The Orbea Rallon is a bike I’ve been itching to throw a leg over since it came out. It has rowdy geometry, lots of travel, and EWS intentions. But, if I know anything about Orbea, they don’t skimp on uphill performance. They design their bikes to get you to the top of the mountain as well as they get you back down it. So does the new Rallon fit the mold? Stick around to find out.
Orbea Rallon Geometry and Build Details
The updated Orbea Rallon saw some significant geometry updates for 2022. The travel remained the same at 160mm rear and 170mm front, but the bike got a lot slacker and longer. The head tube angle now falls in the current enduro bike category at 64.5° or 64‚° depending on the flip-chip setting and rear wheel size. The Rallon can run a full 29” setup or a mixed wheel (29/27.5) setup. Most of the complete builds come stock with two 29” wheels, but the M-Team version comes in the mixed configuration. You can also build your own mullet setup through Orbea’s MyO program or by using the supplied mullet link and your own 27.5” rear wheel. Because of how the mullet conversion works, you don’t get the added benefit of a shorter chainstay when you swap to a smaller rear wheel.
The reach is a roomy 510mm/505mm in the tested extra-large. The steep 77/77.5° seat tube angle makes that reach feel not as long in the seated climbing position. It feels much smaller than it looks on paper while you’re seated. The wheelbase comes in at 1290mm in both the 29” and mullet versions.
The Rallon uses Orbea’s Lockr for in-frame tool and tube storage. There are also two supplied tools stored inside the main pivot and rear axle.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the Rallon goes uphill exceptionally well. It combines a well-balanced climbing position with efficient suspension to keep you motoring up almost anything. It handles tech climbs equally as well as wide-open fire roads.
Orbea knows how to make a bike pedal well. Their bikes are usually at the top of the class in their respective categories — the Rallon is no exception. The suspension feels very firm and efficient both while seated and standing. There’s no pedal bob, even with the Fox DHX2 coil shock. The bike is smooth enough not to hang up on rocks and roots, making it an excellent technical climber. During my test laps, I cleaned some pretty tough technical sections that I’ve never cleaned before. The Rallon seems to strike the perfect balance between traction and efficiency.
Orbea claims the head tube angle on the Rallon is “slack enough for the toughest courses without compromising agility.” That agility comes through on the climbs. I think it’s a combo of the upright and balanced seated position and a moderate wheelbase and head tube angle. It keeps the bike easy to steer and pick your way through tight trails.
Zach and I mentioned this a bit in our Heckler MX vs. 29 showdown, but I think there’s something to how quickly a 27.5 wheel can accelerate. After swapping out for the 27.5” rear wheel, I made a conscious effort to pay attention to acceleration. The smaller rear wheel seems to spin up faster than the bigger counterpart. It kind of makes sense too. I’m no engineer, but I did OK in my college physics classes. The suspension, gearing, and rider power stay the same between the two wheel sizes. It would make sense that the wheel with the smaller radius would be easier to turn, resulting in better acceleration. It wasn’t really that noticeable once the bike was up to speed on wide-open climbs. It was most noticeable on tight technical sections with ledges and step-ups. It felt easier to bump the front wheel up the ledge and then keep the rear wheel spinning until I was over it. Getting the mullet setup over trail obstacles took less of a forward lurch. I didn’t notice that the back wheel was hanging up in the technical sections either. Because the chainstay doesn’t get sorter with the mullet conversion, I didn’t see the drawbacks I noticed with the heckler. My weight still felt balanced between the wheels. I only noticed benefits in the mullet setup on the climbs.
The Rallon isn’t the burliest enduro bike I’ve ever ridden on paper and the trail. Instead, it has a quick and nimble feel that steals the show. As the saying goes, “Jump for show, corner for dough” the faster a bike can corner, the faster it will get to the bottom of a typical EWS track. I’d argue that EWS racers might benefit a bit more from a quicker and more agile bike. Those folks are pretty good at bikes and might not need the same level of forgiveness (read: burliness) that you and I would need to survive one of those races. The Rallon isn’t only for EWS racers, though. It’s a super versatile bike for average folks like you and me.
The Rallon’s suspension felt fast and firm even with the coil shock. It didn’t feel squishy or vague at all. It felt like no energy was lost while pumping the terrain for extra speed. That firm suspension makes for a quick and agile ride quality. It’s easy to unweight the bike either to get over rocks and roots or to just goof around on side hits and jumps. I found myself taking lines over rocks rather than around them. I wasn’t simply plowing through the rocks, but I was unweighting and bunnyhopping over them. A wise man once told me that the less your suspension has to move, the faster you’re going to go. The Rallon allows you to pump and unweight to keep the speeds high.
