Our latest review bike, a ‘Wine Red - Titanium’ 2024 model M20 Orca from Spanish brand Orbea.
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Road Tested: The 2024 Orbea Orca M31 With Shimano Ultegra

Dubbed a lightweight flyer, we float up some local climbs on this ‘Wine Red – Titanium’ Orbea Orca.

“Light, light, light…” 

These three words resounded in our minds as we unleashed the 2024 Orbea Orca M31 on a mesmerising few weeks of cycling. The dreamy model, finished in a deep ‘Wine Red – Titanium,’ immediately captivated the senses – it sure is a classy looking bike.

As we found with the latest Orca, Orbea introduces a unifying genre of all-rounder race bikes, blending maximum aerodynamics (for efficiency) with minimum weight (for fun).

A traditional looking frameset, the build is clean, slick and oh so light.

The geometry of the Orca, largely unchanged from its predecessor, delivers a natural front end with a touch of raciness. This ensures a comfortable yet performance-oriented riding experience, a balance sought by riders looking for a versatile platform that excels in both climbing and mixed terrains.

As we embarked on our journey with the 2024 Orca, the realisation dawned that lightweight bikes undeniably offer a speed advantage in certain scenarios. 

The professional peloton increasingly embraces the philosophy that being first to the summit holds little value if you’re last on the descent. This line of thinking is exemplified by teams who change bikes mid-race.

The Orbea Orca is shipped with factory fitted 28mm Vittoria Corsa Pro tyres. Tubes are also factory fitted, but the rims and tyres are tubeless ready.

The Orca taps into this ethos, presenting a design that prioritises weight without compromising on overall performance. And talking the pro peloton, Orbea have replaced Ridley as team Lotto Dstny’s bike sponsor – the Basque brand now ridden by the Belgian team.

The team will be using a range of Orbeas including two new model Orcas – the OMX and OMR.

We are riding the M31 ELTD PWR, with a frame weight of 750g in size 53cm and a fork of 360g, targets riders seeking peak performance. On the other hand, the OMR, with a frame weight of 1030g painted and a fork of 410g, strikes a balance between weight and functionality.

Beyond the realm of weight, the Orca differentiates itself with a distinctive design choice – the absence of a dropped stay. In a sea of race bikes where silhouettes often become near cookie-cutter in design, the new Orca stands out with a classic appearance – a little like the Aethos – that conceals its modern race bike attributes.

Disc brakes are the only option on the Orca these days, and they performed flawlessly.

The question arises: Is this a nostalgic nod to bikes of old, or a deliberate design choice that aligns with the demands of the modern rider? Yep, Johnathan Swift seems to have been spot on!

The Orbea design team emphasised that this platform is about more than just lightweight construction and climbing prowess. Descriptions like instant acceleration, agility, vibration damping, and excellent power transfer pepper their prose, promising an exhilarating ride. For enthusiasts who ride for sheer joy, the sensation of speed often outweighs the numerical speed itself. 

While the sensation of speed holds importance, gravity still determines the pace in steep and slow terrain. Orbea recognise this and reinvented the 2024 model Orca under the ‘Praise The Light’ moniker. Marketing and spin is typically the last thing we think of when actually out riding, and particularly with a raised pulse and heavily breathing up a climb. But Orbea are spot on with their high praise – this bike eats up the hills and remains hungry for more.

Frame Design

The design philosophy relies on round shapes and tube profiles to achieve high stiffness at a low weight. This not only ensures an agile and responsive ride but also simplifies the manufacturing process by avoiding sharp edges.

The ‘Wine Red’ Orca at the Smiths Creek lookout on the way to picturesque Cottage Point north of Sydney.

The Orca’s construction extends to every aspect of the bike, with the seat post, seat tube, seat stays, and down tube all decisively round. The front, in typical Orbea fashion, also showcases round shapes, especially at the transition between the head tube, down tube, and top tube. The fork follows suit, boasting an extremely slim and elegant profile that complements the bike’s overall look and aesthetic.

Despite its focus on lightweight construction, the Orca doesn’t neglect aero features. Integrated cable routing, a narrow top tube, and slightly aero-optimised tube profiles contribute to the bike’s visually quick appearance. 

OQUO Components

Complementing the new Orca, Orbea’s component brand OQUO introduces its first road and gravel wheels. Launched at the end of 2022, OQUO initially entered the scene with MTB wheels and has now ventured into the drop bar market. The range encompasses wheels for traditional road racing under ‘Performance Road’ and gravel/all-road wheels with a 25mm inner width under ‘Road Control.’ Notably, the brand takes pride in the ‘Mini Hook’ concept, a hybrid of hookless and hooked rims that combines the best of both worlds.

The seat post hex bolt is neatly hidden under this bubbler flange, and below, a thoughtful Orbea inclusion is the out-front GPS / computer mount.

The OQUO wheel range spans from 35 to 57mm deep carbon and alloy rims, all equipped with Zipp hubs. Our test bike was fitted with the OQUO RP45LTD carbon wheels, and they impressed us in every way. With 28mm factory fitted Vittoria tyres, the smooth, clean and fuss free wheelset complemented the modern yet classically elegant frameset. 

So far as the Orca lineup goes, the M31 we rode stands out as a bargain with its overall finish, Ultegra Di2 and carbon wheels.

Handing back the Orca – much like finishing a bottle of the good stuff – left an indelible mark. It’s an elegant, stylish, attractive and beautifully performing bike … one we miss and can highly recommend. 

The Orca M31 ELTD PWR has an RRP of $9,699 – more at your local Orbea dealer or www.orbea.com


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