ORBEA RISE LIGHTWEIGHT eMTB
Words & Photos by Cole Gregg
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics
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.
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!
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.