I didn’t want to finish the review on the Occam M10, because then I would have to ship it back home to Spain. Alas, every great party has its parting glass. The full carbon 29er was my favorite “trail bike” of 2019, and I have enjoyed pedaling it into the sunrise of 2020 for a nice long test.
The bike has 140mm of travel at the rear axle, 150mm under the bars, and that squish culminates nicely in a well balanced bike that rolls comfortably on the longest adventures you can muster. It’s not 100% enduro bike, but it could certainly handle some gravity racing. It’s not an XC or marathon whip either, nor is it a classic “trail bike,” as its build and adventurous character yearn for more excitement than bikes in those genres typically see. I would classify the Occam in the seldom spoken “all-mountain” category because it’s genuinely equipped to party deep in the woods all day long.
Who is the Occam for? It’s a bike for anyone who wants a solidly built, light, agile, carbon 29er that is so much fun to ride it will inspire them to venture further and faster until it’s time to spark up the campfire.
Frame spec, geometry, and build
As carbon frames go, this one feels built to last. It’s stiff and sturdy in all of the right places and doesn’t give the impression that Orbea chose weight savings over performance and longevity at any point in the carbon layup. The drive side chainstay is wrapped in a thick rubber protection that, along with some smart internal cable routing, makes for a fairly silent ride. There is a rubber slap-guard under the down tube, and if this were my personal bike I would add a frame protection kit to keep the paint looking clean a little longer. Strapping some tape where the tire passes through the chainstays and seatstays is a minimum amount of protection that I wish frame manufacturers like Orbea would consider adding to every bike.
The frame offers plenty of space for a wide tire and mud clearance in the rear triangle. The Occam came equipped with a 2.4-inch Maxxis Minion DHR II out back, and I didn’t have any trouble with it moving through the frame when packed with heavy peanut butter dirt. Riders could definitely mount up a 2.5-inch rear tire and possibly a 2.6-inch if they prefer the wider tread.
Other cool frame features include the ability to swap out the derailleur hanger without any tools. If the hanger bends or breaks you can simply remove the axle, turn the large hand bolt that holds the hanger in place, and swap in a new one. Finally, the front triangle has an ample compartment for a large water bottle beneath the shock. The bottle cage mounts alongside the asymmetrical frame brace, which means that it sits slightly to the bike’s non-drive side. Given this placement, you may not be able to attach a pump to your bottle cage, as it will interfere with the crank arm’s rotation. Fortunately, there are a lot of other places to stash a pump or CO2 inflator.
The Occam can be ordered with a 140mm Fox 34, or a 150mm Fox 36 fork. With the included 150mm fork on my test bike the frame has a 66° head tube angle, 77° seat tube angle, 450mm reach on the size medium, and 440mm chainstays. The bike’s 35mm bottom bracket drop sits nicely between a 1194mm wheelbase to give it a stable feel without limousine length.
The Occam M10 build is one of the few I have tested that doesn’t need a single upgrade. The full drivetrain and 4-piston brake set are from Shimano’s reliable XT M8100/8120 series, and they are well suited to the intended purpose of the bike. The Fox Factory 36 Grip2 fork and Factory DPX2 damper were a breeze to set up and functioned flawlessly, as usual. Orbea’s 150mm OC2 dropper functions better than a lot of house-brand posts, again not producing a single issue throughout my time on the bike. Finally, the Race Face Aeffect stem and 35mm bar have become a stiff and sturdy mainstay on bikes like this. The cockpit felt solid and responsive, and everything stayed put after the initial fit adjustments.
The DT Swiss XM-1650 Spline wheelset is an important piece of why this bike rolls so well on almost any type of trail. The alloy 29″ hoops are a well-balanced set that plays with properties of weight and stiffness to arrive at a system that should offer high performance for a long time. The 30mm-wide rims are ready to be beaten and bent back into shape as many times as you need throughout the season, though I have not managed to put a dent in them despite multiple rocks strikes.
Riders can use the My-O program to select the color of their Occam, and some of the component spec. In addition to stem length, seatpost, colorway, and several other aspects, you can choose between two different tread configurations. I went with the heavier Maxxis DHF/DHR II tires that both came in the EXO casing and 3C grip. I would prefer the Double Down casing for a rear tire, but given the slower and slipperier speeds of winter, the EXO worked just fine.
What does it mean for a bike to inspire adventure? From my perch, it means that the bike is light and playful enough not to zap your energy when you need to throw it around the trail or strap it across your shoulders, but not so spry that you have to be 100% fresh in order to maneuver it without crashing. It’s a bike covered in well-made components that you can trust to get you home without concern, while you enjoy a festival of backcountry singletrack. It’s a frame with geometry designed around doing everything well, rather than excelling at something specific. The Occam encompasses each of those elements, with some additional flair in the gravity department, all at a fair price tag of $5,499 (€4,999) for this second-shelf build (Available at JensonUSA and other online retailers).
On the playful front, the Occam’s air shock is an ideal fit for the bike. The Fox DPX2 delivers a perfect balance for the light and lively character of the frame’s suspension kinematics. Orbea says that the Occam can take a coil shock, but the bike feels so comfortable and capable with its stock shock, providing ample traction at the rear tire, that the benefits of a coil would be largely lost herein unless riders are regularly racing enduro or hitting the park. Paired with the highly adjustable Fox 36 with the GRIP2 damper, this bike can be balanced on your local trails in a snap.
There is a small amount of pedal-bob at the rear axle while climbing, and the shock’s super supple initial stroke convinced me to use the compression switch on long, smooth climbs. That same buttery movement maintains ample grip on rougher singletrack climbs, where I was happy to leave the low-speed compression all the way open. The bike’s moderate reach and somewhat longer chainstays center the rider’s mass in an ideal climbing position, making the Occam a top candidate for cleaning technical sections of trail.
When gravity grabs hold, it becomes clear that the Occam is built on the same platform as its enduro-racing sibling, the Rallon. It’s not a full-fledged plow, nor a jackrabbit park bike. It descends smoothly and can hug the ground well if that’s what you ask of it. The bike can also bound across the trail well, and it’s quite agile for a long travel wagon-wheeler. It has a “feels lighter than it is” sensation that makes it clear why the company calls the Occam a trail bike. The bike manages tight switchbacks and classic “natural trails” tactfully, just as we have come to expect from any good trail whip.
I did manage to find the limits of the Occam’s suspension tune while letting go of the brakes on some of our roughest tracks, following friends who were on bikes with significantly more rear-wheel travel. No shock adjustments could make up for the fact that, at race speed on a burly old hiking trail, I was consistently running out of travel. Fortunately, adding a volume spacer or two in the shock would take care of those harsher tones. If I were going to race the Occam, or regularly throw it down trails that look like rock piles, I would definitely add some spacers, or likely increase the shock pressure by 10-15psi.
Ok, now for the bummer. I have to stop typing and go box the Occam up for its voyage back to the Iberian Peninsula. Bikes that follow through on their promises like the Occam does don’t come along every day. After pedaling several 4-5hr adventures, where I largely was able to forget the machine and simply enjoy the forest and the ride, this bike has impressed me. It can handle almost anything it’s pointed toward with confidence-inspiring eloquence, and could handily replace several bikes in my basement quiver. If you’re courting a backcountry companion for the summer, give the Occam a closer look.
Watch the Orbea Occam in action in the video below.
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