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Bike Check: Martin Maes' Orbea Rallon

Jun 11, 2024 at 9:57
by Nick Bentley  



Martin Maes is a name synonymous with enduro, and his bike epitomizes what people expect from the discipline. The Orbea Rallon is a big-hitting bike with 167mm of rear travel and a 170mm fork, and is the kind of bike that has defined the enduro segment for many brands. Recently, Martin's bike has undergone some changes due to his return to downhill racing, leading to a higher cockpit and a few other tweaks. Despite these changes, all the usual enduro features are still present. Quick links are stashed on the bike, and tools are fitted for race time, along with a tube and a CO2 cartridge. Additionally, Martin carries a small battery-powered compressor for flats, which normally fits at the bottom of the seat tube behind his water bottle.

Martin is pretty relaxed about bike setup. He can ride most things, and his setup reflects that. It’s a very neutral configuration, allowing Martin to have big days in the saddle while still having the energy to charge on the descents.

2024 Orbea Enduro Team Team Camp Finale Ligure Italia
Martin Maes // Orbea Fox Enduro Team
Age: 27
Hometown: Liège, Belgium
Height: 6ft 0.5in / 182cm
Weight: 158.7lb / 72Kg
Instagram: @martin_maes5

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Orbea Rallon
Frame: Orbea Rallon
Shock: Fox DHX2
Fork: Fox 38 Factory
Dropper Post: Fox Factory Transfer
Wheels: Oquo prototype rims, 350 DT Swiss hubs
Tires: Maxxis DHRII, Maxxis Short-Spike
Drivetrain: Shimano XTR
Brakes: Shimano XTR
Stem: OC Mountain Control
Handlebar: OC Mountain Control Carbon
Size: Medium

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Martin's Rallon is running the mullet linkage setup to allow Martin to run a 27.5" rear wheel. This keeps all the geometry right where it needs to be despite the wheel change.

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It's a tight squeeze for the full water bottle on Martin's bike, with the shock piggyback just rubbing against his Red Bull water bottle. Under the bottle is a storage compartment where he keeps his tools, tube, and CO2 inflator. This is also a good angle to see the Fox Factory Transfer dropper post, which I believe is a 210mm drop, but the team did not say.

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Martin is running a coil shock on his Rallon, interestingly without a climb switch. The coil he is using is 475 lb, which the team at Fox has tested on their dyno to ensure it is running true to 475 lb.

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Martin's compression settings on his shock are high-speed compression set to 3 clicks and low-speed compression set to 10 clicks. On the rebound side, he has the high-speed rebound set to 3 clicks and the low-speed rebound set to 10 clicks. The team did not specify where the clicks start, but I am assuming these are counted from all the way to the negative on each adjuster.

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On the front of Martin's bike is a Fox Factory 38 in the new anniversary gold color for their 50th anniversary. Martin's 38s are set to 170mm of travel and have 95.5 psi in the fork with one token in the air chamber.

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When it comes to compression, Martin has the low-speed compression set at 12 clicks and the high-speed compression at 3 clicks. The high-speed rebound is set at 2 clicks, and the low-speed rebound is at 8 clicks. This isn’t something he messes with too much, maybe a click here or there, but once he gets a setup, he sticks to it.

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Martin's rims are from Orbea, but they lack markings, and the team didn't elaborate on that. What I can tell you is that he is running DT Swiss 350 hubs on the front and back, and he has set up the bike in a mullet configuration.

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He uses a 27.5 by 2.4" downhill casing Maxxis DHRII on the back with 26 psi and no insert. As for the front tire, it’s unmarked, and no one would say what it is, but it’s safe to assume that this is the new Maxxis pattern that we have been seeing on a lot of DH bikes lately. It’s a 29" wheel that looks a touch wider than the 2.4" on the rear, running 21.75 psi with no insert and a DH casing.

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Martin is using Galfer's Shark rotors for his Shimano XTR brakes, and his setup is quite interesting. He has a unique but logical rotor configuration: a 180mm rotor on the front and a 203mm rotor on the rear, both from Galfer.

