First impressions are important. Very important. Especially when they are followed by positive later impressions. Which is why I love my Orbea Occam so much. It left a great first impression and has continued to impress! The first time I got on one (the demo that my teammate and Orbea employee, Frank Webber, brought for me to race at the Mellow Johnny’s Pro XCT) I thought “Wow, this thing in boingy.” Now, after having ridden that one for three weeks and then building and riding my own Occam, I repeat: “this thing is boingy.”
boingy |boi NG ē| – (n) It feels a bit like riding a pogo stick. In a really good way.
120mm (almost 5 inches) of front and rear suspension is a lot for a cross country race bike. But Orbea didn’t sacrifice efficiency or weight for the extra suspension on the Occam. At 24 lbs (built with Shimano XT), it isn’t the lightest full-suspension bike out there, but the lighter ones usually have less travel. And if I wanted to I could easily drop a pound or more. Personally though, I prefer slightly heavier parts that are more durable.
The Occam also pedals like a cross country race bike when the shock is set to ProPedal. Riding it on the road to get to trails I’m fairly certain it’s more efficient than my road bike. Climbing, the suspension doesn’t compress unless you hit an obstacle, so you aren’t using any extra energy going up. And by compressing when you do hit something, it keeps your tires connected to the trail which improves your traction and more efficiently transfers your pedaling energy into forward motion. Even standing and sprinting you get minimal bounce.Descending (open up the shock) it feels more like a Super D bike than a cross country bike. The slack head tube angle (68.5° instead of the usual 70-71° of most cross country bikes) makes the handling smooth and gives it a solid feel at speed. It corners well and begs to be bunny-hopped over logs, rocks and roots. The suspension is specifically designed to react well to small impacts (i.e. braking bumps) as well as bigger hits (like 4 ft drops). I haven’t tested it the big hits (Angel Fire Bike Park doesn’t open until May) but the small bump suspension is incredible. It smooths out braking bumps and washboard roads to the point that you barely notice them.
This bike has made me realize why ‘all-mountain’ bikes are so popular. For the first time, you can get a lightweight bike that pedals and climbs like a cross country bike and descends like a downhill bike (or at least a Super D bike). This translates to more comfort descending and less pain on the way up and makes for the perfect bike for all-day epic rides.
If you could only have one bike, the Orbea Occam is the one. Heck, even if you can have more than one bike you should get an Occam. You’ll have so much fun on it that you’ll end up ignoring the rest of your fleet and riding it all the time anyway!