by Wil Barrett
April 4, 2017
After knocking on the doors of the Orange factory last week to drop off a rinsed-and-released test bike, I managed to secretly smuggle away two fresh bikes into the back of the Singletrack Magical Mystery Van. Some say it was the dashing smile, while others say it was the beautifully curated tap dance. Whatever it was that distracted Orange’s bike builders, the result was two new test bikes ready for your viewing pleasure. One bike those bikes you’ll be reading about very soon, and the other was this stunning Smurf-blue Stage 5, which I immediately took to the trails to get dirty. Not before I got some beauty shots though.
The Smurfinator you see here is the brand new Orange Stage 5. It’s Orange’s 135mm travel 29er full suspension trail bike, and it sits in between the 110mm travel Segment, and the 160mm travel Stage 6. You may recall that Orange first showed off the new Stage 5 & Stage 6 prototypes at the 2016 Eurobike show. The long travel 29ers were then officially released in production form in January of this year, and since then, Orange cannot make them fast enough.
Those with more extensive memory banks will remember that Orange first dipped its toes into the 29in pool (that’s a relatively small pool FYI), way back in 2011 when it first prototyped the original Gyro frame. Then in 2013, the longer-travel Five 29er came out with 140mm of travel. Since those two bikes hit the market though, there’s been some significant advancements in suspension technology and 29er frame geometry, and that’s warranted progressive evolution for big-wheeled trail bikes. Steep head angles and twisty forks no more! Orange began it’s 29er spring clean by replacing the Gyro with the brilliant Segment, and now it’s done the same thing with the Five 29.
Essentially what you’re looking at here is the spiritual successor to the Five 29 (which was renamed the Alpine 5 more recently). However, the Stage 5 has been pumped full of new features and frame technologies, and along with lowerer, slackerer and longerer geometry, it’s a far more dynamic beast. Let’s take a closer look at what Orange believes makes this bike special.
“Forget everything you thought you knew about bigger-wheeled bikes: the Stage 5 is here. Designed to go further and faster whatever the terrain, this bike signals a new generation of trail-loving 29ers where nothing’s off limits and everything goes. Big wheels and a super-efficient pivot position help transfer more of your energy straight into the trail – great for carrying speed and tackling epics. Meanwhile, the Stage’s frameset geometry is slack enough for the steeps and long enough for superb stability, not to mention the chance to reap the handling rewards of running a short stem. A sweet spot of 140/135 travel helps flatten even the roughest rock gardens too – perfect for pace, comfort and efficiency.” – Orange Bikes.
Orange Stage 5 Features
- Full suspension 29er trail bike
- Made in Britain
- 6061-T6 aluminum monocoque frame
- 135mm rear travel
- Single pivot suspension design
- Designed for 140mm travel forks
- 66.5° head angle
- 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
- ISCG 05 chainguide tabs
- Boost 148x12mm rear hub spacing
- 445mm chainstay length
- Internal routing for brake, gear and dropper post cabling
- Available sizes: Medium, Large, X-Large
- Frame RRP: From £1760
- Complete bike RRP: £4300 (Stage RS Build)
The bike we’ve got on test here is the Orange Stage 5 RS. For the complete bike options, the Stage 5 is available in three different build kits; RS, LE and Factory, with the RS being the base level spec. The Stage 5 is also available on its own as a frame with shock for £1760.
At its core, the Stage 5 frame possesses a classic Orange single pivot suspension design. A high and forward main pivot mount is the sole swivelling point for the monocoque swingarm, offering the simplicity and durability that Orange is renowned for. Design-wise, the Stage 5 bears many similarities with the latest Orange Five. Travel-wise, it’s a touch shorter (140/135mm vs 150/140mm), but the overall profile of the Stage Five is reminiscent of its 27.5in-wheeled cousin.
On the back of the Stage RS is a RockShox Monarch RT3 rear shock (other Stage 5 models come with Fox Float X2 rear shocks). This 51mm stroke damper controls the 135mm of rear wheel travel, and comes with an enlarged Debonair can and Rapid Recovery rebound damping for more supple and consistent performance.
