Come on, how sexy is this bike?! Not only does the brand new Orbea Rise sport a very slim silhouette, it’s also incredibly light. What makes the new Shimano EP8 RS motor so unique and how does Orbea’s new Light E-MTB fare on the trail? We’ve already tested one for you.
Spanish performance brand Orbea is on a roll. Already last year, the newly released WILD FS with Bosch motor impressed the test crew of our big E-MOUNTAINBIKE group test delivering a solid performance on the trail. Just one year later, Orbea follow up with the Rise, which, with its modular battery concept based around the new Shimano EP8 motor, could set a new benchmark for weight and performance. We had the opportunity to test Orbea’s slim 18,18 kg Light eMTB even before its official release, putting it through the wringer on our local trails in the Black Forest.
The Orbea Rise in detail
With the Rise, Orbea have reinterpreted the concept of “sporty eMTB” and developed a new bike completely from scratch. At the heart of the lightweight, 18,18 kg Rise M-Team carbon-bolide lies a Shimano EP8 motor that draws its power from a modular battery system – more on this later. The first question that inevitably arises is: what type of rider was Orbea’s Light eMTB with 29” wheels and 150/140 mm travel conceived for? The answer is simple: sporty mountain bikers and eMTBers. So it’s hardly surprising that Orbea have used some of the key elements of their popular trail bike, the Occam. Depending on the spec variant, the Rise was designed to shine on long sporty rides and fast-paced trail sessions.
The Shimano EP8 RS motor of the Orbea Rise
Light eMTB or eMTB all-rounder? It’s hard to put the Orbea Rise in one of the existing eMTB categories. While at just over 18 kg, it’s a lot lighter than most eMTB with a trail-oriented spec, the Shimano EP8 RS motor pushes noticeably harder than a Specialized SL1.1 or Fazua drive. Orbea achieved the low system weight through a clever modular battery system, which relies on an internal, fully integrated 360 Wh battery. An optional 252 Wh range extender, which can be stored in the bottle cage, boosts the battery capacity to a total of 612 Wh. The big difference with other current light eMTBs is the built-in Shimano EP8 RS motor. According to Shimano, the motor of the Orbea Rise shares the same hardware as the conventional EP8 motor – everything except the “RS” sticker. Just by tweaking the software of the motor, Orbea managed to reduce the maximum torque from 85 Nm to 60 Nm and adapt the characteristics of the motor to deliver a more natural and sportier riding experience. Despite the reduced torque, the EP8-RS delivers enough power to keep up with the “standard” Shimano or latest Bosch drives – and easily outperform a Specialized SL 1.1 motor uphill. Because at cadences between 80 and 90 rpm, neither the Performance Line CX nor the EP8 use their full torque at maximum power. The difference in torque becomes evident particularly when setting off, accelerating and negotiating steep technical climbs: here the EP8-RS requires more input from the rider and thus makes for a very natural, sporty ride feeling and reduced battery consumption.
The motor-hardware of the Orbea isn’t special at all, it’s just an ordinary Shimano EP8 drive. However, Orbea tweaked the software to reduce the maximum torque to 60 Nm
Orbea’s engineers have done an excellent job of implementing the concept around the new, lightweight Shimano motor. That being said, they’ve neither developed a new drive nor improved the hardware of the existing motor. And that’s exactly why we don’t get all the fuss around the RS acronym, especially considering that manufacturers like FOCUS and ROTWILD have already been using similar concepts for some time, allowing users to reduce the maximum torque of the Shimano motor using the E-TUBE PROJECT app. Except for the torque set at 60 Nm, the Orbea should offer similar configuration options, at least in terms of assist characteristics1 and assist characteristic at the start2. Unfortunately, when we tested the Rise, the app wasn’t available yet.
The spec of the Orbea Rise M-Team
Is there anything cooler than a new bike with a sick finish? Yes, a new bike with a custom paint job, where you can choose the color and design details. Because when you order an Orbea, you can become a designer yourself. Using orbea’s MyO configurator, you can pick your favourite colour and customise the paint job of your Rise down to the smallest detail – for free! But the individualization options don’t stop here. Apart from the finish, you can choose from a number of components to individualise the spec of your bike according to your preferences, riding style and terrain. With all versions of the Rise, the configurator lets you pick and change ergonomically-relevant components and elements such as the saddle, crank length, dropper travel, handlebar width and stem length according to your ergonomic requirements and personal taste. Depending on the spec variant, you can also choose other components such as the tires, fork and rotor size. Soon Orbea customers will also be able to order the range extender for all versions of the Rise – presumably from February 2021.
