21 March, 2016

Orbea's 175th Anniversary: Water

“It has been calculated that one and a half million bicycles were manufactured by Orbea in Urkizu prior to 1960. Back then, the main material was still steel tubes, which were cold drawn and reinforced according to international standards.” (Excerpt from Orbea's 175th Anniversary book).

What is it that sets us apart 175 years later? Our legacy. A legacy that is found in each and every one of the bicycles that we have manufactured throughout our history, embellished with their materials, shapes and the different experiences had on each of them.

These bicycles emerged from the first products manufactured by the Orbea Hermanos company in the mid-19th century: firearms that were used in the Spanish-American War and even by the police in New York, for example.

From weapons to manufacturing more than 250,000 bicycles

It was in the 1930s when our bicycles began to take part in numerous races, such as classics and stage tours. This coincided with the boom experienced by bicycles throughout Europe as a means of transportation. After World War II, this boom brought us notoriety when several chronicles reported that we had reached the figure of more than 250,000 Orbea bicycles present on the roads of the Iberian Peninsula.

All the components of these bicycles, with the exception of their tires, were produced in our factory in Eibar; this meant that our workers needed to have technical knowledge of iron working on every level.

A new era

Following this expansion of the bicycle, the market in this sector topped out in the mid-20th century. At Orbea, we were faced with a new age. At a time that was characterized by diversification, we acquired a license to produce the emblematic French-manufactured VelosoleX, “the bicycle that drives itself”.

After establishing ourselves as a cooperative, we continued to work away, creating mid-range bicycles from an industrial perspective. The situation at that time did not allow us to do much else.

Time for competition

However, as we resumed our commitment to competitive sports, the demands placed on the product increased even further in our spirit. All with a single desire and a single purpose: for our bicycles to become the best possible tool for each athlete, and as a result, for each of our users.

Both materials and components became increasingly important. We made the transition from steel to aluminum, from rigid to lightweight structures…until the rise of the mountain bike. In addition, thanks to the acquisition of Zeus, we were able to introduce our different improvements in the market, advancing our position on all levels.

The arrival of carbon

These were small revolutions that announced the arrival of an even greater one: the introduction of carbon around 2003 and the emergence of the Orca frame. We were able to design the shapes, weight and rigidity of the frame with great freedom, achieving a high level of differentiation from our competition.

The positioning of the brand on an international level benefited from our sports endeavors. We began to reap great sports successes with a Euskaltel Euskadi team carried forward on the shoulders of the “orange tide”. In terms of training, our Orbea Continental team also benefited from the most complete material the brand had to offer, to spur on its most promising cyclists.

Leaders in MTB

Our know-how also extended to the field of mountain bikes. We recruited Julien Absalon for our MTB team and our engineers worked to provide him with the best bicycle possible, so he could continue adding to his successes with Orbea. And add to them he did. Everything we have designed, manufactured and learned has been converted into knowledge that we now apply to the benefit of new Orbea solutions for road, MTB and e-bikes, such as the Orca, Ordu, Alma, Occam and Katu.

At Orbea, we experience cycling differently from the rest, just like you experience your bicycle in your own unique way. We learn from competition, from our users and from you. This has been the constant flow of Orbea, a brand that was, is and always will be water.