8 November, 2017

Ordu: a year in a moment

Time flies. For two seasons I have been riding an Ordu Ltd M20i, kindly loaned to me by Orbea, but it seems like just yesterday that I went for my first excited ride and returned 90 minutes later with a big smile and a 41kph average. It was a good start and it set the tone for the seasons that followed. I’d like to share the experience with you here.

Initially, I tested the bike for 220 Triathlon magazine and thereafter it served as an important control in tests of other products, such as TT wheels, and as a benchmark for other bikes. Of course, all the while I was learning more about the Ordu Ltd.

Time flies. But if you ride fast enough, you can slow down time, arriving at the finish whole minutes sooner than you expected. This bike helps you do that. Compared to some of its rivals, the Ordu Ltd looks quite conventional – no hidden brakes or cables, UCI-legal shapes – but it is very effective. Clever tube profiles and the Freeflow fork (which stands like a cowboy astride the front wheel to reduce turbulence between its legs and the forward-rotating spokes) are key to the speed. In timed testing it beat just about everything it went up against.

As crucial as speed is to such a bike, it isn’t the Ordu Ltd’s most endearing quality. Rather, it’s the quality of the ride and how easy it is to live with that stand out. It’s stiff under power yet comfortable for hours; it’s relatively light and the handling perfectly balances precise agility with high-speed stability. There are multiple bosses for hydration and storage, it has regular drop-outs and it’s easy to work on. The brakes deserve special praise; the expensive TriRig OmegaX calipers must have been a difficult choice for Orbea but it was a great decision to spec them. They’re almost as aero as hidden brakes without the huge compromises; they’re powerful and very easy to set up. The combination of all these qualities is what makes the Ordu Ltd so enjoyable to ride.

There is very little to criticise. Most niggles, such as gearing and crank length, are matters of individual preference. My only complaint is that the excellent Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset is fitted without the base bar shifters, a set of Vision brake levers in their place. It helps keep the cost down but means you always have to reach to the extensions to shift, so you miss out on one of the best attributes of electronic shifting on a TT/tri bike. When climbing or taking corners, base bar shifters are invaluable.

While the Vision cockpit, wheels and exotic aero crankset are all race-worthy components, as is the comfortable Prologo T’Gale saddle, I still made some changes as I tested new products and to get the bike exactly to my liking. I fitted an SRM power meter with 175mm cranks to suit my long legs and my preferred Osymetric 56/44 chainrings pulling a Muc-Off Nano chain over Cycling Ceramic jockey wheels and an 11-23 cassette; I tried a few saddles, of which the Fizik Tritone remains my favourite, and I swapped the cockpit for a 3T Revo Ltd. The bike rolled on at least 10 different wheelsets, with ENVE 7.8s favoured for their speed, stability and braking. For hilly events I chose lighter tubular wheels.

Some numbers. In total, I covered some 3,000km and entered 24 races, taking six wins and 15 total podiums, with several PBs along the way. 48.28kph isn’t a special number, but its statute equivalent, 30mph, is the gold standard in the UK and US, the barrier every rider wants to break. Finally, this year I was able to beat it at 25 (40km) and 30 miles (48.28km), and wasn’t far off at 50 (80km) either.

The Ordu Ltd and I took part in some big events but none was bigger than the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships Chrono in Albi, France, in August. Having qualified at races around the world, top amateur, Elite and former-professional riders travelled to France to compete for age group world titles. The 22km course was technical and lumpy, which I like; the day was savagely hot, some 36ºC, which I do not. I cannot recall ever suffering as much and I had few hopes after the finish. When I later learned that I was fifth in my age group (35-39) I was so happy. I had the race of my life right when it mattered the most.

Already that was nearly two months ago and, as I write, my legs still ache from the final race of the season and my last aboard the Ordu Ltd, 10th in the National Circuit TT Championship. I will miss this bike more than most that I’ve tested.

Ordu is the Basque word for ‘moment’. My time with this bike has been a moment to savour.

Jamie Wilkins is a British cycling journalist who has written features and tests for titles including 220 Triathlon, Cycling Plus, Procycling, Bikeradar.com, Cyclist and Road Cycling UK, known for his fierce honesty. He loves racing time trials, road races, criteriums, gran fondos and or simply smashing around the UK countryside with friends.