The Orca Aero is Orbea’s first ever dedicated aero road bike. Its initial public outing was at the 2017 Tour de France, where it became one of the very first road bikes to take advantage of the UCI’s relaxation of their 3:1 aero profile rule – Orbea were able to be so quick off the mark with the Orca Aero because they started development of the new frameset in mid 2016 when they picked up on strong indications that the new rules were on their way. Not that most of us are troubled by UCI racing regulations, but for a major manufacturer to commit full development efforts to a new race bike they need to be certain that it will get a proper field test in the pro ranks.
Orbea now have four different variants in their Orca carbon race line-up, with models that range from fast leisure riding, through super responsive and super light bikes, to the new full-on aerodynamic road bike that is the Orca Aero. In our view it’s also one of the best looking aero road bikes we have seen – with quality that just oozes out of every design feature and tube profile.
Verdict: If you’re in the market for an aero bike, the Orca Aero has to be a very strong option. It just feels fast and slippery and has a bang-up-to-date design with impressive aerodynamic credentials. But this isn’t bought at the expense of comfort, with the Orca Aero comfortable for longer excursions on less-than-perfect road surfaces. It’s an added bonus that you can fit 28mm tyres. And you have an extensive range of customisation options, many at zero cost, so that you can specify the Orbea Orca Aero to meet your needs and tastes. Cycling Weekly
The relaxation of the UCI’s 3:1 ruling, means that Orbea have been able to adopt more aerodynamic profiles that whose the length vs width exceed a 3:1 ration, with the fork being possibly the most noticeable aero-specific feature of the new bike. The wider fork, for decreased turbulence adjacent to the wheel, and increased depth of the fork blades deliver a four-watt saving.
The newly introduced disc version means that Orbea now offer a choice of hydraulic disc and direct-mount rim brakes for practical and effective stopping power with a low-drag profile.
The main frameset tubes feature a truncated profile that reduces drag significantly, while remaining stiff, compliant and unaffected by side winds – the new regulations would make it possible to design a frame with even deeper profiles, but Orbea are aiming the Orca Aero firmly at the practical world of bunch racing, sporting leisure riding, and mass entry triathlon, so it needs to handle and perform just like a non-aero road racing bike, without the drawbacks of an extreme aero time-trial style bike. Key to this is the ‘double-radius profile’ of the down tube, which alters and flattens its cross-section in order to smooth air flow in crosswinds.
Other key aerodynamic features include: