Lose the paint to go even lighter

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Unpainted carbon frames could become a new trend for premium mountain bike brands. (Photo: Orbea)
Unpainted carbon frames could become a new trend for premium mountain bike brands. (Photo: Orbea)
  • Colour might look nice, but it does add weight.
  • Carbon-fibre frames can look great without paint – but only if they are very well made.
  • Orbea is the latest cycling brand to offer customers the option of not having their carbon-fibre bikes painted. 


Mountain bike brands and their product planners mostly follow the annual product renewal strategy.

That means that even if there has been little or no change to a frame’s structure or features, it will have a new colourway, each year.

There is a peculiar tension between outlandish colourways and the desires of gram obsessed mountain bikers. Paint might not weigh much, but it doesn’t weigh nothing. Despite this, very few brands offer unpainted carbon-fibre mountain bikes.

In the most competitive sphere of cross-country racing, grams count, even if the effect is purely psychological. Some of the most advanced hardtail racing frames revealed last year, were well below the 1000g mark.

Some of the most expensive racing hardtail frames are around 800g or lower, which is equivalent to three small yogurts. Not much. But what if you wanted to go even lighter and have a thing for purist industrial design?

Carbon-fibre frames can look great without paint i
Carbon-fibre frames can look great without paint if they are very well made. (Photo: Orbea)

ALSO READ: Your cycling goals for 2021

Raw could be the new look

The solution is a raw frame. Unlike steel, carbon-fibre has very little corrosive risk. That means you can ride a raw carbon-fibre frame for a lifetime, in all weather and trail conditions, without issue, provided it has a clear coat finish. 

If an unpainted carbon-fibre frame is marginally lighter and looks great, why don’t we see more of them? The simple truth is that without a cosmetic layer of paint, it becomes very easy to notice poor carbon-fibre construction.

Not all carbon-fibre frames are made to the same standard, with some untidy joints and surfacing being conveniently hidden by a mountain bike’s colourway.

Those brands that manage to source the best quality carbon-fibre and fabricate it to a higher standard, are now starting to offer more raw frame options.

Orbea is the latest cycling brand to offer custome
Orbea is the latest cycling brand to offer customers the option of not having their carbon-fibre bikes painted. (Photo: Orbea)

ALSO READ: How the Shimano EP8 is changing mountain biking

The latest company to go unpainted

Spain’s Orbea has a rich history of skilled fabrication within the cycling industry. This certainly applies to the quality of its latest premium carbon-fibre models.

The brand has a broad product portfolio, ranging from exceptionally aero triathlon bikes to mountain bikes. Orbea has nothing to hide regarding the quality of its carbon-fibre designs and is now offering a raw frame finish on its elite mountain bikes.

The raw carbon-fibre frame option reduces weight by up to 100g and although might sound trivial to most, for dedicated mountain bike racers, it could be worth the marginal gain in lightness. 

Not only are these raw finish Orbea mountain bikes lighter, they also look splendid. The is offering the raw finish on its Alma, Oiz and Rise models. Customers can choose either a gloss or matte finish, showcasing the stunning carbon-fibre structures of their bikes.

Riding in direct sunlight the carbon-fibre shapes and textures have a myriad of reflective properties, making your raw frame Orbea look even more dynamic on the move. Or even when it is leaning against a car or fence, in the local trail’s parking area.

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