In this article, I’ll guide you through a comparison between the Orbea Orca and Specialized Tarmac SL7; both popular road bikes among cyclists.
I’ll walk through the Orbea Orca and Specialized Tarmac SL7 models lineup, their specifications, and retail pricing (USD). I’ll explain the carbon fiber technology used (Orbea Monocoque (TorayCa) Carbon vs Specialized FACT), and unique frameset features for each bike.
The goal is to help you get a better understanding before you make your final purchasing decision.
|Orbea Orca||Specialized Tarmac SL7|
|Type of bike||Lightweight, all-rounder||All-rounder|
|Frame material||OMX (T1100) carbon|
OMR (T800) carbon
|FACT 12r carbon|
FACT 10r carbon
|Frame sizes||47, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 60||44, 49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61|
|Groupset||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)|
|Brakes||Hydraulic disc||Hydraulic disc|
|Price (USD)||$3,599 to $11,599||$5,500 to $14,250|
The latest Orbea Orca was launched in mid-July 2023, during the last week of the Tour de France.
Compared to its predecessor, the 2024 Orbea Orca is a lot lighter (832g previously vs 750g for a size 53 frame). This is achieved using a traditional-looking, round tube frame without the dropped seat stays seen on the majority of road bikes today. At 6.7kg for the top-of-the-line M11eLTD PWR model with SRAM Red AXS, it’s among the lightest, disc brake road bikes available today, alongside the likes of Cannondale Supersix Evo LAB71 and Cervelo R5.
Like many other Orbea models, the Orbea Orca offers a lot of customization options for the riders, thanks to the MyO configurator. There are 11 models available with either Shimano or SRAM electronic shifting groupsets. The models with PWR indicate it comes with a power meter, the LTD models use the highest grade OMX carbon.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Orbea Orca M11eLTD PWR||OMX (Toray T1100) carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Oquo RP35LTD (carbon)||$11,599|
|Orbea Orca M10iLTD PWR||OMX (Toray T1100) carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||Oquo RP35LTD (carbon)||$11,599|
|Orbea Orca M21eLTD PWR||OMX (Toray T1100) carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Oquo RP35LTD (carbon)||$7,999|
|Orbea Orca M20iLTD||OMX (Toray T1100) carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Oquo RP45LTD (carbon)||$6,999|
|Orbea Orca M31eLTD||OMX (Toray T1100) carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Oquo RP45LTD (carbon)||$5,999|
|Orbea Orca M31iLTD PWR||OMX (Toray T1100) carbon||Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100)||Oquo RP45LTD (carbon)||$5,999|
|Orbea Orca M21eTEAM PWR||OMR (Toray T800) carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Oquo RP35TEAM (carbon)||$6,899|
|Orbea Orca M21iTEAM||OMR (Toray T800) carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Oquo RP35TEAM (carbon)||$5,999|
|Orbea Orca M31eTEAM||OMR (Toray T800) carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Oquo RP35PRO (alloy)||$4,699|
|Orbea Orca M35i||OMR (Toray T800) carbon||Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100)||Oquo RP35TEAM (carbon)||$4,599|
|Orbea Orca M30i||OMR (Toray T800) carbon||Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100)||Oquo RP35PRO (alloy)||$3,599|
Orbea Orca vs others
Specialized Tarmac SL7
The Specialized Tarmac SL7 is the complete race bike. It’s without a doubt the most popular model among all Specialized bikes.
Now in its seventh iteration (SL7), the Specialized Tarmac combines an aerodynamic, lightweight, and disc-only road bike for all terrains. Light enough to climb the steepest mountain passes in Tour de France, fast and aero for the sprints on Champs Elysees.
The S-Works frame uses the lighter and stiffer FACT 12r carbon, while all other Specialized frame uses the FACT 10r carbon. The difference lies in the choice of groupset, wheels, and components.
There are six models in the Specialized Tarmac SL7 lineup based on its groupset setup. All models are electronic shifting only. It’s also available in frameset only for Specialized and S-Works editions.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|S-Works Tarmac SL7||FACT 12r carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||Roval Alpinist CLX||$14,250|
|S-Works Tarmac SL7||FACT 12r carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Roval Alpinist CLX||$14,000|
|Specialized Tarmac SL7 Pro||FACT 10r carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Roval Rapide CL||$9,000|
|Specialized Tarmac SL7 Expert||FACT 10r carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Roval C38||$8,300|
|Specialized Tarmac SL7 Expert||FACT 10r carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Roval C38||$6,500|
|Specialized Tarmac SL7 Comp||FACT 10r carbon||Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100)||DT Swiss R470||$5,500|
Specialized Tarmac SL7 vs others
Orbea vs Specialized carbon fiber
Orbea Monocoque (TorayCa) Carbon
Orbea uses carbon fiber from TorayCa in their bikes. It’s one of the handful of bike manufacturers that uses a monocoque carbon fiber construction, resulting in a lighter and stiffer frameset. The two most prominent types of carbon used in Orbea’s bike frames are OMX (T1100K) and OMR (T800) carbon.
