Orbea was established in 1840 as a family-run company making revolvers, shotguns and cartridges. With the outbreak of World War I, the company grew quickly. When the war ended, the firm changed business, focusing on the manufacture of precision mechanical products: prams, school desks and, finally, bicycles. Production soon reached as many as 50,000 a year.
A few years later, an economic crisis brought Orbea to the brink of bankruptcy. This would have meant doing away with the firm and with the jobs of 1,500 families. Showing once again that they weren’t ready to give up, the workers talked the owner into transferring the business to them. The company became a cooperative, joining the Mondragon Cooperative Group in 1971. This way, they managed to keep their jobs and a brand with an already long history.
In 1975, the company moved its headquarters to the current location in Mallabia. At the new facilities, Orbea put in motion the idea of having a professional elite cycling team whose future members would include Perico Delgado – winner of the Vuelta a España 1985 – and Marino Lejarreta. Although Orbea has always been associated with racing, it was only in 1982 that we became a sponsor of a professional road cycling team.
Later, with the emergence of mountain biking, Orbea launched an initiative that would change the brand and the industry for good – the first Orbea MTB team, led by Jokin Mujika, who won the Spanish Cyclo-Cross Championships in 1994.
With time, Orbea embarked on the process of internationalization, going beyond exclusive sales in Spain, first with exports to France and then with branches in the USA, France, Italy, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Australia and Portugal. The global strategy was divided into three areas: products, markets and brand. At present, we operate in more than 65 countries, developing and supplying around 160,000 bicycles, thousands of units of helmets and cycling wear, and planning trips and events.
Since the making of its first bike, Orbea has managed to adapt to changing conditions, offering quality products with innovative designs and materials.