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Orbea Wild M

May 03, 2023

Orbea's newest Wild ebike is truly enduro race-ready

This competition is now closed

By Alex Evans

Published: May 14, 2023 at 4:45 pm

Orbea's Wild M-Team electric mountain bike is aimed squarely at the enduro market, and has been redesigned for 2023 with frame, motor and suspension updates.

Running 29in wheels front and rear, the Wild has 160mm of rear-wheel travel delivered by Orbea's Concentric Boost II (CB2) design and is paired with a 170mm-travel Fox 38 Factory fork.

Its full carbon fibre frame integrates the Bosch 750Wh battery into the fully closed down tube. This powers Bosch's Performance Line CX electric bike motor.

This model is decked out with Fox Factory suspension and seatpost, a Shimano XT M8100 drivetrain and Maxxis DH-casing tyres.

It's a compelling package that sees the bike take the top spot in our eMTB Bike of the Year category for 2023.

Orbea's customisation options mean components can be upgraded or swapped out. The My O programme takes this further with paint and full component customisation.

Orbea claims it has reduced the weight of the Wild's frame by using a full OMR carbon fibre construction and integrating the battery into the closed down tube.

The fixed battery could be an issue for some racers, who are frequently faced with competitions that exceed even the mighty Bosch 750Wh battery's range. For your average rider, however, except for no off-bike charging, it's unlikely to cause issues.

According to Orbea, by not having a battery cut-out the down tube's structure isn't compromised and is less complex. This, the brand claims, improves the front triangle's stiffness and reduces weight.

Cables are routed internally via the angle-limiting headset, exiting at the chainstays close to the derailleur and rear brake. Contoured chain-slap protection sits on the driveside chainstay.

It uses SRAM's Universal Derailleur Hanger and Boost 148 rear-axle spacing.

The seat tube is straight without interruption, allowing for deep dropper post insertion.

It uses Orbea's CB2 suspension, where the chainstay and seatstay connecting pivot is concentric to the rear axle. This is claimed to separate braking and suspension forces.

Orbea says its 160mm of travel is active at the start of the stroke, then builds with progression to provide mid-stroke support before ramping up towards bottom-out.

Bosch's Performance Line CX 85Nm motor is powered by the PowerTube 750Wh battery. The Rise has Bosch's newest top-tube integrated System Controller and wireless Mini Remote, while still getting Bluetooth connectivity.

Offered in four sizes, from small to extra-large, Orbea says a low standover height makes the Wild suitable for people between 150cm and 205cm tall, with overlap between sizes to accommodate different riding styles.

The bike's fixed geometry has a 64-degree head tube angle, 77.5-degree seat tube angle, 448mm chainstays and a 353mm bottom bracket height across all sizes.

Reach figures start at 435mm and rise to 505mm. Wheelbase figures start at 1,223mm and increase to 1,306mm.

While these figures aren't as extreme as some electric mountain bikes on the market, they are modern and very well suited to gravity-focused riding.

Thanks to Orbea's customisation, my M-Team test bike has had a few upgrades.

It has been fitted with Maxxis’ DH-casing Assegai and DHR II MaxxGrip tyres front and rear respectively. Its seatpost has also been upgraded to a Fox Transfer Factory model with 175mm of drop.

Elsewhere, the standard M-Team build has Fox's 170mm-travel Factory 38 fork and Float X2 rear shock. Shimano's XT M8100 drivetrain and brakes with 203mm Galfer rotors feature too.

Orbea Mountain Control MC10 carbon fibre bars are fitted, along with OQUO MC32TEAM eBIKE wheels laced to DT Swiss’ 350 Hybrid hubs.

Without pedals, this size-large test bike weighs 23.73kg.

I tested the Orbea Wild M-Team over the course of several months in Scotland's Tweed Valley, home to the UK's round of the enduro world cup, its trails perfectly suited to the Wild's intended use.

Trail conditions ranged from deep-winter wet through to snow and ice, with a good measure of dust and sunshine thrown in.

Orbea recommends running between 28 and 33 per cent rear suspension sag, and between 15 and 20 per cent fork sag.

For my kitted-up weight, I inflated the fork to 105psi and installed an additional volume-reducer spacer, taking the total to three. I initially set all the damping adjustments to fully open, but added plus four clicks (from fully open) of low-speed compression damping. During testing, I decreased pressure to 100psi.

I initially inflated the shock to 205psi, giving 27.7 per cent of shaft sag. While testing, I added plus five clicks (from fully open) of low-speed compression damping and increased sag by reducing shock pressure to 198psi.

The shock's valve-down orientation, plus the frame's bracing struts make it tricky to install and remove shock pumps easily.

