THE 2023 ORBEA WILD FS
Words by Robert Johnston & Drew Rohde | Photos by Jeremie Reuiller
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics
The last generation Orbea Wild FS eMTB was awesome, taking home our “Most Versatile All Mountain eMTB” award back in our 2020 eBike Shootout, but things have been moving quickly in the eBike world and Orbea Bicycles wanted to take what they’ve learned and follow up with another hard-hitting enduro eBike. Orbea has been hard at work on the E-Enduro World Series circuit, as well as testing hard internally and we’re excited to finally have the new 2023 Orbea Wild FS beneath us for another Dissected Feature where both Robert and Drew got to spend time with Orbea representatives in Spain and the Pacific Northwest.
As with all of our Dissected Features, this is not intended to be a long term review or endorsement of a product but is instead a chance for our viewers and readers to get a deep dive look into some of the newest tech and products in the mountain bike space. We thank Orbea for the opportunity to create this feature and getting you some valuable beta on this new, Full Power Enduro eMTB.
With the tagline “Beyond Power”, Orbea has taken some of their key learnings from the development of the latest Rallon to produce what they consider to be the best descending Enduro eMTB on the market, with specific design tweaks to maximize the performance with the Bosch Performance Line CX or CX Race drive unit. Retaining 160mm of Linkage Driven Single Pivot suspension with their CB2 concentric rear axle pivot, complimented by a burly 160mm or 170mm fork, the new Orbea Wild represents a big leap in performance that has rocketed it back up to the top of our rankings for an eMTB. This was achieved through a ground-up redesign that covers everything from frame structure through to kinematics and geometry, which we’ll dive into below.
During the development process, Orbea identified a huge area of potential gain in ride quality. By making the battery fully integrated, no massive opening in the frame’s downtube, the new Wild has a much more precise feel on the trail.. Orbea produced a prototype frame to test the theory, and the results were staggering. Cutting the hatch in the downtube for a removable battery decreased the frame stiffness by 70%, with all else remaining the same. Designing the new Wild frame around an integrated battery led to a reduction in mass of 900g, a hair under 2lbs, or (32.5%), while increasing the stiffness in desirable locations by 50% compared to the outgoing Wild.
This integrated battery is offered in 625Wh or 750Wh options via Orbea’s MyO configurator at the time of purchase, allowing customers to select their preference of maneuverability or range. Orbea made custom hardware to fix the battery firmly in place and reduce the likelihood of battery rattle, and to position the battery as close to the motor as possible to optimize the weight distribution to be as low and central as practical. Owners can remove the six bolts holding the motor in place however and drop the battery and slide the battery mount up or down to accommodate either battery size should they opt to purchase a second battery for different riding plans. We were told a motor drop and swap could be done in about 15 minutes by their E-EWS mechanics.
FULL 29ER, ONLY.
With so many riders seeking out increasingly technical climbs on their eMTB’s, Orbea wanted to achieve the most grip at the rear wheel, so they opted to design around the more traction-rich 29” wheel pairing only. This inevitably came with its own challenges, but Orbea considered them worthwhile to produce a machine that would go uphill as well as it descends, and from our time aboard the Wild so far we think they’ve hit the mark. To ensure the 29-inch rear wheel didn’t compromise the handling on the descents, they worked their frame structure to tuck the chainstays in at 448mm, sitting amongst the shortest in the category. While they’re not short in the greater terms, they feel nicely balanced and produce enough weight on the front wheel to keep it from being a handful under power.
The geometry of the new Wild has been modified considerably to align with their Rallon enduro bike. The reach has grown 25mm across the size range to come in at 480mm on a size Large, head angle has slackened by 1.5 degrees to 64°, and the head tube length has grown by 20mm to give a taller stack for a more comfortable and commanding position. The result is a wheelbase sitting at 1,277mm in size Large, some 45mm longer than the outgoing model.
Carried over from their Rallon muscular enduro bike is the “Steep ‘N’ Deep” seating geometry philosophy, with short and steep 77.5° seat tubes across the four-size range, and long seatpost insertion depths to allow for the use of long travel dropper posts. The bottom bracket has also raised 5mm, offering more ground clearance when climbing in technical terrain, which when paired with the 160mm cranks across the size range minimizes the chances of striking pedals. We’re happy to report all these tweaks have greatly improved the performance of Orbea’s E-Enduro machine up, down and along the hill.
Understanding that the ride dynamic of an eMTB and the requirements of an E-biker are very different to the muscular counterparts, the suspension kinematics of the Wild are optimized to achieve the performance desired. Compared with the outgoing Wild FS, the new model’s leverage ratio progression is reduced considerably, down to 26.5% through the 160mm of travel. This was done to increase the mid-stroke support and to ensure compatibility with both air and coil shocks, while still retaining adequate bottom out support for the bigger hits. The Anti Squat that gives the efficient pedaling feel of the Wild has remained unchanged, and the Anti Rise drops a few percent to roughly 62% at sag to allow the rear end to move freely when braking. The result is a more supportive ride that still offers the desired comfort and traction, and resists bottom outs on all but the biggest hits.