What happens when you combine a long history of manufacturing with a passion for cycling and the most beautiful cycling landscape in the world? Orbea can tell you: you get Tour de France wins and Olympic gold. A history of competitive excellence has blossomed into a full line of bikes that will take you wherever you want to go, from the road to the trails to the grand tours or just a weekend family ride downtown.
Orbea was founded in 1840 in the Basque region of Spain and manufactured guns until 1930 when it leveraged its steel expertise and turned to bike manufacturing. Orbea made racing bikes through the Spanish civil war, but it was sorely tested by the economic downturn in the late 1960s. As the situation turned dire, the employees knew they had to save their jobs and their passions. They took matters into their own hands, formed a cooperative, and bought the company in 1969. Building a new factory in Mallabia, just 10km away, they turned to mass-producing consumer bikes and the company thrived through the 1970s.
Surging back to prominence in the 1980s, Orbea released high-end road bikes and mountain bikes. It was careful to keep as much of the manufacturing process in house as possible, and it still makes its premium bikes in its hometown of Mallabia. That in house production has been a hallmark of Orbea, allowing it to offer customization, quality, and great customer experience while staying true to its Basque roots.
Orbea began to reenter the racing sphere in the 1990s, sponsoring the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. Racing fans know the iconic orange team kits. When the Tour came through Basque country, the spectators turned out in a sea of orange waving Basque flags. In 2003, Basque great Iban Mayo won on Alpe d’Huez aboard an Orbea prototype and was involved in a legendary crash while battling Lance Armstrong on Luz-Ardiden when Armstrong’s bars caught on a fan’s bag. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Orbea saw success across the board. Samuel Sanchez took gold in the road race, and Julien Absalon and Jean Christophe Peraud took gold and silver in the mountain bike race. This competitive success underscores the technological innovation that keeps Orbea ahead of competitors today.