We first saw
WORDS & DETAIL PHOTOS: Matt Wragg
ACTION PHOTOS: Simon Nieborak
Orbea's all-new Rallon back in October last year, where it was unveiled to us in the days following the last round of the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure. Our first runs on the bike were on the very stages that, just a few days before, the world's fastest enduro racers had been competing on. From the first ride on, the bike we were seriously impressed by it, so much so that we convinced Orbea to let us take the bike away with us and put some proper time and miles in on it. Was it just a holiday romance or have Orbea really created an absolute monster of a bicycle?
In case you missed our first look article, the 2014 Rallon is re-designed from the ground up to be a 160mm-travel, BOS Suspension-equipped out and out enduro race bike with 27.5" wheels. That's not to say Orbea don't want you to enjoy the bike away from the race track, but it is designed to excel at the style of riding typified by enduro racing. By this, we mean the kind of rides where you reach the top at a comfortable pace, then tear the hell out of the descents. If you're looking for a nimble mountain goat to smash technical climbs or a rolling sofa to trundle around flat, uninspiring "flow" trails, it's probably best if you stop reading now.
• Purpose: Trail/All-mountain/Enduro
• Frame: Aluminum, Single-pivot swingarm suspension with concentric rear dropout pivot, 160mm travel
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Shock: BOS Kirk
• Fork: BOS Deville, 160mm travel
• Two-position suspension adjustment
• Shimano XTR 2 x 10 drivetrain
• Sizes: Small, medium, large, X-large
• Weight: 30.29 lbs
• MSRP: Rallon X Team $6,999 USD
Orbea know how to produce top-end carbon bikes. Take a look at the eye-watering costs of their flagship road race bikes if you aren't entirely sure - those bikes are regularly ridden at the sharp end of the biggest races in road cycling. Yet for the Rallon, they made a conscious decision not to offer a carbon version of the bike. They explain that choosing a more affordable material for the frame (carbon can add up to a $1,000 premium to the price of a frame),
meant that they could offer the no-compromise BOS suspension at a more affordable price point. The Rallon's aluminium frame doesn't add much weight, with the complete bike tipping the scales at just over 30 pounds, and it is backed up by a lifetime warranty.
Orbea's approach to spec'ing bikes is also different. In Europe they let you customize your spec on the lower-priced model, with some set options (this isn't available in the US as things stand). If you upgrade it with the BOS suspension and a RockShox Reverb dropper post (the two biggest upgrades over the base spec that will deliver the most performance)
, the complete bike comes in at a little under $5,500 (£3,283.50). While this isn't pocket change, for a bike with top-drawer suspension and one of the best dropper posts money can buy, it does start to look like rather good value. For a full look at the construction and development of the bike, take a look at our first look at the Rallon from November 2013.Components
Our test bike was the $6,999.00 X-Team version. The headline for the spec is its BOS Suspension, with the Deville fork out front and a Kirk shock controlling the rear end. When considering the value of the bike, it's worth keeping in mind that those two units alone would set you back nearly $2,000 if you went out and bought them at retail prices and that their OE cost is likely much higher than any of the mass-produced mainstream options. While the suspension is the headline, the rest of the spec is no less worthy of your attention, particularly the carbon RaceFace SixC cranks and 760mm wide carbon handlebar, as they are light enough for trail riding, but strong enough to be warrantied for DH racing. A RockShox Reverb internally-routed dropper post is fixed to a plush Fizik Gobi saddle, and the cockpit is finished off with a Race Face Atlas 50mm stem (70mm on the large frame)
and RaceFace Strafe lock-on grips.
Mavic supply the wheels and tyres with their Crossmax wheel and tyre system - a setup proven on the Enduro World Series by Jerome Clementz, Anne-Caroline Chausson and Fabien Barel. Shimano's XTR provides the rest of the drivetrain, with a 2 by 10 setup that includes a bash on the cranks and a Shadow Plus clutch-type derailleur at the back. Stopping is courtesy of a pair of Formula T1 brakes.
