Orbea’s Ordu triathlon and TT bike was first launched in 2006, and has seen plenty of success and rave reviews from 220 testers over the years. Most notably, it’s been consistently ridden to blisteringly fast times by Andrew Starykowicz, with the American consistently recording the fastest Ironman bike splits in history over the last decade.
For 2021, the Ordu has been given a full revamp, now boasting hydraulic disc brakes, clearance for tyres up to 30mm, completely integrated cable routing and plenty of innovative new features designed by Orbea in-house, all intended to make it faster, more comfortable to ride and easier to adjust.
As with any cutting-edge tri bike in 2020, Orbea has done the homework to come up with what it says is the “best compromise” possible between aerodynamics, stiffness and weight. Around 2,500 hours of R&D and calculations later, the Spanish brand claim to have created the ideal machine. Orbea says the total drag reduction of a mighty 11.5% compared to the Ordu of old should translate into a 41sec improvement over an Ironman bike leg of 180km, riding at an average speed of 43km/h (we can dream).
That might not seem like a huge amount at all for an eight-grand outlay. And yet, the weight saving and a claimed increase in stability should add up to a more comfortable ride, one that allows you to hold your aero tuck for longer, which is as important as anything for going fast over 180km in the real world.
The Ordu launched with three complete builds in the range, starting at £4,199 for the M20Ltd with Shimano Ultegra mechanical shifting, and the top-of-the-range M10iLtd test model seen here with Dura-Ace Di2 and Rotor’s new Aldhu crankset costing a shade under £8k. The same carbon monocoque frameset and fork, plus Vision’s 55mm deep SC carbon wheels feature on all three. While £4.2k isn’t cheap by any means, the M20Ltd offers tri bike tech that’s rarely seen at this price point, so is well worth your consideration if our hero model is out of your price range.
Our size S-M Ordu weighs in at 8.1kg without pedals and Orbea says the frame weighs 1.13kg. This is a fair bit lighter than other high-end disc brake tri bikes we’ve tested from the likes of Quintana Roo and Cervélo, and the lightest tri ‘superbike’ we’ve come across in recent years. (The Ordu comes without any integrated top-tube storage, rear storage or a hydration system, however, which all add extra weight if you specced aftermarket solutions.) Orbea says it managed to shave weight off the frame by redesigning the shape so the required stiffness was maintained throughout, but the amount of material used in areas for extra rigidity was cut down thanks to an adjusted laminating process and the use of high-modulus carbon.
Orbea credits the lengthened reach and relatively relaxed 72° head angle for giving the Ordu enhanced stability and a “more direct and reactive” control of the fork. The fork itself has a smooth profile and a hinge design, which significantly reduces the frontal area of the head tube. Coupled with base bars that are just 38cm wide, the whole front end is very narrow for extra drag reduction.
The bottom bracket area has been lowered to offer better weight distribution and balance, a feature we were huge fans of on the long and low Quintana Roo PRsix 2 reviewed here. Just four sizes are offered but, thanks to the transformative Ordu OMX integrated bar system, there should be an Ordu to fit most triathletes, no matter how flexible or inflexible, tall or short you are.
There are numerous pad positions, and you can even flip the bridge that the pads sit on for an extra 120mm of reach adjustment. The height of the Vision Metron aero extensions can be adjusted quickly and easily with a new mono-riser contraption, which is very similar to the ‘Speed Riser’ system on Cervélo’s PX Series. You can also tilt them up to the tune of 15° if you prefer your bars right out in front of your face.
A FINAL TRICK
The final trick up the sleeve of the Ordu OMX front end is that the base bars can be flipped around for an extra 30mm of height. The brake and gear cables do have to be disconnected to do this, although the pads, mono-riser and bridge just require hex keys to make adjustments. At the rear, the seat clamp can be slid back or forward to adjust the seat angle from a more relaxed 74° through to a fairly aggressive 78°.
Orbea has also designed its own aero bottle (manufactured by Elite) and downtube toolbox for the new Ordu and, according to Orbea’s testing, both reduce drag by 1.6% and 1.3%, respectively. Take the toolbox off and the Ordu is fully UCI-legal, which will only really be of concern to elite cyclists and those racing the National Time Trial Championships.
