It seems like the whole mountain bike world has been swept up in the Enduro craze over the past few years. These days, I find myself almost exclusively aboard bikes with 150 mm of travel or more. As long-travel enduro bikes have become both comfortable and efficient on long climbs, yet weigh about the same as mid-travel bikes, I rarely find an occasion to want to grab “less bike”. That said, the fun factor of riding a short travel bike near its limit is not at all lost on me. Recently we’ve seen several light weight trail machines hit the market with geometry and component specs that cater to aggressive riders who prefer a less is more approach to suspension travel. Some resemble mini enduro machines while others are barely more than long-legged XC racers. When Orbea launched an all new Oiz earlier this year and included a 120 mm “TR” version of it’s 100 mm XC race weapon, it really caught my attention. Rather than another near 30 lb short travel bike, Orbea took their ultra light XC race machine and added just a little extra cushion and control. On paper, it seemed to make all kinds of sense and so I twisted Orbea’s arm to send me one for a closer look. Oh, and in-case you’re wondering, Oiz is pronounced “Oheeth” (the z is pronounced as “th”).
Words: Toni Walbridge
Photos: Misti Walbridge
Oiz Geometry Details
Orbea sent over an M-LTD spec Oiz TR which means, they sent a fully optioned machine. Highlights include a full carbon frame, including the suspension link, a complete XX1 Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Level Ultimate carbon brakes, Fox Factory suspension, and Mavic Crossmax carbon wheels. The Oiz, being at its heart, an XC racer, includes remotely operated front and rear suspension lockouts via a single bar mounted lever. Every component, from the Selle Italia saddle to the Fox 34 Step-Cast fork is top of the line on the M-LTD model. This is a dream machine by anyone’s standards and is priced accordingly at $8299 USD.
The rear suspension of the Oiz is new from the ground up. The old model featured just 95 mm travel and was designed to run very little sag. It was what I would describe as “soft-tail” with just enough suspension to take the edge off trail . The new bike works well with a little more sag and comes in 100 mm and 120 mm variants. Orbea is able to use the same size shock in different stroke configurations to achieve the two travel numbers which minimizes changes to the geometry. After a little tinkering, I found the 190 x 45 mm Fox DPS shock worked best at about 22% sag. This resulted in spirited acceleration, even pedaling hard with the shock in open mode, and more traction than I ever expected out of this short travel machine.
Orbea smartly spec’d the Fox 34 Step Cast fork on the trail version of the Oiz over the 32 mm chassis employed on the XC version. The Step-Cast version of the 34 employs a “step” or cut-out in the casting of the lowers which reduces weight by a half pound over the standard 34. Fox claims the Step-Cast version of the 34 is just as stiff as the regular. Travel is set at 120 mm which relaxes the head angle from 69 to 68 degrees. The Fox 34 SC comes spec’d with the FIT4 damper which, unique to the Oiz, is controlled by a bar mounted remote. Due to the remote, the 34 is limited to just 2 damper positions (open and firm).
Moving up to the cockpit, the left side of the bars is a little busy with controls. The remote on the bottom of the bars controls the damper position of both the front and rear suspension. Press the longer lever to move both dampers to “open” position for descending or press the short lever to place the dampers in climb mode. The remote on top of the bars controls the dropper post. For 2019 Orbea offered just a 125 mm dropper post option which didn’t make much sense to me considering the Oiz is designed with a properly modern short seat tube. Thankfully, for 2020, Orbea is offering the option of a 125 or 150 mm dropper post. After a couple rides on the 125 mm, I swapped in a 160 mm Bike Yoke Revive to better attack downhill trails.
For a bike without a front derailleur, there are a whole lot of cables wrapped around the Oiz’s head tube thanks to those shock remotes. Speaking of the head tube, Orbea went with the increasingly popular integrated headset option. The up side is that there are no cups to press into the head tube, just drop the bearings in and go. The down side is that there’s no possibility of head angle or reach adjusting headsets. Fortunately, the Oiz sits with great geo right out of the box.
Chainguide and flat pedals on a sub 25 lb trail rocket? You betcha. The pedals were my choice but the chain guide is stock. The guide is a really nice touch and a nod towards just how rowdy the Oiz is capable of getting. I’m sure some will cry foul at the sight of flat pedals on a bike like this but as we get into the ride review, I think it will all make sense. The XX1 cranks measure up at 175 mm and the chainring counts 34 teeth which I found surprisingly easy to turn thanks to the Oiz’s light weight.
Our test bike was an M-LTD spec which means full XX1 drivetrain. Orbea spec’s the extra loud gold version so that all your friends know how awesome your bike is. I haven’t found XX1 to perform any different than X01 and only marginally better than GX but it sure is pretty. Speaking of pretty, the Oiz rear triangle oozes refinement. Eliminating the concentric rear axle pivot saves weight and cleans up the lines. Now becoming de rigueur, a nice rubber molded protector keeps the drive side chainstay quiet and safe from damaging chain slap. I usually end up adding a strip of mastic tape to further quiet chain-slap but left this bike stock and noted that it ran reasonably quiet.
For the purposes of reviews, I do try to keep stock review bikes stock, but there were a few things about the stock build that I just couldn’t work with, so let’s get that out of the way before we delve deeper. First up, the bar/stem combo delivered on the Trail version of the Oiz is straight off the full XC racer version. The stock stem was in the neighborhood of 90 mm and the stock bars measured around 680 mm. I ditched all that for Race Face SIXC bars at 25 mm rise and 785 mm width mated to a 35 mm Race Face Atlas stem. I also threw on a set of Ergon GE-1 grips to keep my hands comfy. As I mentioned earlier, I swapped out the stock 125 mm dropper for a 160 Bike Yoke revive for a little confidence boost while descending. While making that change, I also re-organized the remote situation. I found going back to a top-mount dropper remote was rather awful and at the same time, I seldom used the suspension remote, so I moved the suspension remote inboard and installed an under-bar remote for my Revive. Lastly, after one ride, I swapped out the stock tires for a 2.3 Maxxis DHF / Aggressor combo to better suit the steep and loose PNW terrain I conducted this test on. To be clear, if I lived in an XC friendly town like Park City, UT, I would have left the stock tires but on the often wet, rocky and rooty trails of the PNW, they felt a little out of place.
