2015 Orbea MX 10 — 650b (27.5) — Hardtail Mountain Bike — Review

© 2015 Peter Free


17 July 2015


2015 Orbea MX 10 photograph for Peter Free's review. 


The 2015 Orbea MX 10 (650b wheel version) is an excellent value in Europe


The only substantive ding is the bike’s weight. Mine seems to weigh roughly 14 kilograms (31 pounds) with heavy Shimano M324 combination (flat and clip in) pedals on it.


Most people will overlook the weight concern in this price range, given the really decent Shimano Deore level components that come with the MX 10:


Frame         Internal cable routing

Fork            RockShox XC30 TK 100 QR

Crankset      FSA Alpha Drive 22x30x40t

Headset       1-1/8" Semi-Integrated

Handlebar    Orbea OC-I riser 680mm

Stem           Orbea OC-II

Shifters        Shimano Deore M591

Brakes         Shimano M355 hydraulic disc

Rear der.     Shimano Deore M593 Shadow

Front der.    Shimano Deore M591 31.8mm

Chain          KMC X10

Cassette      Shimano HG50 11-36 10-Speed

Wheels        Orbea aluminum disc

Tires           Kenda K922 2.10"

Pedals         VP-536 black

Seatpost      Orbea OC-I 27.2x400mm

Saddle         Velo 1353


I bought my sample of the MX 10 in Spring 2015, online and on sale. It came in its factory box, superbly protected and perfectly adjusted.





I am about to turn 69 and am probably at the end of my years of recreational hardtail riding. What follows may not apply to young and more accomplished riders.


Most of my comments about the MX 10 have to do with its exaggerated presentation of an ordinary hardtail’s strengths and weaknesses.


Overall, the MX 10 is a delightful bike. But it will beat you to death — even riding consistently out of the saddle — on terrain that gets it to jouncing at high frequencies.


The MX 10 is therefore not the best choice for people (like me) who have significant body-wide arthritis, nerve root impingements, joint replacements and mild traumatic brain injury.



Who is this bike aimed at?


Orbea claims that the bike is “ready to rule the trails.” But to my mind, its extremely rigid (beefy) frame is overkill for that purpose. The frameset’s extra robustness is arguably more suited to “all mountain” biking.


That said, the bike’s geometry is indeed XC (cross country). For example, the head angle is 70 degrees (in medium and large frame sizes). I have to get off the seat — and well behind it — to ride comfortably down the non-technical steep hills where I live in Germany.



The frame’s pro and cons


It is easier to make heavy robust frames than it is to make light strong ones. I suspect Orbea’s price containment had something to do with the MX 10’s curious mix of XC geometry with an anvil-like frame.


This is not a bad thing. As I indicated, I have seen no other bike in this price range that delivers anywhere close to the value per euro/dollar that this one does.


Second, the bike’s rigid frame defies its weight by going uphill really well. Despite being too heavy to be a credible climber myself, anything that keeps me cardiovascularly well prepared — without tossing in the momentum of geezer-maiming speed — looks good to me.


The bike also handles well. That is one of the rider-machine things that vary from person to person and bike to bike. I have never had a hardtail that I liked better in this regard.



An anecdote about the MX 10’s “pleasant personality”


Anthropomorphically speaking, the bike is good companion.


In this part of Germany, most of the available riding is on logging roads and agricultural-forest tracks that do not connect mapped places. If you are trying to go somewhere, you have to plot routes that connect segments of the zig-zaggy logging roads and tracks together. This means initially doing a lot of bushwhacking to see where you should leave one path for another.


Doing that this spring, I noticed that the MX 10 is so well balanced that I could push it with one hand on the steerer tube, without the bike displaying a mind of its own and tripping me up or getting caught up in undergrowth.


“We” comparatively easily dealt with downed branches, thorny vines, closely set trees, tall grass, and lumpy-rough-slippery and rocky ground. At one point, I had to push the Orbea up a gravelly hill that was steep enough to have me sliding downhill in places. The bike never contributed to my woes.


Though mild mannered-ness may sound like a trivial benefit for an XC bike, a few kilometers of this kind of hilly, forest-traipsing travel will persuade you that it is a comforting characteristic. The bike and I bonded during those sweaty hours.



