Spanish bike manufacturer Orbea has today revealed the new Orca Aero, which it says is the brand’s most aero-specific bike ever.
The Orca has long been the racing bike of choice in Orbea’s stable (aside from the Ordu, of course), getting the aero treatment back in 2017. Now, the brand has revisited the design and developed a new iteration of the carbon fibre bike that focuses entirely on the desire to go all-out and gain every advantage possible.
But as much as speed gains were a key aim, balance has also been at the core of the brand’s thinking throughout the development of the Orca Aero. “Historically, considering only the three design factors of aerodynamics, stiffness and weight rarely yields dramatic improvement. Big gains in one area always compromise one or both of the others,” the brand said.
“The key to building the best aero road bike is finding the balance of these targets, and identifying additional performance factors that allow the rider to increase efficiency.”
Ordu-inspired aero enhancements
In order to gain an advantage aerodynamically, Orbea took learnings from their dedicated tri bike, the Ordu. The key areas of aero improvement on the Orca Aero are:
- The introduction of horizontal top tube and chainstays to improve airflow
- Aerodynamic optimisation of the down tube and seat tube profile specifically for 25-28mm tyres
- The upper seat tube junction has been aligned with the airflow in order to reduce drag around the rear wheel
- A new fork has been designed that’s optimised for high profile wheels
- There’s also a new aero handlebar, stem and seatpost, which is said to reduce drag by 2%
All of these developments have been extensively tested in computer simulations, modelling and wind tunnel sessions, though this was without a rider. However, in the brand’s real-world testing, they took the bike onto the velodrome and had it tested as a whole system with a rider at high speeds. The result, Orbea claims, is an improvement of 15W at 40km/h and 28W at 50km/h.
Like the Ordu, there’s also an aero-optimised bottle and cage, plus an aero storage box on the underside of the downtube. Both accessories are said to actually improve aerodynamics, but you can use your own standard bottle and cage if you’d prefer.
An aero bike that climbs
It’s typically a challenge to design an out-and-out aero bike without adding weight and affecting climbing ability, but it’s something Orbea believes they’ve done here. In testing, the brand says the Orca Aero shows no signs of efficiency loss while climbing and that stiffness and power transmission remain high.
In fact, Orbea says: “The OMX carbon fibre and the specific lay-up for each frame size makes the stiffness-to-weight ratio of this aero frameset one of the most efficient and fastest on the market.”
Geometry that works
Also key to the perfect balance is handling, Orbea says. The position on the Orca Aero is designed to be aggressive to maximise body aerodynamics and efficiency, while ensuring precise and intuitive handling.
As part of that, the brand says the bike comes with a shorter, more responsive wheelbase, shorter chainstays for better acceleration, and a lower stack and bottom bracket drop for better aerodynamics and stability.
There’s clearance for 30mm, though as we mentioned earlier, the frame’s been optimised for 25-28mm rubber. However, that extra clearance does mean you have space to play with if running 28mm tyres at lower pressures.
The importance of ergonomics
Orbea recognises that one of the key elements to a perfect balance and faster performance is ergonomics. As such, they’ve designed the cockpit to deliver on that front. They’ve moved away from a fully-integrated cockpit, so you can rotate your bars, change stem lengths and swap handlebar widths in order to get a more personalised position that allows you to maximise your aero gains and reduce fatigue.
The all-new 6061 alloy stem comes in seven lengths (70-130mm) and has a rise of -10 degrees, while there’s also full cable integration, which sees the cables sneak under the stem and into the headset. Meanwhile, a redesigned computer mount now features tilt adjustment, allowing you to adjust your bike computer to your liking.
Orbea’s new aero bars are made from carbon fibre and are flared by five degrees, while there’s up to 15 degrees of rotation and a choice of width and reach for customisation. They come in four sizes from 36cm to 42cm.
There’s also 25mm of setback adjustment and +/- 10 degrees of tilt on the new aero seatpost, which is said to effectively reduce drag from past designs.
Orbea Orca Aero specs and prices
The Orca Aero is available in multiple configurations starting from £3,999 (using Shimano’s mechanical Ultegra groupset and Fulcrum Racing 400 wheels) and going up to a lofty £9,599 (sporting Shimano’s brand-new Dura Ace Di2 groupset and the new Dura Ace wheels). All models are disc-brake only.
Seven frame sizes are available, ranging from 47-60.
- Orca Aero M10i LTD; new Shimano Dura Ace Di2 groupset; new Shimano Dura Ace C50 wheels (£9,599)
- Orca Aero M11e LTD; SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset; Vision SC 40 Carbon wheels (£8,299)
- Orca Aero M20i LTD; new Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset; Vision SC 40 Carbon wheels (£5,799)
- Orca Aero M21e LTD; SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset; Vision SC 40 Carbon wheels (£5,799)
- Orca Aero M31e LTD PWR; new SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset with power meter; Fulcrum Racing 400 wheels (£4,799)
- Orca Aero M20 LTD; Shimano Ultegra groupset; Fulcrum Racing 400 wheels (£3,999)
Each build comes in three different paint jobs but, as ever, the brand’s MyO platform allows you to customise components and aesthetics so you can build the bike to your own personal taste.