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Why I Bought (and Upgraded) an Orbea Occam M10

The Orbea Occam is one of the best trail bikes around, but Jeff didn't want his to be just like everyone else's. He's upgraded nearly every component to turn it into a rainbow-colored trail-slaying machine.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Bikes

While new bike day is often the best day of the year, it just isn’t enough for some cycling addicts. As they stare at their new bike, the urge to modify it gnaws at them. That’s how our Parts and Accessories Specialist Jeff Krawczyk felt after picking up his new 2020 Orbea Occam. 

Jeff has been with TPC for over four years and he’s developed a keen eye for the best components. When he started shopping for a new mountain bike, he decided it was time to build his dream bike. He explains why he bought the Orbea Occam, and how he transformed it into his vision of the ultimate trail bike. 

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Why the Orbea Occam is the right mountain bike

“I've always been a fan of Orbea bikes,” Jeff explained. “I saw Orbea for the first time in 2006 during the Tour de France with Euskaltel. I’d never owned an Orbea mountain bike before this. But I had an Orca road bike back in the day in the Euskaltel team colors, so I knew they made quality stuff. I also find it really cool that all their stuff is done in-house in Spain.” 


Jeff has been mountain biking for nearly 30 years, so when he started shopping for a new bike he knew exactly what he needed. Jeff explained that he’s a monogamous, one-bike type of guy. So the right bike for him needed to be both capable and versatile. It came down to the Orbea Occam and the Orbea Rallon. 

“I’m your basic trail rider,” he said. “Coming from the East Coast, I like descending tough and technical stuff. But I like going fast on flowy stuff too. And I do enjoy climbing a lot. Ultimately I went with the Occam because I think it’s definitely a better all-around bike, especially if you like climbing. The Rallon is much more enduro-focused, so I think it would have just been a little too much bike for what I wanted to do. This is my only mountain bike, and when you only have one bike, you kind of want to be able to do everything. On climbs, I can leave the shock open, which is great because I don't like fiddling around with the lever. The Occam’s suspension design is just really efficient.” 

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Not only did Jeff pick a quiver-killer, he realized that 29” wheels were his true soulmate. 

“I really wanted to go back to a 29er and I’m glad I did,” he said. “27.5 was fun and I think my old bike rode really well. But now that I’ve gone back to a 29er it’s obvious that it just rolls through things a lot easier. Plus, you know, I had to stay on the newest tech.”


Let the mods begin

Jeff’s Occam started life as an Occam M10 with a carbon frame, a full Shimano Deore XT 12-speed group, Fox Factory Suspension, and alloy DT Swiss wheels. It was already a high-end build, but Jeff began tearing his bike apart immediately.

“I basically stripped the whole bike down to the frame and built it back up,” Jeff explained. 

The list of upgrades is long, so let’s just dive right in.  

SRAM AXS Drivetrain

SRAM GX AXS Eagle mtb dirvetrainPlenty of mountain bikers have suffered through the pandemic bike parts shortage, waiting for their beloved Shimano drivetrains to come back in stock. But not Jeff. The Occam’s mechanical Shimano drivetrain was the first thing to go. Jeff explained that SRAM's wireless electronic drivetrains are his favorite piece of new bike tech to come out in the last 30 years.  

“When it comes to mountain bikes, I’m now 100% a SRAM guy,” he said. “On the Occam, I switched to SRAM GX AXS, which was definitely a great upgrade. I’ve put it through the wringer: mud, water, all that kind of stuff, and it always shifts great. I love the clean look without the cables and I like just not having to worry about cable stretch and tuning my shifting. Plus, it's less work. It’s not like a trigger shifter is hard to use, but with AXS it's just a lot easier and definitely a lot faster. Another thing is I just wanted the oil-slick cassette and chain.”

To take his drivetrain to the next level, Jeff brought in a few more aftermarket parts. He added Race Face Next R carbon cranks which are some of the lightest mountain bike cranks on the market. He went with orange logos to match the Occam’s frame accents. Mounted to the cranks is an absoluteBLACK oval chainring in gold to match his Kogel rear derailleur pulleys.

“I think my favorite part of the bike is the Kogel Kolossos cage,” he said. “It's really cool how much you can customize the Kolossos. I went with the black cage, gold pulleys with a gold stop pin, and then I went with oil slick screws to kind of match the cassette.

“Maybe it’s in my head but I think you can definitely feel the difference with the larger pulleys and Kogel bearings. It's just smoother. Plus it’s lighter and stronger than the original cage. And obviously, it looks awesome. That was the whole point.” 

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Industry Nine Wheels 

Industry Nine Enduro Carbon 305“I sold the DT Swiss wheels back to TPC and upgraded to Industry Nine Enduro 315 Carbons,” Jeff said. “I chose a custom orange color scheme to go with the frame.”