The placement and design of the left-hand brake lever, Bosch mode controller and I-Spec dropper post lever meant at the more extreme ends of adjustment they contacted one another. Some riders might not have this issue, however.

Uphill, the Wild's steep seat tube angle and 448mm chainstay length pay dividends by placing your weight centrally over the bike.

On most climbs, you won't have to move onto the nose of the saddle to help keep the front wheel down and maintain rear-wheel traction.

Only on extreme gradients does the front begin to go light without rider intervention. Shifting onto the nose of the saddle makes regaining control easy.

The riding position is comfortable, too. It centralises your body, concentrating your weight evenly between your hands and backside on the saddle.

When seated, your hips are directly above the cranks, helping improve pedalling efficiency and comfort.

The Maxxis DH-casing tyres aid traction. Their sturdy carcass not only numbs and insulates bumps, but also means lower pressures can be run, letting the tyre deform over rough terrain.

The sticky DHR II's MaxxGrip compound adds to this by clinging to rocks and roots, while its aggressive blocks dig into soft ground well.

The rear suspension has a super-fluttery beginning stoke, further augmenting comfort and grip; small chattery bumps are absorbed proficiently, no matter how much power is going through the back wheel.

Thanks to plenty of mid-stroke support, the rear end resists compression on steep climbs, helping maintain the centralised position its geometry creates.

While the Shimano XT M8100 derailleur's on-power shifts are impressive, the Wild's cable routing caused shifts to be stiffer than I expected.

Its neutral feel lends it well to being adaptable for most types of riding, its performance going beyond its gravity-fed enduro-riding intentions.

The Wild is a formidable climber, comfortable on both flat-out Turbo mode fire-road sprints to the trail head and meandering all-day Eco epics.

Bosch's 750Wh battery and Performance Line CX motor can comfortably pass 2,000m of ascent on a single charge in Eco mode, and can just about hit that 2,000m figure in Tour+, even with the chunky DH-casing, sticky rubber.

Software updates have helped the Smart System Bosch motors come of age. One of last year's Bosch-equipped Bike of the Year contenders (the Mondraker Level R with a 750Wh battery and Maxxis DH Casing MaxxGrip tyres) could barely reach 1,500m of ascent in a single charge in Tour+.

It's also an incredibly powerful motor, providing addictive-feeling assistance right up to its speed-limited cut-off. The harder you pedal, the more assistance the Bosch provides. This sets it apart from Shimano's EP8, which tends to reduce torque the harder you pedal.

Once I’d set the suspension a little softer, the Wild's true colours became apparent.

Its suspension is impressively absorbent, ironing out the roughest chatter with total competence.

Thanks to plenty of mid-stroke support, the rear suspension stayed in its supple, bump-eating portion of travel. The bike's balance wasn't upset; it didn't dive deep into its end stroke on smaller hits or too easily.

This gave the Wild a commanding sense of stability, where it was impossible to overwhelm the rear end even on seriously rough downhill-style trails.

The suspension's insulating nature helped keep the bike level over large choppy bumps. This meant fewer corrective weight changes were needed to maintain speed and control, adding to the Wild's descending prowess.

Fox's 38 GRIP2 fork's damping and spring are a great partner to the Wild's rear end, offering mountains of support in their mid-stroke and plenty of bottom-out resistance. Suppleness is also impressive, delivering loads of grip and ample comfort.

On the brakes, it's the same story; the Wild's rear end remains impressively active, even when the back wheel is locked up.

This creates a grip-rich, high-control experience where choosing and taking tricky lines on gnarly terrain feels confidence-inspiring.

Combined with the DH-casing MaxxGrip Maxxis tyres, the Wild has a very muted and smooth overall feel. Little harshness and few high-frequency vibrations are transmitted into the rider, helping reduce fatigue.

Adding to the suspension's balance is the geometry.

The hand-to-feet relationship is spot-on, thanks to its 353mm bottom-bracket height, 639mm stack and 480mm reach.

Driving grip doesn't require overt forward or rearward weight changes on the bike; remaining central with an even weight distribution feels natural and rewarding.

The Fox 38 fork has plenty of support to resist diving into its travel and the well-considered geometry, with a relatively slack head tube angle, helps reduce the need to lean over the back wheel to keep your weight balanced.

As trails steepen and the front wheel gets weighted, the overall balance remains.

The suspension's supportive nature makes it easy to create speed by pumping the terrain and rail turns without the bike sinking too far into its travel.

Bottom-outs were infrequent and imperceptible. The suspension's kinematics and progressive Float X2 air spring combine to create a great-feeling rear end.

Once or twice, the back wheel emitted a donging sound on large, square-edge bumps when the Wild was deep in its travel.

