ORBEA RISE eMTB

Words & Photos by Cole Gregg
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics

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Much like their non-electrified siblings, eMTBs have been improving by leaps and bounds at a rate that makes Apples’ iPhone division blush. Subsequently the niche has splintered even further and consumers now have the ability to buy any variety of eBike from a long travel battery-packing power beast to lower-powered, lightweight offerings, like the Orbea Rise. We’re affectionately calling this category “eBike Light” and have seen a huge interest from riders who either don’t want the extra power or have been turned off by the heavy weight of full-powered eMTBs. If you’re looking to get into the eMTB game or want to add a lightweight eBike to your arsenal, the Orbea Rise is worth a good, hard look.

The 2021 Orbea Rise is a standout bike in the eBike Light category in every way and here’s a few reasons why. The top-of-the-line Rise weighs in at just 36.3lbs, Orbea worked with Shimano to create a custom-tuned Shimano EP8 RS drive unit that delivers a maximum 60Nm of torque, and a combination of internal and external batteries give you the ability to quickly choose a lightweight bike or a mile-crunching performance eMTB.  Compared to other notable bikes, like Specialized’s SL Levo and Kenevo, the Rise’s max power is nearly double in Boost mode, and definitely perceivable out on the trail.

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RS PHILOSOPHY AND THE EP8
Orbea developed their Rider Synergy (RS) philosophy in conjunction with the new Shimano EP8 motor. By working closely with Shimano, Orbea capitalized on a unique opportunity to have early access and build the new frame around the motor giving it the ultra-sleek look that we see today. The goal was to create a ride that was more “Bike” and less “E,” yet Orbea still managed to get an impressive amount of power and range. Shimano’s new EP8 system offers rider two power profiles that work seamlessly with Orbea’s RS firmware. While the two preset profiles are tuned to offer what Orbea thinks are great settings for more riders, the easy-to-use Shimano E-Tube mobile app allows owners to quickly slide the scale and characteristics of the motor. Some features of the EP8 RS are unique, but others carry over from Shimano’s full power EP8 system. For example, the EP8 RS motor on the Orbea Rise is tuned to perform best at 75 – 95 RPMs, like its full-powered EP8 siblings. This higher cadence is natural, comfortable and allows you to get full power when you are really pushing it on big climbs. When riding in Eco or Trail mode, the Rise is definitely a lower powered eMTB and gives the rider a less-assisted feel compared to full-power eBikes. It is on par with SL offerings from Specialized, until you kick the bike into Boost for hot laps or super steep climbs, at which time it will pull away from Specialized SL bikes rather quickly.

Range on the Orbea Rise comes from an internal 360wh battery developed in conjunction with Panasonic. This battery can provide up to 3,900’ or 1,200 meters of climbing when in Boost. If that is not enough you can drop their 252wh range extender in your bottle cage and get an additional 2,600’ or 800 meters of climbing. And that is in Boost mode! If you want even more time on saddle, you can drop down to Trail mode and squeeze out even more elevation, a whopping 2,900 meters or 9,500 feet with that range extender. Needless to say, it’s hard to want more!

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When it comes to designing the bike part of the Rise, Orbea’s design team took what they learned from the Occam and used that as the starting point. They set out to keep the ride characteristics as close to identical as possible. There are however some e-specific changes in place to account for the extra weight from the motor and battery. Orbea’s RS ethos extends beyond the firmware and motor and combines all aspects of the build to give the rider a seamless riding experience by, “Balancing size, weight and tech in a way that does not interfere with the joy of riding bikes.” During our weekend of filming with Orbea’s Parker DeGray, he mentioned something to me that has stuck in my head ever since our ride. He really drove home that the goal of this bike’s ride is to be “less E and more bike.” This could not be truer, from the clutter-free cockpit to the smooth power delivery and fun thanks to a supportive, and progressive suspension platform and balanced geometry.

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BUILDS AND GEO
Starting at $6,999 for the Rise M20 and going all the way up to $10,999 for the Rise M-LTD, Orbea’s options cover a wide variety of budgets and riding styles. Our Rise test bike comes with a 150mm Fox Float Factory 36 with the Grip2 Damper and 140mm of rear travel managed by a Fox Float DPX2 Factory Shock with a 3-position compression lever. This build is their more aggressive kit designed to maximize what the Rise’s frame is fully capable of. If you do not have terrain that requires a 150mm fork or prefer a lighter, more XC-oriented ride, the other models feature a 140mm Fox Float Factory 34 and Fox DPS Factory shock.

Another awesome feature of Orbea’s bike buying process is their MyO program. Available at no additional cost, customers have the ability to customize their Orbea bike’s color and paint scheme. They offer an extensive color customization palette; this is a great way to make and already great bike even better. Always wanted a bright red and lime green frame? Well, you’re in luck! When building your Rise on the Orbea website, you are also able to customize the parts kit to fit your exact needs. Maybe you want the more gravity focused suspension package but want lightweight tires for hard pack terrain, or maybe you want to go as light as possible and keep it XC, either way there are plenty of options to choose from. It’s a really cool feature and something that we would definitely take advantage of if we were buying our own Orbea Rise.

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The fit and feel of our size large is spot on for what we love out of a size large. Reach comes in at 474mm with 445mm chainstays. It’s not overly long or short but provides a super balanced feel on the trail and blends the pros of new school geometry without the drawbacks of being overly long and slack. The 336mm bottom bracket height offers plenty of pedal clearance for those technical climbs while not raising the center of gravity too much. Depending on the terrain you will be riding there is an adjustable flip chip that allows you to go from a 66-degree head tube angle down to 65.5 degrees. These numbers give the Orbea Rise a very lively feel that makes you want to charge into tighter sections of trails with less and less brake input each lap.

