Last year Orbea suffered the indignity of having their star athlete, Craig Alexander, abandon them mid-season – breaking a life-time contract as he had discovered in the wind tunnel how much time he was losing to competitors on better bikes.
Orbea have finally done something about this with the release of a new Ordu for 2013. I’ve noticed a few things so as usual will offer a view other than that of regurgitated press releases.
The Orbea Ordu has never been a bike I’ve rated highly – hard to fit riders to and about as aero as a standard road bike. In fact fairly near the bottom of the list of Tri bikes that I’d recommend. I know that plenty of riders love their ones but I like to have pretty colours *and* speed.
This is the primary concern and Orbea have moved to address the failings of the old model. The outdated 75° Seat Tube Angle (they did release a forward seatpost to make it more Tri appropriate) is gone in favour of a Tri friendly 78° with a seatpost that offers a range from 76° to 80° so that Time Triallists are not left totally in the cold.
They’ve rejigged the sizing to give a wider range so there is actually an option for tall riders now. But the big news is that the XS utilises 650C wheels which makes Orbea a rarity amongst Euro brands that have never really embraced that wheel size for their TT/Tri bikes.
From what I’ve heard, development of this bike was strongly driven by the USA arm of Orbeas distribution who had done market research to determine what the customers might actually want. So it’s no great surprise to see geometry that is in line with the USA brands.
Looking at the Reach: Stack plot I’m not convinced that they’ve done all they can with the 650C size. It has the same Stack as the Speed Concept XS but 11mm greater Reach. Usually the reason to go for a 650C bike is that the rider is too stretched on a 700C bike, granted it can also be a problem getting enough drop but that is easier to deal with than having a bike that is simply too long. However – it is a sensibly proportioned bike and it’s great to see Orbea taking the needs of petite riders seriously.
Overall they’ve sized the new bike slightly lower than the old and given it all the dimensions expected from a good Tri bike. My only real reservation is the 74° Head Tube angle on the largest frame – which will make it a bit twitchy for some riders.
The hidden rear brake has become de rigeur for modern Tri bikes so it is no surprise to see that hidden under the chainstays.
The cable routing behind the stem to get to that brake and the derailleurs is well thought out and compatible with both mechanical and electronic systems.
They’ve left the front brake exposed – claiming that the added complexity of integrating it was not justified by the speed advantage. A recent study showed that a good centrepull brake (Magura RT, Tririg Omega, Shimano AX) would make a difference of ~15s over the Ironman distance – presumably a fully integrated solution could offer a little more. Nevertheless – it is easy to add one of those calipers if you feel the pain of seeing the brake cable out in the wind.
I’ve yet to see a monolink saddle in the wild here in New Zealand but they offer a seatpost to allow you to do so if the mood takes you.
The most obvious new feature is the bayonet fork with an adjustable stem. This is not a new design – Look, Felt, Trek and BMC are notable proponents of similar arrangements. The advantage is that it stiffens the front of the bike and can aid aerodynamics (this is not a given though).
The only gripe I have with this is that the shortest stem is 75mm long. They also offer 90, 100 and 110mm lengths. I don’t recall the last time I fitted a stem of more than 90mm to a Tri bike (and would contend that a bike that needed such was poorly sized for the rider) so would rather see more short options. I do like the 140° adjustment range offered but not to the point that I consider it a “bike fitters dream” as is being claimed.
Additionally the fork comes in both a UCI legal 3:1 and illegal 4:1 version for Triathletes.
They’re offering an Ultegra Di2 model. The most interesting thing about this is seeing the reduced profile of the new shifters compared to the current Dura Ace Di2.
They also claim that their ‘attraction damping’ system gives it the best ride of any tri bike they’ve produced. Which is definitely a positive.
Orbea are claiming the new Ordu to be 11% better than the old for aerodynamics. This is not hard to believe as the shaping looks much friendlier to the wind. However, testing performed by Cervelo on the old Ordu showed that an 11% improvement would be required to bring it to the level of the P3 (which has now been surpassed by a number of new bikes).
Their claim of a 30W saving is also suspect – an 11% saving on the old bike would be worth ~11W. Or ~6mins for a 5.15 Ironman rider.
Hopefully they will release the results of their own wind tunnel testing to clarify this. However, their claims to this point and the noticeable angularity of the tubing don’t have me holding my breath.
I like this bike because it improves on the old in all the important elements. And because it’s rare for a European manufacturer to make such an effort to have a bike designed for Tri, as opposed to a TT bike that you can use for Tri if you can handle a slack position.
I’m unconvinced that it will join the ranks of the super bikes at the top of the aero tree, but it certainly moves up the list of bikes I’d recommend for a client compared to its predecessor.