With modern trail bike geometry, a striking frame and solid parts list, it promised to be a trail ripper of a bike. Ben spent the summer finding out.
The Occam is the little sibling to the full enduro Orbea Rallon. With modern trail bike geometry, a striking frame and solid parts list, it promised to be a trail ripper of a bike.
Photos by Dave Price.
- Fox Factory 36 150mm fork
- Fox DPX2 Factory shock
- Shimano XT 12-speed drive
- Shimano XT 4-pot brakes
- DT Swiss XM-1650 Spline wheels
- Orbea OC2 Dropper
- £4499 + £139 for Fox 36 upgrade.
- Total £4,638.00 RRP
Frame and Build Kit
Whether you like the baby blue and orange paint job or not, there is no denying that this is a seriously pretty bike. The proportions and angles just look, right. The offset shock design, swooping carbon shapes and alternating gloss and matte paint look amazing, and the best bit is, that for a price you can customise every part of the paint and graphics using Orbea’s MY-O process.
For the main frame colour there are 23 options, and all in matte or gloss finish. For the secondary colour, above the bottom bracket, there are 23 colours. For the main Orbea logo there are 6 colours, and then you can choose from 23 colours for the extra decals. The choice is endless and the online configurator is very responsive, showing exactly how your bike will look.
The personalisation doesn’t stop there though as you can also go through most of the bike’s components, swapping and changing to get exactly what you want. Not many brands can offer that level of service and personalisation and it really makes buying an Orbea a unique experience.
I tested a size large Occam M10 with a base price of £4499. At this price point it comes with a 140mm Fox Float Factory 34 fork, however I opted to increase the travel and capability with a Fox Float Factory 36 with 150mm travel. This also slackened the head angle to 65.6 degrees from 66 degrees with the Fox 34. This upgrade costs an additional £139.
A real highlight of the geometry chart for me was seeing sensible, 440mm chain stays on a bike like this. So many brands are still pushing the, ‘shorter is better’ nonsense with chain stay length and in my opinion this leads to an unbalanced ride, at lest on the larger frame sizes. For me, a length of 440mm is bang on for a trail bike, blending balance, stability and manoeuvrability.
The M10 was built up with a Shimano XT 12 speed drivetrain and brakes and I have to say, both were faultless throughout. In particular the shifting from the new XT groupset is so reliable, and unlike most SRAM clutch mechs, the clutch is still fully functioning after several months of abuse. The brakes were very consistent throughout the test period, with plenty of bite and no need to bleed or fiddle with them.
When the Occam turned up I was a bit worried about the relatively light DT Swiss XM-1650 wheelset, as I have ruined more than a couple of light weight wheels over the years, but my concerns were misplaced. DT really seem to have the materials and manufacturing nailed for their rims and I found them to be really tough and reliable, even after some pretty hard abuse. The 30mm internal width rims are laced to some silky smooth DT hubs that ran smooth and fast for the whole test.
The bike is finished off with a range of Orbea components and a Race Face Next R 35mm clamp bars and stem.
The relatively light weight 14kg (31lb) combined with steep, 77 degree seat angle make the Occam a spritely climber that can spin efficiently up the steepest fire road climbs. If you stand up and put some power down, you appreciate the light rims and anti squat in the suspension design as you surge forwards.
Whilst you obviously lose some watts compressing the suspension, it feels pretty direct and tight out of the saddle. It encourages you to work hard and give it some beans on climbs as it is so rewarding If you normally ride a shorter travel bike or hardtail, you would probably appreciate the Occam’s climbing prowess whilst being quite surprised given the travel.
On single track climbs it is a fun and engaging ride. Leaving the shock open you get plenty of traction with the long chainstays helping to keep your front wheel down as you navigate roots and stepped features. The general climbing position is roomy thanks to the 474mm reach on a size large, but I never felt stretched out or uncomfortable.
I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought this bike would feel a bit more ‘XC,’ and a bit more like a ‘trail centre slayer’ rather than a true all mountain bike, but I could not have been more wrong. No matter where I took it and no matter what conditions, it absolutely ripped.
With 30% sag front and rear I dropped in for my first couple of shake down runs. Having tested a lot of bikes over the past 6 years I am fairly good at getting used to a different bike and getting up to speed, and the baby blue Orbea was no exception, except it only took about 30 seconds of riding to feel right at home. It really is an easy bike to ride. There are no quirks or strange sensations, just a feeling of balance and control.
Whilst the geometry is not the most aggressive, it works really well as a complete package making it a jack of all trades, from pumpy flow trails to the steepest gnar that South Wales has to offer. In particular I really liked the poise and balance of the bike. It sits quite high in its travel and felt like it had plenty of ramp up in the Fox Factory DPX2 rear shock and this was well matched with the new 2021 Fox 36 up front.
The theme of balance continued as on the size large you really feel like you are riding between the 29” wheels, rather than off the back on other bikes with long front centres and short rear ends. This helps you to stay neutral when you want to and to subtly weight the front or rear tyre as you manhandle the Occam through tech trails.
On the subject of tyres, my only real gripe is that the heaviest casing tyre you can select for this bike is an EXO which I quickly punctured and had to bin. Bikes like this should have EXO+ tyres as an option for only a tiny weight penalty and for minimal extra cost. In the end I ran a mixture of EXO+ and Double Down casing tyres from Maxxis over the summer and found the extra support and protection to be really positive on such a capable bike.
When things are smoother and flowing, the Occam is a lot of fun, and whilst it rewards a good pump, it also encourages you to pedal, so you can ride however you like. The bike feels tight and responsive and likes to be popped and manualled down the trail.
On properly tech terrain there is a decent amount of grip and the bike never feels so stiff that it deflects off of roots and rocks. It makes good use of its travel, using it sparingly and this means that it does not feel super plush under foot. Rather than hugging the ground closely, it skips over smaller depressions and holes for a lively ride that can get a bit wild under heavy braking. If you set up for turns properly though the decent reach and 780mm bars put you in a great position to corner hard and fast, holding lines and tipping it in hard.
When the trails get tighter and slower the Orbea was surprisingly agile as well, showing how well rounded a bike it is. I really enjoyed threading the needle between trees in dark, muddy forestry blocks with it only requiring a momentary reduction of pressure between turns to flip the bike from
one side of the tyre tread to the other. It really felt like I achieved some pretty extreme lean angles, at least for me!
I punctured the EXO casing tyre after a couple of rides.
The best comparison I can make is to the Santa Cruz Hightower which I rate as one of my all time favourite bikes.
Whilst I can’t prove it with timing, my gut feeling is that the Hightower is a bit faster and more ‘racy,’ possibly down to the Santa Cruz carbon rims but also thanks to the VPP suspension layout. The Occam is a more comfortable ride and a lot easier for a wide range of riders to get along with compared to the Hightower which takes some time to get used to.
If pushed, I would probably say the Occam is more fun, more often than the performance focused Santa Cruz.
What do we think?
The Occam M10 is a seriously rad bike that I kept reaching for as we eased our way out of lock down. It looks great and rides even better and I found it to be fun, fast and effective on every trail I rode it on. As someone who likes gaudy and bright bikes, I also love the option to customise your own frame and build.
- About 73,000 different colour paint and decal options
- A true all-mountain bike that works on any trail
Could do better:
- No tough tyre options on MY-O customisation