Review: Orbea Occam TR M-LTD

by
August 23, 2016

Orbea have split their Occam into two bikes: the Occam AM, and the shorter travel Occam TR that we've got here. How does it go? Barney explains

Brand: Orbea
Product: Occam TR M-LTD
From: Orbea (www.orbea.com)
Price: £5,599
Tested: by Barney Marsh for two months

Rewind to our Issue #104 bike test of the Orbea Occam TR.

Back in 2015, Orbea announced that its Occam trail bike was being split in two. Gone was the 100mm travel, cross-country angled machine of yore, and in its place are two very different beasties. The first is a 27.5in wheeled, 140mm bike – the Occam AM. And the second is this, the Occam TR – a 29in, 120mm high-speed trail monster.

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Definitely not Yorkshire. This is the ‘before’ shot by the way…

First impressions are clear: this bike is light. The XL model I tested weighs in at a scant 24.7lbs without pedals, which puts it in the same ballpark as many cross-country machines, never mind trail bikes. The weight saving comes courtesy of a carbon-high construction, and a large smattering of the nicest kit that money can buy.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
The Fox FLOAT DPS rear shock is neatly tucked into the top tube. It’s driven by a separate yoke that captures the lower eyelet. Sealed cartridge bearings allow for smoother cycling of the travel than a traditional DU bush.

Let’s talk about the frame, first of all. Light, yes – we’re told that the large frame weighs less than 4.4lbs, without the shock. There are no pivots at the rear dropout of the carbon frames – instead, Orbea uses what it calls UFO technology, which is essentially another word for ‘bendy seatstays’. The inherent flex in the stays is apparently equivalent to 5kg at the shock, or around 1% of the total spring required once the shock is up to pressure. So pretty much unnoticeable.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
No pivot out back here. The UFO design uses a solid carbon sub-frame that offers a small amount of flex through the seat stays.

The frame is comparatively long, and low – there’s a 68° head angle, and a 74.5° seat angle to keep things capable on long climbs. The reach on our XL model is a creditable 472mm – and to aid that reach even more, there’s a Race Face Turbine 70mm stem, and Race Face Next SL carbon bars in a 740mm width. These are attached to a Fox 32 Float with a custom tune – yes, the photos say Fox 34; that was a stickering error at the factory apparently – and the boosted dropouts front and rear are host to some very swish DT Spline wheels, shod with an Ardent on the front and an Ardent Race on the back.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
Shimano’s top-draw XTR groupset provides both shifting and braking duties aboard the Orbea Occam TR M-LTD.

Drivetrain-wise, 1×11 is the order of the day on our test bike, thanks to a mix of XTR shifter and mech, with an XT 11-42 cassette (they don’t make an XTR one with a 42 sprocket), and a Race Face Next SL carbon crankset; ours came with a 28T ring. And stopping is also courtesy of XTR – Shimano’s Trail variants are mated to 180mm and 160mm rotors front and back.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
The Occam TR’s carbon frame weighs an incredible 4.4lbs (that’s 2kg for our metric buddies). It’s a svelte and sprightly looking thing isn’t it?

The Ride

First up, an admission. The test period was December, in Yorkshire. So before I did anything else, I swopped the tyres for something more suited to the terrain around here – a Specialized Purgatory on the back, and a Maxxis Shorty up front. I have no particular complaints about the Ardent/Ardent Race combo, but they’re definitely Summer Spain rather than Winter Yorkshire.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
Yorkshire mud. Not compatible with dry-condition Maxxis Ardent tyres.

The bike fitted pretty well. That 70mm stem conspires with the generous reach to produce a very comfortable feeling bike out of the saddle or in it – although I’ll pull Journalist’s Prerogative at this point, and say that I’d have liked 20mm more on the bar and 20mm less on the stem. But that’s something that can be tweaked at the point of sale if it matters to you.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
Unlike the Occam AM, Orbea have dressed the Orbea TR in a more XC-oriented build kit. We’d rather see some bigger bars, a shorter stem and some knobblier tyres to take advantage of what this high-speed projectile is capable of.

As soon as you turn a pedal, it’s extremely impressive how well the rear suspension works. There’s very little bob, even when climbing out of the saddle, and to be honest I kept the shock open most of the time, only resorting to the ‘trail’ setting on particularly pedally climbs. The steep seat angle meant that the front didn’t get too wandery when the trail turned steeply upwards, and the light weight was certainly a boon. This is, gratifyingly, a bike that rides its weight when pointed upwards.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima barney yorkshire windmill
32mm forks need to go the way of the Dodo on anything but a purebred XC racing bike. The skinny legs exhibit too much flex in the front end of the Occam TR.

But what of the descents? The numbers on the Occam TR are definitely more ‘trail’ than ‘enduro’, but even so the bike impressed hugely. It was definitely in the ‘agile’ camp – short chainstays and longer front centre aside, it rewarded line choice more than a ‘barge through’ approach, but it was capable of lightning-fast direction changes, and once I was used to the handling, it screamed through corners and twisty sections with aplomb.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
A Fox 34 or RockShox PIKE would be a much better match for the Occam’s stiff carbon frameset.

As a heavier rider I could make the Fox 32 fork struggle somewhat when cornering at speed and in certain technical situations; I’d love to see what a stiffer Fox 34 or a RockShox Pike up front could do. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’d make for a quite terrifyingly competent machine, perhaps at the small expense of some of that climbing prowess.

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
BOOST 148x12mm dropouts allow the drivetrain to come away from the frame by 3mm, offering more tyre clearance and shorter stays. The Shimano XTR rear derailleur fires off shifts while mounted via a direct-mount hanger.

And while we’re on (very minor) downsides, although the thick, Boosted, asymmetric chainstays make the back end beautifully stiff, they meant that I experienced a certain amount of heel-rub, although I don’t ride particularly heels-in. It’s not a major gripe though; it’s something which would be easily sorted with a judicious bit of helicopter tape, or some less chunky shoes (I principally rode in chunky Shimano AM45 or AM9s).

orbea occam tr carbon mountain bike 29 trail dt swiss fox suspension raceface xtr reverb kashima
Heaps of standover even on Barney’s XL frame size.

Overall

This is a lightning fast, beautifully appointed, extremely pretty, top-end trail bike. It’s not one for the big-hucks enduro brigade, sure, but if you like going up as quickly as you like going down, you’ll be hard pressed to find better.

  • Frame// Orbea Monocoque Race Carbon, 120mm travel
  • Fork// Fox 34 Float Factory 120mm travel
  • Shock// Fox Float DPS Factory 3-Position Adjust EVOL
  • Hubs// DT Swiss Spline, 15/110mm front & 148x12mm rear, Centrelock
  • Rims// DT Swiss Spline XRC-1200 TLR Carbon
  • Tyres// Maxxis Ardent 2.25in & Ardent Race 2.20in, Tubeless
  • Chainset// Race Face Next SL
  • Front Mech// N/A
  • Rear Mech// Shimano XTR Shadow Plus 1×11
  • Shifters// Shimano XTR 1×11
  • Cassette// Shimano XTR, 11speed, 11-42
  • Brakes// Shimano XTR Race w/Freeza Rotors
  • Stem// Race Face Turbine 35
  • Bars// Race Face Next SL Carbon, Flat, 740mm
  • Seatpost// RockShox Reverb Stealth 150mm
  • Saddle// WTB Silverado Team
  • Size Tested// XL
  • Sizes Available// M, L, XL
  • Weight// 24.7lbs

Review Info

Brand: Orbea
Product: Occam TR M-LTD
From: Orbea (www.orbea.com)
Price: £5,599
Tested: by Barney Marsh for two months

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