Orbea bikes

Orbea (Orbea S. Coop.) Is a Spanish company that manufactures bicycles and sports equipment. The companies headquarters are located in the city of Mallabia, Spain. Other productions are located in Portugal and China. Companies annual turnover is approximately 75 million euros, staff consists of 280 employees.


 

History

The company was founded in 1840, in the Basque town of Eibar, as a family business producing small arms. Orbea’s founders were three brothers – Juan Manuel, Mateo and Casimiro Orbea. In 1860 the company was named Orbea Hermanos (Orbea brothers).

The company specialized in production of pistols and revolvers. In 1895, after death of founders of the company changed its name to “Orbea y Cia. Sociedad Comanditaria” (Orbea and Co. Command Company) and soon became one of the leading small arms manufacturers in Spain. By this time, the company was producing about 50.000 revolvers per year, as well as hunting rifles.

The end of First World War led Orbea into a crisis, which in turn led to diversification of production. In 1926, problems in Orbea family had caused the division of company in two independent firms: one called Orbea y Compañía – began production of bicycles at the Eibar factory, other – Hijos de Orbea Sociedad en Comandita (Sons of Orbea Command Company) – was producing ammunition in Basque Vitoria and after many years was absorbed by the “Spanish Union of explosive materials”.

The company called Orbea y Cía. S.A. which was located in Eibar, continued its production of revolvers. Later, they started expanding the range of products to machinery, baby strollers, presses, milling and drilling machines, as well as pearl buttons and cuff links. By the end of the 1930s, the company gradually abandoned the production of weapons under the direction of Esteban Orbea, and focused on manufacturing bicycles.

Bicycle production, which required great ammount of effort, was organized with the help of French specialists. Eibar workers managed to quickly master new skills and technologies. At the same time, the company begins to sponsor professional cyclists – Mariano Canardo who took second place in first Vuelta in history (1935).

At the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1936–1939, the company already had 1,000 employees and was making 50,000 bicycles per year. In 1944 Orbea entered automobile market with the launch of an electric motorcycle and a cargo tricycle. They were build in cooperation with Eibar company “Electrociclos S. A.”

In 1960s, while continuing developing in this direction, , Orbea began production of bicycles with a “Velosolex” motor, under the license from French “SACEM” society. At the same time, reduction in domestic demand for bicycles leads the company into a crisis.

In 1969, due to the deteriorating situation in bicycle sales, the company was on the verge of collapsing. In effort to save jobs, 1,500 company’s employees tried to convince Esteban Orbea – last representative of company’s founders family, not to sell the factory. As a result, it was decided to convert “Orbea” into “Orbea S. Coop cooperative.”, with all workers rights transfered to the brand.

In 1971 the company became part of the “Mondragon Cooperative Corporation”. In 1975, the company transferred power from Eibar to the city of Mallabia.

In 1985 Orbea begins production of mountain bikes (MTB)

In 1997, the company decided to change its strategy and starts to enter international market. Previously, products were sold in Spain only and occasionally were delivered to France. To achieve positive results, it was decided to focus on development of research and design, in order to achieve international recognition of Orbea brand. New offices were opened in Europe, USA, China and Australia.

In 2003, the company creates its first carbon fiber bike – Orbea “Orca”. In 2006 the bike was awarded the prestigious Eurobike award.

Since 1970, Orbea has been active in sponsorship. In 1992, the “MBK Orbea” professional mountain biking team was created, led by Hawkin Mujica, who won the Spanish Cyclocross Championship in 1994.

The results of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games were outstanding for the company. Orbea cyclists won three medals: the Spaniard Samuel Sanchez won gold in the group race, the French Julien Absalon and Jean-Christophe Perot won the gold and silver awards in mountain biking, respectively.

The recognition of Orbea brand among professional athletes and cyclists has also grown thanks to success of the American triathlete and “Ironman” record holder – Andrew Starikovich.

One of priorities in the development of the company was delocalization, caused by desire to strengthen its position in the market as an international company. As part of the delocalization policy, Orbea opened factories in Portugal and China, a logistics, distribution and manufacturing office in Hong Kong. Company established offices in several European countries, as well as in United States and Australia.

The production in Spain didn’t stop either. Orbea headquarters in Mallabia has been turned into a powerful research, development and logistics center, from which the entire international company is being managed.

Today the company is represented in more than 70 countries.

Orbea produces 6 types of bicycles:

  • Road bikes – “Orca”, Avant” and “Aqua”
  • Triathlon bikes – “Ordu” and “Orca Tri”
  • Mountain bikes – “Rallon”, “Occam”, “Oiz”, “Alma” and “MX”
  • Universal bikes – “Sport” and “Comfort”
  • Touring bikes – “Comfort Equipped” and “Travel”
  • City bikes – “Rude”(BMX), “Dude”(fixie), “Carpe”(speed), “Boulevard”(open frame) and “Grow”/”MX”(kids bike)

In addition, the company produces sports equipment, in particular – bicycle helmets, compression suits and other clothing for cycling.


