The Orro Gold STC Disc Ultegra is a gran fondo bike that's as lively and responsive as most road race bikes, with hydraulic disc brakes and plenty of comfort thrown in.
The thing that has most surprised me about the Orro Gold STC is the level of frame stiffness on offer here when you start to push hard. You might expect it, as a gran fondo bike, to be a little more squidgy than an out-and-out race bike when you get out of the saddle, but that's not the case. Far from it. The oversized bottom bracket area (fitted with a Shimano chainset with a 24mm axle) held almost completely solid despite all of my best efforts to send it east and west on climbs and sprints.
The same is true of the rest of the frame. It's sometimes easy to get a tall-ish front end (more on the geometry in a mo) to flex, but the Orro Gold STC's head tube and fork resist unwanted movement. Haul on the bar and there's no mushiness at all, and the cornering precision is spot on.
I'd say that the Orro Gold STC Disc prioritises stability over flicky steering. Holding a line is very easy with minimal need for corrections, but send the bike through a fast, sweeping bend or ping it through tight, wiggling turns and it performs impressively too.
Orro puts the frame stiffness down to its spread tow carbon. What the hell is that when it's at home?
The Gold STC Disc is designed by Orro in the UK and it's made in Orro's own unique moulds. This isn't a generic open mould design with Orro's name stuck on the down tube. (We reviewed the Orro Gold Limited Edition road bike here on road.cc last year.)
This spread tow carbon technology comes from Sigmatex, a Runcorn-based carbon composite specialist that focuses mainly on the automotive industry.
'The sigmaST range of spread tow fabrics are very thin, are ultra lightweight, have near zero crimp and fewer interlacing points,' says Sigmatex. 'As well as being aesthetically pleasing, this technology has improved mechanical performance at a reduced thickness and cost when compared to standard 2D fabrics using 1K fibres.'
The carbon fibre is arranged in flat and wide tapes that are woven together. It's the spread tow that gives the bike's tubes the distinctive chessboard appearance, but the reason to use it is nothing to do with looks, it's to reduce weight and increase stiffness. We've reported in the past on frames from Cube and Felt that use spread tow carbon, but they're the exception rather than the rule.
Whether it's the spread tow-ness of the carbon that's responsible for the frame stiffness, I couldn't tell you for sure, but I can tell you that this is a bike that feels highly efficient when you turn up the intensity, a lot like a road race bike.
As I touched on up top, the Orro Gold STC Disc differs from a road race bike in its geometry. We have the large sized model in for test with a 580mm seat tube, a 574mm effective top tube, and a 198mm head tube. The seat tube is 72.9 degrees and the head tube is a fairly slack 71.7 degrees.
The stack (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 596mm and the reach (the horizontal distance between those two points) is 391mm.
That makes for a riding position that's relatively easy on your back but still performance orientated, if you know what I mean. I took the headset spacers out and positioned the stem almost as low as possible to get a position that felt right for me, but you can leave them in place for a more relaxed setup. You can't get a super-low position here but that's not what this bike is about. It's a gran fondo bike, not a road race machine, with a definite focus on comfort.
Speaking of comfort, the frame and the slim 27.2mm diameter 3T Stilo Pro Setback seatpost filter out road buzz well, aided and abetted by 25mm wide Continental Grand Prix tyres. This width has become the default option on road bikes over the past few years, and all Orro bikes having been designed around 25s since day one. I wouldn't say that you get an eiderdown level of plushness here, but you won't be troubled by vibration, and bumps and holes in the road won't jar your joints. The Orro Gold STC Disc is a comfortable ride.
The saddle is a Prologo Kappa Evo, which I also found really comfortable over both short and long distances. As we all know, what one person finds comfortable is another person's medieval torture device, but I found the slim nose and medium level of padding did the trick for me and it's my review!
You'll never guess what groupset you'll find on the Orro Gold STC Disc Ultegra. Oh, you did guess. Ultegra is Shimano's second tier road group and you get it across the board here – there's no sneaking in of a downgraded cassette or chain, for example. A lot of brands will do that, dropping the value just a touch.
The chainset is a 52/36-tooth option. What are we calling this these days? Semi-compact? Faux-pro? I really like this combination and it makes a lot of sense for a bike of this kind. Matched up to an 11-28 cassette, you get some very small gears to take the pain our of the climbs and some big gears for cranking it up down the other side. Other bikes of this kind might come with an 11-32 cassette to offer you even lower gears, but the Orro Gold Disc STC definitely leans in a performance direction and 11-28 feels about the right balance to me.