When I have spoken to teams about this in the past, they have mentioned that the front rotor benefits from more cooling due to the air hitting it directly, unlike the rear rotor, which is partially obstructed by the rider's leg and the frame. Consequently, a smaller front rotor can be used if the power of a larger one is not necessary. Although the Orbea team didn’t specify why Martin uses this configuration, I believe this is the reasoning behind it.

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Martine runs his brake leavers at a pretty normal angle and his bar roll is relatively neutral.
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More Shimano XTR here and the bigger 203mm Galfer rotor.

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An almost straight saddle

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Martin is full enduro with a set of hand guards keeping his hands safe from the trees and rocks.

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When it comes to handle bars there is a carbon set from Orbea's in house brand OC. They are the OC Mountain Control MC10 Carbon, Rise 35 and they are cut down to 770mm to the end of the grips.

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There is a big stack on Martin's bike due to his recent return to downhill racing. This left Martin feeling like the handlebars on his enduro bike were a bit low, so he has raised the stack height by 35mm to make him feel more comfortable on both bikes.

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Martin uses Renthal's push-on flanged grips. These protect Martin's hands from rubbing on the handguards fitted to his bike, and there is a wire locking them on using the groove Renthal provides in the middle of the grip.

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Martin's drivetrain is handled by Shimano's XTR groupset, complemented by a set of 170mm Raceface Next R cranks. He opts for these shorter cranks because he runs an Ochain. While Ochains have been a fixture in downhill for some time, they are gaining popularity in the enduro scene. Martin prefers his Ochain with 6 degrees of float, a setup he began using just this year. Despite being a recent addition, he's already experiencing the benefits it provides during races.

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Author Info:
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Member since Nov 28, 2019
300 articles

72 Comments
  • 27 0
 Loving these in depth checks. Smaller rotor on the front and only 1 token stand out to me on this setup.
  • 11 3
 I feel like running a bigger front rotor is a holdover from the days where brakes didn't stop as well as they do now. More braking surface and better heat dissipation makes total sense on the rear since you're using it more and harder.
  • 4 0
 @succulentsausage: Bigger front rotor is also mimicking the Moto world. But on the moto you have the engine slowing the rear wheel when you go off the gas, so the rear brake doesn't neet to be as big.

On MTB i'd always argue for at least equal rotor sizes front and back for heat dissipation. The rear brake can be a bit weaker though. For example by using harder wearing but less grabby brake pads.
  • 5 0
 @succulentsausage: but more weight on the front when going down hill no? Interesting indeed.
  • 25 0
 Running more tokens isn't the flex a lot of people think it is.
  • 1 0
 but he went defently higher on his pressure of what he used to be around 70psi. I know cause we are quite similar bodyshape and looked allways pretty close his settings.
  • 5 0
 Bigger rotor gives you a bit more stopping power. With a bigger rotor in the rear, I would likely skid / lock up the rear more often. I wonder what can be done to balance out the front / rear braking with this set up. Or perhaps Martin gets far behind the rear wheel when he hits the brakes.
  • 3 0
 @GTscoob: absolutely, even when I weighed over 200 lbs, the most I ever ran (by choice, not because of what came in my fork) was 1 token. I helped work on a size small Liv for as part of a bike fit the other day and it had 2 tokens in the fork, stock. This poor woman was only able to use 120mm of her 150mm fork and didn't know why. Took out a token and reduced the pressure a little, hope it changes her riding experience!
  • 1 0
 @GTscoob: Yea but he's probably running 20 psi over the recommended....dare I say this is more of a RS philosophy of letting the air spring do the work not the damper. Just interesting...feels like FOX Grip2 really relied on volume reducers to maintain that nice feeling off teh top but provide enough end stroke support. Perhaps X2 finally fixes this issue and makes its less of a compromise.
  • 4 1
 Run >2 tokens and tell me you can get through full travel on a >160mm fork.
It's not possible.
Plus, if you are running more than 2, you'd be much better off with a custome damper tune
  • 2 0
 @succulentsausage: except you're not. Simple physics confirmed by measurements and modelling show time and again that when braking hard, especially with a two-wheeled vehicle like a bike, most power comes from the front. This is even more so when descending. Apply the same power to the rear as the maximum to the front, and the rear will lock up. Equal rotor size will require the rider to put even less pressure on the rear to prevent skidding. It might help against overheating from dragging the rear brake too much though.
  • 3 0
 @Ttimer: it's not just moto, it's in cars too. Even front wheel drive cars and cars with cvt transmissions will use larger rotors on the front wheels than on the back. It's a matter of grip and weight distribution, brakes that are forwards of the center of mass are less likely lock up than ones behind the center of mass.
  • 2 0
 @Ttimer: Also from a power standpoint, the mullet setup means you need a bigger rotor in the front for parity.

