Orbea Occam SL M-LTD review

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The Orbea Occam SL is the svelte sibling of the Occam SL and LT duo. Built around the same mainframe, but deploying different linkages and build kits. Both Occams are billed as trail bikes although the SL looks to the fast, light, distance side of trail riding.


  • Light
  • Climbs well
  • Customisable builds


  • Unergonomic cockpit layout
  • Customisation doesn’t extend to SquidLock/Dropper layout
  • Needs more careful suspension set up than most


To reflect these leanings, the Occam SL M-LTD has 140mm travel front and rear with a carbon fibre shock yoke, and Fox Float Factory 34 fork. Fork and shock are equipped with a ‘SquidLock’ lock out, operated by a pair of levers positioned under the bars on the left side (where you usually have your dropper remote).

The dropper reflects the bike’s leanings too, in that it’s a binary fully-up or fully-down Fox Transfer SL post – not an infinite position one. This is operated by a modest vertically orientated thumb nubbin on the top of the bars (much like dropper remotes used to be when they first appeared years ago).

By the way, you can use the Orbea MYO customisation service to select different lengths of dropper post as required, at no extra cost. With absolutely oodles of standover, you’re likely to find there’s room for a long one.

Tyres are 29in front and rear, Schwalbe Wicked Wills – or at least they were on this test bike. In the tyre world, these are the equivalent of espadrilles – a much better idea outside of the UK’s wet conditions. Of course, you could use the customisation service to get these swapped out for something less summery, and right at the start of the test period we changed into the sensible shoes of a Maxxis Assegai and Maxxis Minion DHR II.

You could argue that what is important about a bike is the frame and that the build kit is neither here nor there as it is all changeable. Indeed through MYO customisation many of the parts on this bike are changeable at source to suit your needs. However the build kits are a large part of the difference between the Orbea Occam LT and the Orbea Occam SL models so I think it’s relevant to pass comment on them.

All the Ocaam SL models come with the remote lockout in the form of the SquidLock. To my mind this is too much of a compromise on functionality when it comes to the dropper post. I have used other suspension lockout systems that have managed to deliver a better ergonomic experience for the dropper post.

The thing with the dropper post is that you want to be able to deploy it at a moment’s notice when an obstacle appears ahead of you on the trail. The little thumb nub in that’s on offer here is just too difficult to actuate even in fairly tame trail conditions, never mind when a big rocky something appears before you unexpectedly.

The Fox Transfer SL dropper post that this build came with makes this even more tricky – it’s either up or down, so if you only manage to drop it an inch before hitting the unexpected, it’ll pop back up to full mast instead of staying slightly dropped.

This test bike came fitted with carbon bars and floaty light nano foam grips. I was finding the combination hard on the hands and wrists. In order to address this (and the dropper actuation issue) we ended up swapping out the bars and grips, removed the suspension lockout system (I wasn’t finding it useful) and added a standard under-bar dropper remote.

The result is a bike that is altogether more suited to regular trail duties. The absence of lockout hasn’t particularly bothered me; unless you’re at the pointy end of racing and want every ounce of power through your toned and trained calves to transfer into your carbon disco slippers and into the bike, correctly set up suspension should negate the need for a lockout.

(I can’t help but wonder if the person who specced the bike is one of those XC racers that has yet to adopt a dropper and realise how much of a difference it makes to a ride?)

The Occam SL is not marketed as a racing razor – there’s the Occam Oiz for that sort of thing. It’s snappy and direct, but to my mind closer to a trail bike than a true race bike, so it feels to me like the nano foam grips and suspension lockout are… a bit like wearing espadrilles in the UK in July, just because it’s July. They’re the wrong outfit for the reality that’s around it, delivering neither a razor sharp race bike nor a comfortable trail bike – both purposes end up compromised.

Add in a few grams and have some comfortable grips, lose a few grams and watts by removing the SquidLock, and the result is a much better proposition in my opinion. Of course, you could race on it, but I think if you’re eying up the podium, you’d want an Oiz, and if you’re dabbling and also using it on the trail you’ll want that trail functionality of a dropper.

The overall ride of the Occam SL is distinctly firm, perhaps helped along by that asymmetric frame which is there to add efficiency. It is great in corners (especially with tyres that grip). When it comes to wriggling down singletrack, the firmness is often a joy, precisely taking those turns and powering out of compressions. But on rockier descents and chatter, I found that precision forcing me to choose smoother lines or face a bit of wrestling and pinging around on the trail.

