbea Oiz M-LTD kit
This top-line Oiz is dripping in top-spec parts.
There’s the SRAM XX1 AXS wireless groupset with its carbon cranks, Level Ultimate brakes and DT Swiss’s latest XC-race XRC-1200 Spline carbon wheels shod in skinny Maxxis Ikon and Ardent tyres, both 2.2in wide. The front Ikon is a triple compound tyre, while the rear Ardent is just a dual-compound version.
The bike sits on Fox Factory suspension; a 32 StepCast fork with 100mm travel and DPS shock.
FSA supplies its carbon K-Force 760mm bars, as well as a stem and post (unless you go for a dropper), and Selle Italia provides a suitably fly-weight X-LR Carbonio saddle.
Orbea allows a level of customisation, with fork (120mm option), brake (XTR) and a dropper post available – I added its 125mm OC2 dropper (£89) for a more marathon-type build.
The bike also comes under the MyO program, which allows you to select your own frame and logo colours at no extra cost.
Orbea Oiz M-LTD ride impressions
The bike was ridden on my local XC trails, as well as further afield on much longer days over a range of terrain.
I had few issues setting the bike up – it was nice and easy. I did forget to charge the AXS drivetrain, though. My fault, but it did leave me unexpectedly without gears on a longer ride.
I also found that the AXS paddle, when set up in my preferred position for thumb placement, pressed up against the foam grip when pushing the paddle upwards – clearance is tight.
Orbea Oiz M-LTD climbing performance
The heart of the Oiz is clearly in XC, with a taught, responsive frame that gives nothing away in the quest for instant acceleration.
With the shock locked, or in its trail mode on rougher climbs (via the easy to operate and access on-bar Squidlock), the low-profile tyres that are mounted to lightweight rims surge forward easily with each pedal stroke.
While the tyres don’t give buckets of traction on greasy or muddy tracks, the suspension digs in and there’s plenty of anti-squat there to prevent the bike feeling soggy when you’re really putting the power down.
The upright seat angle is also a bonus on longer, steeper climbs, putting your hips in the optimal position over the cranks for power transfer and comfort.
It also allows you to get your weight further forward on steep climbs, to prevent the front wheel wandering where you don’t want it to.
SRAM’s wireless XX1 AXS drivetrain was faultless, so long as it was charged! Andy Lloyd
Shifting across the gears, with the wireless electronic derailleur taking the strain, is excellent; precise, light in feel and dependable.
As mentioned above, when the lever fouled the grip on the bike, with numb fingers from the cold, I did find myself mis-shifting occasionally – something that moving the shifter a touch on the bar helped with.
Orbea Oiz M-LTD descending performance
Within the confines of an XC bike, the Oiz is a capable descender too. The suspension has just enough progression to stop you constantly banging off the bump stops and the contemporary geometry makes for relative confidence when tracks get steeper.
The suspension’s suppleness allows the tyres to track the ground nicely and, while they’ll never win prizes for their grip levels, the suspension doesn’t make their job any more difficult.
Its light weight and fast handling makes it an easy bike to pick up and place where you need it; tidy line-choice is always the best way to go when you can’t just point, hope and hang on, like you might with a true trail bike.
The tyres allow high speeds on fast, flowing trails, but when they lose traction, you’ve not long to react, with the back end especially keen to step out and cause a spike in your heart rate.
Supple suspension helps you keep it pinned round corners. Andy Lloyd
The addition of a dropper helps confidence, at the expense of a little weight, but I feel this is a cost worth considering. It allows you to get your weight lower and further back on steep sections, and prevents the saddle bucking you as you pop off drops or shimmy over rocks and roots.
Through more manicured corners, such as those found at a trail centre, the Oiz rips, carving beautifully before really letting you open the taps with its stable suspension ahead of the next obstacle.
Orbea Oiz M-LTD bottom line
The Oiz clearly deserves its position as one of the top XC full-suspension bikes right now.
Riders who love big, epic rides, where miles covered are as important as the quality of the descents will also appreciate the Oiz.
It can descend well too, so long as you aren’t expecting the flat-out performance that the latest generation of trail and enduro bikes give.
While I’ve talked a lot about the Oiz’s descending performance, it is worth bearing in mind that it’s still a bike with cross-country DNA right at its core.