Industry Nine wheels are made in the U.S.A. and its “anolab” gives riders the ability to add custom anodized hubs and spokes. In Jeff’s case, he chose orange Hydra hubs, which offer an industry-leading 690 points of engagement, and an alternating orange and black spoke pattern.

“I think the Hydra is the best hub on the market,” Jeff explained. “There are a lot of good hubs out there, but the engagement on the Hydra hub is just absurdly awesome. You barely need to turn the crank, like less than a millimeter, and it engages. It's crazy.” 

For tires, Jeff went with Maxxis and put a big and burly 2.5” Assegai on the front. For the rear, he took the 2.5” Minion DHF that originally came on the front of the Occam and moved it to the back. He runs his wheels and tires with no inserts.

“I wanted to keep the weight down so I don’t run tire inserts right now,” Jeff said. “The bigger tires are already pretty heavy! Maybe if I did more park riding then, yeah, inserts would make more sense.”

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Fox Factory Suspension

Fox factory 36 160mm Orbea OccamThe Occam M10 comes with a Fox Factory 34 fork, which most trail riders would be satisfied with, but Jeff wanted to extract a bit of extra downhill capability from his bike with a bigger Fox 36.  

“I originally wanted to go with a 150mm Fox 36,” Jeff said. “But at the time, the options were limited because of the parts shortage and I had to go with the 160mm.” 

The biggest fork Orbea offers for the Occam is 150mm on the Occam LT, so 160mm is quite a jump up. We usually recommend riders don’t over-fork their bike by more than 10-20mm, so Jeff is still in the “safe zone.” Plus he’s happy with how the bigger fork has slacked out his bike and given him more descending confidence. 

“Nowadays, I think it's better to have more travel than potentially not have enough,” he said. 

Fox Factory DPX2 Orbea OccamThe rear shock is still the Fox Factory DPX2 that originally came on the bike. It’s a great shock, but it sounds like Jeff isn’t satisfied and is already planning to swap that out as well.  

“It’s probably the only thing that annoys me about my bike right now,” Jeff said. “It works fine, but it’s just kind of noisy. It makes a sort of squelching noise that bothers me. If you're on a long gradual climb where it's just you and it's quiet, it’s all you hear. I’m thinking I may upgrade that to the DHX2 coil shock soon.”

The squelch of an air shock just doesn't jive with Jeff’s idea of perfection. So coil it is. To cap off the suspension, Jeff swapped the stock Orbea OC2 dropper for a Fox Factory Transfer with a Kashima coating that matches his Factory suspension. The shorter overall length of the new 2021+ Transfer meant a 150mm dropper fit his medium frame with lots of room to spare. He says he could have fit a 175mm, so maybe he’ll swap it again in the future!

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Don’t forget the details

SRAM G2 Ultimate Orbea OccamWith all the big ticket items taken care of, it was time for Jeff to zero in on smaller components. For brakes, he went with SRAM’s G2 Ultimates with a 203mm rotor on the front for more stopping power. The G2 Ultimates have an option for oil slick titanium hardware so of course, that’s what he chose. I was surprised to learn that the main reason he prefers SRAM brakes isn’t the modulation or power, but the longer lever.

“I love the feel of the carbon levers and ball bearing in the pivot,” he said. “They also work much better than the Shimano XT brakes that came on the Occam because I’m a two-finger braker.”

That’s right, Jeff still pulls his brakes like it’s the ‘90s. It's what he’s comfortable with, and he has no issues. SRAM levers simply work better for his two-finger style than the shorter Shimano lever.  

Deity Orbea OccamThe handlebars are Deity Speedway Carbons with orange graphics. They're matched to an orange Deity Copperhead stem. A Wolf Tooth Anodized Color Kit provides the orange top cap, spacers, and seatpost clamp, which match the orange anodized Wolf Tooth Light Action dropper post lever. Then, for his final flourish, Jeff put oil slick dust caps on his orange Industry Nine tubeless valves. 

Oil Slick Orbea Occam

“I think I just stumbled upon those oil slick caps online somewhere,” he said. “I know a lot of people don’t run caps, but if you're gonna go through a lot of water and stuff like that, I've seen valve cores get frozen or stuck to where you can’t unscrew them. Plus, they look cool.”

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Over the last year, Jeff has transformed his bike into a kaleidoscope of colors. 

“At first, I was worried it would be too cheesy,” He said. “Like it was going to be too much. But I love the end result.”

Orbea Occam M10His bike now hangs near his desk and catches the attention of all who pass by. After all his hard work, the upgrade beast raging within him has been silenced, and he can now stare at his bike with contentment. 

“I’ve customized my road bikes before,” he said. “But this Occam is definitely the farthest I've taken a bike build. There’s just something really special about making your bike one of a kind. Making it truly yours.”

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