EVEN IN THE WORLD OF ODD-LOOKING TRIATHLON FRAMES, the Editors' Choice winner, Orbea's Ordu (July 2011), stands out from the pack with a wedge-shaped seat-tube junction that recalls something Mondrian might have painted. "It was the best way we found to maximize appropriate airflow once you combined the frame with a rider," says Orbea operations manager Paul Alexander of the eye-catching design, which was refined in a San Diego wind tunnel. Other aero elements include the teardrop-shaped down and head tubes, both of which also found their way onto Orbea's redesigned Orca road bike (reviewed in July). The SLT is the entry-level model in the six-bike Ordu line, but it shares its frame shapes with bikes higher up the line, "so you're getting the same aero profile as the guys on the Euskaltel team," Alexander says, referring to the Orbea-sponsored World Tour team. To keep the price down on the SLT, Orbea uses a less-expensive grade of carbon fiber, as well as cheaper wheels and components.
During my training rides and races, the Ordu proved to be efficient and fast. It also climbed well for a tri bike and responded quickly when I wanted to stand and accelerate out of the saddle. I was most impressed with the bike's confident performance on descents. Riding fast downhill typically is not my strength, but on the Ordu I found myself flying past other riders—even those with slightly more mass to pull them along. You also get a good mix of speed and stability, and the geometry is similarly well balanced. The Ordu's stack and reach of 520 and 409mm (size 54) make it a middle-of-the-road fit compared with similar bikes—it's more upright than a -Cervélo P3, for instance, but not as tall as the Trek Speed Concept 7.5. The geometry makes it a good choice for cyclists looking for an aggressive position but who can't touch their toes or for those who are flexible yet want a more comfortable position for longer events.
As a lower-priced bike, the Ordu compromises in some areas, including the reliable but heavy Mavic Aksium wheels. While these are great for training, upgrading to a wheelset with a deeper profile will improve the bike's aerodynamics—and increase its overall speed. I also liked the adjustable Profile Design Ozone aerobar, which has straight extensions. Newer triathletes, though, may find that it takes them a few rides to adjust to bending their wrists to grip the bar. You get two seatpost options: One lets you choose a seat angle of 74 or 76 degrees for a road racers' time-trial position, and the other puts you farther forward for a triathlon with angles of 78 or 80 degrees. You can customize your Ordu through Orbea's MyO program, which offers color options for bar tape, paint, and tires; the size and material of your bike's bar and stem, and different saddles and wheels.—Emily Furia
Buy it if: Your goal is to finish in the money at your local tri series next summer
Forget it if: You don’t want to go back for later upgrades—the wheels aren’t ready for race day
Weight: 19.69 lb. (54cm)
Sizes: 48, 51, 54 (tested), 57cm
Frame: Orbea Ordu Silver carbon
Fork: Orbea Ordu Silver carbon
Component highlights: Shimano Dura-Ace shifters, Ultegra crankset (53/39), brakes, and derailleurs, 105 cassette (11-25); Mavic Aksium Black wheels; Vittoria Diamante Pro 700x23 tires; Profile Design Ozone bar; Orbea Ordu carbon seatpost, aluminum pro stem; Selle Italia SL T1 saddle
Credit: Bicycling Magazine