With its burly spec, our € 8,999 Rise M-Team test bike is trimmed for uncompromised trail performance. For this version, Orbea have bumped up the travel of the FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 fork from 150 mm to 140 mm. In the rear, a DPX2 shock provides 140 mm travel. Powerful four-piston Shimano XTR brakes replace the standard 2-pot version of the other Rise models, providing reliable deceleration on tough trail sessions. That being said, the 180 mm Galfer rotors are far too small and cause the entire brake system to overheat on long descents. In the near future, Orbea customers will be able to order their Rise with 200 mm rotors front and rear, which is the setup we recommend. If you don’t pay attention while configuring your bike, you could end up with the standard Rekon EXO+ tires. Unless you’re based in the Californian desert or planning to take part in a XC race on your new eMTB, we recommend selecting the Minion DHF/Dissector combo from the available upgrade list in Orbea’s configurator – these provide plenty more grip. For our test bike, Orbea had already fitted the right tires on the Race Face Turbine alloy wheelset for the wet soil of the Black Forest – a great choice for our heavy chief-of-testing Felix and his aggressive riding style! Light riders can also choose a carbon wheelset from the configurator, which should bring down the total system weight to less than 18 kg. Orbea is one of the first brands that also takes into consideration the purists of eMTBing, allowing them to select or deselect the Shimano display and remote from the configurator. This can be done thanks to the small EW-EN100 dongle, which replaces both the Shimano display and remote control and allows you to switch between the three support levels. For the time being the dongle is still a little rudimental, on one hand because it’s not integrated well into the cockpit and instead attached to the brake/shift cable, on the other because it doesn’t allow you to shift between the two riding profiles of the EP8 motor. However, Orbea have assured that there will soon be a software update for the Shimano E-TUBE PROJECT app, which allows users to switch between the two riding profiles.
Orbea Rise M-Team
Motor Shimano EP8 RS 60 Nm
Battery Orbea internal 360 Wh (+252 Wh Range Extender)
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Factory 140 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory 125 - 175 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 4-Kolben 180/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 1x12
Stem Race Face Turbine R 50 mm
Handlebar Race Face Next R 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face Turbine R 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/Dissector 2.5"/2.4"
Size S M L XL
Weight 18.18 kg
Perm. total weight n/a kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) n/a kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no
Garmin IQ connectivity features
Further Orbea Rise models
In addition to the Orbea Rise M-Team in our test, there are three more pre-configured Rise models customers can choose from: the superlight, top of the range Rise M-LTD model, which costs € 9,899 and weighs just over 16 kg (manufacturer’s specifications), and a more tour-oriented entry-level model, the Rise M20, which retails at € 5,999. Both versions rely on lighter components (e.g. two-piston brakes) and 140 mm forks. Last but not least, the M10 model, which costs € 7,599 and offers the best price-performance ratio in our opinion. Like the M-Team version in our test, it features a 150 mm fork and was designed for uncompromised trail performance.
The geometry of the Orbea Rise
Not only visually, the Orbea Rise has a lot in common with Orbea’s popular trail bike, the Occam, which lends its geometry and chassis to its motorised counterpart. While the two frames are pretty much identical, the engineers stretched the chainstays by 5mm to make room for the Shimano EP8 RS motor in the bottom bracket area. With a head angle of 65.5° and long mainframe (474 mm reach in L), already on paper the Rise looks like an aggressive trail bike. At 76.5 °, the seat angle is pleasantly steep and doesn’t slacken out excessively as the dropper extends. On top of this, the short seat tube and a generous seatpost insertion depth allow you to use long-travel droppers and also to choose from more than just one frame size. With four available sizes, there should be a suitable Rise for everyone measuring between 150 cm to 198 cm.
|Seat tube||381 mm||419 mm||457 mm||508 mm|
|Top tube||565 mm||592 mm||619 mm||649 mm|
|Head tube||95 mm||105 mm||120 mm||140 mm|
|Chainstay||445 mm||445 mm||445 mm||445 mm|
|BB Drop||32 mm||32 mm||32 mm||32 mm|
|Wheelbase||1165 mm||1194 mm||1224 mm||1259 mm|
|Reach||425 mm||450 mm||474 mm||500 mm|
|Stack||604 mm||613 mm||627 mm||646 mm|
Orbea Rise First ride review
Wow! That’s exactly how you want an aggressive, trail-oriented eMTB to ride! As soon as you hit the trails, you realise that the Rise wasn’t just designed to look great but also to deliver tons of fun on demanding trails. Amongst the striking features, the comfortable riding position, which reminds us of modern trail bikes. The steep seat angle makes for a centered and upright riding position. This ensures comfort both on flat trails and steep climbs, because the well balanced weight distribution doesn’t require the rider to actively load the front wheel.
