Orbea Ordu M10 tri bike review
In 2012, US triathlete Andrew Starykowicz rode the fastest-ever Ironman bike split of 4:04:39. A year later, he lowered that mark to 4:02:17. That’s an incredible 44.58km/hr average over 180km. Starykowicz’s partner in crime was an Orbea Ordu OMR.
OMR is Orbea’s top-end monocoque carbon frame, featuring the ‘highest grade of carbon fibre for strength and compliance’. OME, as used on the M10, is a mix of that high end and a more affordable fibre/resin combo. That explains the mid-point £3,499 price tag.
“Unlike Starykowicz’s model, this bike’s not all about out-and-out speed,” says Damian Hackett, Orbea’s head of UK sales. “Yes, it’ll send you to T2 fast, but it’s designed to be used by age-groupers on a regular basis, so it’s robust, with standardised components that can be easily replaced.” You might think that’s a mask to conceal a lack of innovation but, with 13 bikes alone in Orbea’s triathlon range, there’s potentially a ride and advancement to suit your needs and budget.
Like many bike manufacturers, while R&D and administrative duties happen at their company HQ in Spain, actual bike production’s in China. “But they’re our moulds, our designs, our testing, our carbon lay-up,” says Hackett. “We’re actually looking to expand another plant we have in Portugal and hopefully begin carbon production there.”
That’d be a seismic leap for such a big player in the global cycling market and could be a matter of when, not if. In China, wages are climbing and, in an economy that so relied on the global economy, now there’s an increasing focus on the domestic market. It means they’re not so eager for the euro or dollar. Watch this space.
Of course, way back when in the 19th century, Orbea designed and manufactured everything in Spain…
Orbea celebrates its 175th anniversary this year; the Basque manufacturer beginning life in 1840 as a rifle and gun producer. Many of its weapons fuelled the Spanish Civil War in 1936 but, by then, Orbea had leased the peace and focused its efforts on bicycle manufacture.
Orbea became synonymous with Basque brethren Euskaltel-Euskadi, before 2013 saw the professional cycling team become another victim of the economic crisis, a crisis that saw Spanish unemployment hit 25%. Now Orbea has usurped Look in providing a fleet of bikes for Pro Continental team Cofidis.
In triathlon, its most successful partnership – with Craig Alexander – also proved the most controversial, with the Australian securing his 2011 70.3 world title on an unbadged Cervélo P4 – while still contracted to Orbea. A couple of weeks later, he confirmed he’d split from Orbea after seven years, before shaving 13 minutes off his Kona bike PB aboard a Specialized Shiv en route to his third Ironman world title.
As PR exercises go, Orbea couldn’t have wished for a bigger blow. Mind you, whether it hit sales is debatable, with the Spanish outfit currently selling over 250,000 bikes each year.
Orbea’s ‘user-friendly’ ethos permeates the M10. The 78° seat angle for our medium is pretty standard triathlon fare, but it’s partnered with a 170mm crank. You’d usually expect a 172.5mm on a bike of this size, but Orbea has gone lower to open up the hip angle and so give your glutes and hamstrings an easier time over a 180km Iron bike leg, which should pay off come the run.
The extra carbon at the tube junctions is there for rigidity as much as aerodynamics
Standouts from a good-looking frame are the extra swathes of carbon placed between the triumvirate of top tube, head tube and down tube, and between top tube and seat tube. Both ends taper off, giving the impression that its benefits are aerodynamic. But looks can be deceiving. “The OME is more affordable than OMR, so you need a touch more material there for structural rigidity,” says Hackett. “That said, our wind-tunnel tests have shown that shape actually improves the efficiency of the bike at certain yaw angles.”
Princess-and-pea pedants might also notice the chainstays are a couple of millimetres longer than on previous incarnations. According to Hackett, that extra length’s down to two reasons. “One is to allow 25mm tyre clearance in the cut-out, but the primary reason is efficiency of shifting when using 11-speed.”
That’s imperceptible. What’s more noticeable is Orbea’s sizing guide. Like an increasing number of bike manufacturers, Orbea’s dispensed with traditional sizing based on seat tube length; instead, it uses the stack-and-reach method of fitting.
Stack is the vertical length from the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube. Reach is the horizontal length from the bottom bracket to the centre of the top tube. They reach the same two points but just from vertical and horizontal distances. So why’s that potentially more accurate?
“Essentially, you can play around with different head tube, seatpost and top tube lengths to achieve a similar fit,” says bike-fitting expert and Ironman Rich James. “That’s not specific enough for your height. Stack and reach changes proportionally through the sizes, so should be a more accurate fit.”
Click here to read our verdict on the Orbea Ordu M10 (2/2)