Trail Slayer 2020 Orbea Occam Review
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
The 2020 Orbea Occam is redesigned this year. This model sports 140mm front and rear travel with modern geometry. Orbea has moved away from a trail (TR 29") and all mountain (AM 27.5") model to a more well rounded package with 29er wheels. The Occam has several aluminum and carbon framed models to choose from. If you have the funds and don't mind waiting, you can get the top 2 carbon builds and frame only via their MyO program where you can get custom colorways. Also ordering straight from Orbea gets you the ability to swap out suspension such as a Fox 36 150mm as well as wheel, dropper and other options. This new model sets right between their XC Oiz and their enduro sled the Rallon as a formidable trail weapon.
I am accustomed to having issues with nearly every bike I've owned one way or another. I became tired of borrowing my neighbors 2005 Stumpjumper, so much so that I decided that I needed (wanted) to have a back up bike. I set my priorities for something that had less travel than my enduro bike, good to great climbing ability, decent spec, and lighter. I watched videos, read reviews, and landed on the brand new 2020 Orbea Occam. I had previously had a 2015 Orbea Rallon X Team which was a great bike but was a bit apprehensive as I ended up cracking a chainstay on that bike. What kept my focus on the Occam was that Orbea went above and beyond to find a chainstay for that bike even though I had bought it second hand through a dealer.
Notice the blue color as well as lower brace that requires a left load water bottle
I chose the H20 Eagle model since I wanted to keep it relatively affordable and had good luck with the GX Eagle drive train on my enduro bike so figured the NX Eagle would suit well. At 5'11.5" I chose a size Large and I would say the bike feels a bit smaller than the numbers suggest. The bike is not uncomfortable just not as I had expected for the listed geometry numbers. The frame is of great quality and all the welds are polished (similar to the USA made Cannondale bikes from past) which fool everyone that it is carbon until they pick it up. This build out of the box in size large with pedals tips the scale just over 34lbs which is hefty. Be aware that when you order this bike in black you will receive a midnight blue metallic. This most likely won't be of issue for most but blue is my least favorite color. I verified with Orbea that this is correct and apparently it is midnight blue. Drive train is NX Eagle which is a nice aside from the heavy cassette. House brand bars and stem get the job done but seem cheap. Orbea branded dropper post has been working flawlessly but a bit slow on return speed but nothing that will hinder your ride. Dropper lever is really nice and smooth. Maxx wheels are pretty heavy but decent and serve their purpose until wanting to upgrade. Swapping wheels to a 1900g set shaved just over 1.5lbs from the total weight. I did however swap the front High Roller 2 WT 3C for a DHF for drier conditions and Kenda Hellkat ATC for winter conditions.
Climbing - Being a "trail" bike the expectation is that the bike will climb well. I will say all the reviews I have read have been pretty close to what I have experienced. This thing climbs great whether in open or trail mode on the rear shock. I am very much a sit and grind to the top rider and rarely get out of the saddle to mash. The steep 77 degree seat angle is very helpful and places you over the cranks which is something that was new for me. While I'm captaining this steed on climbs it reminds me of a small person walking a big hyper dog....it just wants to go but I'm the one slowing it down. On flat smooth tracks it feels almost like you have a boost as the Occam reacts with more momentum that I am used to. You pedal and the Occam gladly reacts and surges forward. Technical climbing was a breeze as the blue...not black... machine claws up chunky sections without fuss. I'll admit that most of my riding has limited technical climbing but I took the Occam up a trail that is a normal downhill with lots of chunk to test it's abilities and I was pleasantly surprised. Again, I am not a masher on the climbs but getting out of the saddle to get up steep tech sections was not much issue and the Occam kept the traction reasonably. I would say this is the best climbing full suspension bike I have ridden to date.