This hints damping and spring forces build quickly towards bottom-out. Although this wasn't problematic in terms of control or comfort, if it was specced with lighter-casing tyres it could lead to punctures.

The theme of balance continues in the turns.

Leaning the Wild over feels natural and requires little effort. It squats into its mid-stroke predictably and comfortably, helping you around hook turns.

Switching direction needs just light and deliberate movements where the suspension can be loaded up to help it pop you into the next turn.

It's incredibly balanced, yet fun to ride.

Despite the relatively high claimed bottom bracket figure, I didn't feel as though the Wild was towering above the trail or needed muscling about. In fact, I measured the bottom bracket at 347mm, 6mm lower than claimed.

Competition is tight in the eMTB segment, where against the clock there's little to differentiate the performance of the class-leading bikes.

The closest competitor to the Wild M-Team is Whyte's E-180 RSX MX. Both have enduro-ready geometry, with slack head angles, long reach figures and lengthy wheelbases.

Both of these bikes are go-faster rigs, responding well to aggressive, confident riding where the faster you go the better they seem to feel.

Arguably, the Orbea has a wider operating window. Cruisy, slower-paced runs are just as fun as riding on the limit, with plenty of forgiveness and smoothness built-in.

On the climbs, the Wild's steep seat tube angle puts you in a better position than the Whyte's, helping you take advantage of the powerful and long-lasting Bosch motor and 750Wh battery they share.

Spec-wise, there's little to differentiate them. Both have Factory-level suspension, with the Orbea getting an upgraded dropper post and DH-casing Maxxis tyres. These come at a cost, however.

As this year's eMTB Bike of the Year winner, the Wild M-Team has a little extra magic than the second-placed Whyte, mostly down to the seat tube angle, customisable spec and broader performance band.

The Wild's balance is its best and most dominant trait, whether you’re descending or climbing.

Its suspension reliably and predictably gobbles up rough ground, generating grip and chassis stability, helping you ride faster or with more control when the trails get gnarly. It also feels bottomless, further improving its bump-munching credentials.

The powerful Bosch motor's battery life is impressive, arguably bettering the Shimano EP8 fitted to a lot of electric mountain bikes.

In terms of spec, the Wild M-Team hits a sweet spot. The DH-casing tyre upgrade makes them truly befitting of the bike's intended riding style, while the brakes, drivetrain and suspension are all enduro-ready.

The Wild is one of the most balanced, easy-to-ride-fast bikes on the market, with performance that makes it at home on the roughest descents and longest days in the saddle.

Full-power, high-performance, gravity-focused ebikes need to behave like mini-DH bikes on the descents, but provide a comfortable, brisk and efficient means to climb back up.

A gutsy motor will do the heavy lifting when ascending, but little can mitigate poor geometry, bad spec choices and sub-standard suspension.

When searching for your perfect full-power ebike, we recommend going big on travel (150mm plus), battery capacity (630Wh or more) and motor power (85Nm or above).

Spot-on geometry will improve both uphill and downhill performance; steep seat tube angles, mid-length chainstays and slack head angles are all desirable.

Senior technical editor Alex tested eight full-power eMTBs on his home trails in Scotland's Tweed Valley, home to the UK's round of the Enduro World Cup and the 2023 XC Olympic and Marathon World Championships.

Testing happened from November to late March, subjecting the bikes to some of the harshest weather conditions known.

The pedigree and scope of the terrain on his doorstep is second to none, helping Alex push our eight bikes to their limits. Riding them back-to-back separated the strong from the weak and finally, a winner was chosen.

Thanks to our sponsors Crankbrothers, MET helmets, Bluegrass Protection, Supernatural Dolceacqua, Le Shuttle and BikePark Wales for their support of Bike of the Year.

Senior technical editor

Alex Evans is BikeRadar's senior mountain bike technical editor. He started racing downhill at the tender age of 11 before going on to compete across Europe. Alex moved to Morzine in the French Alps at 19 to pursue a career as a bike bum and clocked up an enormous amount of riding. Hitting those famous tracks day in, day out for eight years, he broke more bikes than he can remember. Alex then moved back to the UK and put his vast knowledge of mountain biking to good use by landing a job working for MBUK magazine as features editor. Since working for MBUK, Alex's focus has moved to bike tech. He's one of BikeRadar's lead testers and knows how to push bikes and products to the limit, searching out the equipment that represents the best value for money. Alex is also a dedicated eMTB rider, and still dabbles in racing of a sort, doing his best to top the Strava leaderboard on the steepest, gnarliest and twistiest trails the Tweed Valley has to offer – just for fun, of course. Alex is also a regular on the BikeRadar YouTube channel and BikeRadar podcast.