And finally, the last bike from Orbea’s press launch in Zona Zero last month can emerge. Meet the Loki.
Loki is – if you’ve not been paying attention at the cinema recently – the brother of Thor, and the son of Odin. Loki is a changeling; the shapeshifter. And it’s this aspect which indicates a pretty exciting bike from Orbea.
As you might be able to tell, it’s a hardtail. And the changeling/shapeshifter aspect of the whole ‘Loki’ thing revolves around the fact that it runs the current wheel size du jour, 27.5+, but it’s equally happy running 29in wheels, of course.
And that versatility is something that Orbea is shouting about. They’ve decided that instead of pinning a bike on a certain type of rider, they’ll shout out that the Loki is perfect for everyone. “First timer, expert shredder, fun in Lycra. Also compatible with jeans”. If you’re a noob, this would be an ace bike, they’re saying. And if you’re experienced, it’s good and versatile in a kind of n+1-busting manner.It’s designed to be, first and foremost, a fun bike to ride. It’s not necessarily for hardened pros – it’s priced to provide a foothold for beginners too. Contrary to loads of hardtails, it’s relaxed – it’ll net you a 67 degree head angle, and the whole bike is (no, really?) long and low. Short stems; wide bars – you know the deal.It’s got ISCG tabs, Boost 148 keeps the back end stiff, and there’s routing for a dropper post. The more budget-conscious models come with Orbea’s new Digit seatpost, which we think is a really nifty idea.
And, of course, 27.5+ tyres, which are 3in wide. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, a 27.5+ tyre has pretty much the same overall diameter as a 29in tyre, so Orbea is touting the fact that you can swap between them – Orbea’s Double Duty.
As well as the custom tweaks to individual spec. that Orbea is offering standard, you can get models in the Loki range with either 29in or 27.5in wheels. And of course you can buy different wheels later on down the line if you fancy a change.
I spent a morning in Zona Zero in Spain on the top-of-the-line H-LTD 27.5+ Loki, and I came away liking what I’d ridden. There was insane amounts of traction – the tyres were inflated to way less than 20psi, but there was little squirming. Of course, the increased weight did mean the bike took a little more heft to trundle up to speed, but once it was there it blatted along impressively.
We rode straight from the complex we were staying at – along the road for a mile or two – which I’ll concede wasn’t the place the Loki was happiest. But we soon turned off onto a trail packed with steep short climbs, sharp descents, a little exposure – and here the Loki was in its element. The reasonably relaxed head angle kept things sure-footed, along with those enormous tyres (this was the first time I’d spent any time at all on 27.5+), although the bike never felt hugely rangey.
Soon the trail turned upwards into a pretty gruelling climb – especially if you’ve been at the pies a bit too often like me. But once we’d reached the top, we were treated to a wander around one of the very many abandoned villages hereabouts. The area was largely deserted in the sixties as the local economy collapsed.
The ruins do provide some extremely atmospheric environments through which the 1000 year old trails wander, however – trails which have made l’Ainsa and the locality into an extraordinary place to go mountain biking. All of the trails are challenging, and because the vast majority of them were not made at all with bikes in mind, they retain a ‘natural’ feel that many other regions, with cultivated berms and tabletops lack. These are proper, old, technical (TECHNICAL, in places) trails, and they are utterly fantastic.The trail then undulated with a gradual downhill bias, across a variety of terrains, and the bike despatched them with aplomb. If those new to 29in wheels sometimes claim they smooth out the trail more than smaller wheels, then 27.5+ tyres do so even more. And traction is frankly ludicrous. They’re not quite as mental as the full-fat experience of a fat-bike, but then they don’t have some of the more ‘amusing’ ride characteristics either. Plus they look like cartoon versions of regular wheels.
Overall on this brief ride I liked the Loki – and with the explosion of new standards and niches, it’s nice to see a bike being sold for its versatility as much as anything else.
There are three models in the range, the H-30, the H-10 and the H-LTD. 27+ models are €100 more than their 29er counterparts, so prices range from €1,299 for the 29in Loki H-30 and €1,399 for the H-30 27+, all the way up to €2,699 for the H-LTD (which is only available in 27.5+).
For more information, click here.