Earlier this week we were fortunate enough to be invited along to try out the new Rallon from Orbea: a 160mm travel bike aimed at delivering maximum downhill performance while retaining the ability to pedal up.
Orbea have been working closely for over a year with top French racer and all-round good guy Simon Andre, who has previously worked as a product developer with various companies including Sunn. The result is impressive, and the sheer effort that the company has put into this bike is evident not only in the product but in the sheer depth of knowledge of the Rallon by each and every staff member.
We’ll be reporting on the ride camp next week but for now here’s a quick look at the beast. Expect good things from this bike and Orbea’s enduro teams in 2014.
Orbea Rallon 2014 – first inspection
160mm travel, 27.5" wheels and 100% alloy frame. No carbon present here, but that really shouldn’t be a worry. The frame has been refined and refined again to produce a bike that is both aesthetically pleasing and solid yet under 2.8kg. Simon Andre has put a lot of effort into working with Orbea’s engineers to fine-tune the bike and over a year of devotion to the Rallon, along with several prototypes, has produced the final product.
The linkage is an area of the bike that has had close, perhaps the closest, attention paid to it. Simon’s influence has left the leverage ratio of the final product as reasonably linear, allowing for smooth use of travel throughout the shock’s movement. A progressive finale to the shock stroke ensures enough support to dispel any worries of ‘blowing through’ the travel while a highly tuned shock, developed in conjunction with the manufacturers, provides the stability needed for pedalling.
At the rear of the bike is a pivot at the axle in a similar (well, identical perhaps) vein to a Split-Pivot, which should result in a stiffer overall layout than the company’s previous bike and also provide a smooth and supple action while limiting braking-induced forces to the shock.
Although Orbea say that they have worked with both BOS and Fox on the development of their bikes, they also admitted there has been a much closer collaboration with BOS and their Kirk shock that appears on the two top-end Rallon models. French suspension experts BOS are situated a relatively short drive from Orbea’s base in the Basque area of Spain which has allowed for extensive testing and prototyping of various shock tunes in order to come up with a final tune that works alongside the bike's linkage. The Fox shock that appears on the two lower-spec Rallons has also been specifically tuned for the bike. It’s worth noting that it is possible to upgrade components on the cheaper bikes to those of the top-end models, with the Kirk shock surely being one area worth extending your budget to.
At the heart of the package is a frame that boasts the kind of features that will appeal to any self-respecting enduro racer, or anyone who likes to bomb down the hill as fast as possible. According to Orbea, the Rallon has been optimised for downhill ability through long wheelbase (with 25mm longer reach than the last version of the Rallon), short chainstays at 420mm and a slack head angle of 66.5 or 66º.
The head angle is adjustable ‘on the fly’ through simply flipping one of the shock mount pins (also dropping the BB height by 7mm). This took a couple of minutes in practice but could realistically be tailored for differing runs while out riding.
Other neat features that show how much attention to detail has gone into the Rallon include integrated frame protection on downtube, which has allowed Orbea to minimise the frame material in a critical position while retaining rock-deflecting capabilities, internal dropper post routing, ISCG 05 chainguide tabs and a 180mm rear post brake mount. The shock also runs off bearings as opposed to bushings at the rear-most end (where the movement happens as the shock/linkage move through their cycle), which aims to provide a smoother action.
This should give you an idea of the bike's intentions...
Price and availability
The Rallon will be available in four builds ranging from £2,199 to £5,499 and four sizes from January 2014.
We’ll take a closer look at the Rallon, its long and low geometry and how it rides next week with our first ride feature. Stay tuned!