 

Orbea’s advantages

  • Great design
  • Wide model range
  • Durable (top tier) components
  • 100% frame service
  • Innovative, high-tech manufacturing process
  • Durability and reliability of materials

 

Top 5 Orbea bikes (price – quality)

    • Orbea MX 27 – An interesting model, classic option for people who prefer quiet cycling trips. Features like comfortable saddle, sturdy alloy frame, relaxed riding position and smooth cornering ensure a pleasant ride.

    • Orbea MX 26 Team – is a sports model, with 26 inch wheels. This bike is suitable for people preferring active riding style. Bike is equipped with aluminum frame, which will ensure durability and long lifespan. The bike has enough gears to allow you to ride on any roads and to overcome any road difficulties and obstacles. This bike is also suitable for teenagers.

    • Orbea ALMA 29 – is a bike for people who prefer extreme sports and racing. It is hard to ride this bicycle in a calm manner, riding on this bike, makes you want to experience new adventures and sensations. This model features great design, contemporary geometry and comfortable riding position for longer rides.

    • Orbea AVANT – is a great road bike model that left only good impressions. You can easily and without any problems go on a long distance journey on this bike. This bike differs from its competitors with great handling, smooth ride,  and top tier components level.

    • Orbea Carpe – is a Hybrid/City bike that is great for urban riding and commuting. Features great design, contemporary geometry, comfortable riding position and good handling and cornering. This bike is robust and durable. High level of components and materials make this bike a great urban vehicle.

 


 

Orbea technologies

Let’s not forget about modern production technologies that are widely used in manufacturing process of Orbea bicycles. Among them, I would especially like to point out two unique developments patented by Spanish engineers:

DCR (road and mountain bikes) – cable and hydraulic lines management system (cables are laid internally along the shortest route). Cable housing is shortened and protected by mud plugs, and special internal coating “GoreRideOn” reduces cable friction. DCR system greatly improves work of brakes and shifters, reduces overall weight of bicycle and prolongs lifespan of cables and cable housing.

Attraction (road bikes) – a special fork and seatstay design that allows bike to convert wheel vibrations from longitudinal to minor transverse, thus effectively extinguishing them. This improves handling, and pedaling efficiency.

Orbea has a lifetime warranty on their frames. In addition, there is a two-year warranty on factory defects for components. To obtain warranty, it is necessary to fill in the registration form (within a month) on manufacturers official website or on regional dealers website.


 

Orbea prices

When it comes to prices, these Spanish bikes are not cheap. You have to overpay for a lifetime warranty and European production. Comparing the prices from different bike manufacturers, that are approximately on the same level, shows that Orbea bikes are 10 to 15% more expensive than their counterparts assembled in China. On the other hand, their quality is top-notch.

Also, we should mention that the overwhelming majority of Orbea’s reviews (found on different bicycle forums) are extremely positive.


In conclusion

So how does Orbea stand out among dozens of bicycle brands on the market? As it was noted by someone on the internet, “Orbea is a Spanish Treck or Schwinn”. In other words,  these bikes are very high quality. This is not surprising, because according to company representatives, the design, production and final assembly of all Orbea bicycles is carried out in Spain, which is a rarity in our time. 

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Thanks for such a detailed post on the history of Orbea, I do agree with you they make a very good quality bike, I especially like the Orbea MX 26 Team and will hopefully buy one in the near future, when I can save a bit of cash.

    1. I’m glad you liked this post.

  2. Roman,
    Thank, for taking your time, to make this post I really aprreciate it. Never heard of this bicycle brand, but from what you wrote they seem to be very ergonomic, and durable. Is this brand only for mountainbiking, or for any other type of use?

    1. The quality of their bikes is top-notch, I haven’t found a single bad review on them on the internet (only minor complaints), and believe me i was searching. They produce all types of bikes: road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, E-bikes, you name it.

  3. Hi, Roman. How interesting it is the changes in society and businesses. And a change from manufacturing weapons to bicycles really impressed me. Cycling is my favourite sport. Surely it is a good feeling riding a good one.

    1. Indeed it is. Cycling is the easiest sports to get in to and you can see health benefits within a week. Nothing compares to the feeling of riding a brand new bike for the first time, the better the bike the better the feeling 🙂

  4. I am planning on buying a new mountain bike and that is how I bumped into your website. I usually pick famous brands like Polar, Scott or Capriolo.
    After reading your article you definitely got me interested into Orbea mountain bikes. I will make sure I check them out and learn more about their offer.

    Thank you.

  5. This is a fascinating post, especially with the carefully articulated history of Orbea. I hope to have more time and money to invest in biking in the future, so this is a good start to the research and will lead me to more. I am very convinced the bike is worth seriously considering, and also think you have chosen numerous fine images to make the point of their excellence still more persuasive.

    1. Orbea has a rich and interesting history, one of the oldest bicycle manufacturers in the world. Great brand, great bikes.

  6. Being from Canada, I have never heard of Orbea bikes. I lived for many years in a mountainous part of Canada and did some recreational mountain biking, however, one of my sons raced mountain bikes in the rocky mountains. We would have been interested in this type of bike as your article emphasizes its great history, the safety this type of bike offers and the high quality insisted by the Company. A very comprehensive review.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Definitely try out their bikes if you will ever have a chance. They are awesome.

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