14 March, 2016

Orbea's 175th Anniversary: Air

“Orbea was no longer a financial matter, the emotional involvement was pervasive, and it affected all the members of the family. Over the years it could be seen how many of the children of the founding partners took over for them in the cooperative. At many tables, in the privacy of people's homes, Orbea was the usual topic of dinnertime conversation.” (Excerpt from Orbea's 175th Anniversary book).

We were founded in Eibar, surrounded by forests and waterfalls, the ideal location for building finery forges, and later, weapons factories. One of these, Orbea, created in 1840 by the brothers Juan Manuel, Casimiro and Mateo Orbea, became the largest in the town.

These were very tumultuous times, between violent local conflicts and World War I, after which many companies in Eibar, ours among them, decided to refocus their business strategy and eventually dedicate themselves to the manufacturing of bicycles.


After the Spanish Civil War and at the height of the economic boom, Orbea grew and it was decided to move to the Urkizu area in Eibar. It was set up as a very close-knit factory. However, as the century progressed, the production system became obsolete, and the company needed a change in direction.

There was a choice to be made: the workers could either decide to become the owners of the company by setting up a cooperative, or it would close. After electing to form a cooperative, arrangements needed to be made for the transfer to new facilities in an area that was already saturated; the decision was made to move to Mallabia. These were years in which our effort, and that of our distributors, led people to see Orbea as a trusted brand, and one that is close to the people.

Competition and internationalization

However, in the early 1980s, the market perception of Orbea was not entirely satisfactory, which caused us to implement two risky, yet necessary, strategies. On the one hand, we needed to become more competitive, and on the other, to make strides in internationalization.

We turned to sports competition once again, gaining recognition beyond our borders and facilitating the improvement of our different models. In addition, our people, including the sales network and engineers, worked hard and once again played an active role in the brand, providing feedback to determine what users wanted from us.

These turned out to be the right decisions, since along with the acquisition of Zeus, they allowed us to earn a place in the high-end market.

From steel and aluminum to carbon

Carbon was our technological edge as we entered the 21st century. It represented a milestone, both for us and the history of cycling. Work well done continued to produce results, such as the two gold medals in road and mountain cycling at the Beijing Olympics.

Our desire to continue to determine the needs of our users first hand prompted us to create events in recent years that have become increasingly important, such as the Pax Avant, the Vitoria-Gasteiz Gran Fondo and the Orbea Monegros.

We have worked and reinvented ourselves over the last 175 years to become a great brand. They have been years of effort, looking towards the future with optimism and believing in a project. It is all thanks to all the many people who have made, and continue to make, the brand what it is, always giving the best of themselves. This is the air that breathes life into Orbea.