First published 3rd December 2017
The new Orro Terra C 105 Hydro is a stable carbon bike that's quick on the road, with the strength and confident handling required for heading on to gravel and other hard-packed trails with the appropriate tyres. Mudguard and rack mounts make this a versatile option that can cope with everything from commuting to adventure biking.
- Pros: Excellent handling, stable, versatile
- Cons: Not 650B compatible, tyres aren't tubeless compatible
The Terra C is available in four different flavours, the other three being the snappily titled Terra C 105 with TRP Cable Disc Brakes (£1,799.99), which has a Shimano 105 groupset and TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes, the Terra C Ultegra (£2,499.99), with a Shimano Ultegra groupset, and the Terra C Adventure (£2,099.99) with a Shimano 105 groupset and, it won't surprise you to learn, adventure-focused features such as an FSA Omega Adventure chainset (with 48-tooth and 32-tooth chainrings), an FSA Adventure compact bar, Fulcrum R700 DB wheels and semi-slick 38mm-wide Hutchinson Overide tyres.
The Terra C 105 Hydro that we have here is the same price as the Adventure model (£2,099.99) and it, too, is built up with a Shimano 105 groupset and Fulcrum R700 DB wheels. This time, though, you get a compact chainset (with 50-tooth and 34-tooth chainrings) and an 11-28t cassette (rather than 11-32), a Deda Zero 1 handlebar with a round drop, and smooth Continental Grand Sport Race tyres in a 32mm width.
That's a lot of detail to hit you with early on but I thought I'd better let you know exactly what type of bike we're talking about. Orro has certainly retained plenty of road-friendly features while making something that's also capable of tackling bridleways, tracks and trails.
Orro first added Terra gravel/go anywhere bikes to its range three years ago, the initial models being alloy (these are still available). The new Terra C is very different. For a start, it's carbon fibre with a layup that includes Innegra.
'Innegra is a high modulus polypropylene fibre that can be used independently or in conjunction with other fibres to provide weight reduction, excellent levels of impact resistance and damage tolerance,' says Sigmatex. 'Innegra also has a very low density and is hydrophobic meaning it is an excellent choice for the leisure market.'
That's the official line. The Terra C uses Innegra shielding under the bottom bracket and inside the chainstays and fork blades, the idea being to minimise the chance of failure caused by stones that ping up from the road or trail surface. The Innegra doesn't affect the character of the ride, it's just designed to add extra resistance to damage. It's the third layer so you wouldn't get to see it but for the fact that Orro has put a little window on the underside of the down tube, just to show you that it's actually in there.
I can't really take a ball peen hammer to a loaned bike to check the Innegra's effectiveness. The frame is still in perfect nick several weeks in, but I can't say any other review bike has ever failed on me either – touch wood – so I'm not sure that proves a lot.
The Terra C doesn't simply involve a change of materials, the geometry has been tweaked too, which is one of the reasons why this frame has been a long time in development, the Orro team racking up the miles mainly on the South Downs. All sizes have a 72mm bottom bracket drop and a slackened 71-degree head angle that has been combined with a 50mm fork rake, the idea being to maintain responsiveness in the steering.
Orro has also introduced frame-size-specific chainstay lengths to minimise the possibility of heel rub and balance the weight distribution of larger riders. I've been riding the large sized model with 422.5mm chainstays and a lengthy 1052mm wheelbase.
This bike has an effective top tube of 581mm, a seat tube of 545mm and a head tube of 192mm. The stack is 612mm and the reach is 397mm. If you're coming from a standard road bike that'll feel like an upright riding position (and bear in mind the generous crown to dropout distance of the Orro Gravel Lite fork) but it's not as upright as a similarly sized Specialized Diverge, for example.
If you want to hunker down on the drops you can get yourself into a riding position that'll have you bowling along efficiently on the tarmac. As mentioned, this version of the Terra C comes with a compact chainset and 32mm wide Continental Grand Sport Race tyres, and these allow you to crank out the road miles at a decent clip – you might well be surprised. Matched up to the 11-28t cassette, that chainset gives you a reasonably wide spread of gears for both getting up the hills and pressing on down the other side. For comparison, the Terra C Adventure I mentioned has a lower low gear (32x32 as opposed to 34x28) that'll help out on steep climbs, and also a lower high gear (48x11 as opposed to 50x11) so you'll spin out sooner on faster descents. Horses for courses.
