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By now, you've no doubt heard the advantages of larger wheels. The Occam 29 H30, on the other hand, is new enough that it might not be so familiar. Designed for marathon use, Obea's Occam 29 H30 balances XC efficiency with enduro proficiency. And with aluminum H30 sports Fox suspension, Shimano SLX drivetrain, and Mavic wheels, Orbea's produced a package that favors frugalness without compromising anything in the speed department.

Think of the Occam 29 as a cross between the XC World Cup-proven Alma 29 and the highly capable Rallon enduro bike. When you combine the two, the resulting hybrid is a surefooted, mile-munching machine destine for long days in the saddle. While it borrows technology, style, and design concepts from existing models, the Occam 29 is not simply the 26-inch Occam, tweaked -- it's an all-new platform using Orbea's Advanced Dynamics technology.

It comes as no secret that the 29er FS market has quickly gotten crowded. However, while others rushed to market, Orbea spent three years to thoroughly develop its 29er full-suspension chassis. From the earliest stages of design, lead engineers analyzed the Occam 29's performance with computer simulations that use virtual riders. Most design parameters look at forces exerted to a frame, but forgo the variable and dynamic forces exerted by the rider to handlebars, pedals, and saddle over fluctuating terrain and conditions.

Of course, when a prototype was ready, Orbea replaced the virtual riders with flesh and bone alternatives for exhaustive on-trail testing. Orbea's located in Spain, in the heart of Basque country, and the test mules are subject to epic mountainous terrain, fit to dial-in a chassis for worldwide XC endurance racing and trail riding. The resulting platform uses the 9-12 pivot system and Diamond Link suspension design packaged in a 105mm-travel chassis with short 17.5mm chain stays.

The 9-12 pivot system uses a stiffness boosting 142 x 12mm thru axle that is concentric to the rear pivot. This allows separation of braking forces from the suspension. The result is a freely moving Diamond Link suspension that allows the rear wheel to follow the ground more effectively for enhanced traction and for more control and confidence.

The Diamond Link design creates a two-stage leverage rate curve that provides efficiency and control throughout the travel range. The first stage is characterized by good sensitivity for small bumps. At about 50% travel, the leverage ratio increases towards the bottom of the stroke to give the Occam 29 a progressively firmer feel for control in fast bermed corners and through successive mid to large sized hits.

When looking at a 29er's geometry, two measurements we always examine closely are head tube angle and chainstay length. That being said, we like what we see with the Occam 29 H30. At 17.5 inches, the chainstays are sufficiently short enough to allow for nimble handling. We also see that the 70-degree head tube angle is spot-on for mixed XC/endurance use. It creates a feeling of stability while allowing quick and minute steering corrections without feeling twitchy.

A Fox Float CTD SV shock is teamed up with a 32 Float 100 CTD fork for a perfect balance of simplicity and ride quality. Aside from pre-load and rebound, the CTD system gives you three corresponding dampening positions for distinct riding scenarios -- Climb, Trail, and Descend. Having the front and rear adjustments balanced like this keeps things straightforward for measurable gains.

When it comes to budget ride quality, Shimano's SLX components have become a benchmark. You'll find them performing at the rear in the form of a cassette and derailleur, and up front pleasing your fingers and thumb with ergonomic and fast shifts. A Deore front derailleur and M552 crankset with an HG54 chain completes the drivetrain tour.

For cockpit duty, a smart mix of a Race Face Ride stem and seatpost with an Orbea OCII OS flat bar and Selle Italia Q-Blk saddle aim to keep you comfortable on those long rides that the Occam 29 is destined for. A stiff Mavic TN 119 wheelset with Geax AKA 29 x 2.2in tires give fast acceleration, low-rolling resistance, and tenacious traction. Finally, Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes ensure that you keep a tight rein on the eager Occam 29.

The Orbea Occam 29 H30 is available in the colors Black and Brown and in the sizes Small, Medium, and Large.

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