Over the Winter With Orbea's New Ordu

I have been cohabitating with the new Ordu by Orbea these past several months, and this is what I can tell you about our relationship: It’s complicated. As I will explain below. The Ordu was the subject of a major relaunch last year, is an astoundingly well-made tri bike. I’ve had it for several months, and there’s more to like about it every time I revisit this bike for a session on the road.

I’ll tell you about how supremely well-made this bike is, but there are also some shortcomings (if you see them as shortcomings), and I’ll tell you about those too. Some of these are facepalmingly obvious and I cannot fathom how these decisions made their way into this bike. But they are not overcome-able. (I overcame them.)

First, let’s talk about who this bike is for, and then we’ll talk about who it fits, that is, if this bike has your name on it what size should you ride?

When you spend time with this bike, you get the sense that this bike was built for pro cycling teams, with certain additions that make it a capable tri bike. That nacelle below the down tube is a great storage area, but you’d take that off if you were a cyclist, which makes the bike UCI legal.

There are other tells. The pursuit position is quite narrow at 38cm, center-to-center. That’s not the only tri bike to have pursuits that narrow. The new Canyon Speedmax CFR and CF SLX (the new disc brake Speedmaxes with integrated cockpits) have a pursuit bar that narrow. But this is mighty narrow. This is advanced thinking for advanced riders. It’s like riding horses with an English rather than a Western saddle. Not having that extra 2cm or 3cm of pursuit bar hanging out there is more aero, but there’s not a lot of bail-out when you go to the pursuits. For comparison’s sake, the Quintana Roos have a pursuit position of 41cm, as does the (affordable) Canyon Speedmax CF.

Same with pad width. Max width, center-to-center, is 20cm on the Ordu. Orbea and Canyon had the same idea on that, I think. Neither company is allowing riders a wide elbow posture, on their upper-end bikes. I ride with a pad width on-center of about 22.5cm, and I can get that out of a Speedmax CF or the Quintana Roo tri bikes or Cervelo’s P3X (the P5 Disc aerobar system is a little challenged on width as well, versus the P3X).

What this tells me is the target audience for the Ordu is the pro cyclist. If this wasn’t enough of a tell, there is no aerobar hydration system, but that is not a huge loss. I simply put an XLAB Torpedo Versa 500 on there. Did you see Magnus Ditlev torch the bike leg at IM 70.3 St. George last weekend? He did that ride on his Felt IA, and he just had a between-the-arms water bottle cage (as did many pros).

More, though, is the lack of top tube storage. This I can’t understand. Not even a set of bosses, for an aftermarket system. This screams, “I was built to be ridden by pro cyclists!” And if you get an aftermarket system, you can’t get those that assume a steer column to which the storage unit attaches. No such animal on this bike.

Nevertheless, I found a pretty nifty solution, again from XLAB, using its Stealth Pocket 500cc. This “requires” top tube bosses, however I affixed this to the Ordu's top tube with padded 2-sided tape; it was a clean mount; and it stayed on fine. If you look at the two pics highest above, they are as close as I could make it to identical, just, the first pic is how the bike arrived to me, the second is the bike as I rode it, with storage and hydration affixed.

There is an aero bottle on the down tube on the Ordu, but I have trouble replacing the bottle in the cage with bottles like these, and this one isn’t an exception. I do find aero bottles like this of value, though, if you use it in tandem with a BTA bottle. One option is for your BTA bottle – your primary drink option – to be whatever it is you choose to get at the aid station, and the down tube bottle the other.

The other option is to always get clear water from the aid station, and to keep a concentrated solution of fluid replacement in the down tube bottle. You give a couple of squirts from the down tube bottle into your BTA system and, presto, you have the right concentration. If you just want clear water after a while, fine, leave your down tube bottle where it is.

You can see just above, by the way, what the nacelle looks like when it’s off the bike (the nacelle is sitting on the railroad tie behind the bike). There’s a pretty good amount of storage there, for flat and tool paraphernalia; it’s on there solid; but it comes off easily.


When I first wrote about this bike I promised you a Cartesian chart that would help us all get our arms around how this bike is sized. As noted in my notes of a few months ago, there are really 3 frame sizes, and that middle size is offered with a longer or a shorter set of seat post and cockpit pedestal to get you where you need to be.

The XS isn’t really that “extra” small. More just a "small." The sizing nomenclature on attached to that middle frame is a mystery to me. I don’t know what “SM” stands for, but this frame size is between a medium and a large. It’s the same size, geometrically, as a Cervelo P3X in size L. I base this on the available specs of both bikes, in particular the front center (BB to front wheel axle), which is 614mm in the case of the P3X, and 613mm for the Ordu in that middle size.

That is how I see this middle size, in terms of fit and sizing, with the exception that this frame appears a bit lower to the ground than the P3X. With the P3X, I have about 55mm of that mono post up from its lowest position. With the Ordu it’s a lot more, like 100mm. That’s a lot of post, and it sort of makes me think I’d be better on the size XL. If you look, you’ll see that I’m right in the middle of the fore/aft adjustability range on the XL, without so much post out. Even though the XL has a longer front center than what I typically ride (654mm) I believe that would be my size.

This makes the sizing decision a little tricky. I can always tell by the geometry chart of a bike exactly what size I need. But not so much this bike, because Orbea gives you almost no frame geometry. I can get behind this, because the geometry won’t help you very much, in that this bike’s cockpit is so fully integrated into the frame.

