Orbea is a Spanish brand, a really old one. Recently, company celebrated their 175th anniversary. With the celebration, company also changed their road bike line-up dramatically. First, we got a new Orca, lighter and stiffer, with aerodynamic fork. Then, new Terra followed the trend. Orbea, even they were planning to sell their bike in 2018, decided to be one of the first in the market and had the announcement really quickly.
This brought the questions of course, what if this is not a “perfect” bike. What if Orbea wanted to be early in the market and didn’t spend enough time to design the best they could do. That is the reason why before we started to ride the bike we had some doubts.
First trouble we had was deciding the size we need. First, Orbea has a weird sizing on Terra. While size L Orca fits us perfectly, on Terra we had to decide between M and S. Size M and S have really similar dimensions by Stack and Reach. In the end, size 55 with 10cm stem was the choice, instead of size S and 11, just because it had a larger triangle where we could put a frame bag for bike packing and still use both of the bottle cages.
We chose the colour, ordered the bike, got delivery, built and she was ready to go. During the first few meters, it was obvious that bike has a really stable geometry. Around 15km/h speeds, it is really easy to do “look mom no hands” on the bike. Which is great for a gravel bike, but actually we expected something a little bit more aggressive.
After leaving the glass smooth tarmac and have some cobblestones, with 40mm tires, we were amazed how comfortable the bike was. Much better than any endurance bike we tested before. Not only the road buzz, but big bumps, for example when you jump off a pedestrian path, it felt so smooth, like we used a ramp. So before next day, we took the bike for a gravel ride, all our doubts changed into huge expectations, which caused a little disappointment.
Fast ride we had to our gravel route was almost perfect. 40T chainrings and 11-36 cassette was smooth enough in the big group we’ve been in. We were even able to chase the downhill attacks, which were around 70km/h, without much trouble.
On the climbs, our M21-D Terra, with size M and weights a little over 7.8kg on our weights, including the pedals, bottle cages and the magnificent Knog bell felt like a road bike as well. When you consider the disc brakes, heavy 1x rear derailleur and 40mm thick tires, this is a great number and that few hundred gram extra didn’t feel terrible on really steep bits neither.
But when we left the group and entered the rough gravel paths, our joy turned into pain, a little bit. When we compare the bike with any other road bikes on terrible tarmac, Terra is a great bike. When surface changes, we expected MTB performance and it wasn’t there. In the end, we found ourselves pedalling calmly, around 20km/h on the rough surface, to enjoy our ride. Deflating tires down to 30PSI didn’t help much neither.
You might think that this is not a problem, since we weren’t riding 29’er MTB’s, but there was a problem. After riding Orbea Orca with 27mm Challenge Paris Roubaix Open Tubulars, Orbea’s super-light climbing bike with some comfortable tires, Terra didn’t feel much better in terms of comfort. We could ride the same route, at the same speed with our Orca’s and enjoy the ride as much. Plus, when we start descending, corners are much more fun with a proper race bike.
In the end, we can recommend Terra for people who want a second, comfortable bike or a winter bike, but if Terra will be your only choice, then Orbea has a much better offer, called the Orca. Don’t get us wrong, Terra is a good bike, a great gravel bike, but Orca is just magnificent. Getting an Orca, maybe with the discs, and putting some comfortable tires will make you more than happy on your gravel rides and on the smooth tarmac you will enjoy the ride much, much more.