Words: Wil Barrett. Photos: Orbea

The Orbea Oiz has long been known as the Spanish company’s flagship dual-suspension race bike, built with the sole purpose of tearing apart race tracks in pursuit of the podium. With its sharp geometry, super lightweight carbon frame, and stiff modified single-pivot suspension design, the Oiz has been the go-to option for XC racers when the course demands more comfort and traction than what a hardtail can provide. Interestingly though, the Oiz has only ever been offered with 26″ wheels, right up until the 2014 model year. Given that Orbea was one of the first brands to jump into the 29er race market when they released the Alma hardtail back in 2006, it seems odd that their range would be left for so long without a dedicated dual-suspension equivalent. Yes there is the Occam 29er, but Orbea have always pitched the Occam as more of an all-day marathon hauler than a sharpened race tool. Other factors for why the Oiz platform has clung to 26″ wheels for so long is likely due to the European market’s delayed embrace of the 29″ wheel, and the fact that Orbea have an incredibly successful women’s mountain bike team in the Luna Chix, who haven’t traditionally fitted big-wheel mountain bikes so well. That is until now…

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Brand new for 2015, Orbea have just pulled the wraps off the redesigned Oiz at the French leg of the UCI World Cup this weekend in Meribel. Using a similar silhouette to the outgoing 26″ version, the new Oiz still dishes out 100mm of rear travel and is designed to be balanced out with a matching 100mm travel fork. It uses a modified single-pivot rear suspension design that employs a solid carbon rear triangle, which ditches the dropout pivot in favour of reduced weight and improved lateral stiffness. The carbon seat stays are designed to flex just a fraction throughout the Oiz’ 100mm of travel, thereby removing the need for a dropout pivot. There will be two carbon frames available in the Oiz platform, with the higher end models featuring Orbea’s ‘Race’ carbon fibre blend that brings the frame and shock weight down to sub-1.7kg for the small size. On the note of sizes, Orbea will be offering the new Oiz in two wheel size options; 27.5″ and 29″. Called ‘Big Wheels Concept’, the idea is to get the rider onto the biggest wheel possible, while ensuring that fit and frame geometry is not compromised. Here we take a closer look at some of the new details and refinements to the 2015 Oiz frame, as well as providing a rundown of what models that will be available in Australia, their specifications, and local pricing too.

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The ‘Big Wheels Concept’ is relatively self-explanatory, and it’s a theory that is becoming more widely seen across the mountain bike market. Brands including Trek & Yeti have been offering their take on the ‘Big Wheels Concept’, where by a range of their hardtails utilise 27.5″ wheels for the smaller frame sizes, and 29″ wheels on the larger frame sizes. Orbea are bringing the same concept to the new Oiz, so that XC racers won’t have to compromise with frame fit just because of their height. This is especially important on the XC World Cup circuit, where the 29″ wheel has well and truly dominated race courses. It’s dominance has also meant that many shorter riders have been forced onto awkward-fitting bikes that require a sharply-angled negative rise stems, or a saddle that is jammed all the way forward on the rails, just to get the rider in the right climbing position. With this in mind, Orbea have addressed the fit-issue by offering the new Oiz with 27.5″ wheels in the smaller frame sizes, and with 29″ wheels on the larger frame sizes. As you can tell from the above graphic, riders who fit onto a Medium or Large frame size will actually have a choice between both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels, because Orbea will be offering both. Although we’re sure it adds a significant amount to the development and construction processes (not to mention having to stock 6 different sizes for each model), we reckon this is a brilliant move on Orbea’s behalf to provide riders with a choice in ride quality, without compromising on fit.

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Aside from being redesigned around the larger wheels, the new Oiz has a number of other tweaks to its frame angles to improve the bikes stability over some of the gnarlier courses found on the UCI World Cup tour. There’s still a steep 74-degree seat angle to push the rider further over the bottom bracket for an aggressive climbing stance, but the 70-degree head angle provides a more neutral feel to the front end of the bike. Following recent market trends that are seeing riders move to shorter stems and wider bars for added control, Orbea have pushed the front wheel further away from the rider by employing longer top tubes across the size range, which helps to make the Oiz more stable on the steeper descents. Other changes include a shorter head tube to get the cockpit down nice and low, as well as shorter chain stays for improved agility to the Oiz’s handling around tighter corners.

