FIRST LOOK: 2013 Orbea Ordu Gold

2013 Orbea Ordu Gold

Orbea has just launched the brand-spankin'-new 2013 Ordu Gold. For fans of the Spanish bike maker, the first words that come to mind are probably "it's about time!" The previous Ordu is nearly six years old, which is incredibly long in the tooth as far as tri bikes go. During that time, there has been an enormous amount of speculation as to when the successor would arrive. Time and again, rumors came that the new bike was just around the corner, but time and again, those rumors proved to be wrong.

By now, the speculators had all but given up hope. It's telling that not a single spy shot of the new bike was leaked prior to launch. Contrast with Specialized, Cervelo, and Trek, whose latest offerings were ALL leaked in one form or another prior to their launch. In some cases, the leaks were planned, in others they weren't. But Orbea was able to coast in under the radar, because after such a long wait, no one was expecting anything from them at this particular moment in time. But it's here, at last. Orbea knows that there's been a long wait for the bike - and they're not hiding from it. In fact, the tagline for the bike is "developed slowly to go fast." It's cheeky, self-deprecating, and I love it. The new bike is keeping the Ordu name, and adding the "Gold" suffix to indicate that it uses Orbea's top-end carbon materials and layup schedule. Orbea chose to launch the bike at the Stage 7 TT at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and we were there covering this thing from tip to tail.

A Brand New Beast

I'll admit that when I've been very skeptical about Orbea's next TT bike. The original Ordu wasn't the most exciting bike on the market, and it didn't have a very science-driven message. It had diamond-shaped tubes, and a pretty hefty frontal area. Sure, it earned some fantastic palmares, carrying Crowie to two Ironman Hawaii world titles. But it didn't get my blood boiling, if you know what I mean.

But this time around, Orbea has absolutely struck Gold. I really like this bike.

Orbea went back to the drawing board, took time to understand what today's triathlon consumer wants, and over the last six years, really went to work on satisfying those demands. There's a lot to discuss about this bike, including not only its specifications and details, but also my take on what they mean for the consumer and how the complete package fits into the existing landscape of tri bikes. Time's a wasting, so let's get started!

Aero Philosophy

As more and more frame manufacturers claim their bikes deserve a "super" prefix, it's becoming important from a marketing perspective for them to develop a compelling story of why that is true. Orbea has done a great job with the new Ordu Gold. The tube cross-sections still retain a slightly diamond-esque profile, but have been revised significantly, and have been designed with CFD guidance and wind tunnel validation. Orbea hasn't released any numbers comparing the bike to its competitors, only a general comparison to the previous Ordu. Interestingly, the new bike retains an aesthetic continuity with the old bike, while completely revamping almost every component of that bike's design.

But telling the story of a super bike has to go beyond the mere wind tunnel data. When Specialized launched the new Shiv, they built up a good story of a bike that married cutting-edge aero features with traditional (easy) bike building. When Cervelo launched the P5, the story was similar. What interests me the most about this progression is that the Shiv and the P5 proved you could build an incredibly slippery machine without resorting to integrated brakes, bayonet forks, or impossibly-complex cable routing. All of these features are notoriously difficult to wrench, even if they are very pretty. That is, a traditional bolt-on brakes and 1.125-inch steerer tubes don't have to be a liability. The brakes, in particular, are a feature I want to talk about in a bit of depth.