Cross country race prowess is top of the list with the Oiz
The Orbea Oiz M20 is a ruthlessly fast and efficient race winning machine. It rewards hard efforts with an almost insatiable appetite for speed.
The Oiz might be pushed into the sidelines by its upstart, longer travel stable mates, such as the rowdy new Rallon and the Occam trail bike. But the Oiz continues to be a a really popular bike amongst XC riders in the know.
Look carefully and you will see the Oiz ridden to victory at world championships and podiums at the World Cup by the likes of Catharine Pendrel and the rest of the Clif Pro Team.
We managed to get hold of a slightly off spec Orbea Oiz M20 to see for ourselves if this a bike worthy of consideration.
Orbea Oiz M20 review
Orbea are unashamed in stating that the design remit for the Oiz is as a fully fledged XC race bike. As such it benefits from a properly lightweight carbon frame providing 95mm of travel and a very respectable overall weight of 10.8kg.
Orbea make use of similar frame design features for the majority of its full suspension models. The same dropped and swooping top tube design gives a frame silhouette you should be able to pick out of a line-up. The Oiz’s also shares a one piece UFO (U-Flexion) carbon rear end with the longer travel Occam.
Orbea has been proponents of the flex-stay suspension platform for nearly fifteen years. Here the rear stays are tuned to deflect up to 7mm rather than relying on bearing/bushing style mechanical pivots. The reason being pivots create more maintenance, weigh more and can lead to a less stiff rear-end. The M20 comes bedecked in full-on high end Fox Factory suspension. Both shocks are connected via a handlebar mounted Twin-lock lever to lock out both ends when required.
Orbea has created a clever regressive rate suspension movement for the Oiz. The leverage ratio increases for the initial three quarters of the shock stroke to keep the platform efficient for hard efforts. This ratio then changes to a falling rate for the last quarter of the travel to allow the Oiz to use its full travel without ramping up too much.
We kept blowing through the rear travel too quickly before realising the Oiz works best with a minimal sag to keep it sitting high in the travel.
Okay, the M20 we were given had a slightly odd spec of a 1x XT M8000 groupset with an upgrade to XTR rear derailleur. But as is the want of bike companies (they do write it under every bike description after all) the spec has been changed.
The actual drivetrain spec for the M20 is now SRAM GX Eagle. This is possibly a better choice for more riders due to the huge 10-50 cassette, giving a wider gear range than the XT 11-46 fitted.
The disc brakes stay as Shimano XT and it looks like Orbea has some of the new batch as performance has been faultless despite a lot of abuse.
It’s also good to see a company fitting shorter stems to a proper race bike, the Race Face Ride stem, at 75mm in length, helped handling in the twisty stuff no end.
The grips need ditching at the first possible moment though, I don’t think I have ever used anything quite as uncomfortable. Being ridiculously skinny, having no shock absorption and not being particularly grippy either.
One benefit of buying an Oiz is the ease at which Orbea allow you to customise component choice. Items such as the handlebar, brakes and wheelset can all be upgraded or changed at point of order.
Putting it simply, Orbea has certainly come through with regards to its brief to create a ‘proper’ XC race bike. I know I’ve said it before but if you really want to go as fast as possible around a race course, you won’t go far wrong with the Oiz.
Its responsiveness is crazy fast. In comparison to some of the more plush 100mm travel bikes, the Oiz responds to the slightest pressure on the pedals without as much as a hesitation. While some bikes suffer from that classic ‘wind-up’ feeling, the Oiz just goes; like lighting a firework with a really short fuse – BANG!
It does take a while to dial in the suspension properly, working at about 20% sag gets it feeling like it’s using all the travel effectively. However, it’s never going to feel like an armchair ride.
It’s supple on small stutter bumps (you can see the shock moving) but it takes a big hit to really get it moving. This also means you have to dial in a little more rebound damping to keep everything under control.
The upside of the regressive tune though is that it actually feels faster keeping everything in the open setting. Even on steep power climbs when you might normally reach for the lockout you can hold off the lockout.
The short (for XC) stem and sensible 710mm width bar puts control at the forefront. Continuous singletrack switchbacks like Swinley‘s Blue 10 are dealt with without fuss. I did raise up the position by a spacer to dial in a little more downhill confidence.
As a further test of its abilities (and the fact it was the lightest XC bike on test so far) I chose it to ride at the inaugural Scottish Grinduro. This consisted of a whole day of riding some harsh and challenging terrain on the Isle of Arran in the lashing rain, plus four timed race stages to throw in the mix.
I’m pleased to report he Oiz was more than up to the task. Whilst my fitness might have held it back on the longer fireroad climbs I came away with a creditable 4th place on the only stage suited to MTBs. And despite it being a pure short-course XC bike I finished the 50+ mile route without a twinge.
It’s not perfect though. The regressive nature of the shock tune means the Oiz transmits a lot of feedback through the frame that might normally be absorbed by the suspension.
This can be a bit disconcerting on rougher trails and combined with the low overall weight it can kick the rear end around a little more than you would like. I found lowering tyre pressures helped a little, plus the Oiz can take up to a 2.4″ rear tyre if you are so inclined.
A very minor gripe is that the internal cables rattle around the frame like crazy. This should be simple to fix but it’s really annoying that Orbea hasn’t included some guides or rubber bungs to keep things in place.
The Oiz is unashamedly a race bike first and any other use is a mere bonus. Ruthlessly fast and efficient, it rewards hard efforts with an almost insatiable appetite for speed. Once you have taken the time to really dial in the suspension it provides a very supportive platform but takes nothing away from the efficiency racers require. The components chosen (with the spec changes) complement its race status although I would recommend ditching the grips asap. It's not full