The Orbea Alma is one impressively uncompromising fully rigid MTB

With the Orbea Alma the company has redesigned its XC race whippet with a new frame, new graphic options, and – if you’re hard enough – a rigid fork.

>>> Best XC race bikes: hardtail and full suspension

Orbea Alma need to know

  • Designed for pure speed at the highest level of competition, the Alma is Orbea’s XC race hardtail
  • Ridden to four Olympic medals in various iterations, including Gold in 2008 at Beijing
  • Carbon and hydroformed alloy frame options
  • Can be used with 100mm travel suspension fork or the new Spirit rigid fork
  • Top OMX carbon frame weighs a claimed 830g in size medium (claimed weight for alloy frame is 1,650g)
  • Carbon lay-up tuned to balance efficiency and compliance
  • Spirit rigid fork weighs a claimed 500g and features internal or external cable routing
  • Full internal cable routing uses guides through the frame for ease of installation
  • Acros Blocklock headset stops bar (or fork) from rotating fully in a crash, protecting the top tube from damage
  • Comes standard with minimal chain guide
  • Flat mount rear brake
  • OC cockpit with stem styled to look more integrated
  • Clearance for 2.4in tyres
  • Options of a 27.2mm dropper post
  • MyO allows you to customise your bike, including paint, parts and new graphic options
Orbea Alma

The Alma M-Ltd can be ordered with Spirit carbon rigid fork and gold leaf-style graphics through the MyO programme

Frame design, weight and Spirit rigid fork

The new Orbea Alma aims to build on the model’s successful race heritage with updated geometry, construction, specification and a myriad of options to personalise your ride. It’s still very much a race bike in the traditional mould, with a steep head angle (relaxed by 1.5º to 68º) and a feather-light frame that’s all about saving grams. Previous generation Alma’s have been ridden to Olympic medals by Julien Absalon and Catherine Pendrel, and with hardtails still favoured by the racing elite on certain courses, as well as being popular among domestic racers in countries like Spain and France, this 13 year-old model is still as relevent as ever according to Orbea.

Orbea Alma

Most riders will go for the 100mm suspension fork option

Weight was a priority when developing the new model. By looking closely at all the fittings, examining the lay-up and moving to Orbea’s halo OMX carbon material, the frame weight has been reduced by 120g to 830g (claimed) for a size medium. For comparison, Scott claims 849g for its Scott Scale and Cannondale claims 900g for the F-Si, but Specialized reckons its Specialized S-Works Epic HT weighs just 790g.

Orbea Alma

By carefully tweaking lay-up, composite material and design Orbea has created a 830g frame (claimed) saving 120g over the previous model

Orbea is keen to stress that any weight saving is not at the behest of ride quality, and the new Alma’s carbon frame has been engineered to deliver an efficient platform that’s comfortable to ride. It has worked towards this goal by concentrating the strength and stiffness along the lower portion of the frame, connecting the head tube with the rear dropouts via the down tube, BB area and chainstays. This delivers the precise handling and power transfer demanded by top flight racing. Along the seat stays, upper seat tube and top tube, material has been reduced and profiles have been optimised to allow movement, giving the frame the opportunity to soften harsh terrain, particularly when seated. There’s also a 27.2mm seat post to allow further flex.

Orbea Alma

The Spirit fork: not for the meek or weak

Up front, the Alma is designed around a 100mm suspension fork or the updated Spirit rigid fork. Yes, if you want the ultimate weight saving and can take the pummelling, this ultralight (500g) fork will certainly turn heads. It gives you the option of internal cable routing for a clean look, or external should you wish to swap to a suspension fork for certain events. The fork length is designed to replicate a 100mm suspension fork at 20% sag.

Orbea Alma

Blocklock headset acts as a steering limiter

The top end OMX frame and 270g heavier OMR frame both come with guided internal cable routing, with entry ports at the head tube and neat wedges to hold the cables snug and eliminate rattle. Also at the head tube is a steering limiter, namely an Acros Blocklock headset, that protects the frame from damage should the bars spin round in a crash – a common problem with super low stack heights and negative rise stems. For additional chain security, there’s an integrated chain guide (the BB shell is PF92 press fit), there’s a Universal Derailleur Hanger and a sleek flat mount rear brake for weight saving (max 160mm rotor).

Flat mount and Universal Derailleur hanger

As we’ve seen with the likes of Mondraker and Scott, integrated cockpits are increasingly a trend, and Orbea has joined the party with a new OC stem system. This uses shaped spacers and top cap for a sleek profile, while also allowing for accessories such as a computer/GPS mount.

Orbea Alma geometry

Orbea has tweaked the geometry on the  Alma to reflect modern trends, but it’s still a very traditional layout compared to a modern trail hardtail. Other than the relaxed head angle, the seat angle has been steepened to 74.5º (from 73.5º)  and the reach has gone up by between 13mm and 20mm depending on the frame size. Gone is the 27.5in wheel version – the new Alma is 29in only. All the other important elements remain the same. The size range goes from small to extra-large.

Alma M-Ltd at £6,799

Alma M50 at £1,499

Models and prices

For the ultimate ride, Orbea offers the Alma M-Ltd with the OMX frame, Spirit carbon fork (option of a Fox 32 Float SC Factory) and full SRAM XX1 AXS wireless shifting for £6,799. Next up is the M-Team for £4,499 with OMX frame and Fox 32 Float SC Factory fork and XTR. The M-Pro is £3,599, M25 with heavier OMR frame is £2,499, then it’s the M30 at £1,999 and the M50 at £1,499. Orbea’s alloy Alma’s start at £799 for the H50 and go up to £1,199 for the H10-Eagle. As with all Orbeas, there’s the chance to customise your bike through the MyO portal. On the lower price models it’s just components that can be changed, but the M-Ltd, M-Team and M-Pro let you choose colours, graphics and components to create your dream bike.