Updated: Orbea Rise Tech Review - 35 Pounds of Power
Update 5/13/22: This review was updated to include some details on the Orbea Rise H bike, which is in stock now and ready to ship.
Technology is only as good as it is intuitive to use. The new Orbea Rise, with it's unique Shimano EP8 RS drive unit, promises to be the most seamless and rider-focused electric mountain bike platform yet. Does the Orbea Rise deliver on its promise? We'll dive into the nitty-gritty details behind the Rise that set this bike apart in being one of the best applications ever of electric assist in the mountain bike world.
If Hydroformed Aluminum is your jam, check out the all-new 2022 Orbea Rise H Series.
Framing the Rise
The Orbea Rise looks a whole lot like an Orbea Occam, and honestly, the similarities are no coincidence. Both the Rise and Occam are based around Orbea's OMR carbon in both the frame and swingarm and share similar suspension designs as well. The rear swingarm is more or less held together by the thru-axle, and the shock linkage is held together through a massive splined axle that functions much like how a modern crank works with one another. Further, the Rise also maintains a lightweight frame, at 2300g for a frame without shock.
Perhaps the largest difference you'll see is that the Rise lacks the characteristic non-drive side strut that connects the downtube and shock link, thanks largely to a beefed-up downtube to fit the battery. There's also a molding on the seat tube for the power button as well as a spot for a charging plug just beside the power button.
Geometry is also remarkably similar between the Rise and Occam. Like the Occam, Rise riders have a choice between a 140mm fork or 150mm fork, with the same headtube and seat tube angles, 140mm rear suspension, and roomy reach and stack numbers too. Perhaps the only change here is that the Rise sees chainstay length grow just 5mm, from 440mm on the Occam to 445mm.
Suspension kinematics are largely preserved as well, but they too see a few changes. Namely, the Rise's leverage curve is a touch more progressive to accommodate the additional torque coming from the drive unit. Besides that, it is remarkable how little has changed between the Rise and Occam. Not many bike manufacturers have been able to proper trail bike geometry in their eMTBs, but even fewer of them have a non-electric counterpart with which to compare them. Impressive.
Like most Orbea bikes, the Orbea Rise is offered with the Basque brand's MyO program. There you can customize paint schemes at no extra cost, and swap components as well to make the bike exactly yours. Send us an email or give us a call to learn more about customizing your next Rise.
Of course, the Rise wouldn't be what it is without the new Shimano EP8 RS motor. EP8 is something we've waited a while for; at just 2.6kg or 5.75 pounds, the EP8 isn't just one of the lightest motors on the market, it also promises less 36% less drag than before, vastly improved heat management, and a Q-factor (distance between pedals) that is the same 177mm as a standard Shimano crankset. The Rise's drive unit isn't a standard motor, however, earning itself the RS designation.
EP8 RS is a custom tuning profile, unique to Orbea and the Rise's needs. The motor is mechanically the same, but its 60Nm torque comes on not at cadence ranges typical of other eMTBs (60 RPM) but in the 75 to 95 rpm range when the extra assist feels more natural. Additionally, the system uses a custom 360Wh battery using 21700 cells that offer higher capacity within a slim form factor. Orbea claims that this smaller battery, thanks to its custom tune, offers a similar range and battery life to that of a comparable 500Wh battery.
Riders also have the option of using a 252Wh range extender that sits in the water bottle cage. This combined capacity gives a quoted eight hours of battery life. This translates to approximately 14,000ft of climbing, or roughly the equivalent of a 900Wh battery range.
Orbea develops their bicycles with longevity in mind; this statement is proven when we look at the degradation of the Rise's battery over time. Orbea claims that their battery retains 80 percent of its original capacity after 500 full charge and discharge cycles (100 percent to 0 percent), compared to a standard battery’s 60 percent capacity in the same cycle. A battery with a stretched out degradation period provides you with extra miles of electrically assisted bliss.
Orbea's Rider Synergy mindset also extends to how the bike is equipped. The bike itself is visually stealthy. This is most obvious in Orbea's omission of a central display. As an alternative, Orbea use Shimano’s e-tube junction and a slim remote button switch that neatly fits in between the brake lever, dropper lever, and grips. Two tiny LEDs on the box let you know when the bike is on and what assist level you're in.
To the amateur onlooker you're going to look like a fast rider on a non-electric bike. You'll notice that the suspension is not e-bike-specific, and the suspension tune isn't specific to ebikes either. For all intents and purposes this is a mountain bike first and a mini lift service secondarily.
Accompanying Shimano EP8 RS is Shimano's E-Tube Project app, the goal of which is to make sure the drive unit works exactly as the rider wants. The Rise's power assist level can be adjusted according individual needs. Control the speed at the assist turns on and the power of the assist. Furthermore, you can set the assist according to two different assist profiles making sure that you have one profile for your weekday lunch ride and one for your weekend backcountry adventure. In this regard, riders can set up their drive units as uniquely as they'd set up the fit on their own bike. Precisely control your assist levels as your mood dictates.
For those craving more info, this little display can be connected to Shimano's traditional display or a Garmin computer or watch to show speed, range, and assist level.
The Orbea Rise line is divided into two version: Rise H and Rise M. Rise H is has three bike: Rise H30, Rise H15, and Orbea Rise H10. It features a lightweight alloy frame, the same Shimano EP8 RS drive motor, but a larger battery. While the aluminum Rise is slightly heavier, the bigger battery makes a huge difference.
Then there is the Orbea Rise Carbon. The model we've been riding is the Orbea Rise M10. This is one of our favorites, featuring a Fox Factory suspension front and rear with a DPX2 shock out back and a 36 fork up front. A Shimano XT drivetrain, XT brakes, and Race Face Turbine wheels in a 38.5-pound weight make it a shop favorite.
Does the Rise Maintain the Hype Seven Months Later?
Seven months after the publication of our initial piece, the Orbea Rise has more than risen up to the challenge. From a real-feel perspective, the Rise maneuvers and performs with agility. We found that it’s easy to bunny hop, jump, and tear through technical terrain. The motor gives us the ability to precisely dial speed to lace take-offs for smooth and controlled landings. Additionally, we’ve enjoyed the pick-up of electrical assist to blast through rough uphill sections. We would like to thank the slight increase in bike weight and the powerful motor for avoiding many hazardous tip-overs in precarious places.
The greatest compliment an eMTB can receive is that it pedals just like a standard mountain bike. If you can close your eyes and feel an intuitively eager handling response akin to the eMTB’s non-electric brethren, then you know you’re on a top-tier machine; the Orbea Rise exceeds this bar with ease. Once you experience the Rise, you’ll understand why Orbea stands at the top in terms of seamlessly infusing electric assist into what is already a stand out mountain bike.
The Orbea Rise might have a unique Shimano EP8 RS drive unit, but the Rise certainly isn't dominated by it. Rather, it's balanced geometry - just as the fan-favorite Orbea Occam - makes it a great trail bike in its own right, while its low weight makes it unlike any electric bike you've ridden before. The new Orbea Rise is a well-thought-out trail eMTB and in a market dominated by heavy, leaden options, fills in a gap we're happy to have sorted. And for that, Orbea really *rose* to the occasion.