It goes without saying the Orbea is an all-around slayer, it didn’t win our most versatile, All Mountain Enduro eMTB award without a fight. Some may wonder how a bike with “2018 geometry” could ever win? Well, we want to be clear, this bike didn’t win our All Out Shredder eMTB Award, that honor is taken by the much more aggressive, YT Decoy. However, the same thing that makes a bike like the YT Decoy so good on the gnarliest and steepest descents, is the same thing that makes it sluggish, heavy-feeling and overkill compared to the Orbea Wild FS on everything else.
In a time when brands are chasing that PNW mentality of having the longest front ends with super-slack head tube angles, we applaud companies that are still willing to produce bikes that will outperform those gravity sleds on what we’d venture to say, most mountain bikers ride. The Orbea Wild FS is that bike. Our testers all agreed this would be the ebike we would recommend to most riders after we asked them about their local terrain, riding style and demands.
Let’s get into the weaknesses of the bike first. The Wild FS has a short reach and steep head tube angle. For our nearly six-foot tall test riders, the bike was comfortable but felt short compared to many of the new-school bikes in the category. It was something that made it so much fun on the ups and flatter terrain but left us feeling a little bit skittish on the rowdiest, high-speed descents. We wouldn’t go so far as to say it slowed us down, but we had to mentally force ourselves to stay off the brakes and let the bike work.
Conversely longer and slacker bikes like the Giant Reign E+, Commencal Meta Power and Norco Range VLT allowed us to just point and shoot. We debated on whether an XL would have been a better option, but after looking at the numbers realized, that while we would have gained stability and confidence on the flat out DH tracks, we would have lost the lively, playfulness that we loved about the Wild everywhere else. Ideally we’d like to see the Orbea Wild FS with a 170mm fork and/or 65- to 64.5-degree head tube angle.
One of the major standout features our riders pointed out when it came to riding the Orbea Wild FS was the Bosch Performance CX Cruise motor. Boasting 75Nm of torque and up to 340% assistance, the Bosch Performance system offers an incredible on-trail experience. Combined with the Orbea’s geometry, climbing even the steepest, most technical switchbacks became doable. Hill climb challenges are a new favorite thing of ours and we’d be lying if we didn’t say all our testers felt like whoever was on the Orbea (or other Bosch bikes) had a serious advantage.
The Bosch system offers their smart eMTB mode, which automatically takes input from your speed, cadence and torque to deliver the right amount of boost to conserve battery or save your bacon. Our riders liked the quick but smooth engagement of the system as it comes on naturally, it doesn’t linger on too long as some motors do, and it really does encourage you to try and climb just about anything.
Our one critique of the Bosch systems is the Kiox display. While it is a beautiful and information-filled unit that techies will enjoy, the fact that your bike will not turn on if the unit is not powered could mean the difference between a great day and a nightmare.
The screen is designed to break away quickly in the event of a crash, however we’ve already broken one personally and heard stories of others hitting the display with their knee, or forgetting to take it off and putting in on a bike rack, or fixing a flat and flipping the bike over on the seat and handlebars and breaking the display off.
If the connection to the docking terminals is in any way damaged, the unit will not power on, and that means your bike won’t power on. So a gnarly crash in the backcountry could mean your painful ride out just got a heavy dose of salt on your open wounds.
Moving on from the Bosch system we’ll get into the amazing suspension and handling of the bike. Orbea did a great job of creating a well-rounded bike that does it all. It rides light and lively on all sorts of trails. It snaps around corners, pops over obstacles and handles bigger hits quite well. A volume reducer may be needed in the shock and fork if you’re regularly finding yourself hucking drops, but most riders should get along fine without one.
If you spend your time riding multi-use trails that are tight, technical and have lots of engaging features, the Wild FS is absolutely going to be your ride. That is of course if you’re looking for something with 160mm of travel. If you need less for your local trails, check out our Trail Category winners here.
Before we even took the Orbea to Palm Springs we spent a lot of time riding it in Bend, Oregon and some of our favorite PNW trails. We hit everything from tight, twisty singletracks through the pines, to steep DH tracks with back to back drops into catch berms. As we mentioned above, the slightly short reach and steepish head tube left us wanting a little bit more, it still hung with the best thanks to the impressive suspension and snappy handling. What it lost on the all-out DH it more than made up for everywhere else.