That said, while it will thank you for picking a line rather than ploughing one, it’s not undergunned. The Fox 34 fork is burly enough that you don’t find yourself getting into trouble, although you’ll notice the flex if you decide to hit a jump line. With all the standover, there’s certainly the temptation to do so.

The Occam SL does climb well, once you have been fastidious about getting the suspension set up properly. Get out your Saggle and measure your millimetres of sag, set your rebound, maybe add a click more. And a bit more. Do the set up again if you’re heading out for a day with a bigger than usual back pack and you didn’t have a morning poo.

It’s a fine line between too soft and a bunch of bob as you pedal upwards, or firm on the way up but scary on the way down. Of course, you could use the Squidlock, lock out your suspension, and have things softer – but that would be a case of using your suspension lock out to compensate for poor set up.

The Occam SL would be an even better technical climber with a different dropper post. An infinite dropper option would allow for that inch of saddle drop that can add the confidence needed when pushing the limits of your climbing capacity. A little extra rearward weight and traction, with the added benefit of making it easier to dismount if it all goes wrong. The Fox Transfer SL is, to my mind, a bit like the foam grips – something that is better suited to a true XC race bike.

Another thing that might make it climb better would be (I’m sorry to make the fashionable complaint) shorter cranks. No, 170mm isn’t that long, but switching between this and a bike with 7mm more BB height (and same length 170mm cranks) was super noticeable. Yes, the cornering is fun, but if you’re going to climb up stuff like a goat, the ability to pedal more easily through the stroke would be nice.

Having already swapped out the tyres, bar and grips, my test Occam SL is heading a long way towards what I think would be a more useful build spec for the typical rider. It’s still pretty floaty light – I don’t imagine a few grams on an infinite dropper would change the fact that I can pretty easily lift it over my head. Which is a handy property to have if you’re venturing away from the trail centre.

The good climbing ability make this a bike that will likely appeal to the big day out rider who wants the comfort of a full suspension bike and enjoys miles of undulating terrain. That said, it’s not really a bike-packing or multi-day bike, since the main triangle doesn’t lend itself to luggage.

So… it’s not an XC race bike. It’s not a burly trail bike for winch and plummet. It’s not a multi-day adventure bike (unless you’re packing really light).

To my mind, it’s the sort of mountain bike you’d buy if you enjoy riding some of the longer classic trail centre loops, like Y Wall at Afan in Wales, or Dalby’s extended red loop. Despite its low weight, it’s not the bike to take up a mountain because it’s not going to get you out of trouble when you hit the rocks on the way down. On the other hand, if there’s a wriggly slither of singletrack all the way down, go for it.

It is exactly the kind of bike I’d like to pedal around the flowing singletrack of Sun Valley in Idaho (where I’ve also ridden gravel bikes, in a slightly more white-knuckle fashion than is perhaps recommended).

It’s the kind of bike for heading out on giant moorland yomps that involve at least one cafe stop and a slightly wild-eyed dive for crumpets upon your return home. While that might not be the ‘fashionable’ sort of riding that makes it into social media shredits or advertorial films, it is the sort of riding done by an awful lot of people.

I’d like to see a spec that’s more like what an awful lot of people would actually find useful. Yes, you could use the MYO configurator to get closer.

(And while I’m here, OMG but the Orbea website has got to be up there with the most frustrating there is to navigate. All I wanted to do was check the spec lists of different build options…)

All build options include the SquidLock

Eventually I mined my way through the layers of the Orbea website to determine that the carbon framed Occam SL starts at the M30 model, with a mix of Shimano SLX and XT at £4,899. This still comes with the fork and shock lockout, as do all the models, regardless of how you customise them.

The mid-pack M10 model gives you a Shimano XT drivetrain. If you want the electronic SRAM shifting, you’re going to have to stump up for this LTD model – and while it’s customisable it doesn’t give you savings if you swap away from, say, a Fox Transfer SL to an Orbea own brand dropper.

I’d like to see a customisation option that remove the lockout altogether, and/or one with a different actuation that allows you to run an under bar dropper. Yes, I’m still harping on about that dropper. Perhaps if you’re the kind of person that enjoys the red at Dalby, you will also be the kind of person that disagrees with me on the dropper thing.

