Orbea Orca M50 review

Highly advanced Spanish flyer

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £2,699.00 RRP | AUD $4,599.00 | USD $3,899.00

Our review

A solid all-rounder with boundless potential for speed and spot-on handling
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The newest Orcas have been designed to blend the latest in carbon lay-ups and low weight while introducing some aerodynamic elements.

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This is most apparent at the front, where the shaped and smoothed head tube is accompanied by a wide-legged fork with narrow but deep legs. The semi-aero down tube meets an oversized bottom bracket shell, while the wheel-hugging bladed seat tube rises to meet a diamond-shaped seatpost.

  • Highs: Beautifully balanced handling, smooth ride and excellent equipment
  • Lows: Issues with a slipping seatpost
  • Buy if: You want a true racer’s machine with more than enough comfort for sportives

A further nod to aerodynamics is the full internal cable routing. But unlike some companies Orbea uses permanent internal channels. This makes the Orca easier to re-cable than most and means it stays rattle-free on the road.

The cutaway shows the orbea’s racy intentions:
Robert Smith

The cutaway shows the Orbea’s racy intentions

The narrow seatstays and chainstays kink outwards quite sharply before the rear dropouts. Orbea claims this helps them to dissipate vibrations and prevent road buzz from reaching you. And over broken surfaces the frame and fork certainly do a good job of nulling road noise. Yes, the overall ride is quite firm, but it is never uncomfortable – which is a difficult trick to pull off.

We like the fact that Orbea fits size -specific stems, our 57cm test bike coming with a 13cm stem rather than the usual ‘10cm whatever the frame size’. This long, low position places the rider over the cranks and enables you to generate maximum power when seated while still giving you plenty of room to get out of the saddle and attack on the hills.

Despite being racy as hell, this orca won’t leave you bruised at the end of a long day:
Robert Smith

Despite being racy as hell, this Orca won’t leave you bruised at the end of a long day

In spite of that racy setup the handling proved reassuringly neutral, hovering between the relaxed nature of an endurance bike and the snappy handling of a circuit racer. Like a Grand Tour machine this is the perfect jack of all trades. On fast descents it holds no surprises, it tracks perfectly through fast corners and doesn’t bite back (unlike an actual orca) even in mid-corner corrections.

Its kit is just what we’d expect at this price: a full raft of Shimano’s excellent 11-speed Ultegra, with no cost-cutting measures on the drivetrain or brakes. The 50/34 chainset and 11-28 gearing is ideal for most riders, offering a gear range low enough for most climbs and high enough for fast efforts.

The standard M50 comes with Mavic’s Aksiums. We went for the Mavic Ksyrium Equipe upgrade. This is the default high performance alloy wheelset: tough, light and very well put together (though we’d have preferred 25mm rubber to the 23mm Yksions fitted).

It all looks very neat, but we had problems with a slipping seatpost:
Robert Smith

It all looks very neat, but we had problems with a slipping seatpost

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Our only issue was with the carbon seatpost. This is fitted using a beautifully machined fluted seat clamp, with a Torx bolt securing an internal wedge. It should have proved a neat solution, but our post was very prone to slipping – getting scored as a result. Carbon prep did hold it, but Orbea should have pre-treated it or supplied some carbon prep. After all, you really don’t want to be left mid-ride regretting having packed a Torx-less multi-tool.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Orca M50 (14)
Brand Orbea

Available Sizes 48cm 51cm 53cm 55cm 57cm 60cm
Weight (lb) 17.02
Seatpost Orbea Orca specific
Shifters Shimano Ultegra 11-speed
Stem FSA Gossamer 13cm
Weight (kg) 7.72
Wheelset Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S: F & R 20 bladed spokes
Year 2014
Spoke Type 20 Bladed Spokes Front and Rear
Saddle Selle Italia SL Flow
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 26.5
Chainstays (cm) 42.5
Seat Tube (cm) 54
Standover Height (cm) 82
Top Tube (cm) 57.5
Wheelbase (cm) 100
Seat Angle 72.5
Rear Wheel Weight 1540
Bottom Bracket Shimano Ultegra PF
Frame Material Orbea monocoque performance carbon
Brakes Shimano Ultegra
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 11-28
Chain Shimano Ultegra
Cranks Shimano Ultegra 50-34 175mm
Fork Orbea monocoque performance carbon 1 1/8- 1½in
Fork Offset 4
Front Derailleur Shimano Ultegra 11-speed (braze-on front)
Rear Tyre Mavic Yksion Comp 23mm
Front Tyre Mavic Yksion Comp 23mm
Front Wheel Weight 1150
Handlebar FSA Wing compact 42cm
Head Angle 72
Headset Type FSA Integrated
Rear Derailleur Shimano Ultegra 11-speed
Frame size tested 57cm