ORBEA OCCAM: First Look

First off, BIG thanks to Jenson USA for sponsoring this article and video! The links in this article are all affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission for any purchases.  Thanks in advance! I’m also sponsored by Ibis Cycles, Trust Performance, Kali Protectives, Kitsbow Cycling Apparel, Industry 9, PNW Components and Shimano.  Full disclosure is important!

See the Occam at Jenson USA

The 2020 Orbea Occam M-LTD is an all around trail/light enduro mountain bike with 140mm of rear travel.  The frame uses a Fox DPX2 rear shock and out of the box you’ll find a .2 volume reducer already installed in the shock.  However, inside the box you’ll find a .4 volume reducer for aggressive riders (like myself) that might want a more progressive suspension feel.  I’ve never heard of a manufacturer including extra reducers with a stock bike, and that speaks quite a bit to the attention to detail seen throughout this bike.  

The fork on the Occam that I’m riding is a Fox 36 Grip 2 unit with 150mm of travel.  I haven’t checked the volume reducers yet, and after a couple of rides, it feels so good that I’m not going to need to add or remove any reducers. 

Moving through the parts spec, it’s mostly a Shimano/Fox set up.  The drivetrain is primarily the same Shimano XTR M9100 that I have on my Ibis Ripmo 2, Ibis Mojo HD5, and Ibis Ripley v4.  The cranks, however, are Race Face Next SL units at 170mm, which is another nice attention to detail. Large and XL sized bikes appear to use 175mm cranks.  The chainring is a little 32t unit, which is the same I have on my Ibis 29ers. These cranks are a lot lighter than my usual XTR units, but they aren’t as stiff, and I’d like to swap them out for the aluminum XTR cranks before I have any mistakes and smash these into rocks.  I’m finding I prefer metal parts more and more as I’m less concerned about speed and am instead am simply sending it more!

The wheelset on the bike is a really high end build- the DT Swiss XMC-1200 carbon fiber wheels.  While this is a very light wheelset, and is plenty stiff, it only has 36 points of engagement.  I’ll be swapping these over to my Industry 9 hydra equipped wheels for 690 points of engagement AND some aluminum rims.  Weight will increase by a few grams, but I won’t need to worry about smashing the carbon rims. As I’ve gotten more and more “huck happy,” I’ve found aluminum rims to be a better set up for my personal style.  Typical riders (if you aren’t an aging BMXer/wanna be freerider) who are chasing Strava KOMs would probably be very happy with these wheels. I landed very sideways a couple times while filming a Patreon tutorial and these XMC-1200 wheels survived just fine.

The cockpit was pretty good!  The Race Face 35mmm bars were much more compliant than the first gen 35mm units I rode back in 2014 and 2015.  I did cut them down from the stock 780mm width to ~755mm. The Race Face grips were really nice! A bit thinner than my usual PNW Loam grips, but very comfortable. 

The Crank Brothers dropper post worked just fine, and the feel and actuation was flawless.  I can’t find fault in it minus one small detail- at 5’8”, 174cm, I have plenty of space to go to a deeper drop post.  I normally use 170mm and 200mm posts from PNW Components. I’ll be swapping over soon here to get that extra space for our local steep and jump infested trails.

The stock Fizik saddle was very comfortable, but it was also very slick.  I’m used to WTB saddles, and recently got a Chromag Trailmaster saddle.  The Fizik was so slippery that I would often slide off the back of the saddle on steeper climbs.  I remedied this by lowering the nose more than I usually would. It’s better, but still doesn’t have the same grip as the WTB or Chromag units.  Even the Fabric saddle on the Intense Tazer is gripper than this one.  I’m using Kitsbow Origin shorts, so perhaps that would be less of an issue with other brands of shorts, but I’ve never had to worry about a saddle being too slippery in the past.  

The tires felt very appropriate for the nature of this bike.  A Maxxis High Roller II 29×2.5 front matched to the Rekon 29×2.4 rear was fast rolling but still predictable in rough and off camber situations.  In hard packed jump trails the tires were also really good. I look forward to more time on this combo!

As I mentioned earlier, the attention to detail on this bike is excellent. The chainstay anti-chainslap protection is very well done.

So how does this $6800 wonder bike ride?  Well, it’s pretty dang good! It’s kind of between the two Ibis bikes that I’ve spent a lot of time on: the Ripmo and the Ripley.  On the trail, it felt like I was higher above the ground and with a slightly shorter front center than on either of those bikes, and I could also jump a little easier.  The complete bike weighs 29.1lbs (with Shimano XT flat pedals), which is nearly 4 pounds lighter than my personal Ripmo 2. The geometry of the Occam complemented the light weight very well!  I’ve found that light bikes do better to jump and float over the trail instead of simply monster trucking over all the roots and rocks. This is a really fun way of riding.  

The suspension feel is really good.  I never noticed any sort of pedal bob, but did notice predictable, solid traction.  Where the suspension really shines, for me, is when it’s time to get airborne. It’s really easy to get this bike into the air.  The single pivot/split pivot system has a very fun and poppy feel.  

While the bike feels between the Ripley and the Ripmo, the geometry charts show that it is actually much more similar to the Ripley.  The Ripley is specced with a 34 130 fork, which is a unit that, personally, I would rather not ride. I find the 34 forks way too flexy for my 170lbs.  The 36 forks are much more stout and simply suit my style better. With the 36 150 fork, the Occam is about a full degree slacker than the stock Ripley, though a 36 140 on the Ripley would likely be a similar head angle.  Reach and front center measurements are very similar. BB height is almost identical between the two bikes, so the feeling of being higher on the Occam likely comes from the taller fork and differing axle path.  

The chain stays on the Occam are a little longer than the Ripley, but not much.  It wheelied plenty easy, and had a nice balanced overall feel. 

The Occam in this stock configuration would be SO GOOD for so many American trail centers.  The slightly shorter travel (140/150) means that flatter and less technical trails will not necessarily be too easy or boring.  Rider inputs, like pumps or leaning into turns, are translated quickly to extra speed. I also think this would be a great enduro race bike for most of the USA.  In countries that use gnarlier trails for enduro racing, the Rallon would be a better fit, but the Occam is a solid, fun, lightweight ripper of a bike!

Take a look at the Occam at Jenson USA

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