The reach of the Ordu has been extended to make the Ordu handle more predictably and, soon into our first test ride, we were impressed with how ‘normal’ it felt despite the rocket ship-esque appearance. That’s not to say it feels as familiar as a road bike straight away and, like anything that goes this fast, it takes a bit of adjustment. It’s also refreshing to ride a tri bike that weighs more or less the same as a quality road bike, making it sprightlier on climbs and nimbler through corners. Orbea believe that the weight reduction compared to its previous Ordu will only shave nine seconds off an Ironman course with 2,000m of elevation but, even so, we’d go for the Ordu to take on a notoriously hilly race like Ironman Lanzarote over a tri bike pushing 10kg.
Setting the Ordu up with a fairly relaxed position, we felt like we could ride on the extensions all day and found things very comfy in our aero tuck. On a bumpier test ride that required more use of the base bars, we did find that the shape of the bar wasn’t hugely comfortable and our palms started to ache towards the end of the ride.
As far as the shifting and braking is concerned, we can’t really fault Shimano’s excellent Dura-Ace Di2 paired with hydraulic disc brakes. Shifting was set up sequentially and 140mm rotors provided plenty of stopping power. Rotor’s Aldu cranks with Rotor chainrings don’t appear to offer any discernible benefits over a Dura-Ace crankset, but they’re a little lighter to save weight.
The Vision 55 SC carbon wheels are solid all-rounders that won’t cause you any trouble in crosswinds – although seriously competitive racers may want to go deeper and spec a disc wheel at the rear for fast and flat courses. While we welcomed the Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres on British roads in October, we were puzzled by their inclusion because these are high-mileage tyres that we’d inevitably swap out for something speedier in a race. On a bike costing £8k, we’d have expected Orbea to cut to the chase and spec race tyres. The toolbox is convenient and easy to use, highlighted by a puncture we suffered on one of our test rides. It can easily fit an inner tube, tyre lever, multi-tool and CO2 inflator, and can be taken off and reattached rapidly. We found Orbea’s Aero Bottle easier to use than the Aerobottle 500 that features on the Cervélo P-Series (reviewed in issue 380) due to the cage being placed slightly further up the downtube for easier access. It’s still fiddlier than a standard round bottle and cage but, with some practice, clamping it back in can be performed with minimal fumbling.
When pressed about the decision to lose the top-tube mounting bolts that featured on the previous Ordu, and forgoing an integrated hydration solution, Orbea told us that it was all about giving the rider the choice to spec their own preferred accessories. “There are many solutions in the market that can be fixed with Velcro and can easily be removed,” said Orbea’s road product manager. “We considered the food bag is something that isn’t used every single ride, but mainly in competitions. The bag must be placed behind the stem rotation point, so we decided to give the consumer the freedom to customise their solution. They could even place a bag on the armrest bridge.”
While choice is extremely important, could Orbea guarantee that its countless hours of aerodynamic optimisation would be maintained if aftermarket solutions were added? Not exactly, as we were simply directed back to the claim that the Ordu shows an aerodynamic improvement of almost 3% with the Aero Bottle and toolbox added.
Considering other brands are integrating far more storage options as part of the bike’s ‘system’, we found the Ordu a little underwhelming when it came to accessories. Practically, there’s no issue with leaving it down to us customers to spec the extra storage and hydration options of our choosing. But without a very expensive trip to an aero testing facility, all Orbea’s hard work to aerodynamically optimise the Ordu could theoretically be undone by a poorly set-up hydration system, or an ill-fitting top-tube bag that catches the wind.
SPEED VS STORAGE
Of all the latest tri super bikes we’ve tested, we think the Ordu is one of the best when it comes to ride quality, and was just easy to get on with from the off. It feels responsive and easy to handle through corners and on descents, and when you’re bombing down a flat stretch of road on the aerobars, it feels as fast as any other tri bike we’ve ridden.
Overall, we were mightily impressed by the handling, low weight and speed of the Ordu, but less so by the more minimal storage solutions. The frame design is cutting edge, and the low weight and sensible geometry give it a more familiar ride feel than many of its streamlined counterparts. The price is also a little bit nicer than the competition for a top-of-the-range model (it’s all relative!), and the huge range of adjustment means there should be an Ordu to fit any seriously competitive triathlete with deep pockets.