While you will save some weight with the Factory 34 and DPS shock we absolutely love the bigger suspension combo in the form of the Fox DPX2 and 36. We rode with USA Marketing Manager, Parker DeGray at some of our favorite trails in North Bend Washington, these offer steep chundery tech, high speed root sections and some heavy hitting jumps. The trails were clearly no match for the Rise, the bike stayed composed even when dancing on that edge of losing control. The rear shock tune is spot on. As a rider that is always adding the largest volume reducer possible to rear shocks, I felt completely comfortable riding the .2” reducer at 25% sag. We ended up drop in the .5” spacer to experiment with when it was time for a jump lap, and enjoyed the slightly extra ramp at the end, but wouldn’t say it was necessary by any means, and that’s not something we say very often.

Orbea has also launched a demo program in some of the world’s largest markets, which is a really great way to swing a leg over this bike and experience how this bike will perform for you.

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We caught up with Orbea’s US Marketing Manager, Parker DeGray, to dive even further into the Rise.

CAN YOU GIVE US SOME BACKGROUND ON WHAT RIDER SYNERGY IS AND HOW IT CAME TO BE A PART OF THE BRAND?
Parker DeGray: Our Rider Synergy (RS) concept is a new philosophy – a completely integrated system that becomes a reality when Power, Range, Interface and Weight are considered together.

It’s the idea that we are cyclists, and we enjoy the simplicity and experience cycling gives us. We want to focus on the ride, we don’t want this experience to be dominated by screens or lights, nor do we want our bike to make us feel like we are just a passenger. We want the bike to eco the rider and amplify the ride but not dominate the ride. This led us to focus on simplicity, low weight, handling, and a natural power profile, a compliment to the rider rather than a dominating factor.

HOW HAS RIDER SYNERGY PLAYED A ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RISE?
PD: Rider Synergy (RS) and the Rise are one and the same. The bike was designed from the ground up around this idea. This led us to a versatile 140mm platform that is one of the lightest ebike platforms on the market. It utilizes an uncluttered cockpit that lets the rider focus on riding and uses a power profile that let’s the rider ride, and the bike simply compliments them and their efforts.

WHEN DID DEVELOPMENT ON THE RISE FIRST BEGIN? WERE THERE ANY DRASTIC DESIGN CHANGES THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS?
PD: Development on the Rise has been in the works for a long time. We started working on this general project around the time we came out with the Gain platform on the road. We liked the low weight and rideability of that bike and wanted to apply this idea to a mountain bike. We then were able to get in at the ground floor with Shimano when they started the ep8 project and designed a bike in unison with this motor to create the most optimized platform we could.

CAN YOU FILL US IN ON HOW ORBEA WAS ABLE TO PACK SO MUCH POWER INTO THIS BIKE WHILE STILL RETAINING GREAT RANGE?
PD: We decided on 60nm as it gave us the best of multiple worlds. It allowed us to use traditional mountain bike parts which allowed us to keep the overall weight of the bike low. Then paired with a high-quality battery and the RS firmware we can get an efficient bike with fantastic range. 

WITH THE RANGE EXTENDER HOW MANY EXTRA FEET OF VERT COULD A RIDER EXPECT TO GET IN THE DIFFERENT POWER MODES?
PD: Here is a breakdown of the range on the Rise. This is based on a 160lbs rider on a MD frame. Larger riders may see a little less and lighter riders may see a bit more. Of course, riding conditions also play a part in overall range, so this is meant to simply be a general guide.

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ON THE TRAIL THE BIKES HAS SO LITTLE MOTOR NOISE AND CABLE RATTLE, WAS THERE SPECIAL ATTENTION FOCUSED ON KEEPING THE BIKE AS QUIET AS POSSIBLE??
PD: Shimano did an amazing job crafting a motor with low noise. From a frame perspective, we want our bikes to be quiet. So yes, we went the extra mile with attention to detail to ensure that the cables were smartly run with expanding stops to make sure they couldn’t move or rattle. In-house designed range extender and range extender cage that also fits a water bottle to ensure the range extender stays put. An Automotive-grade charge port cover that keeps water out and stays out of the way when the range extender is plugged in, as well as frame protection to make sure the frame would be quiet as well as wear well and last a long time. 

WITH THE CURRENT STATUS OF LOW STOCK ACROSS THE INDUSTRY WHEN CAN CONSUMERS EXPECT TO TAKE DELIVERY OF A RISE?
PD: The best thing to do would be to check with your local Orbea retailer. We are a manufacture, and we are always making bikes. Our dealers will receive many ships throughout the year, and they will be able to tell you exactly when they will be receiving what.

WITH LIGHT WEIGHT EBIKES BECOMING INCREASINGLY POPULAR WHAT IS IN STORE FOR THE FUTURE OF ORBEA’S EBIKE LINE UP, WE DON’T NEED ANY SECRETS BUT TELL US WHAT YOU CAN.
PD: All I can say is that we are committed to the RS philosophy and we agree with you that lightweight ebikes are going to be an increasingly important segment in the market. Orbea is technology-focused, and we will keep innovating and bring the best products to the market that we can.

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We’d like to extend a big thanks to Parker and the team at Orbea Bicycles for taking some time to not only get us a bike but meet up and film this video and get us some really good info to digest while we begin our long-term test of the Rise. In our first few weeks of having this bike our testers have quickly grown to love it and we cannot wait to see how it holds up after a lot more rides and time on the trails. Until then, it is safe to say that if you are in the market for an eBike Light, the Orbea Rise might just be at the top of our list right now as it offers a fun and playful ride, packs a lot of power into a small package and has enough range to crush miles.

VISIT ORBEA’S WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE
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