Mick Rides the Orbea Wild FS
The Orbea Wild FS is a long travel, e-MTB from the charming Spanish brand, Orbea. In the name, ‘FS’ denotes; fully sick, funky scent, flying saucer or full suspension, you decide. It’s a bold and brawny e-MTB flanked by 160mm of FOX air-sprung travel at both ends, 29″ wheels, a full-carbon frame and the highly appealing Bosch Gen 4 motor system and a fancy Kiox display. This is the first Orbea e-MTB we’ve ridden here at Flow, and we’ve welcomed how different it appears and feels to the rest of the pack.
While my time with the bike was short, I got to know it well over a few hard rides, exploring new terrain and tackling hectic trails where our curiosity for exploring new places was matched by the Orbea’s insane technical skills.
The full carbon construction is quite impressive; the smoothly shaped carbon tubes draw a striking silhouette while keeping weight down low and central, plus helping to justify the Orbea-sized hole in your savings account. A beefy front end features a window for access to the shock’s adjusters, while also serving as a unique and defining characteristic to its appearance. The two-piece seat stay arrangement and smoothly shaped carbon linkage give the bike serious class in the fashion stakes for such a hulking bike. The overall bulk is so generous you could probably recycle the carbon materials from one of these frames into a small spa bath or a giant orange statue.
And don’t forget, the Wild FS is a part of Orbea’s ‘My-O’ program, which allows you to customise your purchase, with spec tweaks and other multiple options and add-ons at the purchasing stage. Pretty neat, and quite simple nowadays, with the pricing updating as you shop.
The Wild FS is a part of Orbea’s ‘My-O’ program, which allows you to customise your purchase.
There’s a handy storage solution for the key, stashed in the steerer tube. Though it posed an issue for us when the headset came loose during a ride, the preload adjuster for the headset sits a long way down inside the steer tube, and no hex key we would usually take with us on a ride reached.
Bosch in the belly delivering the Newtons with sensitivity, a lauded, almost 100% system
Powering the Orbea – in tandem with your powerful legs and highly competent respiratory system – is the latest motor system from German giants Bosch. The 4th generation of the Performance CX system is most definitely their finest yet, allowing for a light and more compact arrangement, giving the frame designers plenty of room to move when designing the bike’s construction and geometry.
Spending most of our time in the adaptive ‘EMTB’ mode, the bike feels predictable and controlled. The power is delivered really well. Pump it up to ‘TURBO’, and you’ll notice just how brash and jerky it can be, keeping that reserved for moments in need.
Though like all new Bosch-motorised mountain bikes we have experienced, there was the constant knocking sound when coasting over rough surfaces. We know that will be a deal-breaker for a lot of riders.
We’d love to see Bosch provide more tuneability of the power modes like the Specialized Levo, and the speed sensor arrangement is a little clunky with a magnet on the spokes. Oh, and our test bike arrived with the recently announced software update already installed, which delivers 85 Nm, up from 75 Nm. So much pull!
Snazzy Kiox display with seemingly endless functionality, and no Mario
We’ve enjoyed a chance to experiment with the higher-spec Bosch display unit, the Kiox. It has a coloured screen that is clear to read in all conditions and houses seemingly endless functionality. It looks expensive, but the remote buttons separate the adjustments from the screen, so you can mount it aside to the stem out of the way from crash damage situations. We appreciate this nifty gizmo gadget, especially in comparison to the bulky 1995 Gameboy-lookalike Purion display found on the vast majority of Bosch equipped bikes.
What does it do? The snazzy display clicks into its cradle with a magnetic ‘clack’ and can link to other electronic bits you may already use; there’s an app, maps, like, well, oh gawd, this is a rabbit hole. Ok, we admit to only using it to measure range and speed, probably looked ahead more than down. So, please visit this link here – What does the Kiox display do, tell me everything! – for all of the juicy tech and functions.
The range estimation function is convenient, and in a way, it promotes you to ride in lower power modes more, to go further.
