I know way more about bikes than I do trucks, so hopefully, this analogy doesn’t land flat. If it does, just play along and pretend I’m right — It will make me feel better. The brand new Orbea Rise is the mid-size pickup truck of e bikes. It’s lighter, smaller, and easier to park at the grocery store than its full-size bigger brother. This analogy is falling apart already. Stick around to see just how cool the Rise is.
With a few exceptions, almost every eMTB we’ve seen to date has been in the 48-60 pound range and comes with a pretty standard 500+ watt-hour battery. While they’re a ton of fun to ride, not everyone wants to lug that machine around. That’s where the Rise makes its grand entrance. Orbea designed the Rise around a more natural ride experience. They wanted it to feel as much like a regular MTB as possible. It comes in below 40 pounds, has a smaller, lighter battery, and a lighter touch with the assistance. We sat down with Orbea at the launch and talked about how they achieved this. Check out the Rise First Look video if you want to learn more about the Rider Synergy approach.
Orbea Rise Geometry
The Rise is essentially the Occam with a motor in it. They’ve made a few tweaks to accommodate the motor, but other than a 5mm longer chainstay, the geo is the same. The suspension gets a little softer off the top and has a bit more ramp-up than the Occam. After spending a significant amount of time on the Rise, I’ve found the geometry to be just enough for almost every trail I’ve ridden. It never feels like you’re over-biked and rarely feels as though you’re under-biked. The 150mm of front travel paired with 140mm at the rear is enough to get you by almost everywhere. I wouldn’t hate the 65.5-degree head tube being a hair slacker, but the bike never held me back. I feel like you can afford to make the bike slacker because you have a motor to counteract any adverse effect on climbing performance. If it were up to me, I’d make it 64.5 degrees.
Orbea Rise RS Drive System
I’m going to clear up a lot of confusion right here. The Rise isn’t an underpowered e bike. Sure, it only has 60nm of torque, where others have 80. But, hear me out. When I ride a full-size eMTB, I rarely use the highest power mode. On steep climbs, it can be too much torque to keep control of the front end. On flat ground, the motor cuts off at 20mph anyway. So why even use it? I almost always end up in “trail” or equivalent power mode. The Rise has plenty of power for me in the highest setting. In fact, on technical and steep climbs, it’s still too powerful to keep the bike under control. I prefer the middle of the three settings for that type of terrain. I’ll put it in the highest setting for fast, open, and straight climbs. If it’s tight, twisty, and technical, I use the middle. I mean, what’s the point in hitting the breaks on an uphill corner — it seems silly to me.
It also isn’t a shorter range bike either. The 360 watt-hour battery lasts as long as a standard 540 watt-hour battery found on full-size eMTBs. The bike uses less power, the motor is more efficient, and the system weight is lighter, allowing those 360 watt-hours to stretch further. I set out to find just how long the battery would last. I did two rides totaling four hours of ride time. I rode 19 miles and 2800’ vertical in the St. George desert. If you’re unfamiliar, these aren’t easy miles. There’s very little flow, and you have to work for every mile. As I pulled into the parking lot after the second ride, the battery indicator finally turned red (20% battery remaining.) My body’s battery was in worse shape than the bike’s.
The Rise is a more natural feeling eMTB. It requires a little more effort on your part. If you’re just farting around, you’re not going to get a ton of assistance from the motor. You need to spin the cranks a little faster than with other eMTBs. It took me a minute to adjust. I ended up dropping into an easier gear and spinning my legs faster. I got more love from the motor that way. I will say, the preferred cadence of the RS motor is slightly higher than my body’s preferred cadence. I’m more of a “push a hard gear slowly” type climber. From what the road bikers say, I shouldn’t do that anyway.
Orbea Rise Ride Impressions
Go watch the video to get the best feel of how this bike rides.
I always find it funny to talk about how eMTBs climb. You can pretty much group all of them into the “fastest bike I’ve ever ridden uphill” category. The Rise lives in that category as well, but I’d say it’s even better than some of the higher-powered full-size eMTBs. Where it starts to outshine its bigger siblings is in technical and tight climbs. It’s way easier to maneuver through rocks and ledges. You make a small tradeoff to get that extra maneuverability, but it’s one I’d make every day of the week.
I’ve done some pretty heinous climbs on the Rise, and I haven’t found one yet where it doesn’t have enough power. That doesn’t mean I’ve cleaned everything I’ve tried. Some climbs are still too steep and loose. Some are too twisty. It isn’t a matter of power from the motor; it’s a matter of bike control and skill.
If you were to guess that this whole section would be about the Rise being more agile than a full-powered e bike, you’d be 100% correct. That’s the magic of this bike. It’s an e bike you can bunny hop, jump, corner, steer and ride like your regular MTB. One thing it doesn’t do as well as its full-power big siblings is plow through rocks in a straight line. It’s not as heavy, so the sprung to unsprung ratio isn’t the same. The suspension doesn’t feel quite as fantastic as the bigger bikes. It feels pretty damn good, though. It’s still a little heavier than a regular mountain bike, so the suspension feels pretty plush and supple — combine that with a bike you can still unweight, lift up and maneuver, and you have yourself a winner. Compared to the Occam, the suspension feels softer off the top while also being more progressive. When Orbea doesn’t need to make the bike as efficient for climbing, they can focus on giving it a better tune for DH riding.
The geometry falls somewhere in the middle of everything – not too slack and not too steep. If it were up to me, I’d make it a degree slacker, but there’s probably a reason I don’t design bikes. That said, during all of my testing, I never felt under-gunned or like I needed a bigger bike.
Who is The Orbea Rise for?
The Rise is for someone like me. If I have one goal on the bike, it’s making rough and technical trails flow smoothly. I like a bike that I can unweight, maneuver, and bunny hop. The Rise does that very well. It also makes my climbs to those fun downhills shorter. It doesn’t take the effort out of climbing or feel like cheating. Instead, it makes impossible climbs possible. It makes easier climbs quicker. You’re still at the edge of what your heart can do. Many of my Rise rides have a higher average heart rate than when I’m on my traditional mountain bike.
So what does this mean for you? If you want to get to all your favorite downhills faster without paying the penalty of traditional e bikes, the Rise should be at the top of your list. It’s all of the fun without the drawbacks.
It’s also for the rider who needs to bridge the gap between them and their kids/freinds. It’s the great equalizer. It smooths out your average speed helping you hang with folks who are faster than you. You’ll get the uphill benefits without paying too many penalties on the way back down.
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