Maybe I am a spoiled journo brat with a lazy left thumb. But this is a hill I’m prepared to die on.

If I’m labouring the point, it’s partly because the Occam LT does away with the lockout and adds in an under bar lever. Yes the travel and angles are different too, but I think that this component choice will make a big difference to riders’ experience of the bikes – contact points and controls being oh so important to actually feeling in control.

The SL offers enough bike for a lot of the riding that a lot of people do, but I can see it losing out to the LT as people opt for the bike they might need rather than the bike they’re actually using. The trickier controls might just tip a few more into the LT camp.

On to other features then. The LockR downtube storage is well executed. The SIC internal cable routing does seem to keep things quiet, which is nice. Garmin users will likely enjoy the neatly integrated stem mount.

Much as it mayupset some folk, I think the Occam SL is a bike that benefits from the SRAM AXS gears. It’s a bike for pedalling up technical trails, and as such the swift and always spot-on shifting of AXS is handy.

Yes, I’ve gone on about the build kit a lot. And yes, there is an alloy model as well, which I am not going to attempt to comment on because away from the build, the characteristics of this Occam SL M-LTD are very carbon-y: light and responsive.

Without riding the alloy one, I can’t say whether these properties have been translated through metallurgic magic into the alloy frame, but I hope so, because underneath the clothes of its components is a bike that I think has mass-appeal potential.

Pedalling up can be fun – as can finding the flow on the way down without heading into scare yourself with exposure and consequence enduro territory.


I have no doubt that there are people who will love the Orbea Occam SL, complete with SquidLock and little-bitty dropper lever. But I think that a small change in the build options would make this bike attractive to a lot more people. They’re the kind of people that like to pedal over the hills and far away, but to return home at the end of the day rather than sleep in a ditch. They’re the kind of people that want to ride downhill, but not Downhill, with an open face helmet, towards a cafe before the next climb, on the kind of ride when all the miles count – not just the descents. That’s a lot of people who could be enjoying the Occam SL. Or a lot of butchered SquidLocks.

Orbea Occam SL M-LTD specification

  • SQUIRREL_TEXT_13050663
  • Frame // Orbea Occam OMR Carbon
  • Shock // Fox Float Factory Remote Push-lock Evol Kashima custom tune 210x50mm
  • Fork // Fox 34 Float Factory 140 FIT4 Remote-Adjust Push-lock 2-Position QR15x110 Kashima
  • Wheels // Oquo Mountain Performance MP30LTD 29
  • Front Tyre // Schwalbe Wicked Will Evo TLE, 29×2.40 Super Race, Speed Grip, Addix, Brown
  • Rear Tyre // Schwalbe Wicked Will Evo TLE, 29×2.40 Super Race, Speed Grip, Addix, Brown
  • Chainset // SRAM XX Eagle Dub Black 32T
  • Brakes // SRAM Level Ultimate 4 piston Stealth Hydraulic Disc
  • Drivetrain // SRAM XX Eagle AXS, 10-52T
  • Stem // OC Mountain Control MC10 Alu SL, 0º
  • Handlebars // OC Mountain Control MC10 Carbon 35mm, Rise 20, Width 800
  • Grips // Nanofoam
  • Seat Post // Fox Transfer SL Factory Kashima Dropper 31.6, 150mm
  • Saddle // Ergon SM Enduro Comp
  • Weight // 13.01kg (once we’d made all our spec swaps as detailed in the review)

Geometry of our size M

  • Head angle // 65.5°
  • Effective seat angle // 78°
  • Seat tube length // 415mm
  • Head tube length // 100mm
  • Chainstay // 440mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,218mm
  • Effective top tube // 596mm
  • BB height // 341mm
  • Reach // 465mm

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Review Info

Brand: Orbea
Product: Pccam SL M-LTD
From: orbea.com
Price: £10,999
Tested: by Hannah for 3 months
Author Profile Picture
Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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  • Orbea Occam SL M-LTD review
  • gdosiu
    Free Member
    Full Member

    I just don’t understand this kind of spec (lockout and weight-weenie dropper) on a 140mm trail bike. I had no idea that 2-position droppers even existed anymore!

    EDIT: That warranty situation on the Rallon (above) is a bit of an eye-opener. How many bikes are out there with a design that takes the shock beyond its maximum tolerances?

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