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Pro bikes, August 21, 2006

Georgia Gould's Orbea Alma

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Photos ©:Steve Medcroft/Cyclingnews

The Luna Build

By Steve Medcroft

Georgia Gould
Photo ©: Rocky Arroyo
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Mavic dresses
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Gould runs
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The Orbea term
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Shimano XTR
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The fast-rolling
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On July 14th in Sonoma, California, Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) rode her Orbea Alma carbon hardtail to her first-ever elite cross-country national championship. The win was somewhat of an upset. Her teammate, Shonny Vanlandingham, had been almost unbeatable in cross-country in the domestic 2006 season. But a fast, exposed racecourse with plenty of long, hard-surfaced sections, opened the door for a rider with a huge engine and the power to drive a strong tempo to take the Stars and Stripes jersey for herself.

Two morning's later, an hour before Gould would ride the short-track cross-country race, we cornered Luna Chix team mechanic, Chris Mathis (who lives down the California coast in San Luis Obispo), for a run-through of Gould's team-issued Alma.

Orbea manufactures the Alma using a monocoque carbon layup process and broad, flat-sided tube shaping. The result is a 1,200-gram (in the 18-inch size), boxy hardtail frame that includes more than one innovative element. The one that's gets the most attention though is the unusual shaping of the rear triangle. Where most bicycle designs call for a joint between the seat stay and chain stay, meeting at the dropout, Orbea adds a fourth angle to their one-piece rear-end. Dropout and replaceable derallier hanger are mounted with a collar around this angled tube rather than lugged into the frame. Mathis says "(the design) lets Orbea keep the bike carbon all the way back. They tell us this is the strongest way they can have it; so people don't rip this piece off or have the frame separate. It works really well for us."

Another standout on Gould's Alma were the wheels. Although Cyclingews tech writer James Huang says Julien Absalon has been running a disguised set of Mavic's 2007 Crossmax SLR's all season (in a recent Tech news article), the Luna Chix team just received their full production versions in Sonoma. "This is Mavic's new top-end racing wheel. Everyone's been noticing them because of these red hubs and the one red spoke," said Mathis, who's been with the Luna Chix for four seasons now. " They've taken an eighth of a pound off each wheel." How does he know? "We weighed the bike with the old wheels and again with these - with the same tire setup, and there's a quarter pound difference. "

Being sponsored by Maxxis, the Luna team has a lot of options when it comes to wrapping those pretty new wheels. "This being a course with a lot of pavement," Mathis said, "we narrowed it down to a couple of choices though. Georgia used (Maxxis Larsen) Oriflammes front and rear." And although the Oriflamme is not a UST tubeless tire, Mathis says he used Stans No Tubes sealant to convert them. "The stuff works great. They seal right up and it makes a light wheel setup."

Gould's Alma had a Fox F80 X front shock. Rather than a lockout, the X version of the F80 uses Fox's patented Terralogic technology; an inertia damping mechanism that locks the fork when the ground is smooth and opens it up when the terrain gets bumpy. "Terralogic has been around for the last three years," Mathis says, "and it's gotten better every year. The riders don't ever have to reach down and lock anything out. The girls really like using it now."

Mathis says that Gould's Alma build is essentially the same as for all her teammates. The 'Luna' build includes a full XTR Shimano drivetrain and braking sytstem, Sella Italia saddles and Syntace bar, stem and seat post. The variations from rider-to-rider are minimal; Gould and Vanlandingham run different crank configurations, for example ("they're the exact same cranks - exact same gearing sizes - but to save a little weight on Shonny's bike, we took off the inner chainring," Mathis says.)

Although you can buy an Alma with full XTR, the Luna build is not one of Orbea's stock configurations. Mathis says that fact may change shortly though. "Orbea is working towards offering this exact spec; with the Fox, Shimano and Syntace. For now, you can order a bike however you want it so you could order one like this through a bike shop or through Orbea."

With the kind of results the Luna Chix have produced on their Alma's (Gould's national championship, Vanlandingham's cross-country NORBA series win, Katerina Nash's short-track NORBA series win and countless podiums and victories throughout the 2006 season), it might be worth doing just that.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Rocky Arroyo / www.arroyophotography.com

  • Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) won the 2006 U.S. women's national cross-country championship in Sonoma, California on her Alma

Images by Steve Medcroft/Cyclingnews.com

  • Georgia Gould's Orbea Alma
  • Shimano XTR's Hollowtech 2 crankset
  • Orbeo mounts the rear dropout and replaceable derailleur hanger with a collar versus the tube-lugged design of manufacturers. The design allows them to keep the integrity of the carbon processing of the rear triangle in tact
  • Mavic dresses their 2007 Crossmax SLR with red hubs
  • Gould runs Vetta's simple 100HR monitor. It can display temperature, speed, distance and time
  • Syntace sponsors the U.S. national champion with seat post, stem and handlebar.
  • Orbea uses monocoque layup process to build the Alma hardtail
  • A second look at the front end of the carbon Alma
  • A beefy but narrow profile at the bottom bracket allows Gould to run Shimano's 2006 bottom bracket with outboard bearings
  • Seamless carbon layup through the junction of the seat tube, down tube and chainstays
  • The Orbea term 4Point Triangle Concept on Gould's frame refers to a single-piece Alma rear triangle design. In it, the rear derailleur hanger is clamped to a fourth angle on the triangle (linking the chain and seat stays) rather than by breaking the tubing to insert a c&c machined hanger and wheel mount
  • Sella Italia's ProLink saddle
  • Shimano XTR Dual Control lever
  • Fox F80 fork holding a 2007 Crossmax SLR wheel in place
  • For the dry, fast Sonoma cross-country course, Gould chose Maxxis' grippy semi-slick; Larsen Oriflamme
  • The fast-rolling pattern of the Maxxis Larsen Oriflamme proved the right choice
  • Shimano XTR hydraulics'
  • A second set of clean lines at the Seat tube, head tube, seat stay junction
  • Syntace P6 carbon seat post

Full specification

Frame: Orbea Alma, carbon monocoque (1200g frame weight)
Fork: Fox F80 X, Terralogic technology

Stem: Syntace F99
Syntace Vector Lowrider
Headset: Aheadset Integrated
Shimano XTR hydraulic disc
Rotors: Shimano XTR
Brake Levers: Shimano XTR Dual Control Lever

Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR
Front Derailleur: Shimano XTR


Crankset: Shimano XTR Hollowtech 2
Chainrings: Shimano XTR 44/32/22
Chain: Shimano XTR 9-Speed Chain
Cassette: Shimano XTR 11-32

Tires: Maxxis Larsen Oriflamme
Hubs: Crossmax SLR
Rims: Crossmax SLR
Spokes: Crossmax SLR
Bottom Bracket: Shimano XTR outboard bearings

Saddle: Selle Italia Prolink
Seat Post: Syntace P6