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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Orbea Rallon X-Team 2016

Brilliant 160mm enduro angles from the Basque country

Let’s have some background on the Orbea Rallon X – Team before we get stuck in. “Orbea Brothers and Co” was a company established toward the end of 19th Century by three brothers Juan Manuel, Mateo and Casimiro who began selling handguns to the government. Shortly after the war they used their expertise and knowledge of steel tubing to begin making bicycles.

And so Orbea Bicycles was formed in the 1930’s with “all guns blazing” so to speak. From a small workshop in the Basque country by 1946 they employed over a 1000 people and later a co-operative was formed. Since then, the company have produced bikes for decades before we found one that suited the kind of riding we do. The Rallon was well worth the wait.

Kirk and Deville

So they made a good bike….actually change that…. they made a great bike. It slinked in. But how. Late 2013 the world’s press were invited for two days riding after the final Enduro World series race in Finale. Some were hungover, others did not turn up until late. But this was no time for nothing less than a hundred per cent focus for this was a bike that demanded the utmost respect. For many at that camp it took but one run for the perspective of Orbea to be transformed from an also ran in terms of enduro hardware to arguably one of the best pieces of 160mm machinery on the market.

“So they made a good bike… actually change that… they made a great bike”

It comes underpinned with some of the finest dampers in the business. Orbea working closely with their partners Bos located on the other side of the Pyrenees in Toulouse. With the Kirk on the rear and the Deville up front they have some of the best in the business controlling the 160mm of Basque travel.

And its adjustable, not by way of complex levers and pistons like the Canyon Shapeshifter, the bike just features a really neat flip-chip to lower or raise the bottom bracket. We simply slung it in the low setting and dumped it off the hill pretty sharpish. And boy it has a low bottom bracket, one of the lowest in the business for a 160mm travel bike. This creates a low centre of gravity, delivers great manoeuvrability and the weight distribution and cornering on this bike is fantastic

Orbea are obviously tuned into offering a great component package too. Shimano XT brakes, Reverb Stealth, Race Face Next SL, DT Spline E-1700 in a good price just over four thousand pounds.

Where does it sit in the scheme of things? Less expensive than a Specialized Enduro, larger than a YT Capra, less complicated and bigger hitting than a Canyon Strive and certainly more bulletproof than most carbon offerings. But then that’s what you’d expect of a company that began life making guns. Rallon gives it, all barrels.

YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS BUT…

Xabier Narbaiza, Orbea MTB Product Manager

The Rallon is the era of full suspension for Orbea. When we started this project we wanted to create the best FS in the world. And it wasn’t only a wish without any support, it was a company bet for mountainbiking. We have done a really big investment in a software we have developed.

Advanced Dynamics is at the heart of every Orbea suspension bike. It is a process we developed in conjunction with CEIT (Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Tecnológicas) that allows us to model and test our suspension platforms. Using a vast database of shock tunes and component behaviours we can study a design under a virtual rider that exerts forces on the pedals, saddle and handlebars. We can shape the simulations to evaluate different variables – rider height, weight, riding style – on different tracks. Even tyre pressures can be tested and recorded before a welding torch is lit.

This virtual test process allows us to optimize our suspension designs before the prototyping and field testing phases. When the tyres finally hit the dirt we can focus instead on fine-tuning damper characteristics and spring curves with our expert suspension partners. This is the obsessive tinkering that turns a good bike into a great one. The result is a dynamic suspension system that is tuned for variable trail conditions with a leverage rate curve that is specifically matched to the spring and damper.

For an update on what replaces this bike for 2018, read our feature HERE

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