Long Termers: Sim’s Orange Five

March 3, 2011

When I originally ordered the Five from Orange I had in mind to hang SRAM’s new 2×10 X0 groupset off it. As is often the way though product release dates got pushed back and rather than leave the Five unbuilt and unridden I stuck it together with a Shimano SLX, XTR medley. And then a […]

Tested: by for

When I originally ordered the Five from Orange I had in mind to hang SRAM’s new 2×10 X0 groupset off it. As is often the way though product release dates got pushed back and rather than leave the Five unbuilt and unridden I stuck it together with a Shimano SLX, XTR medley.

And then a big box of SRAM bits turned up…

Orange Five with X0
On the rocks with a slice of Orange on the side.

First off it’s probably worth talking about X0. Not so long ago X0 was SRAM’s flagship groupset levelled directly at Shimano’s range-topping XTR, but then SRAM pulled out XX, it’s über-expensive, no-holds-barred, every gram shaved, XTR slayer. Which left SRAM with a bit of an odd problem.

Rather than people thinking that XX was a groupset aimed above XTR people drew comparisons between the two. Unsurprising really, as XTR is the best you can get from Big Blue and XX is the best you can get from Big Red. The problem with that is X0 then gets demoted and compared to Shimano’s second from the top XT rather than XTR. Why’s that a problem? Well on paper X0 looks mightily expensive compared to XT. An X0 rear mech is £209, an XT rear mech is £69.99, even an XTR rear mech is ‘only’ £169. So more expensive than Shimano’s flagship product and in the consumers mind at an XT level. Like it or not Shimano is the benchmark against which all others, especially SRAM, are judged. Just because you say something is a level above your competitor doesn’t mean people will view it as such.

Anyhow, before digging out the tool box I threw all the shiny X0 onto some scales, so here’s some numbers:

Rear Mech: 198g, £209.99

Front Mech: 124g, £59.99

Crankset (39/26): 674g, £379.99

Bottom Bracket: 106g

Cassette (XG1080): 239g, £224.99

Chain: 256g

Shifter (With inner cable): 118g, £212.99

Brakeset (Rear Caliper/lever/hose): 274g, £249.99

Rotor (185mm): 160g

The build went together easily enough, in the case of the BB a bit too easily as it went in all the way by hand, no tools required. Loctite is required. The rear mech had me scratching my head as no matter what I did I couldn’t get it to go into the largest cog, it took a fresh pair of eyes and a screwdriver courtesy of George at Blazing Saddles to get it sorted. The biggest problem I had though was getting the 10 speed cassette onto the Crank Brothers Cobalt freehub, I couldn’t fit all the cogs on. In theory a 10 speed cassette is the same width as a 9 speed cassette yet the SRAM XG1080 wouldn’t fit. It would however fit on the Mavic Crossmax ST freehub so the fault seems to lie with the wheels and not the cassette.

So, 2×10. If you’d read through the Singletrack Editors’ Choice Awards back in issue 62 you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2×10 was The Future, everyone was gushing over it. Apart from me. Not because I had any negative feelings about it but because I hadn’t ridden it enough to have made a decision either way. I was interested to see how I’d get on with a reduced number of gears and without a bashguard on the Five as I tend to use both a lot.

The thing I was most curious about though was how it would affect the suspension. Most full suspension trail bikes are designed to use their suspension most effectively with a 32 tooth chainring, after all this is the chainring most people spend most of the time riding in, yet SRAM don’t offer a double ring chainset with a 32 tooth chainring. With that in mind I asked Dave Flynn, Orange’s media handler, three questions.

Is the Five’s suspension designed to work at its best with a certain sized chainring?
If so, what affect would there be if a rider used a larger or smaller than optimum chainring ?
Who’d win in a fight you or Vaughan (Orange’s paint shop maestro)?

The Five was very much designed around the traditional three ring or double/bash setup. Thankfully, most still opt for this option. The single ring guys are also catered for perfectly with the pivot position – optimised for 1×10, 3×10 or double/bash setup. Where the pivot placement is theoretically compromised is with a Sram 2×10 setup (Shimano XTR race variations don’t fit), frequently used front ring too small, there’ll be a little kickback compromising efficiency when you’re out of the saddle. The ring too big, there’ll be some compromise in sensitivity when the suspension is trying to work whilst under load from the chain. The important thing to remember is the matter isn’t cut and shut, in the small ring traction is improved but efficiency compromised, on a 140mm trail bike, who’s out of the saddle hammering the climbs? Certainly not me…

So while all setups work with different benefits, the Five was always designed around running a 32-36 tooth ring as your main hammering along gear setup. For me? Much of this seems academic on the trail, the pivot position in the granny gear can cause bob if you’re mashing the gears, but sit down and spin like a man! Compromise in the big ring? That doesn’t matter too much, you’re never cranking the really rough stuff. Big hits and not underload, it doesn’t particularly make a difference either way. As you know, I’m not particularly technical, but from where I stand (or sit when I’m climbing), I prefer running a standard triple or single ring setup depending what I’m riding, 2×10 is way too 2010…

And come on!! Vaughan versus big guns Flynn, if it’s not clear enough I’ll come over there and…well, probably say hi sheepishly…

I’ll leave you with that for now but I’ll be posting another report soon with riding impressions of the X0…

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