The complete bike weight is 8.5kg (18.7lb), which might not sound especially light, but remember that it's equipped with hydraulic disc brakes and that'll always add a bit. In use, the Orro Gold STC Disc climbs ably and responds beautifully when you ask it to via an increase in power. Like I keep saying, it behaves a lot like a race bike in many respects.
I just mentioned the hydraulic disc brakeset: Shimano RS805. Although this isn't technically part of the Ultegra groupset, it's Ultegra level and in a matching colour; Ultegra by another name.
The shifters are chunkier than Shimano's mechanical rim brake alternatives, so you get more of a handful when you're riding on the hoods, a bit like you used to with standard Ultegra levers a few years ago. You might prefer that, you might not. The biggest difference, though, is in the braking performance.
I won't go into all the pros and cons of disc brakes here – we've done that to death before and you probably already have an opinion – but if you're set on disc brakes, these put on a seductive show. It's not so much the power at your fingertips that impresses, it's the amount of feel you get through the stroke, allowing you to moderate your speed with absolute precision and there's never an excuse for locking up.
The other thing, of course, is that they perform pretty much the same whatever the weather. In a country like the UK where it can rain at any time in any season, that might well be valuable to you.
All of the other components are from brands that i-ride distributes, including the Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc wheels. These come with disc-specific rims that have a 24.5mm external width for the easier fitting of 25mm tyres. I've not had to do any tweaking to these wheels during testing and that's exactly what you want – no fuss.
Like the seatpost I mentioned earlier, the handlebar and stem are from 3T. The aluminium Ergonova Pro bar is compact with an egg-shaped upper section that's really comfortable, while the Arx II Pro stem is well made and stiff.
The Orro Gold STC Disc Ultegra is an excellent bike for gran fondos, sportives, and other fast sports rides. It's quick and responsive, essentially a race bike in a slightly more relaxed geometry, and as such it has tons of appeal. The frame is superbly stiff and the Ultegra groupset doesn't lag far behind top-level Dura-Ace in terms of performance. Throw in the superb consistency of Shimano's RS805 hydraulic disc brakes and this is an exceptional package.
An excellent gran fondo bike: quick and responsive with the assurance of hydraulic disc brakes
road.cc test report
Make and model: Orro Gold STC Disc Ultegra 11-speed
Size tested: Large
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Orro Gold STC Carbon
Fork: Orro Full Carbon STC Superlight 2.0
Groupset: Full Shimano Ultegra 11 Speed
Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc
Tyres: Continental Grand Prix 25c
Brakes: Shimano 805 Hydraulic Flatmount
Chainset: Shimano Ultegra 52-36
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-28
Handlebars: 3T Ergonova Pro
Stem: 3T Arx II Pro
Seatpost: 3T Stilo Pro Setback
Saddle: Prologo Kappa Evo
Pedals: Not supplied
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Orro always says that its bikes are designed in the UK for UK conditions.
The Gold STC Disc is designed to be a gran fondo bike. 'Gran fondo' can mean a range of different things in that some gran fondos are essentially races, some aren't, but it's essentially meant to be a fast bike with added comfort, especially thanks to a modified geometry.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's exceptional. The Gold STC Disc frame is finished in the UK – in Sussex, not far from Orro HQ – and it's built up here too.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The Orro Gold Disc STC frame is made from spread tow carbon from Sigmatex.
Orro says, "Carbon fibre revolutionised bike design, it opens up a huge amount of opportunities and has an exceptional strength to weight ratio. We have taken this another step forward by working with a leading global carbon specialist, we have developed the Orro exclusive STC carbon to create a bike that performs at the highest levels. Lighter, stiffer, with more comfort than previously believed possible.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
I've covered this in the main part of the review. The Orro Gold STC Disc has a more relaxed geometry than a standard race bike.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The front end is a little higher than on a road race bike, so the riding position is a bit more relaxed.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, it was comfortable, partly because of the geometry. On top of that, you get 25mm tyres, a slim seatpost, and a good saddle from Prologo.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It felt surprisingly stiff in both the BB and the head tube.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very efficient. This is probably the strongest aspect of this bike.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It offers a lot of stability. The steering isn't so instantly reactive as that of some road bikes out there. Cornering is excellent, though, thanks to the front end stiffness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I really liked the oval tops of the handlebar. The Prologo Kappa Evo saddle felt good too.
Wheels and tyres
The Fulcrum Racing 5 DBs aren't especially high end but they've put in a reliable performance.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
You can get bikes that look similar to this for less money, but the frame really is a bit special. Plus, you get a full Shimano Ultegra groupset with no downgrades, and all of the other components are high quality items from big name brands. There's nothing on this bike that doesn't deserve a place.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.