140mm of well-balanced fun.
We love our Orbea bikes here at the shop. The Spanish brand with names that are hard to pronounce, released the Occam earlier this year. The 140mm trail bike checks all the boxes – modern geo, good looks, custom online bike builder and well specced builds out of the box. I took our Occam for a rip on some classic Park City single track.
Geometry and build kits Orbea Occam
The Occam goes modern without going extreme. Some bikes these days have some pretty wild geo. Although things are heading in the right direction, making smart choices about how much the geo changes year-to-year can help riders adjust their riding style to fit the longer, lower and slacker movement. The Occam makes the perfect sized jump to more modern geometry. It gets longer and slacker without going overboard. The geometry remains very useable, but you now get a steep seat tube, slack head tube and a pretty long (confident) front center. You don’t have to ride the bike like you’re trying to wring its neck to get the most out of it. It’s happy to go at your pace.
At 6’2” I felt very comfortable on the XL frame. The reach and seated position felt great – not too cramped and not too stretched out. I did notice the standover height felt a little tall. The seat post also felt a little long too. I fit square in the middle of Orbea’s size guide for an XL frame, but I noticed the bike is rather tall. I have some pretty long legs and love to run long dropper posts. I’m not sure I’d be able to run a full 175 or longer post on the Occam. I normally have zero issues with dropper post length, in fact on a lot of bikes I can run a 200mm drop without issue. With a slammed 170mm dropper I was barely able to fit. Not a big gripe as I’m sure I’m in the minority, but certainly something to consider if you like long droppers.
Here’s where things get pretty cool. You can get an entry level build Occam starting at $2,600. It comes with an aluminum frame and a 12 speed drivetrain. The bike is covered in Orbea house brand components and lower end suspension, but it’s an Occam and it doesn’t set you back a year’s salary to get one. The budget friendly build we are most stoked on however is the $3,000 H20. It comes with Fox suspension, an SLX 12 speed drivetrain and a stealthy aluminum frame with polished welds.
Builds get pretty blingy too if that’s what you’re after. The top of the line M-LTD will set you back a cool $8,000, but leaves nothing to be desired – it oozes carbon and Kashima.
Our test bike was the M10 in case you were wondering.
We are going to stick to thinking inside the box and start this thing off with climbing performance. The Occam climbs very well. Period. End of review. Wait, you want more? I’ll indulge. The Occam climbs with the best of them. In fact out of all the new bikes I’ve ridden and tested this year there’s only three that climb better – Ibis Ripley, Ibis Ripmo and Orbea Oiz. Those are pretty big claims considering I’ve ridden a lot of bikes ranging from XC/trail to enduro from multiple brands. I haven’t ridden all the bikes in the world and I’m not claiming the Occam to be the third best climber on the planet. I’m just saying the Occam is a heck of a climber that will out perform most other bikes out there.
I attribute the uphill cheetah speed to three things. First, Orbea has done a great job keeping this thing efficient. It doesn’t sap all your energy, but rather gives you a solid pedaling platform. The Occam felt very much like an Ibis in that regard (If you don’t know how I feel about Ibis bikes go read all our other reviews and you’ll quickly find out I love how they climb.) It scoots along and accelerates as soon as you give it the beans. Second, The Occam is pretty light for a 140mm travel bike. Our XL test bike weighed in at 27.95 lbs. Coming off a 33 lbs. Megatower (my personal bike) those five missing pounds were very noticeable. And last but not least, the Occam ships with a rather lightweight set of tires. I have mixed opinions about this. They make the bike climb so much faster, but they lead to frustration in the form of flats and lack of traction in Utah’s dry and loose conditions. If the terrain I rode on the daily was littered with rocks and pointy things that hurt tires or I rode bikes aggressively, I’d immediately swap out the stock Highroller/Rekon combo for a pair of Minion DHFs. Sure that would kill some of the amazing climbing performance, but climbing a little slower doesn’t necessarily ruin a ride, where washing out and riding a corner on your face kinda does.
I’m not going to lie. I didn’t get along with the Occam for the first 10-15 minutes of my ride. The steering felt weird, the weight weenie tires bugged me and I didn’t think I was going to enjoy my ride. That’s not the end of the review. In fact, if I had stopped there I would have missed out on one of my most memorable rides of the season. By the end of the day I couldn’t stop grinning. I was breaking out my checkbook by the end of it all (A checkbook, for our younger readers, is an antiquated way of paying for things that required you to write numbers with an actual pen on a real sheet of paper in order to give someone money.) Unfortunately, my checkbook read “Insufficient Funds” or there’s be a shiny new Occam in my house today. Yes, house – bikes belong inside with the humans and pets, not in the cold, lonely garage with the spiders.
