Spanish co-operative Orbea first launched the 150mm Rallon as its Enduro/all-mountain rig back in 2010. It’s available in two guises — with a 150mm fork (as tested here) or as a more aggressive machine, touting a chain device and a 160mm fork.
The Rallon’s distinctive ‘humped’ frame is cut from triple-butted, hydroformed box-section aluminium. And despite being lightweight (claimed 3.2kg with rear shock and QR dropouts) it rides plenty solid and sturdy. At 349mm, the frame’s static BB measurement is the highest on test — and later we’ll discover whether this affects the ride quality or not.
Orbea’s asymmetric chainstay single-pivot suspension design uses a total of 12 sealed bearings, with a short ‘Lambda’ aluminium linkage controlling shock rate. There are ISCG05 tabs on the BB (with no chain device attached), but no mounts for a water bottle cage in the front triangle, which might be a deal-breaker for some.
One word best sums up the Rallon rear suspension — control. The whole system strikes a good balance between stability and pedal efficiency, even with the three-position ProPedal lever set fully open. The long-stroke Fox RP23 shock is excellent, but comes partnered with a Fox Evolution series 150mm Float fork, and (as usual) the performance on this open bath model is somewhat basic and inconsistent — if you need more support or ‘pogo’ control for climbing, pumping more air in is your only option — but this limits both travel and small bump sensitivity.
Slowing down wasn’t an issue with the powerful Formula brakes, but the Shimano M552 triple chainset isn’t that stiff, especially when cranking hard, and the chain frequently went MIA on rocky descents. Add to this the very slow-to-engage freehub body on the lightweight Mavic Crossride wheelset and it meant sprinting felt ‘mushy’ at times.
The way Orbea operates, every bike is built for the individual customer so (for a price) it’s easy to upgrade some of the components. For example, a Rockshox Reverb post looks a good addition for £145. Unfortunately, among things you can’t add are a wide handlebar, or tyres that aren’t branded Hutchinson.
The Rallon 50 pedals and climbs well and, possibly thanks to those XC-oriented wheels, rides lighter than its overall weight suggests. Rider position is well-centred too — even under hard braking or heavy cranking, there is no sign of your weight being moved around the chassis unnecessarily.
On steep and fast descents, the Orbea wants to sit up quite high — tipping you on to the unaccomplished Fox fork — so we ran lower shock pressures to try to manipulate the geometry. With close to 40 per cent sag, the dynamic geometry was more to our liking, allowing us to rail berms more confidently but pedal input was a lot spongier and the bike lost some of its zip.
With 135mm QR dropouts, the rear triangle felt slightly less accurate through really rough sections than the bolt-thru competition, but not enough to prove an issue. (There’s a stiffer 142x12mm aftermarket dropout option for €22.) Another small gripe is that the rear-end can get slightly overworked and ‘pingy’ on successive high-speed hits. We were running the rebound damping fully open, which might suggest the damping range is out, and the shock is slightly firm on the rebound side.
The Orbea Rallon feels quite traditional in its approach — it has good stability but the riding position is too upright. It’s definitely not a bike designed to hammer downhills like the Commençal Meta AM 3 or Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Evo.
The Orbea Rallon 50 is a decent, solid package and if you can get along with the rather upright geometry, or want lots of pedal clearance, the Spanish bike climbs better than its sturdiness and travel suggest. It’s not as agile as we’d like, though, and some of the components, such as the narrow 680mm bar and Hutchinson tyres feel out of place on a modern 150mm travel Enduro bike.
Although the Rallon 50 is only two years old, it’s in need of a refresh. With a slacker, low-slung attitude and some component changes, it could easily be a contender in the ‘all-about-fun’ 150mm category.
MBR rating: 7