At some point during testing, it became clear that I could stop saying, “so far, so good,” when fellow riders asked me how I liked the Occam AM M-LTD from Orbea.
I could just say it’s rad. Those trailside reactions are always imperfect and over-simplified, but they are often the first threads that I pull to get my final take on a bike. After pulling those threads, I can tell you with some certainty that Orbea has upped its trail bike game significantly with the Occam. This is a fun bike that has its imperfections, but they’re outweighed by all the things the Occam does just right.
It’s built on a 27.5-inch wheel platform. There were no real surprises: 27.5-inch wheels generally translate into a more responsive ride, so if you’re into throwing your bike around a lot and jumping off of stuff, the smaller wheel platform is beneficial. If you’re more of a steamroller through technical trails, you may miss your 29-inch wheels. That said, the DT XMC-1200 Spline 30 TLR wheels feature a 30mm inner rim width; pair that with big Maxxis rubber — A 2.4-inch High Roller II in the front an 2.4-inch Maxxis Ardent TLR in the rear — and you’ve got lots of stability to play with while cornering.
The Occam relies on all 150mm of travel up front to overcome a relatively steep 66.5-degree head tube angle. (Compare that to the rowdier Santa Cruz Bronson, which is a full degree slacker at 65.4 degrees.) The mix of the two creates a bike that climbs exceptionally well, but also descends respectably. But it won’t descend as confidently as a 150mm bike with a slacker head tube. Orbea has made a concession here to make this an all-day bike.
Consequently, you’ll need to work a little harder on technical descents — but only a little bit. The Fox 34 fork felt a little overmatched on the loose and rocky Longhorn Trail descent outside of Golden, Colorado, but on mellower fare, the Occam earns its “trail bike” moniker on varied terrain that doesn’t get too hairy. Overall we were pleased with the bike’s handling, and it wasn’t much of a sacrifice to pay a little closer attention to our line on descents in trade for some very good climbing ability.
About that Fox DPX2 rear shock: Wow. For starters, there was almost no tinkering to dial it in just right. We set sag, played with rebound a touch, and started pedaling. It felt excellent from there.
And the mid stroke felt surprisingly supportive. That allowed for more predictable handling. In the full-open mode, the shock seemed to support and cushion big hits with aplomb. There was no harsh bottom-out and it regrouped pretty quickly to tackle subsequent hits. It even reacted to small chatter better than expected, all without losing a sense of firm support in the top end.
It’s that combination of long travel with a steeper head tube that makes the Occam such an intriguing ride. Sure, we’d all love to be big-dog huckers, scrubbing berms and channeling our inner Red Bull Rampage on drops, but the reality is most trail riders need a bike that helps out on the climbs and gives you just enough on the descents to stay within your abilities. And honestly, the Occam can likely outperform most riders who will sit astride it on descents.
Think about the terrain you’re likely to ride most often. If it’s a mixed bag of lengthy climbs with fast descents in between, and some intimidating chunk thrown in for good measure, the Occam AM offers plenty of tools for you to conquer the day. That encompasses most trail riders; if your typical ride is an endless downhill blast followed by a minute or two climb back to the car, this probably isn’t the rig for you.
Everyone else who’s after a bit more nuance will find a surprisingly capable trail tool in the Occam.