I'd been dreaming about riding an Orca. Picturing the build... Running and re-running the numbers through our database. Making sure I knew how it would fit. I built the bike up in my imagination until it realistically had no shot at meeting expectations. It couldn't possibly be as good as they said, could it?
When it finally arrived, I was chomping at the bit to get it out on the road. We threw it together, ball-parked my fit, and I headed out the door. More on that later. For now, let's talk a little bit about the bike.
Out of the box, the Orca M10 is a SOLID race bike. At $5499, it is quite possibly the most bang for your buck of anything on the market. The frame is Orbea's current top of the line OMR version being raced by the Cofidis squad. It is decked out with the aforementioned Dura-Ace 9100 mechanical groupset (a more thorough review coming later!!!), a full FSA cockpit, and Vision Tri-Max 30 Clinchers.
I used a pair of the Visions as my primary wheels all last year on a different bike. They are quite remarkable for the price. Buttery smooth hubs, moderate aerodynamics, super high spoke tension, and above average good looks. When shoed up with my standard Specialized Turbo tires (26 width), they do everything very well, and nothing poorly. Climb, sprint, corner, descend, cross winds... You name it, the Visions deliver.
The drivetrain? Shimano knows what they are doing. Dura-Ace is still Dura-Ace. It's flawless. Quiet. Crisp. Precise. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the new 9100 was that I didn't give it a single thought the entire first ride. It just disappeared. Zero missed shifts. You can't ask for more from a drivetrain. I'll be digging into the new Dura-Ace further in a later blog post, but for now, let it be enough to say that so far, it has been perfect.
The FSA cockpit and seat post were stiff, light, and beautiful. They matched the aesthetics of the bike and the ergonomics were top notch.
The bar itself was a little wide for my scrawny shoulders, but it was close enough to my fit to be serviceable. We torqued everything down and headed out.
My first ride was somehow both jaw-droppingly exciting, and impossibly infuriating all at the same time. How so? Well, I need a different crank length and saddle than what comes stock on the bike, and unfortunately, the correct parts were not going to be available until the following week. But did I wait?
Heck no! I took it on a 45 mile jaunt with the Cyclologic Saturday Group Ride! And how did it go? I'll give you the bad news first... The crank being too long was extremely uncomfortable. I was all over the saddle, and my hips were killing me. (More on crank length optimization coming soon too!)
The good news? The Orbea Orca M10 is a flat out racer's dream come true. I have been racing and riding bikes for 35+ years. I have ridden just about everything. In all that time, and in all those bikes, I have never ridden anything that accelerates as fast as the new Orca. Period. If you push down hard on the pedals, the bike shoots forward. And the steering? Darn near telepathic. The Orca responds to the slightest bit of input. This is not a bike designed for a cautious rider. It is at its best, and most enjoyable, when you are going fast. Preferably, full gas.
The second ride, we installed the correct crank length, and saddle, and instantly, any negatives I had about the bike disappeared. My hips quieted down, my cadence increased, and the Orca somehow got even faster.
So there you go. I've got a rocket ship of a bike that handles and performs like an absolute dream... But did we stop there? Heck no!
Being Cyclologic, we decided to kick things up a notch... BAM! (Apologies to Emeril)
We took what was already an insanely fast bike, and turned it into a pro-tour level, no compromises dream bike. If it was a motorcycle, the stock Orca M10 would be a fully blown street racer that snapped your neck back with every acceleration. Something a little like this:
With the Cyclologic ENVE upgrade package thrown into the mix? It's a little more... How do I put this?
The Orbea Orca is that good.
Stay tuned for more updates. I'll be writing in more depth about the Orca, Dura-Ace 9100, crank length optimization, and the ENVE upgrade in the next few weeks.
For now, just sit back and enjoy the view.
I know I am.