I guess that kinda shows that it's all about heat dissipation rather than power at this point.
  • 2 0
 Ever tried riding downhill using only one single brake? That is on a trail, not the road. Give it a shot, you might be surprised at which brake is the most useful/safer one.

Bent a rear rotor a couple years back. Removed it, and tried to go back down to the car with only the front brake. I quickly switched the front rotor to the back. Front wheel was constantly locking and sliding, granted that was in Spain: quite dusty and lose terrain.
Point is: rear rotor is the one controlling your speed, and is much more used than the front one, in mtb application.
  • 1 0
 @Minikeum: it's used more, but with less power. Therefore, unless dragging the brakes and causing them to overheat, you can run a smaller rotor.
  • 1 0
 @eae903: Cars a a different game entirely. Mtb’s need brakes to control speed. Cars usually don’t need brakes for that, air drag does most of the work. Cars need brakes to stop from high speed while having tons of traction and stability. Trying to use the brakes on a bike like those on a car would quickly end in a crash.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: Im not sure if there is a language barrier, but that sounds unhinged. Sure, cars aren't solely reliant on their brakes to control their speed, with the increased drag (depending on the car) and especially the engine and transmission being there to help control it, but they still need brakes to control their speed.
  • 19 0
 „ Martin's drivetrain is handled by Shimano's XTR groupset, complemented by a set of 170mm Raceface Next R cranks.“

clearly in the pics he‘s using era cranks, not next R‘s. Smile
  • 17 0
 "The team did not specify where the clicks start, but I am assuming these are counted from all the way to the negative on each adjuster." I admit this just confused me. The universal rule is that clicks are counted from fully closed. I don't know what "all the way to the negative" means.
  • 7 0
 that was indeed very unspecific and rather confusing
  • 1 0
 And for all the nubs out there (me), "closed" means ??? relative to what Fox prints on their products? Does all the way towards "Slow" = "closed" and all the way towards "Firm" = "closed?" If the universal rule is to state "from closed," why don't the suspension companies print "Closed" and "Open" on their product rather than "Slow" or turtle?
  • 1 0
 @zwa2: "from closed" means from fully turned inwards - so as much damping as possible
  • 1 0
 @zwa2: In my opinion, closed/open makes sense once you understand what the dampers actually do. They are either open to oil flowing more freely through the circuit or more closed which reduces the flow of oil. For compression damping, closing the damper or turning it clockwise, makes things stiffer. Doing the same for a rebound adjuster slows the speed of the suspension in its return after a compression.
  • 10 1
 Awesome write up, thank you PB. I love a bit of nerding out over stuff.
  • 1 1
 Agreed. I'd take even more...how far in are the brakes from the grips. Bar height, lever angle, etc. lol
  • 3 0
 "The team did not specify where the clicks start, but I am assuming these are counted from all the way to the negative on each adjuster."

