Orbea began life as a rifle and gun producer back in the 1840s, so we were wondering whether this bike would have bullet-like speed – not least because it’s sold as ‘the natural choice for road racing’. Unfortunately we don’t think Orbea has quite hit the target with the Orca Dama S105.
Although the bike is super stiff, the seatstays incorporate some twisted shaping, designed to absorb road vibration without compromising that stiffness.
The reality is that although it did absorb a significant amount of rough on some pretty testing roads – with potholes big enough to break car suspension systems – acceleration was slow compared with others we’ve tested.
The shaped seatstays and chainstays are designed to add comfort to the rear end: Seb Rogers
There are positives though. On flat, smooth stretches of road the Orbea shines. Once you’ve put the hard work in and built up your speed the quality of the ride suddenly improves, to the point where it almost feels like you’re gliding. And on descents, the Orca feels rock solid and stable, even at speed, handling tight bends with ease.
Climbing, on the other hand, is a bit of an uphill struggle – if you’ll excuse the pun. On hills that we’d usually climb easily in the saddle,we were having to stand up and grind our way to the top.
A cutaway seat-tube hugs the rear wheel for optimum airflow: Seb Rogers
The groupset is Shimano 105 and it works perfectly, as expected, though for a bike at this price – it’s the most expensive bike here, and by quite a long way too – you could be forgiven for hoping for at least a sprinkling of Ultegra.
Overall, the Orbea is a bike of contradictions. Nippy on the flat but slow to get going. Great coming down, but not so good going up. Stiff and rigid, while remaining smooth over rough roads. But definitely not bullet-like. Probably time for us to drop the gun metaphor then…
This article originally appeared in Cycling Plus – Women‘s edition