After Orbea released their re-vamped Rallon platform with plentiful media acclaim, it was inevitable that the shorter travel, all-mountain conquering Occam would see a similar treatment. The separate Orbea Occam TR and AM models were consolidated into one; combining aspects from each, and the learnings from the development of the Rallon. The result is this 140mm travel, asymmetrical framed 29er intended for a rider seeking “the best bike for the widest range of conditions”.
Orbea supplied the M10 model of the Occam for three months of testing; during which time it was subjected to everything from bike park abuse, right down to bike-path blasting as the Covid-19 induced pandemic spread across the world and shut down non-essential travel.
THE LAB Orbea offers the Occam at a wide range of price points, from the entry level Alloy-framed H30 model at $2,599, to the $7,999 bling-spec’d carbon M-LTD build. The H30 is built mostly with in-house components and a Shimano SLX drivetrain delivering good value and performance. The M-LTD features the carbon frame, a full Shimano XTR groupset and carbon DT Swiss wheels and leaves very little to be desired for those with a large chunk of cash burning a hole in their pocket.
The model tested was the Orbea Occam M10 – the second-from-top level, carbon-framed build. At $5,499, the M10 sees a full Factory level Fox suspension package paired with the excellent Shimano XT groupset, DT Swiss XM-1650 wheelset and a Race Face cockpit. A Fizik Taiga saddle is suspended by an in-house, OC2 170mm dropper fitted with a Shimano dropper lever to round out the bike.
Certainly a high-performance, purposeful kit, that combines to create a lightweight package that should still stand up to some abuse. Orbea offers optional upgrades to select components that allow the customer to obtain their desired spec. We opted for the $185 fork upgrade option and fitted a 150mm Fox 36 Factory Grip RC2 instead of the 140mm Fox 34 Float Factory Fit4 fork. For our riding style and terrain, adding to the capability of the bike and knocking half a degree off the head angle is a no-brainer. The Maxxis DHF/DHR Exo tire combo is an additional “upgrade” from the stock Maxxis HR2’s, providing the all-important connection to the ground.
For buyers looking to make their rig truly unique, Orbea offer the MY-O custom building service, with options to customize individual elements of the main and secondary frame colors; the graphics; and select upgrades to the spec of the bike. MY-O then generates an incredible render of the bike from many different angles to give an exceptionally realistic representation of the final look.
The Orbea Occam M10 is built using their OMR (Orbea Monocoque Race) carbon fiber frame, which blends “high-modulus and high-strength carbon fibers” to create a “combination of stiffness, low weight and durability that is unmatched”, in their words. This produces a complete bike that tips the scales at a very reasonable 13.9kg (30lbs), whilst remaining impressively stiff, given its intentions. The asymmetrical design allows for a bottle to be concealed within the front triangle, so long as the rider is happy to use a left-side entry cage.
Geometry on the Orbea Occam is quite average for a bike in 2020 – which is no bad thing – with the size Large tested sporting a 474mm reach and 627mm stack. There’s a 66° head angle and 77° seat angle across all sizes (slackened by 0.5° with the 150mm fork upgrade), accompanied by a 440mm long rear end and 35mm bb drop to create an all-round blend of capability and maneuverability.
It’s clear that Orbea have given a lot of attention to the fine details on the Occam, from rattle free and exceptionally clean internal cable routing (save for some sleeved external sections around the BB), through to the neatly integrated chain guide. The smooth frame lines and matte paint finish ooze quality, and the bike arrives fully built up (in what can only be described as a cardboard mansion) so you can get on the trail in a matter of seconds.
THE DIRT I opted for the size Large Orbea Occam, which at 6’2″ is slightly “too small” for me based on Orbea’s size guide, however I’m not fully sold on the extra long reach movement. That being said, I found the Occam was on the smaller side but still very comfortable for me. A lot of my local riding involves very tight and technical trails, where long bikes can be quite a handful so I wasn’t all that upset at my decision to size-down.
Setting up the Occam is as simple as you like. Perhaps a stroke of luck, but after setting 30% sag with 280psi in the Fox DPX2 and inflating the fork to 92psi, the Orbea felt great from the get go and only required minor compression adjustments in the fork. With this set up being such a breeze, it was easy to hop on to the bike and focus on learning exactly how the Occam performed on a variety of terrain.
