Based in the Pyrenees, Orbea has grown into a strong and popular bike brand, and can be seen supporting, among others, World Ironman Champion Craig Alexander and Olympic men’s road race gold medallist Samuel Sanchez. Coming in at the more modest price of £799, it was going to be interesting to see how the San Remo Aqua fared against the GT Series 2.
The Orbea’s frame is an aluminium alloy with a carbon front fork. The down tube and top tube are triangular through the cross-section, which offers the bike some character for the eyes but also some quirkiness for the feet. Whether it’s down to the shape of the tubes or the alloy they’re made from, there’s a slight sensation of skating on ice when you put the power down: the power you put in on acceleration isn’t thoroughly translated into the bike’s performance. Like an ageing small-engine car, it holds the speed well, but getting there in the first place seems to take an age and a lot of effort.
The pearl white colour may help with being seen at night (and go with everything), but that will only last as long as you can keep the bike clean. The perils of a white bike will soon become apparent after one or two rides through tractor-driven, cow-trodden country lanes. Yes, come summer the bike will shine like it should, but is it worth all those winter months of cleaning it?
The front end is a little shaky and the apparently short (95mm) stem seems to add to the feeling. The less-than-responsive brakes could create a somewhat nervous ride, and this is disproportionate in the balance considering how solid all the other aspects of the bike are for the price.
The Shimano Tiagra groupset hints that more has been spent on the frame than the components (though unfortunately the frame’s handling doesn’t seem to bear this out). It would take a major upgrade to move from the Tiagra with its nine-speed cassette to Shimano’s 105 10-speed if you felt you needed the extra gear. The 50/34 crankset is useful for those who wish to spin away the winter, although the change from small to large cog did seem rather clunky.
The wheels, as with many lower-priced sets, may need to be checked after a few rides due to the creaky noises of the spokes settling in under tension. The Vittoria Zaffiro tyres (the same as on the GT) do however provide good grip and puncture protection, and should easily see you through to the spring, at which point you might want to think about putting on a more race-specific set.
The brake levers come with integrated built-in gear markers. This allows the rider to see which gear they’re in simply by looking at the brake hoods rather than weaving across the road while trying to look down at the cassette. This could be an advantage for those who are new to cycling or simply unsure of their bike handling skills. For the purists among you, though, it’s a visual aid that you might prefer just to feel.
Frame 7000 series aluminium
Forks Orbea Carbon
Groupset Shimano Tiagra
Wheels Shimano WH-500 Black
Cockpit Orbea black bars with semi-integrated head set
Seating Selle Italia x2 Pro with Orbea carbon seatpost
Weight 9.25kg (20.39lb) without pedals
Sizes 48, 51, 54, 57, 60cm
Contact : Orbea 01449 711632 www.orbea.com