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Top of the food chain. Don't get eaten by the pack
The orca, or killer whale, is one of the apex predators of the ocean. In other words, it has no natural predators of its own. And, like its namesake, Orbea's lauded frame is at the top of industry innovation and design. Previous years gave us the Gold, Silver, and Bronze models, but for 2014, the line has been redeveloped to include two distinct carbon layups, the Performance and the Race. The Orca M-Ltd Complete Road Bike features the Orca Performance frame, a high-modulus carbon fiber frame that will propel you to the top of the steepest climb as well as to the front of the peloton.
Before they looked to create two different carbon layups, Orbea took a critical eye to the sizing of its frames. Realizing that the traditional top tube measurement often left riders at the short and tall end of the fit spectrum lacking ideal fit, Orbea used a new standard to size its frames. Stack and Reach was developed by Dan Empfield, a pioneer in the understanding the height and length of bicycle frames. Stack and Reach are two measurements: Stack is the vertical distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the top tube at center. Reach is the distance from that point at the top tube center to the head tube, not along the top tube slope, but along the horizontal. How is this different than measuring an effective top tube length? Well, many times manufacturers lower the stack and shorten the top tube to create a smaller frame size, but they do not actually move the head tube any closer to the rider. More often, changing the seat tube angle is the simple answer. A steeper seat tube angle will result in a shorter top tube length without altering how far the head tube is to the rider. Reach is unaffected by angular geometries.
Using Stack and Reach allowed Orbea to create a line that has a linear size progression. To accomplish this progression, where a 53cm frame truly fits differently than a 51cm frame, Orbea used two different fork rakes. It was able to adjust the angles slightly to ensure that every size has the same front end feel. Additionally, toe overlap was eliminated on the smaller models. One final change was to create two different models, the Orca and the Avant. The Orca features a longer reach and lower stack, which yields a shorter head tube and more forward hand position. This geometry is perfect for those riders who have the flexibility to stay in the lower, more aerodynamic position.
Orbea's angular frame designs are not arbitrary. They are developed to incorporate the technologies that give Orbea their stellar reputation among professional and recreational riders alike. Using FEA (finite element analysis), Orbea was able to create resistance to flex in critical areas such as the bottom bracket, seat tube, and head tube junction. FEA provides feedback so that material is added where needed and minimized where it is not necessary. This helps to maximize the frame's strength to weight ratio. The frames are constructed using monocoque technology. The carbon fibers are laid into a continuous mold, or shell, which allows for endless possibilities in tubing sizes and shapes. In addition, monocoque construction allows fibers to be laid across junctions to increase durability. The Orbea Performance frame on the Orca M-Ltd is constructed with a high-modulus carbon fiber similar to that used in the lauded Orca Silver, whereas the Race layup is stiffer than last year's Orca Gold frame.
Monocoque construction also allowed Orbea to develop the technology of Attraction, which is Orbea's name for the shaped seat stays and fork legs of the Orca that absorb road vibration. Take a close look at the abrupt bends above the full-carbon dropouts. Their shaping allows some shear movement between the long axes of the straight segments. While this improves comfort over coarse road surfaces, it has no effect on the efficiency of the rear triangle with regards to power transfer. So, you won't lose a single watt.
The M-Ltd sets itself above its compatriots with a complete Di2 road group. Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 Series Di2 is the epitome of electronic shifting. And, rather than building the M-Ltd with Di2 drivetrain and then lower level components for the remainder of the bike, Orbea used Shimano 9000 series for the crankset, cassette, brake calipers, and wheels. The Shimano 9000 wheelset comes wrapped in Vittoria Diamante tires. To complete the build Orbea, used FSA handlebars and stem with an Orbea Orca seatpost and a Selle Italia SL Flow saddle for the cockpit. All cabling is routed internally using Orbea's Internal DCR (direct cable routing).
The Orbea M-Ltd Complete Road Bike is available in odd sizes 47cm to 57cm and 60cm. It comes in five colorways: Carbon/red, Carbon/pink, White/red, White/blue, and Euskalel team colors.