I was lucky enough to take out a shiny new eight grand Rise M-Team for a few sloppy hours in the Forest of Dean to get a feel for the latest creation from Orbea. This was a particularly interesting bike for me, for two reasons:
I just handed back the excellent Orbea Occam, on which the Rise is based. As you can see from the review, it is a bike that I rate highly and really enjoyed riding.
I have also been testing the Specialized Turbo Levo SL, which was the first to market with their slimmed down, light weight e-Bike.
This gives me plenty of reference points to compare the Rise to, and although it was only a few hours, I feel like I got a good flavour of what it has to offer. If I were to sum it up in a couple of words, I would simply say that on the trails it really feels like a trail bike, and that is exactly what Orbea were trying to achieve. It feels light, flickable and agile and you can really feel the shared DNA with its muscle-powered cousin, the Occam.
Of course, when you head up the hill, you can engage one of the three modes on the Shimano motor, from Eco, up into Trail and then ‘Cheat’ mode. At this point you do feel the difference between the Rise and a more conventional full size, full power e-Bike. It does not give you as much assistance and there is less torque available when you really stomp on the pedals (60Nm compared to the EP8’s usual 85Nm). Having said that, the reduced power is offset by the lack of mass, so it is not as drastic as the raw numbers may suggest.
Part of the weight saving is down to the 360Wh battery, rather than the more conventional 500+ Wh units on most e-Bikes. The reduced battery size also means a reduced range, but given it uses less power, how that actually plays out in the real world remains to be seen and I suspect that it will go a surprising distance under a lighter rider.
The power delivery is also noticeably different to conventional e-Bikes that often give you an extra spurt of power when you let off the pedals. Using custom Shimano software, the Rise feels very close to normal pedalling, it just makes you more powerful. This was especially noticeable on tech climbs with little steps or logs to clear.
You tackle these a lot like a normal MTB, with aggression, a timed front wheel lift and then committing your weight forward, lifting the rear wheel and getting back on the pedals. Compare this to a full-fat e-Bike where you just pedal at it, smash into it and let the motor get you up the crux. It is a different and very rewarding experience on the Rise.
Down rooty, natural trails I felt right at home on the sporty Orbea, with its balanced geometry and light but well-thought out build kit. It was running ‘Spanish Winter’ tyres that were a bit low on traction, but it made for some fun times threading the needle through a dark, wet forestry block. It tips into turns with eagerness, but also with a level of stability thanks to the low down weight of the motor and battery. With some meaty tyres and with the suspension dialled in for my style, I have not doubt that this thing would rip.
The only thing that let it down was the noise over rougher sections. This comes from two places, the Shimano motor, (when freewheeling, as opposed to the motor running), and also from the chain hitting the chain stay immediately behind the chain ring. The noise was a real shame as it detracts from a fun and smooth ride.
What do we think?
Overall, it was a really fun few hours sliding around on the Rise. This emerging genre of e-Bike are really interesting and first impressions are that Orbea have brought something pretty special to the light weight e-Party.
If you don’t like the idea of a big, unwieldy e-Bike with tonnes of assistance, then the Orbea is definitely worth a test ride. I think bikes like this will open up electrically assisted riding to a wider range of riders and may even convert a few e-haters.
An e-Bike that doesn’t feel like an e-Bike.
Best looking e-Bike on the market
Could Do Better:
You can check out the full Orbea Rise range on their website here.
Read all our other bike tests on our Bike Reviews page here.