Amidst the debate surrounding whether or not the 26-inch wheel still offers advantage on the racecourse, there is no doubt that fast guys can still win on them.
The best example, of course, is Orbea’s Julien Absalon. The Frenchman has won just about everything there is in the cross-country discipline and he’s done it all on a 26-inch-wheeled Orbea Alma.
Orbea introduces a new Alma to the public for 2010. The new frame incorporates an updated dual four-point carbon frame design called 4X4. In the previous rendition of Alma, only the rear triangle sported the feature. The premise behind the four-point system is to offset the dropout from the intersection of the seat and chainstays to incorporate a level of vertical compliance into the frame.
In the new Alma the feature is built into the front triangle as well. Orbea says that it gives the bike a level of compliance better than any other hardtail without compromising lateral rigidity.
In addition to the frame’s new shapes, the Alma now includes a BB30 bottom bracket system and full carbon dropouts. The stiffening bulge in the down tube, which doubles as a pseudo fender, carries over from the previous version. Additionally the Alma mountain frames now incorporate Orbea’s Size Specific Nerve carbon construction, which plots a separate carbon layout for each size to ensure that despite a rider’s ride and weight the bike performs as the engineers intend it to.
The final design element incorporated into the new frame is housing-less cable routing from the head tube rearward, save for a short loop to the rear derailleur. All levels of the new Alma model incorporate this feature, which is specifically intended for use with GORE’s fully sealed cable system.
The new frame design is available in two types of carbon modulus – the gold level is the premiere, while the second level is billed silver – and with multiple parts options. Two examples include the SRAM XX equipped Alma Gold World Cup at $6,500, which is a replica of the bike Absalon rides that weighs 20 pounds and the Alma Silver 10, a Shimano XT-equipped bike that bares a more reasonable $3,800 price tag.
Besides new bikes, Orbea brings a line of helmets and clothing to the U.S. for 2010. The Odin highlights the helmet line, which is also part of Absalon’s kit. The helmet features a carbon skeleton, massive venting and an adjustable retention system. It weighs under 300-grams and costs $200.