orbea occam

TR M10 | $5,600

DESPITE ORBEA’S LITERAL HISTORY IN MAKING WEAPONS, I didn’t expect its Occam TR to be such a figurative one. You read that right—from Orbea’s inception in 1840 all the way until 1930, the Basque-born company made revolvers. I guess 90 years of making gun barrels prepared Orbea for manufacturing tubing for bicycle frames, which is exactly what the brand did when firearm sales declined after World War I.

In the U.S., Orbea has more recognition on the skinny-tire side of cycling, but it’s been slinging mountain bikes since the mid-80s that have carried some of the fastest male and female XC racers to World Cup and Olympic titles. Julien Absalon (who now rides for BMC) crushed the freshly crowned World Champion, Christoph Sauser, by two minutes at the 2008 Beijing Games on an Orbea. I was working for Specialized, supporting Sauser at the race, where Absalon—and Orbea by proxy—crushed my dreams of being on an Olympic winning team. We’ll see who’s laughing after I finally seek my revenge by writing a scathing review of an Orbea.

I had a feeling that the Occam would be quick in an XC way, but guessed that this 120-mil-travel 29er would fall way short in the trail-ripping department. That’s cool and all, if that’s what you’re after, but Orbea markets the Occam TR as an all-purpose, mountain-gobbling adventure machine. The spindly Fox 32 fork and wicked-narrow rims and handlebars had me thinking that this would instead be the kind of trail bike that MTB-curious triathletes would dig. You know, they’ve already got an Orbea tri bike that they love, so might as well stay brand loyal, right?

DT Swiss puts the wheels on this bike, the X1700 Spline, in its cross-country category. They have a 20-millimeter

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