It is a paradox: When a bike is really good, its characteristics sort of fade away, and you almost forget it is there. But when that performance is so seamless, what do you even say in a review?
That’s what I’m up against after testing the 2022 Orbea Occam LT for most of the spring. I’m left with the vague conclusion that this is just a really good mountain bike — a trail bike that tickles the edge of the enduro category in terms of capability. But also it’s a long-travel bike that won’t creep out old-school XC riders with radical geometry.
And what’s this, a coil shock out back? Yes, even though I started with a prejudice against coils, even that left me impressed.
So let’s dig into the details of this understated yet excellent option for riders who want a mountain bike that’s just as capable on all-day outings as it is on a chewed up enduro race track.
Off the Top
- Occam M10 LT MSRP pricing: $6,899
- 29” carbon mountain bike with 150mm travel front and rear
- Trail geometry for all-around handling performance
- Full Shimano XT component build
- Fox Factory suspension: 36 fork and DHX coil shock
Orbea Occam LT Frame
As was implied in the intro, the Occam LT will feel quite comfortable and familiar to those who ride more conventional mountain bike geometry.
The size medium frame has a modest 450mm of reach paired to a 65.5-degree head tube angle. On one hand, the front end isn’t quite as planted and stable as that of a bike pushing the limits of the “long and slack” geometry trend. On the other, the Occam LT complies promptly when it’s time for a line correction or an awkward corner.
You might also credit the Occam’s slightly longer 440mm chainstays for its good behavior on steep and rough trails, despite its modest front end specs.
In terms of construction, Orbea opted for its lower-modulus OMR carbon fiber for the Occam, which should afford greater impact resistance. Fortunately, we didn’t test that specifically. Just to be safe, there’s also a rubberized down tube protector that wraps around the underside of the bottom bracket.
The Occam LT, and all Occam frames, has one distinct design element: an asymmetrical brace next to the water bottle. This contributes to the frame’s overall stiffness. But it does mean you can only access your bottle from the left side of the bike.
Orbea Occam LT Suspension
All of Orbea’s full suspension bikes are built with a concentric rear axle link — a proven design that helps isolate braking forces for more active suspension action. Sure enough, on rough entrances into corners, the Occam LT’s 150mm of rear suspension was willing and able to smooth out braking bumps.
The coil-sprung Fox DHX shock deserves some of the credit for that supple suspension too. I was leery of coil shocks going into this review. I feared they were too heavy and inefficient for the extended climbs required to access my favorite trails. Nope. In fact, that coil shock is one of my favorite features of the Occam LT, and an exclusive feature of the LT trim.
For starters, it was far easier to set up the coil shock than I anticipated. The stock 450-pound spring was about right for my 150ish-pound weight. I backed off the preload most of the way and only fiddled with rebound damping by one or two clicks on trail.
Right away, the rear suspension checked all the boxes for coil-sprung cliches: planted, supple, controlled, buttery, bottomless … The hype is real, and it’s only fair to credit the rear suspension design for mating so well with a coil shock. Time and time again, I’d come to the bottom of a rough descent and realize that I never had to think about what was going on with my rear wheel. It just took care of business, handled whatever situation I put it in, and was consistent all the way through — none of the dreaded heat fade you get on an air shock.
Oh, and when it comes to climbing, that shock’s lockout lever works as well as anything you’ll find on an air shock. And honestly, when I forgot to flip it shut, pedaling feedback was pretty minimal, to the point where I made it up a climb before I realized the shock was open.
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Orbea Occam LT Components
The Occam LT is an offshoot of the larger collection of Occam bikes, offering that slightly slacker geometry and 150mm of front and rear travel. As such, there are only two LT models, the M10 and the more affordable M30.
In the case of our M10 test bike, Shimano XT was specced all the way through with RaceFace wheels and a Fox Factory 36 fork. On the whole, it’s a very practical and trouble-free build. However, it is a pity that you don’t have the option to choose SRAM drivetrain and braking. Sure, the difference in brake feel between the two major brands is debatable and subjective. The difference between SRAM’s wireless AXS shifting and any cable-actuated drivetrain — Shimano or otherwise, well as far as I’m concerned, the verdict is in, and electronic wins in terms of pure performance.
There isn’t much to say about Fox’s outstanding Factory 36 fork. It has enough adjustability to please nearly anyone. The new chassis steers exceptionally well, and the air bleed valves are a fun feature. One more way to soothe your neurosis at the top of a tough descent.
You might assume coil shocks only belong on heavy duty enduro sleds or downhill race bikes. I sure did. Turns out I was wrong all along, and Orbea finally sold me on this tried and true suspension technology. More than just that, the Occam LT is a complete thought — nothing is out of place. The components harmonize. The suspension matches the handling. It just takes care of business in a quiet, confident manner. And best of all, if you’re not quite ready for a coil bike, or want slightly less travel, there is an array of Occam options that are all likely to offer the same performance.
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