Trans-Provence and A Review
If you have some extra frequent flyer miles to fly to Europe, and are looking for stage race with a focus on single track and technical down hill single track, check out Trans-Provence in the Mediterranean Pre-Alps. Trans-Provence describes itself as a (not too) competitive 7 day stage race (ride) open to "all experienced and technically competent mountain bikers." While that certainly leaves me out the Trans-Provence peeps also say that it contains "more sweet single track than you can shake a stick at." Pretty sweet! But don't waste time shakin' sticks, check some of this out...
Location: South-Eastern France
Date: September 25th through October 3rd, 2010
9,500 meters vertical ascent
15,200 meters vertical descent
Stay tuned, as my man in the UK Paul-E, MIGHT be checking this one out, and THAT means that XXC might have some coverage coming up. We'll see.
I have been trying to avoid the whole "bike review" thing in XXC Magazine, and will continue to do so for now, but figure the blog is a nice place to put up some quick feedback on some bikes and parts without appearing to be sucking at the teet of an advertiser . Not that I would do that, but worth sayin' (At least the teet of an advertiser, ha! Sorry). Annnyway... Since we're on the subject of technical, downhill-ish single track and the riding there of, XXC Mag contributor Jesse Stevens had a chance to demo a 2011 Orbea Rallon through his shop Velocity Bicycles in Huntington, WV. Review Declaimer: Jesse's shop is an Orbea dealer but does not currently stock them. No cash, selling of kidneys, nights in the Champagne Room or anything else spawned this review. Just the chance to test out a new bike on some technical West Virginia singletrack.
On to the testy....
Those in the know and know what’s popular in Europe will tell you that long travel bikes have been a huge segment of the bike market for the last 5 years. While we have been plugging away on the 29er trail on this side of the pond, it’s been slowly growing in popularity here as well. For 2011 many companies are offering 140-150mm travel 26” bikes with a surprisingly low weight and one of those is the Orbea Rallon. Orbea was kind enough to provide me with an XT kitted version for extended testing and it comes with nice Mavic wheels and a Fox thru axle fork.
My first impression was that of surprise at the weight, 28 lbs. for a bike with XT, 5 inches of travel and Time pedals is more than respectable (especially at $4,000 retail). After climbing on board and pedaling it around the steep climbs at the local trails I was very pleased with the feeling of efficiency. Although it does climb very well and it feels great on twisty single track. This bike is made for rocky, rooty, nasty, dirty and FUN mountain biking. The geometry was tailor made for turning the worst of the worst into the just plain fun! And it does that very well. In the 2 months I've been riding it, the Rallon has seen the rockiest trails that WV has to offer and I've laughed my way over all of them. Recently I let a good friend of mine who's very fast, but lacking some technical skills, ride it on our training rides and it transformed him into a masterful rider (I'm guessing the transformation ends when the bike goes back to Orbea). We've both had the same feeling while riding the Rallon, and the best way I know how to describe it is “fun”.
Now this isn't your standard “OMG best bike ever go buy 2 in case you need a backup” kinda review. And there is one drawback with this bike that Cross Country racers out there will find hard to overlook. It’s heavy, not heavy for a bike with 140mm of travel, but heavy for what you might be used to on a lighter XC bike. I went wild on it and changed parts, wheels, tires to go as low as I could get it within reason and it was still 26.5lbs. It’s not meant to be a World Cup racing machine and can’t be held to the same weight standard as one either I find that when I'm climbing very very steep grades it does feel a little more sluggish than my 22 lb. racer, and on fire road flats and double track you definitely get the feeling that you're on way too much bike for the terrain. The minor pedal bob is barely noticeable on the road though, so it makes for a really comfortable ride no matter where you are.
After 2 months on the Rallon I can say without question that I'm going to buy one. In my opinion the weight penalty you pay for the travel is well worth it for the comfort and confidence on scarier more technical trails. The XC guys may not like the extra few pounds, but hey they are only on their bike for 2 hours or less, ask them again after 5.
Thanks for the review Jesse!
Lastly, don't forget the XXC Magazine World HQ Moving Sale going on right now. All t shirts are just $10.