Lab data: 17.4/20 (.64mm head tube deflection; .83mm BB deflection)
Pedaling response: 12.0/15
The Orca is a race-worthy platform, stiff and somewhat unforgiving but thoroughly enjoyable at speed. The handling, in particular, sets the frame apart. This is one of the best-handling road bikes available in 2016, at any price. It inspires confidence in fast corners and is perfectly controlled in slow ones. A stiff head tube and wide-set fork legs provide a planted, solid feel when wrenching on the bars. Sprinters and climbers will struggle to find a better bargain.
In fact, the Orca M30 is one of the best bargains in cycling. True, the drivetrain is Shimano’s third-tier 105, and the Vision wheels are a bit heavy, but the frame is far-and-away better than most available at this price.
The Vittoria Rubino Pro tires are sensible for training, though they don’t ride particularly well. Pick up something more supple if you plan to race.
The Orca is not the most comfortable bike we’ve ever swung a leg over, not by a fair margin. But we didn’t really expect it to be. Massive (and short) chain stays and large seat stays combine to provide a solid pedaling platform, with very little flex out of the saddle. But efficient energy transfer in one direction often means the same in the opposite direction — the rear end of the Orca is particularly harsh over bad pavement. It’s no worse than most other pure race frames, however.
Bottom line, if you want to ride fast for a reasonable cost, give the Orca a look. Upgrade the wheels and tires and you have a bike every bit as fast as something three to four times the price.
Component highlights: Shimano 105 drivetrain with 50/34 crankset and 11-28 cassette; Shimano 105 brakes; Vision Team 30 clincher wheelset
Weight: 17.97 pounds