Enduro – it’s currently the hottest buzz word in mountain biking. Whatever it means to you, there’s no denying that enduro riding is firmly on the up, and it brings with it a new sub-discipline of mountain bikes. These bikes are capable of both climbing and descending, but are usually considerably more biased towards the latter. They're tough enough to handle the spills yet light enough to take on the hills.
Enter the Rallon, Orbea’s fourth generation version of this model, it has now evolved from its trail bike roots to fit the enduro bill perfectly. A switch to 650B wheels and a 10mm increase of suspension travel means that the Rallon now offers 160mm at its rear wheel.
Ride and handling: a genuine mini-downhill bike
The Rallon can sometimes look long in pictures and its looks are not deceiving; each size is actually 40mm longer than the previous generation of the bike. Despite this new length, the chainstays of the Rallon remain at a compact 42cm.
What that translates to on the trails is a bike that feels impressively stable in all scenarios. That’s only one half of the story though; the rest comes in the form of the Rallon’s adjustable geometry and trick suspension.
We spent a full day testing the Rallon’s geometry in its steep setting and were soon having a very good time. The 66.5 degree head angle and that lengthy wheelbase make for a talented descender, something that is only improved on by switching the bike into its slack setting. Despite dropping only half a degree from the head angle, this setting drops the bottom bracket by 7mm to a truly belly dragging figure of just 338mm.
Orbea told us that this bike feels very much like a miniature downhill bike, they weren’t wrong. Yes, get a tight turn wrong and you’ll be aware of the length of that wheelbase, but with good line choice and commitment the Rallon will hold just where you want it to.
Both the BOS Deville 160 fork and Kirk rear shock are air sprung and worked well in unison, with neither end misbehaving. The enduro-specific Kirk shock was consistent, efficient and predictable. A little niggle about the shock is that the adjusters are very stiff to operate. The fork demonstrates all the small bump sensitivity and chassis stiffness of its competitors but with more impressive dive-resistance and mid-stroke control.
During testing we were fortunate enough to have an uplift, however the Rallon climbed well on the few ascents we did encounter.
Frame and equipment: solid and ultra adjustable package
Orbea have stuck to what they know in terms of construction, so no carbon fibre trickery here. Still, Orbea claim a 2.75kg weight for the all-alloy Rallon frame – that's 300g down on the current model.
When compared to the current frame the rear suspension pivot has moved from the seatstay to a concentric design at the rear axle. The linkage pivot has also moved from the top tube to the down tube.
Each Rallon bar the entry-level model gets full BOS suspension. That’s no coincidence either; BOS are based just three hours from Orbea’s headquarters, and the two have developed a particularly strong relationship. As a result each unit used on the Rallon has been fine tuned to work with the new, more linear leverage ratio.
It’s the exact opposite of Fox’s CTD suspension in that there’s no attempt to dumb down the controls or make it particularly easy for the user to tune. Instead, at each end there’s a massive range of both low- and high-speed rebound and compression adjustment. That’ll leave a few people confused but it’ll also make a lot of people happy. For if you’re more Android than iOS – the sort of individual who gets a kick out of fettling on back to back runs – then we think you’ll love the BOS.
Our test build came fitted with Mavic’s staggered Enduro Crossmax wheel and tyre combo. Up front, we had no complaints, just the sort of fast-rolling and hard-biting rubber you’d want. The rear was another story, the Crossmax rear tyre proved treacherous where we really weren’t expecting it to.
The Shimano XTR double transmission performed flawlessly and despite that extra low bottom bracket, the 175mm RaceFace SixC crank arms never contacted the ground. Production bikes will have 170mm crank arms to make sure clearance isn’t an issue.
Contact points are all sorted. Up front that means a wide but stubby RaceFace cockpit while the excellent Reverb Stealth and Fi'zi:k Gobi seating combo are about as good as it gets.
Formula’s T1 brakes performed without fault, we’ve had consistency issues with them in the past but this set was great.
It's also worth noting that four complete builds will be available ranging from £2,199/€2,499 to £5,499/€6,499 with US prices to be confirmed. Visit the Orbea website for more information.