Orbea Orca Aero M120iLTD road bike review

An aero road bike so optimized it’s one step away from being an outright time trial bike, is it right for you?

Orbea Orca Aero M120iLTD
(Image credit: Josh Ross)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Orbea Orca Aero M120iLTD road bike is the result of taking aerodynamics to the extreme. It's barely UCI legal, and there's no claim that it's lightweight, but once you've set it up, it is very fast and very capable. Just don't expect it to love tight corners, or windy days.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    The same frame no matter what build

  • +

    Very comfortable no matter how long the ride

  • +

    Two-piece cockpit is comfortable and adjustable

  • +

    Beautiful paint

  • +

    Comfortable handlebars

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Doesn’t love tight cornering

  • -

    Finicky saddle mount

  • -

    Wind will move it around even at low yaw angles

Why you can trust Cycling Weekly Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

As you head out for a weekend ride, the UCI equipment rules probably aren't crossing your mind, but they affect you. The Orbea Orca Aero is a bike that exists partly because of the UCI.

The best aero road bikes started to come to market for consumers, in part, because the UCI set a minimum weight - making it necessary for brands to look elsewhere for marginal gains. This transpired to be a positive step since most experts now agree that aerodynamic optimisations pay greater dividends than low weight on all but the steepest climbs.

The UCI relaxed its specifications on aerodynamics further in 2021, and the Orbea Orca is one of a resulting breed of hyper aero bike. We’ve put in the miles, and the hours, figuring out all the details that make the snappily named 'Orbea Orca Aero M120iLTD' the bike that it is, and we are ready to share our thoughts.

The construction: Orbea Orca Aero M120iLTD

The Orca Aero lineup includes six different build options. Within those options, the basic frame outline remains the same. No matter which build you choose, you get the same level of carbon. 

Although Orbea offers both OMX and OMR carbon across their lineup, the Orca Aero gets the lighter OMX, no matter what level of build kit you choose. You also get the same handlebar, stem, and seatpost no matter the build although the frame alone comes without the handlebar, which does represent a fairly large piece of the design puzzle. 

Before even getting to the actual tube shapes, there are a couple of pieces that definitely catch your attention. Orbea refers to them as the "Orbea Aero Bottle and Bottle cage Set" and the "Aero Accessory Container." Both pieces are fully removable - which will be music to the ears of those offended by the aesthetics - but they will lead to a faster bike if left installed. 

Choosing to use the bottle and cage limits you to one installed bottle, so unless your rides are on the shorter side, you'll need to remove it. When it comes to the Accessory Container, there's no reason you need to remove it unless UCI legality is an issue for you. When in place it helps smooth the air coming off the front wheel and it hides a storage compartment. 

Jumping back to the frame, the actual spec sheet stays within expectations. It's a disc only frame with carbon monocoque construction, seven available sizes, and internal cable routing. The bottom bracket uses the BB386 standard and the wheels use a thru-axle front and rear. The frame is compatible with the Mavic Speed Release system but comes with standard thru-axles. 

There's also full compatibility for both electronic and mechanical groupsets and both options are available depending on the model you choose.

Orbea Orca Aero M120iLTD Mavic Speed Release thru-axle

Although not included, the frame is compatible with the Mavic Speed Release system.

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

In terms of builds, at the top of the lineup the M10iLTD and the M11eLTD represent a choice between Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM Red AXS and the wheels shift from Shimano C50 to Vision 55. Step down a level and the choice is between SRAM Force AXS or Shimano Ultegra 12-speed, and this time the wheels are the same carbon Vision 40. The last two models available do differ in that they offer either SRAM Rival AXS or, for those looking to stay mechanical, there's 11-speed Ultegra on offer. 

This review covers the Shimano equipped M20iLTD. The frame, seatpost, handlebar, aero bottle, and aero accessory container are all included no matter the build. For better, or worse, even the saddle is the same if you choose the top shelf build or the most affordable option. The choices you make are really about groupset and wheels. There is also the option to make use of Orbea MyO and custom build your bike, including paint colors, as you see fit. There's no upcharge for the service.