On the other hand, the bike’s rigidity presents problems for the decrepit


There is section of the route that I regularly ride that is so rough that it twice knocked the front or back wheel off my then stock MX 10. Looking at this relatively mild downhill, no one would guess the gremlins that lurk there.


There are two water springs here that bleed water across and down the route. Grass, weeds and shadow hide some of the ground. Rocks have sunk into the moist soil at varying very low heights above the surface. Gravel and stones skitter on top of them. A forested embankment to the left drops quickly down to the next section of switchback. To the right, forest climbs uphill. A short steep berm separates the uphill slope from the rough downhill that one has to ride.


The soil-sucked rocks are uneven and closely spaced enough to set the MX 10 to vibrating and jouncing violently at even moderate speed out of the saddle. Sporadic wetness causes tires to slip on rock edges or mud.


My front wheel loosened itself on the fork on one of my first rides over this section. I noticed it bobbling in the dropouts soon enough to stop. The next week, the back wheel did the same thing, despite the fact that the skewers were clamped as tightly as I could get them. This time I went over the handlebar in one of those falls that you do not see coming.


I replaced the Orbea skewers with Shimano XTRs. No problems since.


However, this section of the route is still unpleasant to ride. The bike’s rigidity is the culprit. Passing over the problematic segment produces a more violent jouncing than other bikes I have owned.


I have resigned myself to taking this section slowly. Going faster than I did before might smooth the ride, but would leave me too little time to react to the unforeseen. At my age, impacts with trees and rocks are potentially catastrophic. I have broken ribs on two occasions in the last year.


Were this relatively short bouncy zone the only such on the route, it would not present a significant problem. But immediately after it is a much longer, though somewhat less challenging section, whose out of saddle pounding almost always gets me to asking myself why I am riding a hardtail at all.



Hardtails generally — and the after effects of traumatic brain injury


The MX 10’s rattly stiffness has caused problems with a mild traumatic brain injury I had a few months ago.


Dealing with months of post-concussion syndrome, I have noticed relapses after riding. Given how many previous concussions I have had, semi-permanent to permanent TBI effects are not surprising. But nevertheless, it would probably be a good idea for me to consider full suspension in the MX 10’s place.


TBIs aside, even at the best of times, a hardtail’s characteristic harshness means joint and muscle discomfort for older folk with arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems.



“Emergency” responsiveness


I previously mentioned the bike’s accommodating personality. It saved my bacon during one my recent TBI episodes.


Pertinent here, post-concussion syndrome has me operating like a battery does. When it’s out of juice, I am too. And with little to no warning.


In this instance, I was riding up the steepest hill on the route. I was tired and my brain was not operating as it should.


The gradient is enough that you have to get your center of gravity perfectly positioned or you will (a) experience rear wheel slip or (b) wind up on the wrong end of a wheelie. My handlebar also tends to waver back and forth, as I deliver the power necessary for the climb.


The day in question, my TBI battery was running down. My attention had wandered, as did the handlebar. I woke up to see the bike perched very near the edge of a steep embankment off to the right. Another few centimeters and I would be experiencing a nasty acquaintanceship with gravity applied over time and distance.


Still cipped into the pedals, an adrenalin surge yank-hopped the Orbea back toward the road. A mountain bike with a lesser personality might not have been so forgiving.



Only one change that I would recommend to everyone — new skewers


In light of my two wheels-off experiences on this bike, I would recommend changing the MX 10’s skewers to cam-operated types, like Shimano’s XT and XTRs.


I replaced the vibration-prone stock aluminum handlebar with a 2014 Chromag Cutlass carbon bar. (Mine is shorter than the 2015 model.) I also changed the stock (rather hard) slip-on grips to Oury Mountain lock-ons.


These two modifications helped with the mild nerve damage in both my arms. However, I am unusually sensitive to vibration, and a normal person might not notice any difference.


I replaced the Velo seat with a Fizik saddle I had lying around.


The Orbea’ stock wheels are inexpensive and heavy. But they are durable. I flatted — during another anecdote — that saw me ride many kilometers on the airless rear rim, without knocking the wheel out of true.


This bike is rock solid. Another reason to forgive its weight.





The Orbea MX 10 is an excellent value.


I like mine so much that I am having trouble giving it up, despite the fact that my TBI-ed brain is warning me to.