by Kevin Shiramizu
Following a successful overhaul in 2014, the Orbea Rallon sees a few minor geometry, suspension, and aesthetic tweaks for 2016. For this test we looked at their budget-oriented version, the X30. The 160mm travel bike is equipped with 27.5 wheels and aimed at those who like to smash everything except their bank account. The bike shares the same frame as Orbea's higher end Enduro World Series shredding models but for a lower price tag and with a bit more girth around the waistline.
- Hydroformed triple-butted alloy frame
- 27.5 (650b) wheels
- 160mm (6.3-inches) of front and rear wheel travel
- Advanced Dynamics suspension with concentric C-Boost rear pivot axle
- Hollow linear ratio rocker arm
- Enduro Max Black Oxide bearings
- Adjustable geometry
- Tapered headtube
- Downtube cable highway and stealth dropper routing
- 180mm direct post mount brake tabs
- Threaded bottom bracket with removable ISCG05 mounts
- Boost 148mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
- Measured weight (size small, no pedals): 32.5-pounds (14.7kg)
- MSRP $3,249 USD
The Rallon's design has proven itself to be quite a capable and aggressive platform over the last couple of years. At the heart of the frame is a suspension design created with Orbea's Advanced Dynamics program, which allows them to model and test suspension platforms using a database of shock tunes and component behaviors before a prototype is made. This layout features a shock position that's easy to get to for on-the-fly adjustments, as well as a concentric rear pivot axle for improved braking performance.
New for 2016 is a Boost 148mm rear axle width, which increases tire clearance to 2.4-inches and improves rear wheel stiffness. The move to the wider width "moves the chainline outboard by 3mm, increasing the space available at the bottom bracket." The new concentric Boost pivot assembly is also easier to use with fewer parts.
The less-than-subtle paint job continues with this version, though in person it doesn’t come across as gauche. Just bright.
Cable routing is clean and managed well thanks to an updated "Cable Highway System" with internal dropper routing compatibility. Routing for the optional front derailleur also goes entirely external for the new year, and the derailleur mount is removable. Cables run along the top of the downtube and are secured with bolted clamps to keep things nice and quiet.
Additional features include a threaded bottom bracket, removable ISCG05 tabs for mounting a chainguide, 180mm direct post mount brake tabs, great mud clearance, and dual-compound frame protection on the chainstay, seatstay, and downtube. Claimed frame weight is 6.94-pounds (3.15kg) for a size medium frame with shock and hardware. One thing missing for the pack-haters is a water bottle mount, meaning you’ll have to stuff that water and tools in your official enduro fanny packs.
The Rallon is available in three builds: the $5,999 X-Team, $4,499 X10, and $3,249 X30 (tested). The X-Team includes BOS suspension, while the more affordable options use FOX. Several customization and upgrade options are available in Europe, including suspension, graphics, and colors.
Orbea chose to add to the bike's capability by making some geometry tweaks for 2016, including 5mm longer reach measurements and half a degree slacker head angles. It retains the same short, snappy 420mm (16.5-inch) chainstays. There are still two geometry settings, "Low" and "Lower," which can be adjusted at the front shock mount. In the "Low" setting, the bike has a 66-degree head angle and 345mm (13.6-inch) bottom bracket height. Moving to "Lower" drops the bottom bracket 7mm (0.3-inches) and slackens the head angle by half a degree, creating a ride that's slacker than many comparable bikes.
On The Trail
We rode this bike in Southern California, which meant dust, vandalized rocks, and dodging yappy Chihuahuas on trail. The lack of trail maintenance (or even the ability to maintain them really) meant that the ruts and erosion brought on by early El Nino drizzle could get rambunctious. Our rides also included several steep climbs, which this bike wasn't as pumped about.
