Updated: 10th July 2017
The recently released and highly anticipated 2018 Orbea Rallon arrived in the Tredz shop to many admiring eyes. Looking from afar it shares similarities to the previous models but looking at the linkage you can instantly see it's a different bike altogether. The 29” wheels and carbon frame are the standard on all models, and with near unlimited choice of customisable colours, you'll be getting a truly unique bike.
In previous years 29 inch wheels have been kept for the smaller travel long distance bikes, but as you can see with the latest trends on the Enduro World Series and now World Cup Downhill scene, 29ers are suited to gravity applications too.
When the trail pointed down the Rallon just kept asking for more. Where most bikes would be on the edge, the Rallon kept its line and was urging you to keep off the brakes. The combination of the 29” wheels and 150mm travel make it feel akin to a downhill bike when the trail got rough, maintaining stability through challenging sections.
Cornering is a breeze with what seems to be unlimited grip. When things get tight though, it can take a bit of extra muscle get the bike to listen, but with a little acclimatisation, this wasn't a problem even of the steeper, tight tracks. Two geometry settings mean you can adjust the bike to suit the terrain you are riding. This is a quick, five minute job with the included tool so could even be done between runs. The standard settings seemed fine, but some might prefer slacker angles when things get really steep.
With near downhill bike performance, the Orbea Rallon takes care of your gravity-fuelled needs.
Climbing isn't the chore you would expect with such a gravity-focused, pedalling steadily up climbs.
With its descending capabilities and 150mm of travel, we expected the Rallon to be a slow climber that could sap your energy. While it is by no means an XC whippet, the slightly steeper seat tube angle allows for a comfortable position and power transfer is quick with minimal feedback, which makes for a steady and surefooted climber. The 12 speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain with an enormous 50T rear cog truly gave you the impression that anything was possible. Although not all the gears would be needed for every ride, at the end of a hard day, spinning in a light gear is much appreciated.
During technical climbs you could feel the bigger wheels ability to slightly smooth the way and give you more confidence and time to take the best lines. As with descending, the longer wheelbase made it a bit more challenging to get round the tighter switchbacks, but taking it slightly slower remedied this.
We took the bike for a spin around our local trails at Afan Forest, South Wales. A warm up at the skills park was followed by a session on the slightly larger set of jumps. Instantly the bike felt at home, not being shy to get airborne, unlike the general consensus of what 29ers are capable of.
It easily popped off the take offs and allowed for a good amount of pump on the landings, keeping speed for the next jumps. Surprisingly, it felt quite nimble in the air and was easy to manoeuvre.
The Orbea Rallon was at home in the air, easy to whip around with little resistance.
The Orbea Rallon that we had was not a production-ready product, so the component specification isn't the same as you will buy. Set up as it was, the suspension performed admirably, making the bike seem as if it had far more than the 150mm in the back and 160mm in front. This is no doubt in part thanks to the Fox Factory shocks both front and rear with their slippery Kashima gold coatings.
The Orbea definitely suits a more aggressive riding style. The 29” wheels and slack angles created a stable ride. The Rallon was surprisingly nimble though, especially considering the size and intentions as a full-blown enduro race bike.As a gravity-specific bike, it’s hard to think about another of its kind that has both the capabilities to descend like the Rallon and to be so mild-mannered on the climbs. As a single bike to take care of all your gravity fuelled needs, including all-out downhill tracks and uplift-days, the Orbea Rallon is hard to beat.