Basque Country spans the border of Spain and France, it is a collection of districts inhabited by the Basque people but it is also the home of cycling manufacturer, Orbea. Located in the heart of Mallabia.
Orbea began their ascent into bicycles through gun manufacturing. When WWI was fought, the company saw a boom in sales but it was all short lived once a peacetime interwar weapon restriction came into affect after the war had ended. Eventually, Orbea realised they could use their expertise in steel tubing to create new products. In 1930, their journey with bicycles began.
They have come a long way since then, and we got to see first hand how successful the small family run business had become. Walking through the front doors of their HQ, it was easy to see that they pride themselves with their heritage. A classic Furia sits on show, a bike that all but a few Spanish folk will be too familiar with.
Through the glass doors into the warehouse, a story unfolds, many pictures depicting the late and greats in what has been a very colourful history for Orbea and if anything to go by, a very exciting future lies ahead.
The beauty of Orbea is the amount of time and attention that goes into each and every bike. It’s not just about making money with these guys, they want to make sure that as soon as you sit on the saddle, you know you’re riding a work of art. The quality testing each component goes through is second to none and there is not one aspect of riding that is forgotten about. Orbea offers a lifetime warranty with each bike, that is how sure they are of the final product.
Back in October 2015, Orbea launched the MyO program which offered the general public the ability to customise their Orca, a beautiful carbon road frame used by team Cofidis. The frameset boasts a low weight and high stiffness, something all road junkies are begging for.
The program has reached amazing heights, and has generated a lot of buzz around the company. The great part of this service is seeing it happen in person. Each frame is hand masked according to customer specification, it it is then hand painted, the decals are then applied by hand, it is hand lacquered and, yes, you guessed it, the bike is assembled by hand. The Orca’s specifically are hand assembled in their own room, shut off from the rest of the production line. This ensures their quality is consistent throughout the build.
Watching the team work is mesmerising, they all have a job to do and they all do it with a smile. The processes are long and meticulous which means only a few frames go through the ‘system’ each day but this means the end user has purchased something unique and perfect for them.
Receiving the bike will also be a big delight to some, whilst it needs to be shipped to a distributor to make sure the build is 100% and the warranty is validated, it is shipped in almost it’s entirety and heavily protected. This isn’t to say other companies don’t, it’s just that added peace of mind.
Orbea overall are maybe a lesser known company in the likes of the UK but don’t expect this to last long, their presence is definitely going to be felt in the years to come.
You can check out their MyO design tool here.