Instead of revamping their frame entirely for 2020, Orbea’s engineers decided to add suspension travel and progressivity by swapping out the linkage bits for their existing frame. The updated linkage brings the rear wheel travel up from 150mm to 160mm without affecting the frame geometry whatsoever.
Owners of existing Rallon R5 models can purchase the new linkage in a kit for €249 ($299), and experience all of the sweet benefits. If those same folks then want their bike to ride exactly like the 2020 model, they simply need to extend their fork’s travel from 160mm to 170mm. This can be done by purchasing a new air shaft, typically for under $200. Presto, it’s like a whole new whip.
After reviewing the Rallon this spring Orbea sent over the 2020 linkage pieces so I could feel the difference. The linkage arrived with all of the bearings installed, and swapping it over took about ten minutes. Be sure to catch the four thick steel washers that sit between the linkage and the bearings that are pressed into the frame. You wouldn’t want to take everything apart and have to wait for replacement bits.
The frame’s newfound progressiveness was immediately noticeable during the climb to my local trailhead. Previously the bike felt fairly stiff and springy when I hopped on, and I would have never considered flipping the compression switch on the Fox DHX2 into the firm position. The updated kinematics have given the rear end a much more fluid initial stroke, allowing it to move more freely with the contours of the ground for improved traction. Since I was climbing on asphalt, I selected the climb mode.
From the top of my the nearest gravity track to its terminus, two distinct characteristics shone brightly from those revised black linkage bits. The rear end traction had become laughably good, and there was still plenty of spongy bounce in the mid-stroke to keep the bike playful. My favorite test bike to date had somehow become even better. The water-smooth rear end cut the somewhat nervous feeling that the bike occasionally had prior, leaving me to focus on whirling it around like a tango partner.
After the first few rides, I added a couple of clicks of compression to the shock to give it back a small amount of the pogo-stick feel it had before. That was the extent of shock adjusting for the new tune. The rear end now ramps up nice and evenly with a coil shock installed, combining all of the benefits that an air spring would offer with the reliability and consistency of a coil.
For the price of €249 ($299), Rallon owners are getting a legitimately better bike.
Buy it: $299 MSRP, available at JensonUSA
Check out the video below to see what Orbea’s team mechanic and pro riders have to say about the 2020 Rallon suspension updates.