Climbing position is very comfortable, with the 77° seat tube angle providing a great, centered position on the bike and making it easy to balance grip on the rear with weight on the front wheel. There’s no need to touch the compression lever on the DPX2, thanks to a healthy amount of anti-squat keeping the Orbea Occam remarkably neutral under power. But the wheel isn’t driven into the ground hard enough to produce an uncomfortable ride on chunky climbs. It seems Orbea have produced a bike with minimal compromises in the climbing department.
The supportive nature of the Orbea Occam’s rear end is somewhat of a super-power in fact. I’ve never ridden a 140mm travel bike that manages to inspire pedaling energy quite like this bike, with riding buddies terming it the “E-Bea” as they watched me putting down maximum watts at any given opportunity. When standing and pedaling, the bottom bracket remains in a neutral position with no hint of wallowing, making it a pleasure to navigate through tighter trails where timing pedal strokes is critical.
With my initial ride being at a fairly mellow trail center, I was sold on the pedaling characteristics but left with a big question about the aggressive capabilities of the bike. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise to find that when the going got rough, and the terrain challenging, the Orbea performed every bit as well as it should, giving a fine mix of forgiveness and support that took some fairly rowdy terrain to surpass its capabilities. The stiffness of the carbon rear end is not excessive, with a small amount of give that combines with the relatively compliant DT wheels to strike a nice balance. The hardware on the Occam is well-engineered with tolerances that create an extremely tight feeling rear end, without a hint of loosening throughout the testing period – a rarity for a bike under my control, and especially for a bike being used somewhat outside its intended purpose. I had the Occam on some of the gnarliest trails at two of Wales’ finest bike parks and only wished for a burlier bike on the chunkiest and most flat out trails.
The Geometry is of course not as progressive as many bikes that are coming out. If stability, speed in rowdy terrain and forgiveness are at the top of your priorities list then you may be better served by another brand. However, given the “all-mountain” intentions of the Occam, I feel that Orbea have done a good job with the geometry, with adequate stability for the most part, without the boat-like drawbacks that the most extreme bikes are suffering from. You can change direction and squeeze through tighter turns on the Orbea Occam with ease, yet there’s still a great deal of descending potential to be tapped into. The one minor quirk I found in the steepest of terrain was a slight tendency for the front wheel to “tuck” under heavy braking efforts coming through steep turns. A tad unsettling at first, but resolved with a less lazy approach in the corners. The use of a 44mm offset fork may be to blame here to an extent, with a longer offset possibly helping to neutralize this characteristic, but it really is a minor one in the grand scheme.
The stock configuration of the DPX2 (with a 0.2 spacer) creates a generous amount of progression, and as such there were only a handful of times where the bottom out bumper was noticed through my feet. There’s no mistaking that it’s a 140mm travel bike, but it is one that allows you to press send from time to time. On flow trails, the support in the rear end provides a generous reward of speed when pumping, and there’s adequate stiffness and tire clearance in the rear end to allow corner slashing to your heart’s content.
Braking generates a fair amount of firming of the rear, keeping a consistent body position but occasionally leading to a bit of feedback when breaking through the rough. Nothing unmanageable, but it can lead to a loss of traction under braking from time to time and can have flat pedal riders looking for taller pedal pins.
Out the box, the Orbea Occam’s striking two-tone colorway and smooth lines create a sporty look that perfectly matches the character of the bike. The component spec on the M10 creates a package that is a pleasure to ride. The Hyperglide+ Shimano XT gearing is incredible, allowing you to maintain power delivery to the rear wheel without the need to let off at all, and providing a perfect match to the pedal-friendly Occam. The 4-pot XT brakes combined with 180mm Freeza rotors provided consistent braking throughout testing, with no hint of the shifting bite point that has plagued many of its predecessors, and a surprisingly well modulated power delivery for a Shimano brake. The addition of the 150mm Fox 36 fork was a very welcome one, boosting the capabilties and control of the bike by a sufficient amount to justify the increased weight on the front end. There was only one issue with the rest of the Occams’ parts, in the name of the EXO casing rear tire, which suffered an ugly death at the hands of a piece of razor-sharp Welsh slate. Everything else performed well for the testing duration – a testament to the people who put together the parts package.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Orbea Occam is one hell of a bike. Capable on a huge variety of terrain, well put together and well spec’d, the M10 is a true machine for all mountains. Few bikes have provided such a good time on so many different types of trail, be it mellow trail centers, flowy bike parks or natural gnar, the Occam provides a great tool for it all.
Efficient pedalling Capable 140mm travel rear end Well put-together Great parts spec
Front end can occasionally tuck We have to give it back
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