Descending - I suffer climbs for the downhills so all my bikes must get to the top without me dying but need to hammer on the downs. This is where I grew conflicted on the Occam from my time on it. My local trails are a bit of everything from aggressive XC to flowy, poppy, fast and rocky, to black diamond chunk. My first month on the bike I was sold on the 29er wheels. I was faster on the 140mm trial bike than I had been on my 27.5 enduro bike in all areas. I was pretty amazed and shocked since while riding the Occam it felt slower than my 27.5 enduro bike but my lap times told a different story. The Occam sped up like a Chihuahua racing for an open door. It was exactly that, to me, it did feel like that Chihuahua that runs out the door and squares up with a big Rottweiler. It pushed me to go faster and harder, which I appreciated, but it pushed into territory where I felt the bike became a bit skittish and had me questioning my confidence. At high speeds I felt like the rear danced around more than I liked and wasn't as confident at higher speeds as my enduro bike when things started to get rowdy. This can all be attributed to my skill as obviously this bike can go really fast. In corners this bike shines as it maintains grip and rails through the berms. This bike likes to pop, jump and feels lighter than its 34lbs. On smooth sections it begs to hit the little bonus jumps and you must brace yourself as it will go higher and further than you expect which is what I had to adjust to on my first few rides. Jumps and drops are handled pretty well and even when hitting the bottom of the suspension everything feels smooth without any jarring clunks. I do wonder how this bike would fair with a coil shock such as the Cane Creek DB IL. I think a coil shock it would tame the rear end and give a bit more stability in the chunk at speed.
I would say this bike would serve a lot of riders as a 1 bike option as it does most things well. For a trail bike it can handle various types of terrain from XC to light enduro. It climbs great and feels much lighter than its actual girth. In DH sections where things get steep and technical it will make you stay on your game and choose the appropriate line. Anything but the gnarly enduro or DH tracks will leave you with a big smile and ready to climb back to the top for more.
During my first 2 months on this bike the upper shock bolt snapped. Reaching out to Orbea resulted in me needing to report through a dealer even though I purchased the bike from an online retailer. I will say this was more time consuming than I would have liked and not ideal in comparison to past experiences dealing directly with the manufacturer. Small gripe but more to do with and extra step in the process and not Orbea's customer service.
Fox 34 Performance - This is my first Fox fork since I had a 2011 Scott Voltage FR 10 that had a Fox 36 Van and I was a bit apprehensive as I didn't have luck with that fork. I was also worried that the Performance version as well as the 34mm stanchions would be underwhelming under my 230lb starting weight. I will say that I never really thought of the fork which is good. I'm sure it is a bit flexier than say a Pike or similar but I never found it to ever occur to me while riding. It does all I ask of it all the while under a large rider that likes to go hard. One other thing worth mentioning is that the Syncros fender that bolts on is amazing and a great selling point of the fork.
Float DPS Evol Shock - This is an area where I had a bit of a difficult time. The shock itself seems fine for intended usage but if you are a smasher and big boned then you may run into some issue. In size Large my shock came stock with a .4 volume spacer which I thought would be a .2 as the reviews state. With Orbea's recommended sag pressure I still found the bottom of the travel on smaller objects than I expected. Also of note, at my weight Orbea recommends running the rebound all but one click from fully closed. This made for a choppy ride on fast chattery sections. Sweet spot seems to be 3 clicks from fully closed and made for a more comfortable ride. If you are larger than 230lbs then you may lose some rebound adjustment. Adding a larger volume spacer may remedy this but still may be something my larger pals want to hear.
NX Drive Train - For the most part the NX Eagle is a great spot if you want to save a bit of cash over the GX build. Shifting feels smooth and you get the large 11-50t range. Where I found issue is with the rear derailleur. My original unit would get stuck when going from the 50t down the cassette. It also started to slap around and get floppy as it broke in. The original unit was covered under warranty through SRAM and I received a replacement. All seemed fine for the first few rides on the replacement but it seems that the floppiness is returning. I have never experienced that from my 14 month old GX Eagle derailleur and would gladly skip the NX unit in the future. Also, the NX Eagle Cassette is quite heavy but performs without issue.
Other bits - Again, house brand stem and bars seem ok but look rather cheap. OC dropper gives little to complain about aside from having a 150mm stroke for size large where I would have opted for a 170mm. The Shimano MT501 were never used as they were quickly replaced as I knew nothing less than 4 pistons would stop me. So I swapped for the tried and true Magura MT Trail Sport as was for the Fizik Taiga saddle. I also put quite the beating on the rear wheel where several dents and flat spots appeared. Running a tire insert has halted any further abuse but I do usually put a hurting on rear wheels. Also, wheels are very heavy but get the job done.
All in all I would say that Orbea has produced a great offering for the trail bike category despite it's alluring 140mm of travel teasing of an enduro capable steed. While it will get you down the scariest of sections, you will just have to make sure you pick your lines. This bike can handle big days in the saddle where an XC bike won't be able to handle the chunk and an enduro bike would zap all your energy on the climbs. I think this bike would suit a lot of riders looking for a one bike option where high risk DH runs are a rarer occurrence. Check out our video review HERE.