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Orbea will offer the new Oiz with the superlight OMR (Orbea Monocoque Race) carbon frame for the top 3 models, and a slightly heavier OMP (Orbea Monocoque Performance) carbon frame for the M20, M30 and M50 models. The difference comes down to the type of carbon used in the frames layup, with the OMR relying on higher-modulus carbon fibre that results in a stiffer and lighter structure. The OMP still uses high-mod carbon, but it’s weaved with a greater percentage of lower-mod carbon fibre to offer up a frame that’s actually a little more resilient and comfortable to ride. Otherwise both frames employ the same features including a tapered head tube, 92mm wide press-fit bottom bracket, and a direct-mount front derailleur. They are both monocoque structures that minimise the use of any bonded aluminum inserts throughout the entire frame, which results in reduced weight, better strength, and better long-term durabilit. The new Oiz gets internal cable routing and is also Di2-ready, and the top model does in fact come decked out with the Shimano XTR Di2 groupset.

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While it’s simple layout may not blow anyone away, Orbea have put a lot of work into the back end of the Oiz to tune its 100mm of travel to be effective as possible. Of course it’s worth noting that World Cup XC riders will always have the choice of jumping onto the Alma hardtail for smoother courses. So while the Oiz’ back end must remain efficient under power, it still has to offer up a usable amount of travel to make the choice of going to a dually worth the extra weight penalty when compared to a hardtail. Standing for ‘U-Flexion by Orbea’, the UFO II suspension design has been updated over the 26″ Oiz by removing the dropout pivot for lighter weight and improved stiffness. It also means that the new Oiz frame is made up of just 3 components: the main triangle, the rear triangle, and carbon swing link. Here’s the official word from Orbea about the Oiz’ rear suspension;

We’ve done away with the pivot point at the rear axle. The flexible chainstay UFO technology developed for the previous Oiz was upgraded for the new machine with flexible seatstays. With this innovation, we make an ultralight bike that requires little maintenance and is stiffer for acceleration like you’ve never seen in a full suspension bike. The secret lies in the shape and materials. When properly handled, carbon can be bent. We placed the fibers and shaped the seatstays in such a way that they are allowed to flex without a pivot but deformation doesn’t ever approach the critical point. This technology, which has been long in use in F1 cars, delivers unrivalled weight-stiffness balance.

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The UFO II back end is bolted up to the rear shock by a compact one-piece carbon fibre swing link. This one-piece linkage rolls on sealed cartridge bearings just like the main pivot down at the bottom bracket. However, there’s a nifty design feature that Orbea have added into the Oiz to help bolster the bikes back-end stiffness. Because of the bikes compact rear-centre and the space confines around the seat/top tube junction, there is little room to make use of a singular axle for the pivot point at the top of the seat stays. During the initial part of testing, early prototypes certainly showed no signs of being overly flexy, but Orbea’s engineers were still searching for better tracking out of the rear wheel. Up until that point, the the upper end of each seat stay simply joined up to the swing link independently. So to increase the rigidity of this key junction, Orbea placed a minimalist steel tension strut in the joint between the linkage and the seatstays. Named ‘Tensegrity’, this tensioning strut helps to balance lateral forces and provide optimal stiffness, without adding much weight at all. The end result has been a stiffer and more responsive frame package that has well and truly reached Orbea’s weight goals.

In terms of performance out on the trail, the UFO II suspension design has been built specifically for XC riding and racing, with a firm feel at the pedals when running the rear shock at 15-20% sag. Thanks to the addition of remote-controlled suspension on nearly every model, Orbea haven’t had to resort to any overly complicated suspension linkages or funky valving just to get the Oiz pedalling well. For XC racers who need to hammer off from the start line, a quick flick of the handlebar lever provides an instantaneous lockout. With the shock set wide-open though, the Oiz is built to offer up its full 100mm of travel when the rider needs it. As with the Occam, Orbea worked closely with Fox Racing Shox to develop the shock tune for the back end of the Oiz, which features a regressive shock ratio that sees the bike riding higher up in the first 50% of the travel. We’ll have to get some ride time on the new Oiz to confirm Orbea’s claims about the UFO II suspension design, but it certainly has all the right ingredients for a pure-bred XC slasher.

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The Orbea Oiz M-LTD features:

  • Orbea Monocoque Race Carbon mainframe and swingarm
  • UFO II suspension design w/100mm rear travel
  • Fox Float iCTD Remote Factory Series rear shock w/Kashima Coat, Boost Valve damper, and electronically controlled iCTD handlebar remote
  • Fox 32 Float iCD Factory Series fork w/100mm travel, Kashima Coat, electronically controlled iCTD handlebar remote, tapered steerer tube, QR15 thru-axle
  • Shimano XTR Di2 2×11 drivetrain w/XTR 36-26t crankset and XTR Di2 Shadow Plus rear derailleur
  • Shimano XTR Race hydraulic disc brakes
  • Mavic Crossmax SL wheelset w/Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ 3C-Speed Tubeless Ready tyres
  • Colours: Red-Blue/Blue-White
  • Available in mid-October 2014
  • RRP: $10999

