Since I’m in the market for a midrange carbon fiber frame, I’ve done some extensive research on these two frames. I qualify both of these frames midrange since they aren’t as pricey as the Time RXR Ulteam, De Rosa King 3, Colnago EPS, Pinarello Prince, Wilier Cento Uno (and Wilier Cento Uno SL) and the Look 595. Let’s not talk about the Pinarello Dogma. It’s even more expensive than that Prince and prices have not yet been announced. It’s 860gr, and that’s 40 gr lighter than the Prince, yet it’s 23% stiffer.
To be fair, the frames that I just mentioned apart from Kom and Orca, cost at least twice as much as those two. Those frames retail between $4,000-6,000 and that’s well above how much I can spend on a bike, let alone a carbon fiber frame. If I were in the market for one of those, I’d choose either the Time or the Pinarello, though I’d be sorely tempted by the Colnago. It’s true that the Colnago, Time and Look are all lugged frames. I didn’t know much about lugged carbon fiber frames. I researched them and found that there are more geometries available thanks to the lugs. There is an adage that says that if a lugged frame breaks, you can easily replace the tube. Whereas if a monocoque frame breaks, you’re screwed. What do lugs mean? It means that the frame is assembled kind of like a steel frame. Pieces of carbon fiber cylinders are joined with carbon fiber lugs at the ends. To me, it seems antithetical since I’d equated carbon fiber frames with carbon fiber monocoques, and yet it’s been proven that these frames work and work well. Pinarello and DeRosa use monocoque frames as do Wilier. Colnago makes both. Just a quick note here, it’s very subjective, but I really find the DeRosa King 3 ugly as sin. I wouldn’t buy that just because of the look. That being said, the Kom isn’t a fancy looking bike either. It’s kind of an under-the-radar type bike. Still the available colors are a bit on the ugly side. The Kredo Ultra looks a lot better.
Back to the Kom and Orca. I didn’t know much about these frames. Let’s start with the Kom, which has only been on the market for a few years. It weighs about 850g and is supposed to be great for climbing and descending. However, it doesn’t have an ISP (integrated seat post). Some riders like them other hate them. I honestly don’t know since I have never ridden an ISP bike. There are some obvious benefits to having an ISP. They are able to transmit power directly to your pedal strokes. There are also weight saving issues resolved by an ISP. However, Kuota feels that the Kom can be a lot lighter without an ISP.
The Kom doesn’t haven an ISP nor does it have internal cable routing. The main reason why the cabling is external is because of structural integrity. The designers didn’t want to puncture the frame for cabling, therefore compromising its strength. Some of the tubing is very thin at certain points, making it vulnerable to cracks and breaks. I’ve read that if the chain strikes the frame can actually form a crack. That’s the most concerning thing that I’ve read. It doesn’t matter how good a frame is if it cracks after a few months.
Then again, I’ve read tons of reports of people riding their Koms hard and never having a problem. Koms are being used on the Tour de France this year by Agritubel.
There are some great reviews of the Orbea Orca, but it’s apparently heavy for what it is. I’ve seen it compared to a trashy European Giant. That being said, if I’d have the choice between the Kom and the Orca, I’d go for the Kom, especially when it comes down to handling and comfort. Even though these bikes are all very stiff, I expect to be on my bike for hours on end.
Honestly, I’ve concentrated on checking out the Kom thoroughly, as the price is good and cheap, which is always good. If that didn’t pan out and I’d have to go with a new frame, I’d go for the Wilier.