Grand Tour bikes: Orbea Orca M11i Team review

Orbea is a Spanish brand with a reputation for bikes designed for climbing, which is why it has long sponsored pro teams who love nothing more than racing over the Alps and Pyrenees, such as Cofidis, whose roster includes Vuelta mountain stage-winner Dani Navarro.

The Orca is its all-round racer and the one that most sponsored riders will be riding.

Our M11i Team model comes from the higher end of the range, but still a couple of steps down from the very top.


Nonetheless, we were instantly smitten with its impressively low weight, which comes in at exactly 6.8kg, the UCI legal minimum.

Leaving the scales behind and heading out on the road, the geometry and frame stiffness show the bike’s racing pedigree.

On smoother roads, the Orca is a joy to ride, but on rougher roads there’s a noticeable difference between front and rear comfort, with the rear giving a smooth ride while the front is quite harsh.

This is especially so on smaller bumps where vibration buzz feeds through to your arms.

The Orca’s low weight is a definite benefit on climbs, although under higher-power efforts there is noticeable flex in the rear, mostly from the Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels.

The rims are also narrow by modern standards, which has a knock-on effect for the tyre width, bringing them up narrower than the stated 25c size.

On the components front, SRAM’s eTap system is superb, with intuitive wireless shifting, excellent hood shape and easy adjustment.

The SRAM Red brakes are equally impressive, with immense stopping power and a great feel. With the aluminium rims, braking in the wet is good, too.

The FSA Energy finishing kit is a mixed bag, with comfortable bars that have a good shape but one small niggle was that the stem has protruding bolts that knocked our knees a few times when climbing out of the saddle.

The race specific geometry gives fast, agile handling and feels stable on the downhills. For those after a fast, lightweight bike for the mountains, this would be an excellent choice, with SRAM’s superb electronic shifting as an added bonus.