£7199 › Cata­lan speed­ster gains a pow­er­ful set of disc brakes

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

The Orca Aero Disc feels like it’s ar­rived be­neath the radar, without the big splashes cre­ated by the launch of the Venge, Madone and Cervélo’s rad­i­cal new S5.

The disc ver­sion fol­lows the rim­brake model’s shape closely, but Or­bea has taken ad­van­tage of the ex­tra space avail­able to in­crease tyre clear­ance and smooth out the lines. The Orca’s sculpted front end looks slick and pur­pose­ful as it com­prises an ex­cel­lent af­ter­mar­ket Vi­sion stem and bar, but does mean that there’s still ex­posed ca­ble. That Vi­sion cock­pit is the slick Metron 5D, with its straight front edge for a big aero gain. We like that the two out-front fittings are in­cluded with the owner’s man­ual and spares, so you can fit a GPS com­puter or a round bar sec­tion to fit tra­di­tional lights.

The bike’s shape is par­tic­u­larly good, our 57cm test bike fea­tur­ing a tight 1m wheel­base and par­al­lel 73.2-de­gree seat and head an­gles.

The kit lev­els are what we’d ex­pect on a bike at this price, with full Shi­mano Dura-Ace Di2 and great wheels in the DT Swiss ARC1400 Di­cuts. These fea­ture a deep (48mm) rim com­bined with their pre­mi­umqual­ity Di­cut hubs for a wheel with im­pec­ca­ble stiff­ness, a nice quick pick-up and sharp re­spon­sive feel. At 1577g a pair, their weight is de­cent for this depth. Their in­ter­nal width of 17mm is best suited to 25mm tyres, so even though the chas­sis has the tyre clear­ance, we wouldn’t ad­vise go­ing big­ger on these hoops.

While the trend is to­wards wider rims and big­ger rub­ber, there’s still some­thing to be said for a setup like this as it im­bues the Or­bea Orca with a light, nim­ble-feel­ing front end, mak­ing the Orca Aero much more flick­able than your av­er­age aero bike.

The Orca is un­doubt­edly a rapid ride but the light­ness at the front end makes it feel more akin to a su­per-

Or­bea has taken ad­van­tage of the disc brakes to smooth out lines

sharp cri­terium bike than a pseudo time-trial ma­chine with drop bars. Or­bea should be ap­plauded for con­struct­ing a bike that goes this quickly without com­pro­mis­ing the fun fac­tor.

The con­tact points are ex­cel­lent thanks to the afore­men­tioned 5D bar and bril­liant Prol­ogo Di­men­sion sad­dle. It’s a com­fort­able place to be, but the ride is def­i­nitely firmer than the S5, Sys­temSix or sub­limely smooth Madone and Defy.

It climbs su­perbly, which is some­thing we loved about the rim-braked ver­sion. This is ev­ery bit its equal, and even bet­ters its pre­de­ces­sor on de­scents thanks to the su­pe­rior brake con­trol. We also love the fact 160mm ro­tors are specced on this larger-sized bike.

The Hutchin­son tyres are de­signed to be run tube­less but come set up with in­ner tubes (the tube­less valves are in­cluded). Mounted on their rims, they come up bang on 25mm. They feel okay on the road and grip is good, but we think they would ben­e­fit from be­ing set up tube­less sooner rather than later to save a few grams and in­tro­duce a bit more feel.

Taken as a whole, the Orca Aero Disc is a stun­ning ma­chine. It’s as fast as an aero road bike should be yet comes with truly out­stand­ing han­dling chops. In this mega-brand com­pany it’s the dark horse, but it could well be the smart choice for those look­ing to go as fast as their legs can take them with a thick layer of fun on top.

Be­low Vi­sion’s slick Metron 5D bars un­leash aero­dy­namic ben­e­fits Bot­tom The Orca fea­tures par­al­lel 73.2-de­gree seat and head an­gles

HIGHS Han­dling up with the best; great equip­ment LOWS Firm, slightly dull tyres; wheelset lim­its tyre choice BUY IF You want a cut­ting-edge aero road bike that stands out from the crowd It’s as fast as an aero bike should be yet comes with out­stand­ing han­dling

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