|This isn't just a sweet handling 27.5" wheel bike, it's simply a sweet handling bike - period.|
We chose a race-style tune for the fork, using very little low-speed compression to keep the fork buttery in the first part of the travel and then we added a good bit of high-speed compression so the fork kept its height in the travel and we had a solid point in the stroke to work against when handling the bike. The suspension performance can only be described as flawless. This was highlighted on a section of a local trail where you launch into a rough, chattery rock garden. On other trail bikes there is a split second of kickback where the suspension tries to adapt from dealing with the initial hit from the drop, to smoothing out the rocks you just landed on. The BOS package was utterly smooth and composed. With most trailbikes, you can find the edge of its performance, the point where you run out of bike and are left to fend for yourself. In the time we had the Rallon, we never felt like we found the point where we felt we were on the limit for what is possible, something we rarely feel, apart from with the muscle of a full-on downhill bike.Climbing:
As we said at the outset, the Rallon is no mountain goat, it was never intended to be, but it isn't a pig by any means. On long fireroad drags, it is a comfortable place to be. The top tube length is nice and long, and the seat tube angle is spot on. With its climbing platform engaged, the Kirk shock does just enough to cut out the worst of the suspension bob as you make your way up. BOS tuned the so it has more low-speed compression to deal with the pedal forces, but leaves the high-speed compression virtually untouched to stop the ride from feeling too harsh. This makes the Rallon pleasant for doing steady miles to reach where the real fun starts. For technical singletrack climbing, it certainly isn't the sort of bike that begs you to attack sections. With the geometry as focused on conquering the descents, you find yourself having to work to keep the bike moving. You can lose traction quite easily on the back, so you have to plan ahead to balance the need to plant the rear tire with getting enough weight to the long front end. It was never problematic to the extent that we avoided climbing steep lines or trails, but it's fair to say that if we were going on an all-day epic, it wouldn't necessarily be the bike we'd reach for.Descending:
"Joyous" is about the most apt word for how it feels when you point the Rallon down a hill. As we noted when we first rode the bike, it is incredibly well-mannered. With the correct adjustment to the shock, anybody could jump on this bike and feel good. As easy as it may be to ride, if you let it go it is also a very, very fast bike. We were sightly unnerved by how easily you could find yourself going seriously quickly without feeling like you had done much to reach that speed, to the point where we started avoiding some of our local runs unless we had a full-face helmet and sturdy kneepads with us. A lot of this is attributable to the suspension package. BOS were very involved in designing this bike and insisted on some significant changes to the suspension layout to improve the front-to-rear feel. That has clearly paid off, because this bike is peerless in terms of balance in a downhill situation. Having both ends of the bike so well matched makes riding the bike much more intuitive - it is a big part of the reason why we felt so comfortable on it from the very first ride. The concentric dropout pivot configuration seems to offer the direct response of a single-pivot bike, coupled with braking performance of a four-bar linkage. Then there is the outright performance of the BOS fork and shock. The only products available to the public right now that they should be compared to are Cane Creek's Double Barrel and Ohlin's TTX shocks, and the fork in a league of its own.Geometry:
Of course, without the right geometry, the best suspension in the world would be useless, but Orbea have hit a home run there too. On our medium test bike, the 606mm effective toptube, 338mm bottom bracket (in the lower setting) and 66-degree head angle (this is roughly equivalent to a 65 degree head angle on a 26" bike) combine to create a very stable bike at high speeds. What is surprising though, is when you get to the tight stuff. Despite feeling so good flat out, it feels nimble and lithe when you are trying to be precise with the bike. This is, in no small measure, helped by the 420mm chainstays, which are shorter than most 26"-wheeled bikes and is then aided by the support from the BOS suspension. While the Rallon doesn't look as immediately wild as the bikes made by their Spanish neighbours at Mondraker, you shouldn't be fooled by the relatively conventional look of the bike - this is a pretty extreme bike - on the edges of how far you can go with trailbike geometry right now. It was a risk, for sure, but one that paid off. On the downs, there are few bikes we can think of that can match the Rallon for it's combination of stability and handling. It is also worth mentioning the 27.5" wheels too. Advantages, like being able to roll-over obstacles, added stability and carrying more speed all help to make the bike that little bit better. Those benefits, along with the geometry make this is one of the crispest handling bikes we have thrown a leg over. This isn't just a sweet handling 27.5" wheel bike, it's simply a sweet handling bike - period.Component ReportBOS Suspension:
Good - Simply incredible performance, sensitive in the start of the stroke, then ramping up when you need it and maintaining their ride height, no matter how hard you push the bike. BOS' input in the design of the bike make this one of the most balanced bikes, front-to-rear, out there. Bad - Out in the real world, BOS products seem to be a little fragile and in our time with the bike, we lost a compression adjuster on the fork and snapped the platform lever off the shock. We also hear reports that their service is still not consistent, which can be problematic because you cannot service it yourself. That said, if we're honest, we'd roll the dice and stick with BOS every time, as the performance is so damned good.Mavic Crossmax WTS wheels:
Good - A quick rolling wheelset and the UST system is peerless in terms of keeping the air inside your tubeless tyres. Bad - We are in no position to dispute the racing benefits of the lightweight rear wheel, however, running it out in the real world, it was not holding up well, with a dent, a loose spoke and a wobble appearing within two days of testing. We also found that the tyres dropped off a cliff in terms of the performance rather rapidly.Formula brakes:
Good - They look nice. Bad - On a bike at this price point, we would have preferred to see the XTR drivetrain expanded to include Shimano's XTR Trail brakes. A lot of brands have opted for spec'ing Formula brakes this year. For the most part, they work fine, but we have had more inconsistent sets than we find reassuring. The T1 brakes on our test bike were fine on short runs, providing plenty of power, if lacking some modulation, but they didn't cope well with heat buildup from long descents.Shimano 2 x 10 Drivetrain:
Good - We like the fact that the crank came with a bash and we cannot fault Shimano's XTR shifters and derailleurs. Bad - As a bike aimed at riders who are focused on smashing the descents, we were disappointed that it didn't have a one-by drivetrain. Orbea offers an XX1-equipped $8,799 X-LTD version, but we would like to see this bike with at least a 1 x 10 setup. Pinkbike's take:
|After a couple of months with the Rallon, we find ourselves liking it more and more. Maybe it isn't the bike for everyone, but it is definitely one of the few bikes that deserves to be described as a real enduro bike. It would suit the kind of rider who cares more about how fast they can go down the hills than up them, offering a fast package for the race track and bags of fun away from it.. There is no single aspect we can point to and say, "This is what makes it great." Rather, it's a complete package with the geometry, suspension and wheelsize that when combined together, make something truly special. Orbea's Rallon is definitely in contention for the title of the best 160mm bike that money can buy right now. This was no holiday romance, this is the real deal. - Matt Wragg|