 

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The Orbea Oiz M-Team features:

  • Orbea Monocoque Race Carbon mainframe and swingarm
  • UFO II suspension design w/100mm rear travel
  • Fox Float CTD Remote Factory Series rear shock w/Kashima Coat, Boost Valve damper, and CTD handlebar remote
  • Fox 32 Float CTD Factory Series fork w/100mm travel, Kashima Coat, CTD handlebar remote, tapered steerer tube, QR15 thru-axle
  • Shimano XTR 2×11 drivetrain w/XTR 36-26t crankset and XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur
  • Shimano XTR Race hydraulic disc brakes
  • Mavic Crossmax SL wheelset w/Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ 3C-Speed Tubeless Ready tyres
  • Colours: Red-Blue/Blue-White
  • Available in mid-October 2014
  • RRP: $9999

 

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The Orbea Oiz M-10 features:

  • Orbea Monocoque Race Carbon mainframe and swingarm
  • UFO II suspension design w/100mm rear travel
  • Fox Float CTD Remote Factory Series rear shock w/Kashima Coat, Boost Valve damper & CTD handlebar remote
  • Fox 32 Float CTD Factory Series fork w/100mm travel, Kashima Coat, tapered steerer tube, QR15 thru-axle
  • Shimano Deore XT 2×10 drivetrain w/Deore XT 38-24t crankset and XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur
  • Formula R1 hydraulic disc brakes
  • DT Swiss Spline X-1700 wheelset w/Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ 3C-Speed Tubeless Ready tyres
  • Colours: Red-Blue/Blue-White
  • Available in mid-October 2014
  • RRP: $6999

 

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The Orbea Oiz M-20 features:

  • Orbea Monocoque Performance Carbon mainframe and swingarm
  • UFO II suspension design w/100mm rear travel
  • Fox Float CTD Remote Factory Series rear shock w/Kashima Coat, Boost Valve damper & CTD handlebar remote
  • Fox 32 Float CTD Factory Series fork w/100mm travel, Kashima Coat, tapered steerer tube, QR15 thru-axle
  • Shimano Deore XT/SLX 2×10 drivetrain w/Deore XT 38-24t crankset, SLX shifters and XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur
  • Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes
  • DT Swiss Spline X-1700 wheelset w/Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ 3C-Speed Tubeless Ready tyres
  • Colours: Black/Black-White
  • Available in mid-October 2014
  • RRP: $5999

 

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The Orbea Oiz M-30 features:

  • Orbea Monocoque Performance Carbon mainframe and swingarm
  • UFO II suspension design w/100mm rear travel
  • Fox Float CTD Remote Evolution Series rear shock w/CTD handlebar remote
  • Fox 32 Float CTD Evolution Series fork w/100mm travel, tapered steerer tube, QR15 thru-axle
  • Shimano SLX 2×10 drivetrain w/SLX 38-24t crankset, SLX shifters and Deore XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur
  • Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes
  • DT Swiss Spline X-1700 wheelset w/Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ 3C-Speed Tubeless Ready tyres
  • Colours: Black/Black-White
  • Available in mid-October 2014
  • RRP: $4999

 

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The Orbea Oiz M-50 features:

  • Orbea Monocoque Performance Carbon mainframe and swingarm
  • UFO II suspension design w/100mm rear travel
  • Fox Float CTD Remote Evolution Series rear shock w/CTD handlebar remote
  • Fox 32 Float CTD Evolution Series fork w/100mm travel, tapered steerer tube, QR15 thru-axle
  • Shimano SLX 2×10 drivetrain w/FSA Comet 38-24t crankset, SLX shifters and SLX Shadow Plus rear derailleur
  • Formula C1 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Mavic Cross One wheelset w/Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ folding kevlar bead tyres
  • Colours: Black/Black-White
  • Available in mid-October 2014
  • RRP: $3999

 

The new Oiz is scheduled to be available in Australia around mid-October this year, though it will first be released through the ‘My Orbea’ program, which is essentially a custom bike builder. With Orbea having recently announced the news that their bikes will be distributed in Australia by BikeBox in Melbourne, expect to see a greater local presence for the Spanish brand. Given that 100mm travel 29ers make up some of the biggest share of the market Down Under, we’re betting that you’ll see a lot more of the Oiz this coming season. Lookout for a full ride review coming in a future issue of Enduro, but in the meantime head to the Orbea Australia website for more information about the range.

BikeBox
Website: www.orbea.com/au-en
Phone: (03) 9555 5800

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