Well, this one is interesting. We’ve done a million mountain bike videos and one or two gravel bike videos. The Orbea Alma falls somewhere in the middle. I’m not totally sure where to put it. Is it a flat-bar gravel bike? Is it an ultralight XC bike? Yes—to both. I think. The better gravel bike, the orbea alma.

Orbea Alma Geometry

Alma Geo

The Alma is the smallest and steepest mountain bike I’ve ever ridden. I wouldn’t say it has gravel bike geometry, but the head tube angle is closer to a Santa Cruz Stigmata than a Megatower. At 68°, the head tube angle is downright steep for a modern mountain bike. While the geometry is short and steep, the fit and feel of the bike were great. For reference, I’m 6’2,” and I’m riding an XL. 

I’m running my Alma with the 100mm RockShox Sid SL rather than the Orbea Spirit rigid fork. The bike falls more on the MTB side of the spectrum with the suspension fork, but with the rigid fork, it almost becomes a flat bar gravel bike. I’m also running the bike with a dropper post. As tested, my bike weighed 21.5lb, ready to ride with bottle cages and pedals. It’s not unreasonable to get the bike under 20lb.

Orbea Alma Review

While I’m almost always riding a full-suspension mountain bike with at least 120mm of travel, I’m no stranger to riding gravel bikes on singletrack. I used to think the gravel bike was the ultimate choice for a go-anywhere bike. I’d leave from my house, pedal a half dozen miles of pavement to the nearest trailhead, and then log a big ride out on the trails. While that was fun, it just wasn’t the right tool for the job. It has a couple of significant flaws when it comes to singletrack riding. The drop bars pull your weight too far forward for most rocky descents, and the brake levers aren’t in a position where you can get a ton of power. There’s no dropper post, there’s some toe overlap with the front wheel, and the gearing is a little off for most steep trails. Enter the Alma. It is almost as fast as my old gravel bike on the road, feels way more suited to trails, and weighs about the same. Is it the new ultimate bike for pavement, gravel, and singletrack? Stick around to find out. 


I knew the Alma was going to be fast. It’s light, has cross country tires on it, and has no rear suspension. There’s no way it was going to be slow. But I wanted to see just how fast it was going to be. We have a local climb that’s popular among the XC crowd. It’s roughly 3 miles with 1200 feet of elevation gain. I’ve always tried to get to the top in under 30 minutes, albeit unsuccessfully. As a reminder, I’m not much of an XC guy, so that goal is a bit of a stretch for me. An actual fit person could smash that time, I’m sure. I started my first test ride on the Alma with that goal in mind. If any bike will facilitate me in fulfilling my dreams, it’s going to be the Alma. I’m as disappointed as you are to learn that I was six seconds too slow. I’m going to blame it on the kind, elderly couple on the trail, enjoying their morning watching the birds, completely oblivious to my jackassery and fitness aspirations. Either way, it’s the fastest I’ve done that climb by a long shot. And, to the bike’s credit, I’m not nearly as fit as I once was.

The Alma goes uphill a lot like a gravel bike, except the gearing is correct and the bars are flat. There is absolutely no energy lost when climbing. The frame is stiff, the tires roll fast, and the entire bike seems to be working to get you up the hill as quickly as possible. It’s the most efficient climbing bike I’ve ridden, especially on smoother terrain. On the wide-open, smooth sections, I held ridiculous (for me) speeds. It’s easy to get the bike up to speed and keep it there. 

When the climbs get bumpy and technical, the story changes a little. There’s not a lot of forgiveness or compliance built into the Alma—it’s stiff, fast, and efficient. That means the bike gets bucked around a bit on bumpy, rocky climbs. When it’s bouncing around, there’s less traction and less forward drive. To be fast on technical climbs, you’ll have to pick smooth lines and use a little technique rather than just plowing over the top of everything. 

I recently purchased a Santa Cruz Chameleon and filmed a review. Before that, it had been years since I had ridden a hardtail. The first thing I noticed was the lack of traction on the back wheel. I didn’t realize how much work a full-suspension bike did to keep the back tire on the ground. Even more than the Chameleon, the Alma reminded me of that lack of traction. The Rekon Race tires aren’t particularly grippy, and the frame is rather stiff. Those things add up to a rear wheel that slips out more easily than on other bikes. You really have to watch your body position on the bike. That’s the big trade-off for a bike that climbs this efficiently.


A lot like on the climbs, the Alma is pretty quick on smooth terrain. It rolls quickly and has exceptionally sharp handling. Once the trail gets rough, the Alma forces you to slow down and focus on smooth lines.

The Alma handles much more like a mountain bike on the downhills than it does a gravel bike. The flat bars certainly help, but so does the 68° head tube angle. It keeps the bike stable in typical XC terrain without sacrificing agility. The Alma is quick to get around a corner or change lines when needed. That’s a good thing, too, as you’ll likely need to change lines more often than on a bigger mountain bike. The Alma isn’t particularly adept at going over the biggest and roughest lines. It prefers to dodge in and out of the rough spots. 

The Alma’s geometry makes the bike have some of the sharpest and fastest handling of any bike I’ve ridden. That’s a double-edged sword at times. It’s great for picking your way through the rocks to find the smoothest lines. It becomes a small problem when there are no smooth lines, and you’re forced to go over the rocks. The small sweet spot forces you to be very cognizant of your weight distribution. If you get it wrong, you’ll know about it.  

Orbea Alma Full

Who is the Orbea Alma for?

I see the Alma being a great bike for a couple of different types of riders. The first is that person who wants a bike they can pedal on the pavement to a trailhead and then ride singletrack to their heart’s content. The Alma isn’t all that efficient and slow on the road and it certainly beats a gravel bike on the trails. It’s very versatile in that regard, especially when you factr in the rigid and suspension fork compatibility. It’s not going to be the right tool for rough and rugged trails, but it will handle cruisy blues and greens just fine. 

The Second group of riders who I think will enjoy the Alma are the pure fitness freaks—folks who really care about things like KOMs, VAM, FTP, and suffer scores. The Alma is the fastest bike I’ve pedaled up a mountain on dirt. It’s light, stiff and efficient.

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