If you think that with 60 Nm torque the Orbea Rise is a nightmare on technical climbs, you’re wrong. Provided you’re using the right cadence, you can easily keep up with more powerful eMTB all-rounders. When the climb gets steeper, the tweaked software of the EP8 RS motor delivers a very natural riding experience and top modulation. This, combined with the low system weight and agile handling, allows you to negotiate technical climbs using your riding skills rather than relying on the raw power of the motor.
Downhill, the excellent handling puts the Orbea Rise in the league of light eMTBs – in a good way. Because at 18,18 kg, the Orbea Rise is very light considering the burly spec. While a light eMTB isn’t necessarily a great trail bike, the Orbea is exactly that: the low system weight combined with a successful geometry, top suspension and sensible spec make for top trail performance. The 474 mm reach (size L) and 445 mm chainstays position the rider centrally when riding downhill. In open corners, the bike generates an equal amount of grip on both wheels, proving that the Rise is extremely well balanced. Thanks to its lively character and stiff, very supportive suspension, the Orbea Rise is damn fast yet easy to handle through tight corners and allows for spontaneous line changes, last minute high lines and improvised flicks to avoid obstacles.
Nevertheless, the Orbea Rise still feels composed even at higher speed and always inspires confidence. The sporty and stiff chassis gives the rider lots of feedback while generating tons of traction and offering plenty of reserves even at high speed – not even nasty root carpets and tricky rock gardens can stop the Orbea Rise M-Team. If you spend most of your time on rough trails, you should definitely choose the 150 mm FOX 36 fork with GRIP2 damper cartridge over the 140 mm FOX 36 with FIT4 damper.
The handling of the ORBEA RISE is next level! Hardly any other eMTB is this much fun and so fast on the trail.
Hardly any other eMTB negotiates jumps as intuitively and spontaneously as the Orbea Rise. Even with little physical effort and small bunny hops, the light eMTB jumps higher and further than most current eMTBs on the market. At the same time, it handles hard and messy landings without batting an eyelid and always delivers fun. Downhill, only the loud clunking noise from the inside the Shimano motor casts a dark shadow over the overall outstanding riding experience. Read more about the annoying clunking noise in our motor test.
With the new Orbea Rise, the Spaniards deliver a well thought-out overall concept, blurring the thin line between the ‘Light eMTB’ and ‘eMTB allrounder’ segments. Downhill, the agile handling of the light Rise M-Team is a perfect match for sporty and aggressive trail riders. Despite the torque reduction, the bike doesn’t compromise on the uphill either and the optional range extender lets you embark on long rides with your buddies with “Bosch League” bikes. If that wasn’t good enough, the many spec options and countless customisation options of the MyO configurator allow for an individualised customisation of your Rise.
- Outstanding handling
- Modular battery system
- MyO configurator allows for custom finish and spec
- Rattling noises from the motor
- Poor tire clearance
- Range extender not available for the time being
More info at orbea.com
This is the level of support i.e. by how much the motor multiplies the input of the rider. With a high setting, the motor assists very powerfully with little effort from the rider, while a low setting means you have to put a lot of pressure on the pedals to get the maximum torque and power out of the motor. Of all parameters, the assist characteristic has the greatest influence on the feel of the motor on the trail↩
Assist characteristic at the start
This is the sensitivity of the motor when pulling away and only refers to the moment when you put your foot on the pedal and exert that initial bit of pressure to get going. In the fast setting, the motor reacts quickly, with relatively little effort and minimal rotation of the cranks, making it ideal for experienced riders. The lower the setting, the slower the EP8 responds to input on the pedals, both in relation to the force exerted and to the rotation of the cranks. The assist characteristic at the start has a marginal influence on battery consumption as this parameter affects the motor’s output for less than a full revolution of the cranks.↩
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Words: Felix Stix Photos: Jonas Müssig