Let’s be honest: If Orbea is known for anything then it’s for road cycling and XC-racing. This added to our curiosity when Orbea invited us to Finale Ligure to make our first hands-on test of their new enduro race bike. Would their new Rallon be able to convince on the trail?
We soon realized that our initial skepticism was totally wrong. During the morning’s presentation we got to hear the following:
“Low, long and slack with 160mm of gravity-tuned travel, the Rallon can get you to the bottom of the hill as quickly as you dare. Short stays and a steep seat angle give the agility and efficiency to pedal up for one more lap.”
Beside some marketing blabla, the fact that this bike was 3 years in development and features cutting edge geometry made it all sound very promising, so we were super-excited to get on the trails with the new Rallon.
Said and done! What would serve as a better testing ground than a special stage of the Superenduro Race in Finale Ligure? Right, nothing. So we made some shuttle runs on the Ligurian coast with Simon André and Aurélien Demailly from the Orbea Méribel Enduro Crew. But before we talk about the riding, lets talk about the details:
While the first and second run served to get used to the bike, make some adjustments and fine-tune the suspension we could hammer down the third run with full confidence already.
The BOS Suspension worked incredibly well after decreasing the low-speed-compression and increasing the high-speed-compression for optimal small bump sensitivity on the loose and slightly slippery terrain. Especially because the new Mavic tires didn’t meet the expectations of traction we wished for.
Hitting natural berms and small drops hard and at a high speed we were surprised how balanced the bike felt. The fact that the suspension didn’t dive at all, maintaining height and geometry was a total confidence-booster! The handling was a sound mix of agility and stability. Despite the super short chainstays the Rallon didn’t felt as playful as we expected it to be – a reason for that could be the quite long reach and wheelbase.
Although the new Rallon is no mountain goat the pedal efficiency on shorter climbs and flat sections was surprisingly high. The suspension behaved very neutral — keeping in mind it’s gravity-tuned 160mm setup. Further the pedaling position was very efficient thanks to the steep seating angle (75°/74.5°).
On the first laps we rode the bike in the geometry adjustment “low” which was pretty good, very well balanced! For your info: “Low” is Orbea’s standard setting. So we decided to go for what the Orbea guys call “Crazy low”. Within the first minute after switching the flip at the upper shock mounting we immediately felt a difference.
Now the bike raced down the trail like a mini DH-bike with a confidence-inspiring geometry but still handled light like a trail bike. It even felt easier to rise the front to play with the terrain. Then there was the big question whether the low bottom bracket height would result in frequent pedal contacts with stones or other obstacles. No! The bike comes equipped with short 170mm cranks. But the main reason might be that the suspension stays very high in it’s travel.
In conclusion the Orbea Rallon is the new underdog in the enduro / trail segment for 2014 and has the potential of advancing to become a top dog. The fact that the Orbea “only” comes with an aluminium frame is a good thing actually. Instead of trying to save the last few grams, the manufacturer is able to equip it with better and more functional parts that in the end influence the bike’s performance far more!
More info: www.orbea.com
Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt
Special thanks to Alan Muldoon from MBR UK!