Words: Steve Jones
Photos: Steve Jones / Ben Winder


The oil was still cooling in the Kirk damper when I met an old mate near the trails. “Bikes are much of a muchness these days though aren’t they?” he asked, with one eye on a Kona Process. Having been fully absorbed for four hours on the Orbea I barked back, “No they are not… not by a long way”. It’s not the first time I’d heard the comment, and all I can really say is that the confidence a good bike instils is priceless. Unfortunately there are still many mountain bike manufacturers who suffer from bright ideas and mediocrity on a pretty big scale, no more so than in the newish enduro scene. Maybe a handful of companies would get a nine out of ten for their bikes, maybe one or two a ten. Yes you can ride any bike downhill but class can be identified pretty quickly. The Rallon is class. Getting onto BOS suspension is like climbing into a hot bath after a cold day on the hill, backed up with Christian Dior shampoo and a big furry towel. I know this because our man at Le Dirt (our new French version of the mag) in Cannes has it all at his pad. But I’d take the BOS before Christian.

The Rallon is low at –7mm drop on the bottom bracket, but it can go even lower, as far as –14, which puts it into a very special place, one that reads 338mm on the bottom bracket from the floor. And it only takes about 20 seconds to carry out this geo’ change. It’s low, which means the cornering might be a bit tasty. However, just getting the bike down close to the floor alone doesn’t make a bike steer and respond well, it’s a combination of many factors. We were super keen to get the Rallon into a variety of environments.


The brakes on the Rallon were not the best however we have ridden some better examples of the Formula since we did this test so we are hoping it was a one-off as they tended to bind quite frequently which the newer versions don’t. This can also be resolved with Orbea’s online customiser where you can swap to Shimano and save £90. Enough of all that. It all begins with crisp Shimano XTR shifting whilst slithering up the RockShox Reverb Stealth to reach the trailhead. The Race Face bars sit tidy and the green Race Face grips are a perfect compound, the right shape. The bike covers ground silently, quickly aided in no small way by those Mavic Crossmax wheels and the drive off the Race Face Next SL crankset. It’s all good but what really counts are the dampers front and rear. BOS Deville, BOS Kirk. It really is the cream. Finishing detail and cable routing is good, the Orbea comes with some handy frame protection too. I’m left thinking why the higher priced bike (the XLtd) is £1200 more when this has the better wheels?


Better control than a RockShox Pike, superior wear rate, reliability and high speed over a Fox – control, sensitivity, high speed tracking and precision. BOS damping is simply awesome. The bike sits in a perfect place when riding and can be moved like a bullet, positioned accurately, it’s very, very good. Like I said, sensitivity good, progressivity good, which translates to a beautifully simple ride. The shock is not a lock–out as such, more a two setting compression. The leverage rate curve matched to spring and damper exceptionally well, quite possibly one of the best I’ve ridden.


It’s no hill climber, the angles see to that, but even though it’s a touch over 31lb the Rallon is relatively light to ride. Because there is no real lock–out there’s a tendency to hunch over the front on bigger climbs but the Shimano 2×10 gearing offers a crawler–lane option and the stiff rear end means there is no gear jumping under full stress either. That said there is some feedback through the crank in the low gear. Start cracking on when you get into flatter grounds and the Orbea is more engaging, but it’s only really when you begin thundering that you realise how so beautifully balanced the Rallon is, power in too hot and there remains an amazing hold on the chassis through the clever damping. Irregular weight shifts are not an issue on this beauty. Sizing on a large for 6-foot-tall rider is just about OK, but they need an XL for sure.


Only the brakes. They are too harsh. Well there was the rear shock fitting which was a bit of a faff on the lower mount too, but you simply mount the top first then insert the lower shock bolt and one spacer before holding the other spacer in place and sliding the shock between the two. It just seems a bit crude. The O–ring on the shock valve stem broke as well which meant air leaked. Jungle, the UK distributors, say they will be fully set–up to carry spares pretty soon. Oh, well there was the rattle of brake hose on carbon bar and the rear tyre feels lightly under par for the work it will be required to do (we had to swap it). There’s also a need to work on rear end clatter when pressing on. Oh and the one extra size. So I guess a few things need tidying to give it a ten.


Wow, what a bike! Its easy to see the Rallon placed alongside the YT Capra, GT Sanction for the 27.5” wheel enduro shoot out of the year. That list must have the Rallon. It’s a bit more solid than a Capra but slightly more money, still not quite as stiff as a GT but is slightly more manoeuvrable. What it does have is a winning ride dynamic. I suggest anyone thinking that all 160mm bikes are pretty good these days take a ride on this. There are so many 160mm travel bikes around and some even at the same price yet none would get near the Rallon. Orbea might be relatively new to the mid-travel market and possibly not yet cool enough for some, but the smart money would definitely be with this bike. These are big guns from the Basque country.

Price: £4,299.00


Frame Orbea Hydroformed
triple butted alloy (L)

Shock BOS KIRK Rallon Custom

Fork BOS Deville 160 Tapered

Stem Race Face Atlas

Headset Orbit ZS

Bars Race Face SixC

Shifter Shimano XTR

Derailleur Shimano XTR

Brakes Formula T1

Seatpost RockShox Reverb

Saddle Fizik Gobi MG

Crank Race Face SixC

Cassette Shimano CS-M771

Chain Shimano XTR

Wheelset Mavic Crossmax Enduro

Tyres Mavic Crossmax

Wheelbase 1204mm

Chainstay 420mm

Headangle 65.5/66º

Weight 31.06lbs

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