I’m trying to wrap my head around what made me struggle with the Occam for the first few minutes. The only thing I can come up with is the bikes I’ve been riding lately have all been BURLY. I’ve been riding Megatowers and SB150s and the like — all bikes with sub 65° head tube angles, super short stems, extra wide handlebars, heaviest of the heavy tires and intentions to destroy trails. I really like that style of bike and it’s what I’m accustomed to. Hopping on a bike with a steeper head tube angle, longer stem and what felt like road tires, I think it took me a second to adjust my riding style. I guess the saying “It’s like riding a bike” doesn’t apply to me — I needed a few minutes to relearn how to ride one that doesn’t do 99% of the work for you.
The Occam is a bike that responds very well to rider input. It’s not the kind of bike that leaves you feeling like a passenger on a plush velvet couch with two big wheels and an autopilot system. The Occam requires you to ride it. You have to tell it where to go, tell it how to get around a corner and take charge. It lets you be the captain. When you do that, it really comes alive. It becomes super playful, quick and snappy all while being forgiving enough to correct a few mistakes. Once I readjusted to “normal bike” handling, I was able to ride some sections of trail faster than ever before all while having a blast hitting every jump I could find. The Occam can get around a corner so quickly. It’s really easy to lean it over in a tight berm or maintain traction on a loose, flat corner. The somewhat shorter wheelbase helps here too. It will always be hard to get a school bus around a tight corner. Luckily the Occam isn’t a school bus – more like a compact pickup. There were a few corners that got the better of me, but for the most part, I cornered better than most days. It rolls fast, likely due to the scary, slick pieces of rubber around the wheels that some folks might call tires (If you couldn’t tell, I didn’t really care for the tires.) The bike doesn’t wallow in its travel either. It sits nice and high keeping the bike moving fast. Pumping terrain generates a lot of speed instead of just smushing through 160mm of plushness. The bike loves getting in the air. There is plenty of mid stroke support to push off of to get the rear wheel off the ground. Some short travel bikes are really easy to get in the air, but things start getting scary when you have to come back down. The Occam feels comfortable doing both. It likes to jump and has you covered on the landings.
The Occam M10 comes with a 140mm Fox 34. This is probably great for most folks. It’s also great for the rider looking to keep weight down and doesn’t care too much about riding really difficult terrain at high speeds. I’d prefer the 150mm Fox 36 though. I’m a bigger guy and I’ve always struggled with weight conscious forks. The 34 feels a little flexy to me. The sensation I get from a “noodly” fork is the front wheel deflecting off obstacles rather than absorbing them. A flexy fork won’t perform as well due to added friction from the chassis flexing. I’d much rather take the weight penalty of a 36 to get better front end performance that would more closely match what the Occam is capable of. Luckily, Orbea has a custom bike builder that allows you to select individual components including the heavier duty fork.
Santa Cruz Hightower vs Orbea Occam
These two bikes have very similar amounts of travel, geometry and fill the same niche. Out on the trails they feel like complete opposites. The Occam feels fast, sporty and light while the Hightower has a much more planted, serious ride quality. Both are well rounded and can be a one-bike-to-rule-them-all bike. If you’re looking for the more efficient climber the Occam will be your winner. Not only is it actually a few pounds lighter it rides lighter. The faster tires, snappier suspension and more upright feel make the Occam more like a trail bike. The Hightower sits deeper in its travel and doesn’t climb as well, but it packs a bigger punch. If you’re looking for a trail bike that can pull an extra shift as an enduro bike, the Hightower is the way to go.
Who is the Orbea Occam for?
The Occam is the perfect bike for the rider who can only have one bike but likes to ride a lot of different terrain. It goes up really well and will keep the climbers happy and it goes downhill as fast and hard as you want it to. If you just want to cruise and take it easy, the bike is happy doing that. If you want to jump off everything in sight, the Occam will make it happen. I’m not always the biggest fan of the do-it-all bike. They tend to feel a little boring. They don’t excel at any one thing, rather they do most things well. The Occam might be the most well rounded bike I’ve ridden that doesn’t feel boring. It still has an exciting ride quality that keeps you coming back for more.
Come by our shop in Kaysville, UT to snag a demo Occam today.