Spain’s biggest bike brand, Orbea, have a simple approach to their road range. It consists of just three models, starting with the aluminium Aqua, stepping up to the Onix and stopping at the Orca. But there are 21 variants of the Orca, beginning with this Bronze level frame and rising up to the Gold level GDi2 with its precious metal price of £8,199.
With the Bronze, rather than just specifying cheaper materials, Orbea have also used carbon with a different character. While the Gold is all about stiffness and low weight, the Bronze is more concerned with compliance; weight isn’t so much of an issue, and the B105’s overall 8.5kg (18.7lb) is pretty good from a bike with this specification, suggesting a reasonably light frame.
The frame itself blends bold structural lines and neatly crafted touches. We love its modernist polished metal head tube cable guides, the angular seat tube junction and box-section angular seatstays. In contrast to the futuristic styling, there’s external cable routing rather than the current fashion for hiding cables wherever possible. The result is a smooth-shifting ride that’s fuss-free when it comes to maintenance.
The same is true of the bike’s dimensions. Straight down the line parallel 73-degree angles and a sub-metre wheelbase are classic race bike. The fork’s straight blades keep the steering on the sharp side of neutral, just where we like it, too.
The last time we looked at the 105-equipped Orca we were impressed, less so with the kit but more the ride. The frame has the rare ability to feel both muscular and powerful yet comfortable over broken surfaces.
Orbea orca b105: Orbea
Orbea Orca B105
The thunderous manner in which it eats its way over scarred tarmac encourages lengthy bouts at a rapid pace. It’s only when the road starts to rise you’ll notice it lacking in the wheel department.
There’s no problem with the quality of the Shimano R500 wheels, but they belong on a bike a few rungs further down the price ladder. They’re not helped by the Rubino Pro tyres – reasonable performers in the dry yet average in the wet and not that light.
Orbea also give you the option to switch to a classy 3T Arx stem and the brilliantly shaped 3T Ergonova aluminium bar. We like this significant improvement over the standard own-brand cockpit – now if it could only do something about those wheels…
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.