Save the unique seatpost, which we'll discuss later, the bike built up quickly and felt immediately comfortable. The cockpit of the size small frame fit this tester’s misshapen 5'7" (1.70m) tall body surprisingly well, though we would have preferred a shorter stem. Orbea equipped the Rallon with some of the longest reach measurements available, ranging from an already lengthy 425mm (16.7-inches) on a small to a monstrous 495mm (19.5-inches) on a large. While this is great news for tall riders, shorter riders may find even the size small bike a difficult fit.
Orbea provides recommended pressure and rebound settings for the 215x63mm (8.5x2.5-inch) FOX Float DPS Performance rear shock. Setting up sag was easy enough and the recommended 25-30% range worked great with only slight adjustments within that window depending on the trail du jour.
The bike is long, low, and slack - not ridiculously so in any one way, but a great balance of all those desirable attributes. These traits made us immediately look for less traveled lines off the edge of the trail and rocks to gap over or into. Despite being a big bike that frankly rides down the hill better than many full downhill bikes of just a few years ago, it remains playful. We went into the first descent with the intent of holding back a bit to get used to it, but by the time the brakes had burned in we found ourselves getting a little fast for comfort on familiar trails right away.
Rear suspension performance is great, striking a nice balance of fun and plough. It didn’t seem to flinch at sharp-edged hits, ate up the rough, soaked up big wallowy stuff and g-outs, and stayed up in the travel well enough on the small chatter of everyone else’s braking bumps to let us get another bike length closer to the corner before having to brake. The slightly progressive leverage curve and air shock combo provides enough bottom-out support that it's not an issue, creating a ride that feels downhill bikey and confidence inspiring. It has a playful feel overall, minus the bike's heft.
The Rallon X30's downfall is that it doesn't climb all that well, which seems in large part due to the bike’s relatively heavy weight. It will get you to the top of the hill, just not in record time. That’s not what this bike seems to be about.
Considering the laziness of the tester and the generally very un-fun Southern California climbs, it did fine. The steep 75/74.5-degree seat tube angle keeps you above the cranks while reigning in the top tube length. Even though this build version is portly, at least it comes with a granny ring to help you chug up the climbs and the front end didn’t wander much. There was noticeable bob on hard out of the saddle efforts, which meant a sit and spin approach was best, but it seemed to do well pedaling hard through rough terrain when pointed slightly downhill. Its antisquat properties are best suited to a single 32-tooth chainring, which comes equipped on higher-end models.
We rode the bike in both geometry settings, and found the lowest was too low a lot of times as our trails just weren't steep enough. Though we thoroughly enjoyed plowing trenches in the "Lower" setting, pedal spikes became common at the 338mm (13.3-inch) bottom bracket height and the bike was harder to climb. As a result we spent most of our time in the "Low" setting, but it's great to have "Lower" in reserve for really rowdy days.
At $3,249, the SLX/Deore equipped X30 build performed admirably for the price range, striking cost compromises in smart areas.
Orbea specs the full line of Rallon models with Shimano brakes, and the M506 Deore set on this bike did a great job slowing us down and are a budget favorite. They're also smartly paired with large 180mm rotors.
Up front the 160mm travel FOX 34 Float Performance FIT4 fork performed decently well, but is held back by the lack of an independent low-speed compression adjustment. It does offer a 3-position tuning dial, though our experience is that in the open setting there isn't enough support, and in the middle it's too stiff. Finding a good balance point with air pressure is key to keeping the fork up in the travel. Given the choice, we feel the Rallon would be best suited to the FOX 36 which would balance better with the performance of the rest of the bike.
The Mach1 Klixx 23c wheels held up well, and the bike comes with reasonably meaty 2.4-inch Maxxis High Roller II EXO and Ardent tires which are capable of taking some abuse while maintaining good traction and decent rolling speed. The wheels are tubeless ready if you'd like to make the conversion, which we'd suggest to prevent flats given the thin non-EXO rear tire.
We never got quite comfortable with the angles of the 760mm (29.9-inch) wide Orbea OC-II riser bars, but the subjective feel of the bend was never much of a bother. Taller riders may prefer some added width, however. Given the already long reach values, a 50mm stem would have better suited the bike’s eager desire to smash things. It comes spec'd with a Race Face Ride stem in 60mm (small, medium) or 70mm (large).