One thing is certain: I was not comfortable with that pursuit bar in the angled-down position, on the size ML that I had. This is how it’s configured in the pics of the bike you see, but angled-up (flipped upside down, as you can also do with the P3X) is much more appropriate for me on that size bike. On the XL, maybe not, maybe angled down. I’d have to try both.

Look at where I’d be on the P3X, below. That’s a harder call, isn’t it? The P3X in size L has my pads more in the middle of the fore/aft range, and I don’t have as much pedestal out. I ride the P3X in the L, and I’d ideally ride the Ordu in the XL I think. Which just goes to show you. I’ve learned something. I used to always size myself on bikes based on front center, but that doesn’t work as well in this case. Just as important as the bike’s front center – which will tell you a lot about how this bike will handle – is seeing where you are on the fit matrix of a particular bike. The X/Y chart for the Orbea is of my own construction – I find these helpful in seeing the fit landscape of a bike.

With tri bikes, I can show you 3 frames, virtually identical in their frame geometries, but wildly different in who they fit because of the aerobar system (that places the rider higher or lower, further in front or further to the rear). It appears, in this case, if you place bikes together that have a similar front center, the Ordu frame is lower to the ground, and the aerobars are not quite as far in front of the frame. Bottom line: I would need the larger Ordu frame.

As to that pursuit bar. Below is an animation showing how that pursuit bar flips. In that way it’s like the Cervelo P3X, but the change in rise/drop appears less. There’s about a 30mm difference in height between the pursuit extensions depending on how the Ordu pursuit bar is oriented. This is probably the first bike I’ve ridden, since perhaps the Speed Concepts from Trek, where the choice in bike frame size is largely driven by the pursuit position.

I’m afraid if you choose a frame size too small in the Ordu the pursuit position will be too low. (In the case of the Speed Concept, one needed to guard against the pursuit position being too swept forward.)

I’ll not go into the pricing or the spec, beyond what I wrote here, except to say that Orbea has been for the last decade developing and enhancing a semi-custom option for its bikes, with an online configurator. It's fairly analogous to the configurator you'll see for Quintana Roo's bikes, though that latter brand paints and assembles in Tennessee, so the options are a bit more expansive. But Orbea was early on with this, and has it pretty well down. You can see this all on Orbea’s website.

In sum, where I come down on this bike is as follows. The details on this bike – the mechanics of the seat post and seat cluster (which is industry leading among tri bike makers, in my opinion), the way this frame is made, from the fork to the dropouts to the integration of the cockpit into the bike, is just stunningly well done. There are some decisions made that on which I can’t well opine, I can just note. For example, a number of bike companies – Specialized most notably, with the Shiv Disc – chose as an aerodynamic motif widening the seat stays and fork blades, in an effort to (I assume) reduce interference drag (the front end of a bike can create a “dam” that holds the air). The choice for bike designers is to get all elements as close to the frame and wheels as possible... or to get them away. Orbea has chosen to skinny up all frame elements as much as possible.

You see this with the way the frame elements get very close to the wheels. Either it can’t be perceived, or I’m not good enough to perceive, any difference in how each approach to frame design creates a distinct riding experience. I can’t tell if a bike sails or stalls or whatnot based on the skinny or wide methodology.

The only thing I would note is that you are probably more attached to a specific tire size range if you build a frame as does Orbea. The Ordu is optimized for 25mm to 28mm tire sizes. Maybe you could stick a 30mm tire in there. I don’t know. Most of you are probably going to ride either 25mm or 28mm anyhow. The world is gravitating toward wider tires (at least the road world) and I now prefer 28mm, 30mm and even 32mm on my road bikes. But I suspect 28mm will suffice for a tri bike.

That’s about it! I guess I could say the following: some bike makers make tri bikes, which their professional cycling teams are obliged to ride in their time trials. Other bike makers make time trial bikes, and then doll them up for triathletes. What did Orbea make here? I suppose the latter, if I had to choose A or B, based on the lack of built-in hydration and the lack of top tube bosses for storage. However, the bike is very easy to adjust, has wide adjustment options except for pad width. That last one is a tell, because pro cyclists and triathletes tend not to ride with pads wider than 20cm on center. So, Orbea is kind of asking you to up your game if you buy the Ordu.

I will not ask you to up your game. I will simply exhort you to choose wisely. A lot of entry level riders choose advanced bikes, and get away with it fine. Some advanced bikes are forgiving, and can be ridden by entry level riders (Trek Speed Concept; Cervelo P3X; Quintana Roo PR Series). I don’t think the Ordu is one of them. Maybe I’m just past my best-on date, as a cyclist, but I found the Ordu to be a bike that demands that you choose the size with care, that you set it up with care, and that you are (or can adapt to) a 38cm-wide pursuit position; a pursuit position with flat extensions; a pretty low pursuit position; and armrest that are very comfortable and stable, but that do not adjust wider than 20cm on-center.

Beyond this, there is the question of front hydration, but if you look at the pics from (say) the recently concluded IM 70.3 St. George, it is glaringly obvious that a lot of pros just don’t find this an important feature. They simply want a bottle cage between their arms, for bottles they get at aid stations. No straws, no refillable systems. Just a cage for bottles, and that’s very easily achievable on the Ordu.

So, what I’m left with, is, this is a bike for pros. Pro cyclists. Pro triathletes (like Andrew Starykowicz, who rides this Ordu). And for those who both aspire to ride like they do, and who are able to ride as they do.