Back in June, Barney headed out to Darkest Spain to peruse what was new and furthermore HOT from Basque bike builders Orbea. And the Rallon has now broken cover and emerged from its embargo…The 160mm travel Rallon is already pretty highly acclaimed in many quarters, so it’s fair to say that the model has undergone ‘tweaks’ this year, as opposed to the substantial overhaul enjoyed by the Occam range.
So what’s new?
Well, there’s a bit more of the same, in a 27.5in hydroformed aluminium flavour – there’s still the same adjustable geometry, although Orbea found that the majority of riders were keeping their bikes in the 66degree setting and not going any steeper. so this year that’s the steep setting. You can now adjust it downwards to 65.5degrees in the slack setting.
There are only 3 sizes – small, medium and large – although each one is now an extra 5mm longer, and they do come up rangy.
The bottom bracket is lower than the previous iteration, too – 14mm or a whopping 21mm, depending on whether you’re running steep or slack head angles. And chainstays are short, too – 420mm short, in fact, although the overall wheelbase has grown by 10mm. In short, even longer, lower and slacker than it was before. Which was already pretty long, low and slack. Seat angles are a la mode 74.5degrees or 75 degrees, so it can *shudder* climb if it needs to.
The back end has been Boosted, which helps with shortening the chainstays – and Orbea runs what it calls ‘Concentric Boost’ which basically means the rearmost pivot rotates about the axle. It’s a pretty neat and simple design, with hopefully fewer of the ‘spontaneous dissassembly events’ that could afflict previous modelswhen you removed the rear wheel.
Orbea’s engineers have altered the suspension so it has pretty linear changes to its leverage ratio throughout its travel. The leverage ratio drops from 2.6 at the begining of the stroke to just under 2.4 at the end of that 160mm, describing a very lazy arc. They’ve also dialled in anti-squat which they claim works pretty well with both single and double ring setups. Bushings are now bearings, and Orbea has worked with both BOS (for the top end model) and Fox (the rest of them) to custom tune the shock and fork on each bike across the range.
I had the privilege of taking a Rallon down the side of an EWS stage in the middle of an extrordinary thunderstorm, and I came away liking what I rode (and rather wet). The Large bike felt acceptably comfortable, even for my 6’4″ frame – which was a surprise. The bike pedalled very well indeed – standing up and honking on the pedals didn’t seem to wallow the bike at all, although it didn’t sit up either. On the 1x, BOS equipped bike I rode, it just felt sprightly.
I can’t really tell you precisely how the suspension handled big hits under power, as I was just trying for the most part to stay on the bike and not get hit by lightning, but for what it’s worth the bike felt as confidence inspiring as it could when we’re both slithering sideways down something inadvisable, and towards something painful. All the careful setting up of the BOS components was for naught – nothing was hit (intentionally) at speed, and cornering was of the ‘gingerly eeking round’ rather than ‘shred’ variety. But it was still fun.
The initial run was along a ‘trail’ – read ‘stream’ – which quickly turned into what would, in any other circumstances, have been a wonderfully techy, switchback-y gnarfest. But which just became an hilarious slither. Water sluiced straight down the trail; roots were insanely greasy, and shot you off towards trees at regular intervals, limestone slabs were invisibly trapping everyone with arsebackwards catapults and mud was everywhere. It was hilarious. There are no photos – our photographer had run for cover at the first sight of rain on his expensive lenses, so all I have is the aftermath, but it’s a ride I will not forget for a long time. And I liked the bike too – bonus.
It’s available in three different models from the BOS and XTR X-Team, to the Fox and SLX equipped X-30. Prices range from €2,799 for the X-30, through €3,999 for the X-10 and €5,199 for the X-Team. For more details click here.