I did notice the back end getting hung up from time to time. The back wheel would get snagged a bit on fast, square-edged hits. It’s not the bike for closing your eyes and smashing into every jagged rock on the trail. I think line choice becomes a bit more critical on a bike like this. That’s what makes it fun to ride, though — you can actually feel the trail below you. It’s very rewarding when you pick smooth lines and can keep your momentum.
The Rallon falls on the all-mountain side of the enduro category. It doesn’t have the slackest or most aggressive geometry. Instead, it strikes a good balance between all-out stability and agility. This is what makes it such a versatile and useable bike for most people. It doesn’t punish you for riding easy trails or not riding like a bat out of hell at all times.
The Rallon’s handling is laser-precise and quick. It feels much more like an all-mountain bike in the corners. It doesn’t take a massive lean to get the bike to change directions. Instead, it’s effortless to initiate a turn and carve through a corner, whether wide-open or tight. The traction is there, too, so you can trust the bike to get you through a corner with the most speed possible. The Rallon feels equally good in slow-speed terrain as it does the fast stuff — a rare quality in a bike.
I spent a fair amount of time riding in the 29” setup as well as the mullet. On the climbs, it was all positives with the mullet, but on the descents, it was more of a mixed bag. I think I preferred the full 29” setup for its rollover ability. It held its speed better through most terrain. Plus, I don’t think the 29” version is so unwieldy to begin with that you need the smaller wheel to make it more agile. The mullet felt a bit quicker in the tighter corners, but keep in mind that the only thing that changes is the wheel size and not the chainstay length. I don’t think you get the full mullet benefit this way — the wheelbase doesn’t get shorter.
Orbea Rallon Comparisons
Santa Cruz Megatower vs Rallon
I’m hot off the heels of making the Santa Cruz Megatower review, so it obviously came to mind while riding the Rallon. These bikes aren’t all that different on paper, but they don’t feel too similar on the trail. The Rallon feels quicker and snappier even though the Megatower rides very light for how aggressive it is. For better or worse, the Rallon’s suspension feels much firmer than the Megatower’s. The Rallon does a bit better on the climbs, but not by much. I’d take the Megatower for its mistake-erasing qualities if I had to ride the nastiest DH track around.
Rocky Mountain Altitude vs Rallon
The Rocky Mountain Altitude landed more on the all-mountain side of the enduro category for me. It felt quicker and snappier than some really long and squishy enduro bikes. That’s why I think it’s a pretty similar bike to the Rallon. It’s funny to see how the EWS teams that place a high priority on racing results have slightly less aggressive enduro bike offerings. It must come down to needing a bike that can handle tight European race tracks. The Rallon beats out the Altitude on the climbs by quite a bit, but they’re very evenly matched on the descents. The Altitude is plusher, while the Rallon feels more precise.
Orbea Occam vs Rallon
You have to compare the Rallon to the Occam. It’s very apparent the same brand makes these two bikes. They feel very similar in their suspension feel and how they handle on the trail. Even though it has the travel, I’ve always described the Occam as a long-travel trail bike rather than an all-mountain bike. I don’t think it would be too off base to define the Rallon in the same way. It feels more like a long-travel all-mountain bike.
Ibis Ripmo vs Rallon
This one might be coming out of left field, but I think the Rallon feels like the Ibis Ripmo. The Rallon feels more capable and stable, but they have similar handling. They both feel quick and nimble in the corners, and they’re both easy to get off the ground. They’re pretty evenly matched on the climbs, with the Ripmo having just the tiniest advantage.
Who is the Orbea Rallon For?
Because of how all-mountain the Rallon’s handling is, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a do-it-all bike. It goes uphill with the best of them, so folks looking to do big rides with a lot of vert will appreciate it. People who value responsive handling over all-out capability will get along well with the Rallon. I think it will also suit folks with slow speed terrain and really tight tech. If you’re looking to push the pace on really rough trails, I’d say you’ll need the skills to back it up. That’s not to say it isn’t a capable bike. It just won’t plow through rock gardens mindlessly like some other enduro bikes.
One-Line Bike Review
The Rallon combines laser precision in the corners with a fast and supportive suspension feel for getting to the bottom of the mountain as quickly as possible.
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