The wide-ish tyres (compared to those of a standard road bike) allow you to run low pressures for plenty of comfort. The wheels are actually tubeless compatible so you could go with even lower pressures without the danger of pinch flats, but not with these tyres. They aren't tubeless, so you'd need to switch them if you wanted to go down this route.
The Conti tyres are quick and grippy on the road and they're good on stuff like hard-packed towpaths. I've also ridden them happily on some firm-surfaced gravel/chalk tracks near me although there are no knobbles to dig into anything soft – they're not designed for that – and you have to remember that the cushion of air between you and the ground isn't as large as you get with something like the 38mm Hutchinson Overide tyres specced on the Terra C Adventure.
Being the sort of idiot who always likes to push things too far, I didn't remember that and got a pinch flat when I hit a pothole while gunning it down a stony descent. I have to take responsibility for that. The rougher the roads you're riding, the more you'll want chunkier tyres. If I owned this bike, I'd have a couple of sets of wheels shod and ready to go, one pair fitted with road tyres and the other fitted with something wider with a more aggressive tread.
More comfort comes via the Prologo Kappa RS saddle. It has quite a rounded profile and a generous depth of padding, but I'd say it's the amount of flex in the shell (which has a cutaway hole in the centre that isn't carried over into the upper) that makes the biggest contribution to the feel here. I'd have preferred more depth to the handlebar tape to make the front end feel equally smooth. When things got bumpy I found myself perfectly comfortable in the saddle, but more shaken up in the hands and forearms.
One of the most noticeable characteristics of the Orro Terra C 5800 Hydro is its stability, and that's apparent whether you're tackling uneven roads or negotiating busy traffic. I've been riding it a lot in both environments – for blasts out in the sticks and for commuting to the office – and it has a settled, confident feel with enough agility to handle more technical situations.
Speaking of control, Shimano's RS505 hydraulic disc brakes provide loads whatever the conditions. Acting on 160mm rotors, they're powerful and offer plenty of modulation well before the point that you lock up.
The dual control levers might not be pretty (arguably; I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder) but they work well.
If you want to fit mudguards, you get neatly positioned eyelets for the job front and rear, the top one at the rear positioned on the underside of the brake bridge (if we're still calling it that, what with the brake being positioned miles away), and you also get rack mounts at the back which will come in handy if you want to use a pannier for carrying your work stuff or fancy a night away somewhere.
You have enough clearance for 37mm-wide tyres with mudguards fitted or 42mm without. Unlike some bikes of this type, the Terra C isn't designed for 650B sized wheels and fatter tyres, Orro feeling that 700C is better suited to the brand's roadie background and the idea that this is a bike to push on with.
The Orro offers lots for the money, especially if you think the Innegra technology sounds like a valuable asset for the riding you do. The Genesis Datum 10 that we reviewed back in May was £200 cheaper but that bike comes with a totally different spec list, including a Shimano Tiagra groupset rather than 105. The steel Bombtrack Hook EXT we reviewed was a little more expensive at £2,200, but that's a weighty bike at 11.2kg and it's equipped with a SRAM Rival 1 groupset.
Both of those bikes are built up with quite a few in-house components whereas the only kit on the Orro that's not from a well-recognised brand is the aluminium seatpost. Oh, and the handlebar tape.
The fact that the Terra C can handle both town and country is one of its biggest strengths. Okay, there's no such thing as a bike that can do absolutely everything, but this is a bike that can do a lot of things well. If you like to mix it up – a bit of riding on the open road, a bit of track/trail, a bit of urban riding/commuting, maybe heading off for the weekend – this is a real contender. Some bikes that try to be versatile just end up being a bit of a compromise, but the Orro is adaptable, strong and stable, genuinely impressive across a range of different types of riding.