This bike arrived at Flow MTB HQ from Australian importers of Orbea, Bike Box, after doing the rounds with dealers and media, along with receiving a few changes to its original spec. Namely a 500w/hr battery in place of a standard 625w/hr battery, super-tough and heavy Schwalbe Eddy Current tyres with Cush Core tyre inserts, plus an Exposure front light wired into the bike.
The Eddy Current tyres with Cush Core were unstoppable, and due to that the bike has no problem on hard and rough terrain, we ran sub-20 tyre pressures with confidence, but the way the wight affected the bike was too hard to see through. At speed, the fast rotation of the wheels would require a heavier hand to change their direction, slow down and speed up again. Plus the adverse effect that heavier rolling wheels have on battery life was more apparent on this bike than I can recall ever experiencing before.
Where we regularly review 100% stock bikes and evaluate them from a consumer’s point of view, we didn’t have that experience this time. So we, unfortunately, I am unable to confidently critically analyse the bike’s handling in greater detail due to the change from original spec being such dominant factors to the bike’s nature.
While sold with a 625 w/hr battery, the 500 w/hr fitted to our test bike gave me grave range anxiety, and sure enough, I ran it flat sooner than we were expecting to. I put that down to the heavy wheels and the ultra-active suspension and propensity for the rider to sit down and hang on, which puts more emphasis on the motor to do the lions share of the work.
I would love to try a stock setup with lighter wheels and tyres, and the larger 625 w/hr battery. It was an excellent opportunity to reinforce the importance of setting up a bike for your terrain; we tend to seek out tyre inserts and more robust tyres only when it’s needed—favouring a lighter more efficient setup as much as possible to aid in handling and battery range.
The new 2021 Orbea Wild FS M10 specs
You’ll notice a few differences with our test bike and both the 2020 and 2021 models, here is the up to date spec of the 2021 Wild FS M10
- Frame | Carbon Mainframe, Carbon Rear Triangle, Fiberlink, 160mm Travel
- Fork | Fox 38 Float Performance 160 Grip 3-Position, E-MTB Optimised, 160mm Travel
- Shock | Fox DPX2 Performance, Trunnion, Comp Adjust, Evol LV, custom tune, 205x65mm
- Drive Unit | Bosch Performance CX Cruise, 85Nm
- Battery | Bosch PowerTube 625Wh
- Wheels | DT Swiss H-1900 Spline 30c TLR 15/110mm CL
- Tyres | Maxxis Minion, 29″, DHF & DHR II 2.60″ 120 TPI 3C Maxx Terra Exo+ TR
- Drivetrain | Shimano XT/Deore 1×12, Sun Race CSMZ80 11-51t 12-Speed E-bike Cassette
- Brakes | Shimano M420 Hydraulic Disc
- Handle Bar | Race Face Aeffect 35 20mm Rise 780mm Wide
- Stem | Race Face Aeffect R, 35mm Long
- Seatpost | OC2 Dropper, 31.6mm
- Saddle | Selle Royal Vivo
- Confirmed Weight | 23.27kg
- Optional Bosch 500w/hr Powerpack | $1149 + $212 Orbea Battery Connector
- RRP | $11599
Riding the Wild FS in the wild
Taking a seat on the Wild FS for the first time I was presented with a squishy saddle, supple suspension and handlebars sitting high and close to the chest. Was I riding a comfort bike to the shops, a bike suitable for the old lumbar, or had the Wild set out to confuse us eager mountain bikers?
Well, as it turned out, the seating position became a very apparent contributing factor to its excellent climbing talents when trails tilted upwards. Sitting up and over the centre of the bike, with its very on-trend 76degree seat angle, you’re right in an excellent position to push downwards hard on the cranks, resisting that feeling that you’re sagging heavily into the rear suspension. Pair that with the moto-like Schwalbe Eddy Current 2.6in rear tyre, and you’ve got traction in spades made for tricky ascents that e-MTBs inherently should not have to shy away from.
This is undoubtedly one of the best climbing e-MTB’s I have ridden – other than the laborious Trek Powerfly LT with its monstrous 475mm chainstays – there is a delicate balance between the factors that determine motor-assisted climbing ability; namely, the length of the chainstays, handlebar height and seating position.