Shimano's SLX drivetrain shifted fast enough, even on the front derailleur. As much as front derailleurs are a thing of the 1990s, the ability to drop into the 22-tooth wuss gear up front was much appreciated in getting this bike up hills without having a stroke. Don't want to rock 2x10? Shimano's 1x11 setup comes standard on the two higher end models. The clutch rear derailleur was skip free and ran smoothly without any issues. The bike comes with molded chainstay guards that keep things relatively quiet. There is some chain slap noise through the front derailleur, but it’s not distracting.
One major hangup on this build kit was the Digit seatpost, which was designed to allow you to find your preferred min/max saddle heights quickly and easily while keeping the saddle aligned. In this tester’s opinion, Orbea has come up with a gem of an overthought solution to a non-problem. What used to be done with two little scratch marks on your seatpost is now done with a guide rail system that adds weight, and in this case didn’t even work due to short anchor bolt lengths. Muddy trail conditions would also present a problem. We can see how this system works assuming all the puzzle pieces fit together, but a replacement for a real dropper post this is not. On the plus side of all this frustration, the seat clamp QR is one of the best we’ve ever used. If only the rest of the system had the elegance of that QR clamp...
Long Term Durability
Budget-oriented parts don’t tend to have the same lifespan as their high-end versions, but, save the grips, we saw no reason to suspect that anything on this bike would die prematurely. With no bar plugs, the ends of the slide-on grips will blow out the first time you lay the bike down in a crash.
The frame itself seems plenty stout and should withstand years of abuse. No pivots came loose, no wiggles, no wobbles, and the paint seemed to fend off scratches and chipping without issue. Sealed Enduro Max Black Oxide cartridge bearings are used throughout the linkage, including a pair that replace the bushings you’d typically find at the rear of the shock that improve shock actuation. Torque specs for all pivots are conveniently printed on the hardware, and Orbea has a handy assembly guide for full teardowns. The frame is backed with a limited lifetime warranty.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Orbea Rallon X30 is a chubby minor league player getting called up to the majors. It’s not as fast as the young guns, and it may not be as svelte as its high school self, but it’s got the chops to do great things with the proper guidance. The reality is that if you’re on a tight budget, you could buy this version, take the money left over and go get yourself lost in the wilderness and come home with some great memories. You won’t remember the sluggish climbing or lackluster rear hub engagement. You’ll look back on finding new spots and the smiles from getting back to the bottom of the hill too fast. This bike won’t win any races, but it will open some doors to fun.
Following a few updates for 2016, the Rallon continues to ooze confidence when pointed downhill, inspiring its pilot to push harder and rewarding those that oblige. As long as you're patient about the climbs, you're in for a ride that handles steeps, keeps its composure, and mows down the rough and chunky stuff remarkably well.
Visit www.orbea.com for more details.
Vital MTB Rating
- Climbing: 2.5 stars - OK
- Descending: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
- Fun Factor: 4 stars - Excellent
- Value: 3.5 stars - Very Good
- Overall Impression: 3.5 stars - Very Good
About The Reviewer
Kevin Shiramizu has been riding mountain bikes for over 17 years. During that time he accumulated multiple state championships in Colorado for XC and trials riding, a junior national champ title in trials, and went to Worlds to get his ass kicked by euros in 2003. His riding favors flat corners and sneaky lines. After a doozy of a head injury, he hung up the downhill bike for good in early 2010 and now foolishly rides a very capable trail bike with less protection and crashes just as hard as ever. He likes rough, technical trails at high elevation, but usually settles for dry, dusty, and blown out. He spent five good years of his youth working in bike shops and pitched in efforts over the years with Decline, LitterMag, Dirt, and Vital MTB. He also helped develop frames and tires during his time as a guy who occasionally gets paid to ride his bike in a fancy way in front of big crowds of people.