Orbea was originally a firearms manufacturer, which helps to explain the firepower behind their latest trail destroyer: the Occam TR. Originally founded in 1840, Orbea left guns in the dust in 1930 and turned their steel-sculpting skills towards a more peaceful weapon — the bicycle. Today, Orbea isn’t about gunpowder — they’re about dirt, dust, and gravel.
We had the chance to ride the Occam TR for a week, putting the carbon steeds through the paces with the help of the Basque MTB guide team. It’s worth noting that the guides were riding the Rallon, an enduro beast with significantly more travel, and Doug, the lead guide, was riding the Occam AM.
The Occam line has two models, the TR (trail) and the AM (all-mountain), and both come in a variety of builds. The AM has 27.5-inch wheels and 140 mm travel, while the TR is a 29er with 120mm travel. We’ll be focusing on the TR here.
We were lucky enough to ride one of Orbea’s premium builds, which boasts a full carbon frame and high-end components. The rear of the frame is pivotless, and the Occam’s lack of bearings in the backseat only further simplifies and lightens this already lightweight bike. It was so light, we could barely tell we were holding it above our heads when it came time to hike-a-bike steep, unrideable sections or lift the bike over barbed wire fences.
Orbea claims their particular brand of carbon construction is strong, and we’re inclined to believe them. When one of our riders bailed over the handlebars on a three-foot drop to rock landing, we cringed, expecting to see a shattered frame. Not a scratch, thankfully — breaking one of these bikes would be like accidentally sneezing on a Renaissance painting in the Louvre.
For a 120mm trail bike, the TR is admirably capable. We were able to follow the guides down (albeit not quite as smoothly) technical sections with sizable rock drops, and the Fox suspension combined with the pivotless rear made for a jolt-dampening ride. We floated over obstacles that most 120mm bikes would get bucked by. And on the uphill, the 29er charged hard and easy, converting every pedal into high-octane uphill speed.
Noteworthy components included a Shimano XT crankset, Race Face handlebars, headset, and dropper post, DT Swiss wheelset, as well as a Fox Float DPS Factory 3-Position Adjust EVOL Kashima shock and Fox 32 Float Factory 120 FIT4 3-Pos-Adj QR15x110 Kashima fork. There are several builds available from Orbea, ranging from the premium M-LTD ($7999) to the H50 ($2199). If we were to buy one of these, we’d shoot for the middle, likely going with the M30 ($3999), which sports the same carbon frame but less premium components for a more affordable ride.
Getting the chance to ride these beauties along the trails of Basque Country was the experience of a lifetime. We wouldn’t be lying when we say that a couple of us are seriously, seriously considering scooping one of these trail bikes up. They revolutionized our riding, and in Spain or out of Spain, that magic is rare enough that when you find it, you might as well chase it.