Hailing from the Basque Country, the Orbea Rallon is an alloy framed enduro race bike with, on paper at least, a promising spec list and geometry chart. Geometry-adjust features mean you can tweak the shape of the bike, depending on the terrain you're riding, while the suspension is a four-bar system.
Getting the low-down
The Rallon comes with eccentric shock-mounting hardware that enables you to drop the BB by 7mm and slacken the head and seat angle by .5 degrees. In use we kept the bike in this lowest setting, as this is more descent biased, while still giving a sensible 74.5 degree seat angle, aiding pedalling friendliness.
Swapping between the two modes isn’t a difficult task, but one we’d be unlikely to do on the trail. In an ideal world, in fact, we’d merge the two, keeping the slacker head angle and low BB, while maintaining a slightly steeper seat angle, which would keep your body over the cranks for better pedalling.
Adjustable geo means the head and seat angles can be slackened by half a degree and the BB lowered
While some bikes in this price range use more expensive carbon frames, Orbea has flashed the cash on the spec, which includes a carbon RaceFace Next SL crank (with a spin-happy 28t ring), Shimano XTR derailleur and XT shifters/cassette and brakes. When it comes to wheels, Orbea specs DT Swiss E-1700 models, mated to fast rolling Maxxis Ardent rear, High Roller front tyres. All this helps bring the top-spec Rallon to 13.45kg – a decent if not mega-light weight.
Staying with the high-end theme, Orbea has gone to BOS for the suspension, specifically the Deville FCV 160mm fork and Kirk V2 shock, with a specific Rallon tune. Up front the Deville fork was a popular choice with our testers – there’s lots of adjustment available, and the supple, responsive damping means the front wheel stays glued to the ground, unless you pop the front up. It’s certainly a fork that rewards a bit of time and effort put into setting it up – if you’re a plug and play type, you might miss out on the top end of its performance.
The rear end left us a little disappointed though. The setup feels a touch harsh off the top, leaving the bike skittery on smaller bumps. When something bigger is hit, the Rallon is very quick to blow through its travel, giving a trap door-like sensation.
BOS components are quality, but we had trouble coaxing the best out of the Kirk shock
As such, barrelling through rough terrain felt less controlled than on some of its peers, with the Rallon slapping around in an unrefined manner. That said, as with the fork, the Kirk shock definitely benefits from time playing around with settings to get the most out of it – in the past we’ve found the highly incremental adjustments available from the Kirk to be a source of frustration without many repeated runs to get it ‘just so’.
An overall package that falls a little short
In fairness to the Orbea though, it’s a sterling climber. The pivot point right above the chainring means it’s quite happy plugging away up climbs without much in the way of pedal bob – we rarely felt the need to flick the low-speed compression lever to firm.
We'd be tempted to switch to a slightly larger chainring
Orbea does offer a small amount of customisation with its bikes, with items such as tyres, wheels and brakes changeable for an up-fee. If it were us, we’d be tempted to select a bigger 32t chainring. This would change the relationship between the chain’s position and the suspension pivots, reducing some harshness off the top – it may also reduce slightly the pedalling efficiency, but we reckon this would be a price worth paying.
An initial glance of the geometry chart suggests the Rallon should feel pretty sorted on the trails we were riding. The 66.5 degree head angle isn’t too steep, the 640mm top tube (size Large) isn’t long, but the 472mm reach compares well with other bikes it competes with.
We were left wanting a little more when the going got seriously steep
But with legs slung over the bike, the 495mm seat tube makes its presence felt – sizing here is more like a (non-existent) XL, whereas the rest of the frame feels like a small-ish Large. As such, the Rallon is prone to coming across as tall and top heavy, especially if you’ve a long frame and shorter limbs.
Frustratingly then, while much of the spec is decent, the overall feel of the bike isn’t quite there. A lower-slung bike would feel better, and while the Kirk is a highly adjustable shock, we never managed to get the back-end feeling as we'd have liked. Swapping to a larger chainring and investing plenty of time into shock setup is needed to get the most out of the Rallon – and unfortunately for Orbea this isn’t necessary with many of its competing bikes.