First ride: Orbea Rallon

New Orbea Rallon is an impressive enduro debut

Orbea's new Rallon has proven to be a hotly anticipated new introduction in the enduro-class mountain bike market for its enticing promise of reasonably light weight, efficient pedaling performance, capable suspension, and striking good looks. Now that we've had a chance to sample it for ourselves - in Puerto Rico of all places - our initial impressions suggest that it's definitely worth a closer look if you're in the market.

Most intriguing is the bike's suspension characteristics, which Orbea mountain bike product manager Xabier Narbaiza says was the result of arduous computer modeling and data compilation not only of linkage kinematics but also of how various forces such as pedaling and braking input affect the rear end. All of that was then overlaid with separate in-house dyno testing results of countless rear shock models, settings and tuning profiles until the company got just what they were after.

As a result, the Rallon feels distinctly firm off the top of the stroke, to the point where we initally ran 20psi less than recommended for our body weight based on raw sag measurements. But the rest of the stroke is remarkably linear and coil-like so we then found ourselves quickly blowing through the travel at first.

Once reinflated closer to spec, though, the rear end sat higher up as expected and at the same time, still managed to be surprisingly active on smaller bumps. Though that's likely due mostly to the suspension design, part of the credit likely also goes to the twelve bearing cartridges integrated into the pivots - including at the normally sticky rear shock eyelet.

Moreover, the slight progression at the end of the stroke meant we regularly used full travel but never bottomed out harshly, plus that initial leverage ratio 'hump' yielded far better-than-expected pedaling performance, even with the included Fox Racing Shox RP23's ProPedal platform turned off.

Admittedly, we rode down much more than up at the newly crafted Toroverde Adventure Park in the mountains of Puerto Rico, but the climbs we did do were brutally steep, slippery and punchy where any flaw in pedaling performance would have readily presented itself. But instead, all we got in return for our efforts was a refreshing dose of get-up-and-go and a notably reactive feel - very impressive for a bike with 150mm of rear wheel travel.

The triple-butted and hydroformed alloy frame is fairly light at 3.2kg (7.1lb, claimed, with shock) but also rock-solid beneath you. Up front, the tapered head tube and heavily shaped down tube and top tube make for a reassuringly flex-free front end under heavy braking and good torsional stiffness when you're either cranking out of the saddle or attacking technical terrain.

And it's more of the same out back, with fat seat stays, chunky asymmetrical chain stays, a beefy forged aluminum linkage, and thick interchangeable bolt-on dropouts (a 142x12mm thru-axle fitment is already in the works) adding up to a suspension system that resists getting knocked out of plane and seems to faithfully follow the front end.

Finally, Orbea has done a good job with dialing in the geometry as well. Chain stays are a remarkably short 425mm – just 2mm longer than the Alma hardtail – for easy manuals and quick pivoting about the rear wheel. That's matched to a fairly long front center, a 68-69-degree head tube angle (depending on fork travel), and resultant longish wheelbase that shifts your weight slightly rearward and makes for confident handling both at speed and in technical descents. A not-too-tall bottom bracket height helps keep your center of gravity low, too.

Given the Rallon's impressively multidimensional personality, Orbea will wisely offer it in a variety of build kits that will cover both the more pedal-intensive enduro crowd but also more gravity-oriented folks, too. Fork travel will range from 150-160mm, Truvativ's Hammerschmidt transmission is included on the top-end Rallon 10, and customers will even be able to choose from various tires to better suit their local terrain.

One must-have option on your list regardless should be the adjustable-height crankbrothers Joplin seatpost. While it was easy enough to move our seatposts around with the included quick-release collar, we would have much preferred a telescoping post for faster transitions between up and down.

We'll secure a long-term tester in the very near future for a more proper shakedown but the initial taste test has been promising for sure. In the meantime, Orbea already has some complete Rallon configurations available now with the remainder set to arrive within the next couple of weeks. Retail prices will range from US$3,000 to $5,800.

Related Articles

Back to top