Orbea Occam LT or SL? Here’s how to decide

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The Orbea Occam has seen a few iterations over years. The latest update sees it become two distinct models – the SL and the LT. Both trail bikes. But very different rides.

In this feature we’re going to go over the new Occam from Orbea. Or rather the Occams, plural. Because yep, Orbea now does two different mountain bike models called Occam.

“Why on Earth does it do that?” you may ask. The simple answer is that an Occam is a “trail bike” but the category we call “trail bike” is now so broad that Orbea has decided to cover it with two bikes instead of one.

The two bikes in question are the Orbea Occam SL and the Orbea Occam LT.

Orbea Occam SL:

Orbea Occam SL in M-LTD guise: Check the details and build of this bike in our Bike Database

Orbea Occam LT:

Orbea Occam LT in M-Team guise: Check the details and build of this bike in our Bike Database

If you were to solely focus on the amount of suspension travel that these two Occams offer, you may roll your eyes and wonder what all the fuss is about. There’s not that many millimetres of difference here. The SL has 140mm rear travel, the LT has 150mm.

Fundamentally it’s the difference between the two bikes’ frame geometries and suspension kinematics where the distinction between them is found.

Geometry, geometry and geometry

If you’ve ridden full suspension mountain bikes for any amount of time, you’ll already be aware that the amount of travel that they happen to have is not always the be all and end all of how a bike handles. Geometry is the main thing. Geometry, closely followed by suspension actuation.

Let’s delve into geometry charts of these two Occams. Whilst there are a few geometry numbers that are similar on each (bottom bracket drop, chainstay length, head tube length and seat tube length) there are more geometry numbers that differ.

The Occam SL has a longer effective top tube and reach. The Occam LT has a longer wheelbase. The SL has a steeper seat angle (78° compared to the LT’s 77°). The SL has a lower stack height. The LT has a slacker head angle (64° compared to SL’s 65.5°).

But what do all these geometry differences actually mean out on the trail? As ever, the answer is complicated with far too many variables to be 100% “this is how it is” declamatory and definitive about it. But… this is kind of what we’re here to do, so here goes…

Different attitudes

The Occam SL is the lower-slung, quicker steering machine. Whereas the Occam LT is the more heads-up and stable ride. Heads-down versus heads-up if you will. Or maybe, fair miles versus air miles? Maps versus laps?

This is a very crude way of putting it. And you can always tweak and push a bike here and there in its attitude purely by virtue of adjusting a few settings or swapping some parts out, but in broad strokes that’s how we approach these two different Orbea Occams.

Delving into more geeky territory, we have the black arts of suspension kinematics to fathom and explain. Now then, both Occams have a relatively high level of anti-squat throughout the suspension stroke. It never really dips below 100%.

Without getting bogged down in suspension theory, this essentially means that both Occam models have a strong focus on pedalling response, not just bump absorption. In layperson’s terms, they shouldn’t squidge under power. Your rider inputs should result in instant bike outputs.

If you want an Orbea with less of a pedalling priority, and more of a focus on heavy hitting, traction-focussed riding, have a look at the Orbea Rallon.

Support versus soaking-up

In terms of the progression of the suspension on both of the Occams, they are similar in one regard and quite, quite different in another.

They offer the same degree of progression: approximately 22%. But the shape of the curve is different. The Occam SL’s suspension is delivered much more linearly than the Occam LT.

What does this mean on the trail? It means so many things at so many different times – that’s the nature of mountain biking – but in a couple of nutshells it means the SL has a higher level of support in the middle whereas the LT has a ‘softer’ mid-stroke but ramps up at the end.

This all makes sense because the Occam SL is more about ‘hustle and pump’ and the Occam LT is more of the ‘get out of jail’ technical terrain tamer.

Bits and builds

Turning towards less complicated matters, there are some practical differences between the two Orbea Occams…

The Occam SL comes with remote suspension lock-out. And the shock yoke is made from carbon fibre (it’s aluminium on the Occam LT).

The Occam LT has geometry adjustment via the ‘QuickFlip’ chip in the yoke’s shock mount. This adjusts the head angle by half a degree and the bottom bracket height by 8mm. It will also affect the seat angle and the reach by approximately one smidge.

In terms of build kit there are some items that leap out straight away as being indicative of the two different attitudes and intentions of these two different Occams. Namely, the forks, the rear shocks and the tyres.

The Occam SL sports a 140mm travel Fox Float 34 up front and a Fox Float shock at the rear, both with remote lock-out. The Occam LT gets a girthier Fox Float 36 fork with a generous 160mm of travel and this M-Team spec model gets that eye-catchingly orange Fox DHX coil rear shock.

The tyres on both the Occams are both rather ‘European’ in outlook (this is the polite way of saying they’re rather optimistic for all-year UK use); the Occam SL comes with Schwalbe Wicked Wills and the Occam LT comes with Maxxis Dissectors.

Looking a bit further down the spec sheets, plenty of other component choices help to illustrate the Occams’ differing duties.

The SL gets SRAM Level series brakes whereas the LT gets beefier SRAM Code brakes. The wheelset on the SL is the lighter and narrower rim Oquo Mountain Performance, compared to the wider rim and sturdier Oquo Mountain Control wheels on the Occam LT.

Even the saddles tell a tale; the SL having more of a minimal padding, heavily shaped Fizik Terra Ridon X1 compared to the more cushioned and flatter Ergon SM Enduro Comp on the LT.

Enough about the differences. What do these two bikes have in common besides the shared Occam name?

Steep and deep!

Excuse me? ‘Steep and deep’ is how Orbea chooses to describe its seat tubes. This means the frames have steep seat angles for efficient and comfortable climbing, whilst also offering deep dropper insertion due to the lack of obstructions in the seat tube. Orbea claims that pretty much everyone should be able to run a 230mm travel dropper in an Occam.

This short seat tube and impressive standover also means that rides can choose to size-up, if they prefer a longer reach frame, without running into any standover or saddle height issues.

Both the Occam SL and Occam LT feature a storage compartment in the downtube – called the LOCKR – for holding spares, snacks and even layers of clothing.

Stashed away in the ‘Fully Loaded Pivot’ is a bespoke multi-tool with 2, 3, 4 and 5mm Allen keys. There’s a 6mm Allen key in the rear wheel axle.

So there you have it, the Orbea Occam SL and LT. Both trail bikes. But very different rides.

Orbea Occam SL range:

Orbea Occam SL M-LTD, £10,999
Orbea Occam SL M10, £6,499
Orbea Occam SL M30, £4,899
Orbea Occam SL H10 (Alloy), £4,299
Orbea Occam SL H20 (Alloy), £3,899
Orbea Occam SL H30 (Alloy), £2,999

Orbea Occam LT range:

Orbea Occam LT M-Team, £8,599
Orbea Occam LT M10, £6,499
Orbea Occam LT M30, £4,999
Orbea Occam LT H20 (Alloy), £4,299
Orbea Occam LT H30 (Alloy), £3,499


Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

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Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Orbea Occam LT or SL? Here’s how to decide
  • gdosiu
    Free Member

    Orbea has problems in all of its strut-mount suspensions. Screws loosening or snapped, linkage misalignment, no stiffness, snapped, shattered or leaking shocks. Its common issues and orbea warranty is terrible.

    Free Member

    Here is great example of terrible warranty and design: https://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=248057

    Free Member

    Here is great example of terrible warranty and design: https://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=248057

    Hmmmm not great news, i’ve been eyeing up the new Rise LT for a purchase in a year or so :-/

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