As you might expect, this bike is a rocket uphill. If you’re not the first one to the top of a climb, I guarantee you, it’s not the bike’s fault. Even with the suspension set up to maximize traction and with the damper remote in the open position, the Oiz transfers nearly all of your pedaling effort into forward motion. I’m not a consistent enough user of Strava to be able to provide quantifiable evidence of the speed of the Oiz but generally, I found myself arriving several minutes faster to the top of climbs that I frequent on Enduro rigs. At 5’8” on a size Large, the cockpit was spacious, even with the short stem I ran, making for a comfortable all-day climbing position. The only real knock against climbing aboard the Oiz is that the seat tube is a bit slack and combined with the short chain stays, makes it a challenge to keep the front end down on the steepest climbs. I did slam the saddle as far forward on the rails as possible and that helped some but I was never able to fully tame that wheel lift. To be fair, this was only an issue in the absolute steepest technical terrain. On more approachable grades, including any modern climbing trail, the Oiz flies up hill and makes quick work of techy switchbacks. The only time I engaged the lock-out was during out of the saddle climbing on dirt or asphalt roads, otherwise, there’s just no need. If this were my personal bike, I’d probably remove the suspension remotes and never miss them.
Now to the fun part. Trail riding the Oiz makes boring trails fun and hard trails down right exciting. It’s firm suspension results in an absurdly playful demeanor. If you’re a willing pilot, the Oiz will take you airborne off of every little trail feature. On more committing terrain, the Oiz feels almost like a full suspension dirt jumper. It thrives on boosty jumps and it’s light weight makes it effortless to flick sideways. If you’re a pure XC rider, the 68º head angle might feel relaxed. For the enduro crowd where 65º and slacker is the norm, the front end of the Oiz does require a bit more attention. That quick steering, combined with short, 435 mm chainstays and sub 25 lb weight had me changing up lines and jibbing every little trail feature. All out descending speed is not really the Oiz’s strength but then Orbea makes the Rallon to cover that need. Just the same, I put the Oiz down some fast trail and through some good sized gaps and other than having to pay a little closer attention than I would on a big bike, it was all smiles. On a few bigger jumps to flat, I was surprised at how well the rear suspension soaked up the big compressions without bottoming harshly. I got full travel but rarely did the rear end lose composure. If fact, I struggled to get the Fox 34 SC fork to keep up with the rear end. I wound up running 100 PSI and 2 air volume spacers to keep the front end up but the FIT4 damper always felt out-gunned by the pace the rear Oiz was comfortable with. As all of this downhill speed must come to a stop eventually, the SRAM Level Ultimate brakes got a real workout. They’re noticeably less powerful than any other brake that I commonly use for fast descending but the upside is there’s tons of modulation. With skinny 2.3 tires and a fast rolling Aggressor out back, it was easy to scrub speed without breaking traction.
I spent the entire summer with the Oiz at my disposal and the more I rode it, the more I pushed the boundaries of what a trail bike built on an ultra-light frame should be expected to take. By the time I boxed up the Oiz to return home, it had survived all kinds of torture. From hucks to flat, hard cases on gap jumps gone wrong, and stupid hard g-outs, I put this bike through the wringer. And not once did the Oiz flinch. I checked the pivots regularly but never found them loose and once or twice I felt compelled to check the frame for cracks but never found any. There were a couple hard landings over the summer where I found myself shaking my head in disbelief that the frame wasn’t damaged. Even the feather weight carbon Mavic Crossmax wheels held for the duration of the test. When all was said and done, I had smoked a set of brake pads and turned the brake rotors a light shade of blue from overheating, but that’s it. If this bike had broken, I wouldn’t have blamed Orbea because I rode it like a rental. It didn’t and that’s awesome.
WRAPPING IT UP
Overall, I really enjoyed my time on the Oiz. There are a few component choices that I took issue with, including the long stem and narrow bars that, while appropriate on the XC version, feel out of place on the trail version of the Oiz. Through Orbea’s MYO customization program, you can specify a stem as short as 70 mm but still not short enough for my tastes and you’ll have to work with your LBS to swap out those bars. For 2020, Orbea added an option for a 150 mm dropper post which deals with my only other major component complaint. The Oiz TR is a confident descender once that saddle is out of the way. Beyond those minor and easily addressed issues I didn’t find much to complain about. The fit and finish is impeccable, durability proved to be top notch and the bike is dead sexy. I think the Oiz is going to be a really good fit for casual XC racers and endurance trail riders looking for something light and efficient but not so unforgiving as a dedicated XC race bike. Riders like myself that are primarily enduro focused and looking for a second bike for fast and playful trail rides will be equally delighted. The fact that the Oiz has the potential to appeal to such a broad range of riders is a true accomplishment. Appealing as it may be, the entry price for an M-LTD spec Oiz sits at $8299, possibly placing it a bit out of reach for the average consumer. If that’s you, the Oiz is available in two lower trims, including the M-Team and M10 TR which are different only in component specifications and retail at $7499 and $5299 respectively. If you’re shopping for a fast, light trail bike, it would be well worth your time to take a look at the Oiz TR.