This is undoubtedly one of the best climbing e-MTB’s I have ridden
I would prefer a lower handlebar position as a nod to my thirst for technical climbs; fortunately, there is plenty of room to play with under the stem.
Hyper-active ground-hugging cruise ship suspension
With the correct sag set, the FOX DPX2 rear shock has a remarkably soft and cushy initial portion of travel, a match to the floaty feeling FOX 36 up the front. This translates to a suspension feel that draws parallels to a naturally aspirated suspension bike, not the overly damped and wooden feel we notice in many e-MTBs. Rumbling along the trail the suspension is hyper-active, with what felt like less anti-squat worked into the design.
I spent a lot of time in the saddle cranking down hard on the pedals while in the adaptive EMTB power mode, the Wild FS would track up and over fallen logs, embedded rocks and keep on powering on.
That bump-munching suspension will be ideal for many riders, though at times I found it too luxurious, keeping my body and bike firmly attached to the ground more than I am used to. Getting up and out of the suspension requires effort, and last-minute panic hops over holes of obstacles on blind trails often resulted in unplanned ploughs and instead. With a tight grip and confidence in the bike’s strong momentum, I got away with a lot of hairy situations.
I began to relish in the Wild’s hunger for rough surfaces and just kept feeding it.
The suspension feels like it’s capable of an awful lot of solid work. though with more time, and with an intermediate level of mechanical ability, it’d be easy to tweak and improve its feel with the use of air-volume spacers, mostly things capable of being done at a home workshop.
Once I learned it’s a sit-down, pedal hard and hold on type of e-MTB, I began to relish in the Wild’s hunger for rough surfaces and just kept feeding it.
Taking out the massive range potential award
For the adventurous an additional mount and range extender battery is available, which can add 400 or 500 w/hr to the pool of watts, opening up further adventures. However, your hydration will need to be stored elsewhere, or on your back, as you’ll lose a water bottle mount. Choose range.
In our experience, this could be the bike that wins the range award, with a whopping 1125w/hr available. The maximum you can achieve from a Giant Reign E+ with their range extender system is 740w/hr and the Norco Sight VLT with the additional battery up to 990w/hr. So if you’ve got big ideas, big goals, the Orbea Wild could be your ticket to success!
You’re looking at $212 for the dual battery connection from Orbea, plus a 500w/hr Powerpack from Bosch will set you back $1149. Not a cheap exercise, but good to have options.
The Orbea Wild FS, Trek Rail, Giant Reign E+ and Specialized Levo walked into a tapas bar
In the highly competitive and rapidly evolving segment of e-MTBs, the Orbea Wild stands out with its robust chassis, uber gobbly suspension and Kiox display.
- The Giant Reign E+ is a lot more playful with its 27.5″ wheels, but the Orbea has the edge in the technical climbing game. The Giant is a more agile bike to throw around, and jump about on. The ground clearance with the Reign E+ holds it back in rocky terrain, while the Orbea has plenty.
- Comparing to the Specialized Levo, the difference range out of the battery was a significant factor between them; the 700w/hr Levo smoked our 500w/hr Orbea. Otherwise, the Levo is more engaging in and out of the saddle, but the Orbea felt more brave and competent in ultra-steep terrain, especially the climbs. The active suspension with the Orbea was very noticeable compared to the Levo which may be more efficient but nowhere near as smooth.
- Trek’s Rail draws a lot of comparisons to the Orbea, though the Rail is a lot more subtle in its appearance and more neutral in its handling on the trail. It’d be hard to choose a winner from the Orbea and Trek.
Wild by name, but more bullish in our experience
Being one of the smaller brands available here in Australia, you may not see too many Orbea Wild’s out on the wild, which is nice. We don’t all want to look the same. It’s a finely finished mountain bike, Orbea appears to have taken great care in the fine details, and it pays off with a neat package overall.
All in all, the Orbea FS was a bike I enjoyed going rogue on. We relished in the way the immense power and sensitivity from the Bosch motor would pull you up steep and tricky trails, and when the brakes were off down the other side, it wasn’t at all shy to point and shoot.