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If VeloNews had an “Under-the-Radar-Radness award,” Orbea’s Orca M10i Team Disc would undoubtedly win it. If you’ve spent time on an Orca before, this isn’t the same bike. It’s much stiffer, much more responsive, and more aggressive. It’s a quintessential all-around race bike, yet it avoids some of the common pitfalls of this notoriously nervous category.
Put simply, the Orca sings. It strikes the right balance between light weight, stiffness, and exceptional handling, all within an attractive package with classic lines and heaps of modern technology. It’s an ideal choice for race day on just about any course.
The bike’s stiffness, particularly in the bottom bracket area, garners immediate attention. It’s quick off the line and feels eager in sprints. Of course, this stiffness does translate into some harshness in both the rear of the bike and up front, though we’ll take that in exchange for exceptional road feel and responsiveness under heavy pedaling loads on steep climbs. The 27.2-millimeter seatpost scrubs enough of the vibration to keep the Orca about as comfortable as any racer needs to be in the heat of peloton jockeying.
Orcas have not been known historically as stiff bikes. Orbea R&D engineer Kepa Otxoa says, “The Orca is about 8% stiffer than the previous one. That’s due to some geometry changes, a shorter fork, and some aggressive angles, and the BB386 bottom bracket. Optimized shapes also improve the stiffness-to-weight ratio.”
It’s also a quick-steering, lithe race bike. Orbea shortened the wheelbase (a compact 991mm) and steepened the head tube angle (73 degrees) in order to accomplish this steering responsiveness. The fork is also wider and shorter, increasing stiffness and reducing aerodynamic drag by reducing turbulence through the fork blades, according to Otxoa. (It also paves the way for tire clearance up to 28mm.) The fork’s stiffness also addresses the additional forces laid upon it by the disc brakes.
While the steering feels very responsive, it won’t buck you around with every handlebar input. Go ahead and get far over the handlebars in a sprint without feeling like you’re going to lose your front wheel. In other words, the Orca’s handling has found an often-unattainable sweet spot. A 168mm head tube helps maintain a low and aggressive position, too.
Our test bike was aesthetically understated, with a black and white paint job complementing the classic frame lines. If that’s not your style, Orbea offers its MyO program that allows you to customize the paint job to your liking. (Additional costs may apply, depending on your chosen configuration.)
Our test bike came with Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain with hydraulic Dura-Ace brakes. An FSA cockpit and seatpost are both unremarkable but we didn’t have any specific complaints. The Orca comes with Fulcrum Racing 5 DB aluminum wheels; these seemed out of place on a high-end race bike at this price point. Some carbon wheels would certainly improve the bike’s value.
It was hard to find fault with the Orca. Combined with its sibling the Orca Aero, the Orca marks a return to form for the Basque company. We would count this as one of the best bikes of the year without hesitation.