The original version of the Orca M25 started out as Orbea’s pro-level race machine, combining a 780g frame and sub-300g fork for one of the lightest chassis in the peloton.
This is the disc model, introduced in 2016, and although it’s 100g or so heavier than the rim-brake model, it’s still one of the lightest disc-specific frame and forks around.
The frameset employs the classic two-triangle shape, but the design’s not dated. Take the front end featuring a drag-reducing bowed fork with minimalist thu-axle compatible dropouts that’s keyed into the aero-shaped head tube for a clean, contemporary aesthetic, plus watt savings. It’s integrated with the ovalised headset cap and spacers that flow neatly into the OC2 stem for a combined sense of purpose and quality.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Orbea Orca M25 Team-D is part of our annual Bike of the Year test.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
Internal cable routing into the down tube and fork. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The frame’s voluptuous around the head tube and houses a tapered steerer and 1.25 to 1.5-inch headset. A thick-diameter down tube then blends into an oversized bottom bracket shell containing a BB386 unit.
Thick, squared-off chainstays meet the seat tube that’s near kammtail-shaped (a truncated airfoil design for reducing drag that sees the trailing edge chopped off) at the top.
From there, a triangulated and tapered top tube hugs minimal flattened seatstays. Special mention goes to Orca’s integrated seat binder with its unique design, which ensures, unlike some, easy access and tightening.
The triangulated and tapered top tube hugs minimal flattened seatstays. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The M25 comes with full Ultegra, including heat-dispersing Ice Tech rotors, along with Orbea’s own OC2 stem, bar and carbon seatpost, plus Prologo’s Dimension saddle.
But the standout is the impressive wheel package, combining Hutchinson’s all-season Fusion 5 tubeless tyres and Vision’s new SC40 wheelset. It’s based around Vision’s premium Metrons.
Cue a carbon wheelset featuring a 40mm deep, 24mm wide rim with a 19mm internal diameter that’s both clincher and tubeless ready. They’re built by hand and retail for £1,000, so to see them on a three-grand bike is impressive. The claimed weight of 1,556g a pair is as light as you’ll find on a bike at this price.
The Orca’s parallel 73.2-degree angles and 1,009mm wheelbase create a nimble handler. And though it’s a race machine, defined by the 590mm stack and 398mm reach, it’s more comfortable than I’d have predicted, helped by a compliant carbon seatpost, rear stays that nullify vibrations and that damping Prologo saddle.
The Prologo Dimension saddle and OC2 alloy seatpost offer plenty of vibration damping. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Things aren’t as comfortable upfront. A solid front end’s great for handling but delivers firm feedback, especially over gravelly tarmac roads. Quality bar tape would help; the ideal is an upgrade to a carbon bar.
The M25 excels on the climbs. The extra-light wheelset melds with the rigidity of the chassis, ensuring a truly responsive bike that thrusts forward with immediacy the moment you step out of the saddle and ascend.
Orca’s pitched for an 11-28 rear and, while many choose the wider gear range of 11-30, it never felt close to being under-geared.
Over rolling roads, the lower front end makes it easy to hunker down and generate longer power efforts. It’s helped by the Prologo Dimension saddle, as that short nose comes into its own when nestled down, ensuring there’s little pressure where you really don’t need it.
There’s very little to fault on the Orca M25. It features the perpetually impressive Ultegra groupset with no concessions to cost-cutting substitutions, an excellent wheelset, good year-round tyres and quality finishing kit.
The solid front end provides great handling but firm feedback, so an ideal upgrade would be from an alloy to carbon bar. David Caudery / Immediate Media
In an ideal world, I’d like to see the wheels arrive set-up tubeless to maximise the larger-volume tyres and their anti-pinch puncture qualities. And then there’s changing to a carbon bar for a more equalised ride.
But I can’t argue with the M25 and its brilliant all-round credentials complete with an impressive racy edge. It also packs in value that you normally only see from direct-to-consumer brands.
Orbea Orca M25 Team-D geometry
Sizes (* tested): 47, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57*, 60cm
Seat angle: 73.2 degrees
Head angle: 73.2 degrees
Seat tube: 54cm
Top tube: 57.6cm
Head tube: 18.6cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7cm
Bottom bracket height: 27.15cm
With thanks to…
BikeRadar would like to thank 100%, Q36.5, Lazer, Garmin and Facom for their support during our Bike of the Year test.