Following on from our recent pre-Christmas review of the Dawes Academy 20, we are stepping up to the next level with a look at the 24” wheeled Orbea Team MX with the help of 10 year older aspiring XC racer Cameron Bowles. Originating from Northern Spain, this brand aren’t well known for their children’s bike credentials but have a lot of heritage in XC racing having multiple World and Olympic Champion Julien Absalon aboard their bikes from 2007 to 2012. So, would the Team MX24 live up to Julien’s gold medal standards ?
[caption id="attachment_1750" align="aligncenter" width="470"] Sloping top tube and industrial looking frame[/caption]
First up appearance; it’s a very sharp looking bike. An industrial looking aluminium frame made up of a steeply sloping oval top tube, substantial hexagonal down tube, triangular stays, with a coke can-esque, control inspiring 1.125” head tube sat atop straight bladed triangular, aluminium forks. The anthracite paint scheme with silver decals and yellow detailing add to the understated purposeful look and sum up the bike’s personality; function over fashion. This persona extends to rigid rather than suspension forks, but the lack of extravagance doesn’t extend to lack of detail with some interesting touches.
Unspectacular stopping power is provided by unbranded V-brakes and levers but the short and easily adjustable lever blades help smaller hands control braking. Disc brake mounts adorn the rear stays offering upgrade potential but it’s a shame the forks don’t do likewise. Shimano Deore Trigger shifters cabled up to a Deore rear mech handle gear changing duties without fuss, shipping the Shimano chain over a 10 speed 11-36T cassette. The wide gearing is a smart move, as riders at this age are pushing further and exploring more challenging trails and this range coupled with a 32T single chainring help ensure steeper climbs can be cleaned.
[caption id="attachment_1734" align="aligncenter" width="454"] Wide spread of rations even with s single ring[/caption]
Up front a 580mm bar offers plenty of control but could be too wide for some while the 60mm stem is a sturdy unit but with limited adjustability. To be fair we’re close to adult bike territory here and likewise swapping the stem may be needed to achieve good fit. A proportionally sized sleek looking own brand saddle sits on a 300mm seatpost. 152mm cranks are longer than some rivals but shorter than many inappropriately sized 24” wheeled bikes and offer plenty of leverage.
Orbea make a big play on the benefit of minimising proportional weight (i.e. the proportion of the total weight of both rider and bike combined) reasoning that 1kg of weight loss will have a more than double impact on ride performance compared to an adult bike. In particular this will make the bike easier to handle at low speeds in tricky situations. It makes sense. This philosophy extends to the aluminium frame, eschewing of suspension, alloy components and single ring cranks.
[caption id="attachment_1731" align="aligncenter" width="375"] Decent tyres aid overall ride performance[/caption]
But the lightweight mantra doesn’t go as far as arguably the most important area of weight saving; rotating mass and the sturdy rather than svelte 36 hole rims seem overkill for lighter riders more likely to be hitting the singletrack than the local skatepark. The hoops redeem themselves with their choice of rubber as 1.95” Kenda Small Block 8s are adored by riders of all ages. In fact our reviewer didn’t feel like the wheels hindered acceleration maninly due to the fast rolling tread.
Settling into the race rhythm…
Over to Cameron for more details on the ride characteristics:-
Starting off the bike felt very fast and accelerated easily. When I first rode the Orbea moving up from my old 20” wheel Islabike I noticed how well the bigger wheels rolled. On the road and smoother tracks I was often tempted to stand up and sprint and I was able to go very fast. I also liked the bike when I was tired because it kept rolling with little input from me.
I was impressed with how the bike rode up hills; the bike is lighter than other bikes I’ve ridden and this was very noticeable. On steeper climbs I could get out of the saddle and charge up steep hills that I haven’t managed to do so before. The tyres are packed with grip in the dry and I’ve only slipped in very loose gravel or deep mud. It was my first time using the Shimano trigger shifters and they worked smoothly but were not as easy to change multiple gears quickly when I needed to get into a low gear compared to the gripshift I’ve used previously.
[caption id="attachment_1732" align="aligncenter" width="470"] Confident through corners[/caption]
The Orbea was brilliant to ride fast downhill; I felt quite confident at speed but I think its best on steeper downhills where you can choose a good line and roll through tricky sections. I rode some intensely steep drops that I haven’t had the confidence to try before. It was good on corners, especially berms and I think the bigger wheels and great tyres help smooth out bumps and roll over tree roots. Generally, the most noticeable quality is its speed - out of the saddle it really comes alive.
The last lap…
Many of the traits described above are due to Orbea ‘Minipro’ geometry. The heavily sloping top tube ensures there is plenty of space to adjust body position, a shorter top tube and stem than many bikes in the category help with control and an especially compact rear triangle helps with traction and climbing ability.
It is great to see another quality addition to the high-end kid’s bike category to provide more choice to aspiring young riders and enthusiastic parents. The sporty geometry and light weight will appeal to racers but the Team MX 24 is also packed with well thought out functional features and Orbea along with other manufacturers are really raising the standards in this market. This bike is a champion of a pretty simple message; if you want kids to enjoy riding and racing, buy them a decent bike.
Weight: Approx. 9.5kg
Price: RRP £369
More info: www.orbea.com
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