Fox always specifies to count clicks from closed, so that would be from "positive". And since they're specifically measuring his springs to make sure he gets an accurate one (side note: how inaccurate are Fox's springs that they feel this need?), I highly doubt they'd let "the team" get away with counting clicks the wrong way.
  • 3 2
 almost all the clicks closed for enduro makes no sense...
  • 4 1
 @PauRexs: that's a nonsense statement. What makes sense is what the rider likes and what makes them go fast and feel good. Next you're gonna tell us that only one token makes no sense "for enduro", or some other bullshit.
  • 1 1
 @justinfoil: I mean you should be riding high speed bike park all time for wanting these settings...
  • 1 0
 @PauRexs: Maybe that's how he rides enduro. Certainly is high speed.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: I think now is Murray rides it pretty close everything... so yeah might be wrong...
  • 3 0
 Wonder why we have been seeing a lot of the pros in the ews and DH circuit opting for the non SLS spring. Any insight there? I know the weight savings is quite negligible for world cups but almost all riders were using SLS springs a few years ago, and it would seem the weight savings would benefit the enduro riders.
  • 3 0
 I'd bet it is due to inconsistency in spring rate of the SLS springs. They tend to be quite far from the declared value and vary significantly from one to the other. Consistency is key for racing.
  • 3 1
 I love how some tech people argue that PK does not exists yet many DH and Enduro racers use Ochain. I know there is a theory that it only dampens chain, but don't believe any pro would use it just because of that, it is a maintenance pain in the ass, you need t service it regularly as it is so-so sealed.
  • 17 1
 There have also been times when pseudo-piezoelectric stickers were all over pro bikes, copper and magnetic bracelets were popular to "balance the body's electric field" or "draw out toxins", and riders were covering themselves in colourful strips of tape.

