by Hannah Dobson
February 24, 2016
By amazing and frankly uncharacteristic feats of organisation, we managed to get a first ride on the new Orange Four and updated Orange Segment. Not only was it a first ride for us, but it’s a first ride full stop – we had the first bikes off the production line. Even more amazing than all ST towers being super organised, we had a pleasant warm and sunny day to head out and ride them.
Price: £3,700 RS model. Our test bikes came with the Reverb upgrade and customised paint options, which are additional extras.
Orange Four – in Atomic Orange. Ooh. First impressions? Not unsurprisingly it looks a lot lighter than the Orange Five and indeed it was. Our Medium weighed in at 30.11lb with pedals and Orange reckon it’s nearly a full pound lighter than an Orange Five. Good for the ups.
And in Cyan Blue. More Ooh. With Rock Shox Monarch RT3 rear shock. So good for the downs too.
Four decals on the top tube. Just in case you forget which bike you’re riding. Or possibly how many pints you shouldn’t have drunk last night.
Rockshox 130mm travel Pike up front, for throwing down drops and bumpy bits. 67 degree head angle, so a degree steeper than the Five. Please Sir, can we go out and play some more?
Renthal Fatbar bars and SRAM Guide brakes.
Maxxis High Roller II on the rear, and Minion DHF front, on Alexrims 2.7s with Hope Pro4 Hubs. Tick tick tick. With Boost 148 spacing on the rear hub.
Those distinctive Orange welds on the underbelly. Like a scar you’d definitely show your mates at every opportunity.
Typical Orange folded metal and welds, just as you’d expect.
And that rear swing arm. We like this lots. Alpine-like and more refined and lighter than the typical Orange 5 solid swing arm to which we’re so accustomed. But still definitely an Orange.
Race Face Cranks and 1×11 gearing with MRP chain guide. Plus ours came with the Rock Shox Reverb upgrade.
Characteristic internal cabling.
External cabling on the down tube, but a nice neat flowing route.
Handbuilt in Britain. Maybe there wasn’t enough room for ‘West Yorkshire’ or ‘Calder Valley’ or even the usual ‘Halifax’.
Oh go on then, we’ll have another look at that swing arm. Nice isn’t it?
But we didn’t just hang around by the canal taking pretty pictures and surreptitiously stroking welds. No, we went out to play.
First Ride Notes
Orange have developed the Four as they felt that with the Five having evolved from the Sub Five into a more aggressive bike, this left a gap in their range for a do it all bike with good pedalling ability. And we’re inclined to agree that the Four fills this gap nicely. On the climbs they’re none too sluggish with the tri-position Rock Shox Monarch RT3 controlling the simplicity of the single pivot nicely – there’s not really any bob noticeable until you stand up to pedal thanks to the lower pivot point closer to the BB. The high shock mount on the swing arm helps give the suspension action a nicely linear feel with the shock action closely following the line of the swing arm through it’s full stroke.
A combination of the shorter swing arm, short 184mm shock and more rear sitting pivot point make it feel very responsive when the shock is open but well under control when it’s time to lock things down. Shortening the back end of the bike and at the same time widening the hub (Boost 148) did noticeably affect how it handled in the corners… in a good way.
It is worth noting that if you are designing suspension around a single pivot design then you are at the mercy of the shock to really iron out the ride – it’s the price you pay for simplicity. That said Orange have really thought hard about the few variables they have left and they seem to have tuned them (rear stay length, hub width and pivot and shock position) extremely well.
You don’t feel perched atop this bike, you feel seated in it. This gives a feeling of balance and confidence, and it doesn’t feel like you need to make any real adjustments to your riding style to throw this round and down whatever takes your fancy, even on a first ride. We suspect that once you really got to know one, it would happily handle all but the most gnar of trails – but even there the limiting factor is pretty much speed rather than actual ability to ride over really big hits. To be fair, it wasn’t like we held back on the trails we did tackle, and no one had any scary overcooked moments. As its looks suggest, It does feel pretty nimble and just.. well.. Balanced. Mark and Hannah both felt they wouldn’t complain if told they had to ride one again. And again. And again. It’s clear to us after just one ride that this is a bike that would happily fill most of the bell curve of riding options for the majority of riders.
Given the almost cult following that Orange has, Hannah is slightly apprehensive about admitting that she doesn’t really like the look of the Orange Five. She says they look a bit too heavy and Mad Max for her taste. But the Four has won her round. It looks lighter, it is lighter, and it feels nimble. What more could you want?
Can’t see the video? Click here
Well, if it’s bigger wheels you want, check back soon for a look at the new and updated Orange Segment.