- OMX (Orbea Monocoque X) carbon is Orbea’s top-grade carbon fiber, with the ultimate blend of stiffness, lightness, and strength. Monocoque refers to a type of construction technique where the external skin supports the structural load, which, when applied to bike frames, results in a balance of strength and weight. Due to its high manufacturing cost, OMX carbon is typically reserved for Orbea’s top-tier models.
- OMR (Orbea Monocoque Race) is the standard carbon composite used by Orbea. While OMR doesn’t match the absolute performance capabilities of OMX, it offers a fantastic performance-to-value ratio. This makes it a great choice for riders looking for top-notch performance without the premium price tag of the top-grade OMX carbon.
Specialized FACT Carbon
Specialized FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) is an advanced carbon fiber technology used in high-performance Specialized bicycles. It offers a lightweight yet strong frame construction with precise carbon layup, resulting in optimal strength-to-weight ratio and improved ride quality.
FACT carbon frames are engineered to efficiently transfer power, absorb road vibrations, and provide a comfortable riding experience. With continuous innovation and refinement, FACT Carbon demonstrates Specialized’s commitment to delivering top-notch performance and enhancing the overall cycling experience.
The carbon is available in three grades. The choice between FACT 12r, 11r, or 10r carbon depends on the bike model, your preferences, riding style, and budget.
- Specialized FACT 12r Carbon is the highest-grade carbon used by Specialized. Bikes (S-Works models) with frames made from FACT 12r carbon are the lightest and stiffest in the Specialized line-up. These frames are manufactured using the most advanced techniques and materials.
- Specialized FACT 11r Carbon used to be the highest-grade carbon until the S-Works Tarmac (SL5). Today, it’s the highest-grade carbon for the S-Works Roubaix.
- Specialized FACT 10r Carbon is two steps below 12r in the Specialized carbon hierarchy. While it doesn’t provide quite the same level of weight savings and stiffness as 12r, 10r frames are still very light and stiff, providing a high level of performance. FACT 10r carbon is used in all non S-Works models and is ideal for riders who want a balance of performance and value.
Frameset technologies and innovations
Orbea Orca and Specialized Tarmac SL7 framesets incorporate advanced technologies to enhance their bikes’ performance and ride characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the technologies used in each bike model.
|Monocoque Carbon Construction||Monocoque carbon construction is a process that uses the most advanced carbon technology to create the most sophisticated bike frames possible. Monocoque means that the frame is made of a single piece of carbon fiber, rather than multiple pieces joined together. This ensures that the frame is lighter, stiffer, and stronger, as there are no weak points or excess material. |
Orbea has two grades of carbon fibers; OMX (Orbea Monocoque X-Light) and OMR (Orbea Monocoque Race). Orbea also uses a bladder molding technique with EPS (expanded polystyrene) forms and PU (polyurethane) inserts to prevent wrinkles and gaps in the carbon layers, which can compromise the quality and durability of the frame.
|ICR Plus||This stands for Internal Cable Routing, which is a system that routes all the cables neatly through the bar, stem, and headset for a clean look and improved aerodynamics. ICR also makes it easier to maintain and service the bike compare to other bike brands’ solutions.|
|Powerspine||Powerspine is a frame design technology that enhances the stiffness and power transmission of the bike. The Powerspine is the lower spine of the frame that handles the large majority of torsional and lateral loads. This means that the frame is stiff in the right places, which results in direct power transfer to the rear wheel and more efficient pedaling. |
The Powerspine also contributes to the lightness and aerodynamics of the Orca, as it eliminates unnecessary material and reduces drag.
Specialized Tarmac SL7
|FACT carbon||Functional Advanced Composite Technology (FACT). A carbon fiber construction method that balances lightweight, stiffness, and compliance in Specialized bike frames. |
Available in two carbon grades; FACT 12r and 10r. A higher number indicates a higher grade of carbon.
S-Works models use the FACT 12r carbon and Specialized Pro and Expert models use the FACT 10r carbon.
|Rider-First Engineered™||Rider-First Engineered™ is a design philosophy used by Specialized that ensures every frame size delivers the same predictable and responsive ride characteristics. This concept was first introduced with the 2015 Tarmac, and the idea has been incorporated into all models since.|
Instead of simply scaling frame sizes, Specialized takes into account that riders of different sizes have different weights, which are distributed differently. This means that each frame size experiences different forces. Therefore, each frame size is engineered independently with different carbon layups and tube dimensions, ensuring the optimal balance of rigidity, weight, and responsiveness for each size.
In short, no matter what the frame size is, the ride quality and performance remain consistently excellent.
|Win Tunnel||Specialized utilizes advanced tools and technologies to pursue aerodynamic excellence, such as the Win Tunnel, FreeFoil Shape Library, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and Data Acquisition (DAQ) system.|
The goal is to optimize aerodynamic performance by conducting wind tunnel tests, developing new airfoil shapes, simulating fluid flow, and collecting real-world data to improve rider position and enhance overall performance.
Where to buy
- Orbea retailers. Use this tool to find your nearest Orbea dealers.
- Specialized online shops. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States
- Specialized retailers. Use this tool to find your nearest Specialized retailers.