These fads don't disprove the effectiveness of the Ochain, but perhaps indicate pros are desperate for any possible advantage and are willing to try almost anything that purports to offer such.
  • 7 0
 @R-M-R: o-chain = this year's snake oil
  • 1 0
 Glad it's not just me who's constantly having to service the Ochain. 4 days in the wet and the paper gasket is already swollen and poking out the sides. Previous service kit also barely lasted a few weeks. Getting bored of it.
  • 1 0
 So my take on it is that it definitely works and in fact anyone can just remove the chain and make a chainless ride and see if it works or not. The difference is not striking but it's clearly noticeable from the first 10 meters on a proper track. I would love someone measure it, cause for now all we have is a theoretical model that says it should not work, but models are just models, they simplify things and they are nothing without a measured experiment.
But the maintainance of this sh*t is a nightmare. I have never tried a HP bike and I geniously wonder if it's a better or worse solution. Neko did this experiment and decided on low pivot + ochain but he's a DH racer.
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: just replace 1 of the cogs in your cassette for a freehub spacer, then you have a 'neutral' gear that the chain can slip over. It's easy to do and free. Same effect as Ochain, which zero
  • 7 2
 21.75 psi? What gauge are they using that is accurate and repeatable to 1/4th of a psi?
  • 2 0
 Quite a few digital pressure gauges do. I have an SKS Airchecker and it reads to within 0.1 PSI.
  • 4 1
 @koncretekahuna: reads to 0.1, but is that what it's actually measuring, or just how the display is arranged? And is it truly repeatable?
  • 5 0
 Given psi will change .5 psi over 300m vert...it seems kinda silly
  • 6 0
 it's converted from Bar which would be 1.5 bar, hence the "exact" value in PSI
  • 1 1
 they're taking the piss clearly
  • 3 2
 i know we go on and on about kinked top tubes but if you look at the top tube as including the brace to the seat tube (rather than the kinked part) and then you look at the kinked bit as being a brace going to the top of the seat tube, i think it makes it look better
  • 3 0
 First bike I’ve seen with gold lowers that really look good with the frame. I’d bet the raw alloy frame spire would be great too.
  • 3 2
 You'll want to be careful running a larger rotor on a smaller wheel, since that increases the surface speed of pads against rotor a lot. If the rear brake is dragged at all, it's going to be easier to glaze even if the big rotor is sucking heat out, since the rotor is going to be going by the pads quite fast. I recall reading something in the past about Maes working hard on not dragging brakes, so he probably is less worried that the average rider, but still something to think about when you get tired after a long day of racing.
  • 1 0
 I really like having an insert in the rear tire, it loses some compliance sure but I also feel like it corners better on hardpack, and gives a little peace of mind in the rough stuff while running lower pressures, I'm surprised so many racers have abandoned them, if for no other reason than a flat without an insert will drastically ruin their day. I have cushcore with a heavy casing installed and flatted recently in the bike park and riding down the mountain on it was not too bad honestly, I cruised along without issues. Had I been racing and not paying for the rim, I think I could have ridden pretty hard and not had a major failure.
  • 11 7
 Another pro sizing down because bikes have become too long.
  • 8 1
 EWS tracks have some pretty tight corners that are difficult to navigate on a properly large rig. A pro will be faster here on a smaller frame. Then again, an average Joe will benefit more from the increased stability.
  • 2 0
 He used to ride around 47-48cm reach... now the L being 48,5 he prefers to down size to 46cm (being 3cm away for what orbea recommends for maximum tall ) Also with higher stack he is even downsizing more... strange he doesn´t use adjustable headset to reduce reach on the L.. he has really long torso too so could ride it with no problem...
  • 2 1
 It's because it's more agile this way
  • 3 0
 @miuan: bikes are stable enough, the average Joe won't get up to those speeds that require a longer wheelbase
  • 2 0
 @miuan: that makes no sense at all. bikes that are too long for pros are also too long for amateurs.
  • 1 1
 @jwdenver: except pros know exactly what they're looking for feel wise and amateurs are still searching
  • 2 0
 Two things:
1. Can an mtb still work with the bottle rubbing against the shock like that?
2. Is a higher rise bar becoming more trendy now?
  • 2 0
 1. No effect, other than damaging the finish of the shock and, maybe eventually, structurally damaging the shock body. 2. Yep. Even if a bar doesn't have more rise, large front wheels and more travel have raised the hand position in relation to the BB height, which has remained nearly constant for well over a decade.
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: By structural damage do you mean bcos the cosmetics have come off already? If there will be structural damage, then can we still say it’s ok to have the water bottle rubbing against the shock?
  • 2 0
 @wslee: The bottle could wear through the shock body eventually, but it's going to take a while and can be monitored.

It seems possible to avoid the situation with a spacer under the rearward bottle mount to tilt the bottle downward, or source a cage that positions the bottle rearward, such as the Elite Ciussi Side Access with the plastic lower stop removed.
  • 3 0
 6 feet 0.5 inches tall would actually be 184cm, so one of those height measurements is incorrect.
  • 3 0
 Releaved to see that like me, Martin has 0,1millimeter of clearance between his water bottle and his piggyback Smile
  • 1 0
 the rotor setup is logical and nothing new. most moto GP motorcycles have 2 big rotors at the backwheel (mostly 330mm diameter) and only one tiny rotor at the fron wheel, 250mm. Same with motocross...
/s
  • 2 2
 Is the DHX2 still bending and breaking like in other similar yoke/strut-mount suspension designs (specialize, commencal)? Or has Fox and orbea already improved the shock and frame suspension?
  • 1 1
 some reason that shocks shaft looks pretty beefy.
  • 2 0
 That shock has a climb switch.
  • 1 0
 I would pay real money to have them specify if clicks were counted from closed or open.
  • 3 4
 Spelling of Martin turned into Martine above the rear disc photo. Which is ironic considering he has the balls to need less front brake
  • 1 1
 Thanks Romain for this "brillant" intervention. Come back when you want.
  • 1 0
 Martin's listed heights in imperial and metric do not seem to correspond
  • 1 0
 How about a bike check on the Wild ? With and without the motor/battery.
  • 1 0
 damn that stem area looks as ugly as it gets, sick bike otherwise!







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