Versatile bike that provides stable, confident handling on both tarmac and tracks
road.cc test report
Make and model: Orro Terra C 105 Hydro
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: Terra C carbon frame with Innegra
Fork: Orro Gravel Lite
Groupset: Shimano 5800 105
Brakes: Shimano RS505 hydraulic
Wheelset: Fulcrum R700 DB
Chainset: Shimano 5800 50/34
Cassette: Shimano 5800 11-28
Bottom Bracket: Shimano BB86
Tyres: Continental Grand Sport Race 32C
Handlebars: Deda Zero 1
Stem: Deda Zero 1
Seatpost: Orro Super Lite
Saddle: Prologo Kappa RS
Bartape: Orro Max Grip
Tell us what the bike is for
Orro says, "Whether you're in the mood for trail or road, the Terra carbon fibre bike will provide you with a riding experience second to none. We have improved upon the old Terra with a beautiful, totally redesigned carbon fibre bike frame. Incorporating Innegra impact protection and brand new UK adventure geometry, the Terra C 5800 Hydro carbon road bike removes the distinction between road and trail with fantastic ease making this the perfect city bike should you wish."
It lists these features:
* Lightweight carbon frame
* New UK adventure geometry
* Uncompromised road handling
* Innegra impact protection
* 42mm tyre clearance
* Tubeless compatible wheels
* Thru axle front and rear
* Full mudguard and rear rack mounts
* BB86 bottom bracket
* Di2 and ETAP compatible
* Removable front derailleur mount
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's a high quality frame with very good attention to detail and a neat finish. It's available in three different finishes: orange and black on black, as well as the khaki we have here.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The Terra C is unique in featuring what Orro calls Innegra Impact Protection.
Orro told us, "Working with composites specialists Sigmatex, we pinpointed the need for frame protection to cater for the kind of riding the Terra C would be subjected to, and as an industry first, Sigmatex Innegra fabrics have been used in the manufacture of the frame.
"Sigmatex Innegra is a tough, flexible fibre with great endurance. Its properties make it naturally good at vibration damping and give it great impact resistance. The Terra C has selective Innegra shielding in critical areas of the bike, namely under the BB and inside the chainstays and fork blades to ward off rock strikes and other impacts. In the event of impact, Innegra minimises the chance of failure."
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
There is a 72mm bottom bracket drop and 71-degree head angle across all sizes. This is combined with a 50mm fork rake.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
You get a more upright riding position than with a standard road bike – not surprisingly – but it's not as upright as a Specialized Diverge, for example.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The 32mm-wide tyres provide the opportunity for a good level of comfort (depending on the pressure you put in there) and the saddle is quite deeply padded with a lot of flex in the shell.
I'd have preferred more deeply padded handlebar tape for a bike of this kind, but that's easily sorted. I'd be inclined to simply add another lot over the top.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
I didn't notice much flex anywhere.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It felt efficient, yes.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so
None. Miles off.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively It's a stable-feeling bike that's not easily knocked off line by bumps and holes.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
You get a feeling of stability and control on this bike. It holds its line well across bumpy surfaces.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
You can fit tyres all the way up to 40mm wide if you like, depending on the riding you're doing.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Nothing felt particularly flexy.
That's not what this bike is about, really.
It's reliable Shimano 105.
Wheels and tyres
The wheels are tubeless compatible.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so
No complaints at all. I'd use two sets of wheels with this bike, one set fitted with skinny road tyres and one set fitted with wider, more knobbly tyres for bumpier surfaces.
The grip is more than acceptable.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so
These are good mid-range tyres for all-purpose road use.
The hoods are long and you get plenty of space for your hands. There's quite a prominent bulge on the inside surface where the hydraulic hose exits which I know some people find less comfortable than normal.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
You can adjust the reach.
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 overall score
The Terra C performs very well for several different types of riding and it's particularly appealing if you like to mix it up on both roads and tracks (not many of us can ride gravel, bridleways or towpaths right from the front door, after all). It has loads of versatility – especially with eyelets for fitting mudguards and a rack – and this adds to its value. You could argue that this bike should get an 8 overall but I think the quality of the frame and the value push it up to a 9.
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 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight 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.