New Orbea Orca Aero road racing bike teased at the Vuelta

More aggressive tube shaping and fully internal cable routing hint at an even sharper focus on competition.

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Orbea’s current Orca Aero debuted in 2017, and while five years isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, it’s a long stretch when it comes to cutting-edge aero road racing bikes. As such, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the Basque company has chosen this year’s Vuelta a España to quietly roll out a replacement Orca Aero that we expect to officially debut sooner than later.

The new Orca Aero (at least that’s what we’re assuming it’s called since Orbea hasn’t yet released anything) is a major departure from the existing model, and appears to be even more keenly focused on being a dedicated racer than before. The presumably flat-backed tube cross-sections are notably deeper, with a lot more material behind the down tube relative to the existing Orca Aero and a down tube that now sits so close to the front wheel that it requires a cutout for clearance. Similar to what we’ve seen from the likes of Pinarello, 3T, and Ribble, the down tube is also flared to help guide air around water bottles.

Team bikes are fitted with separate bars and stems, which at least suggests Orbea may not be pushing a true one-piece integrated carbon cockpit on the new Orca Aero.

The close-fitting seat tube once again features a cutout for the rear wheel, although the seatstays are now dramatically dropped, presumably in an effort to reduce frontal area. More interesting is that the chainstays are both lowered as well, seemingly for the same reason. Somewhat like the Scott Plasma, the chainstays maintain a horizontal orientation for much of their length before taking a sharp turn upward right before the dropouts.

Naturally, the cabling is fully internal throughout, with lines that appear to run through the middle of the stem before taking a downward turn along the steerer tube and through the headset. Based on previous relationships (and the shape of the bar), it’s safe to assume this is some custom variant of Vision’s modular ACR system. That said Orbea seems to be avoiding the fit headaches of a fully integrated one-piece cockpit given the separate bar and stem seen on the Euskaltel-Euskadi team bikes. 

See those two black dots on the underside of the down tube? They appear to be threaded fittings for… something. If you’ve got any ideas as to what they’re for, feel free to let me know in the comment section below.

Other visible features include an integrated wedge-type binder for the matching flat-backed aero carbon fiber seatpost, an oversized press-fit bottom bracket (potentially using FSA’s preferred BB386EVO format), and — quite curiously — what appear to be two threaded holes on the underside of the down tube for an as yet undetermined purpose.

What’s missing, you might ask? One of my main criticisms of the previous Orca Aero was its rather stiff ride. Unless Orbea has hidden something up its sleeve, that doesn’t appear to have changed with this new version, though given the intended use, that’s unlikely to detract many potential buyers. 

Stay tuned for more soon. Orbea may not have announced anything just yet, but given how finished these team bikes look, an official release seems imminent.

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