Like the rest of Orange’s 2017 mountain bike line, the Stage models get lighter and more refined alloy tubesets that include a beautifully curved top tube. Just like the downtube, the top tube is made from folded 6061-T6 alloy, with a welded seam running along the length of the tube’s underside.
The elevated swingarm out back is of the one-piece monocoque flavour, rather than the split-tube truss used on the Stage 6 and Four. It’s certainly beefy, and locks down on the rear hub via a RockShox 148x12mm Maxle. At the front of the swingarm you’ll find two 28mm sealed cartridge bearings – that’s it. Less moving parts to worry about, and less chance for squeaks and creaks to develop during a nasty British winter.
Speaking of, the Stage 5 has oodles of mud clearance thanks to the elevated swingarm design. The frame is also rocking a conventional threaded bottom bracket, helping the Stage 5 tick all of the practical-and-sensible boxes.
Like Orange’s other full-suspension frames, the Stage 5 is made right here in the UK at Orange’s Halifax factory.
The alloy itself comes from Reynolds, and is formed in-house from sheet metal before it’s welded into the final product you see here. One detail that might be a bit tricky to spot in the above photo is the use of stealthy rubber chain-slap guard along the underside of the alloy swingarm. Nice!
The Stage 5 gets internal cable routing through both the main triangle and the swingarm.
Up front is a 140mm travel RockShox Pike RCT3 fork. Chunky 35mm stanchions and a Boost 110x15mm thru-axle help to keep everything taut through the steering wheel.
Keeping it British, there’s a Renthal cockpit on the Stage 5 RS. Following the stiffness theme, there’s a chubby 35mm diameter Fatbar in that lovely gold Renthal colour.
And to match, a 50mm long Renthal Apex stem, which is also of British origins. That gold goes splendidly with the blue paint job no?
Tidy 1x cockpit that sees SRAM’s Guide R brakes integrated with MatchMaker technology to reduce clamps on the bars. The Reverb dropper remote tucks in underneath the left brake lever, offering a much more ergonomic position for the push-button style plunger.
On the other side of the bars, the Guide R brake lever piggybacks the SRAM GX 11-speed trigger shifter. Oh and sticky Renthal Lock-On grips all-round.
On the other end of the Reverb remote is a hoooge 170mm travel Reverb Stealth dropper seat post, which is adorned with an SDG saddle complete with Strange finishing details.
Laying down ze power is a carbon fibre SRAM X1 crankset, with a 30t X-Sync direct-mount chainring and a 24mm GXP spindle.
11-speed shifting out back is governed by an X0-1 rear derailleur. On the note of the 1×11 drivetrain, the Stage 5 frame is 1x only – so no front derailleurs allowed in this club.
New standards where it counts: the wider Boost hub spacing on the front allows for a increased flange widths for a stiffer wheel build.
At the other end of the Boost’d hubs you’ll find Race Face ARC 30 rims. Formerly known as Easton ARC, these tubeless ready rims get a generous 30mm internal rim width and 32h drilling for using the correct number of spokes for a proper mountain bike wheelset.
Orange has gone with Maxxis rubber on the Stage 5, using EXO sidewalls for both the Minion DHF on the front and the High Roller II out back.
The Orange Stage 5 will be joining two other test bikes in an upcoming group test for Singletrack Magazine, so you’ll be able to read about it’s on-trail performance in the not-too-distant future. For the meantime, check out the full spec list below, and let me know if you’ve got any questions about the Smurf Wagon by dropping them into the comments section below.
And for further details on the Stage 5, head to orangebikes.co.uk
2017 Orange Stage 5 RS Specifications
- Frame // 6061-T6 Monocoque, 135mm Travel
- Fork // RockShox Pike RCT3, 140mm Travel
- Shock // RockShox Monarch RT3 Debonair
- Hubs // Hope Pro 4, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // Race Face ARC 30, 32h
- Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.3in Front & High Roller II EXO 27.5 x 2.3in Rear
- Chainset // SRAM X1 Carbon, 30t X-Sync Chainring
- Front Mech // N/A
- Rear Mech // SRAM X0-1, 11-Speed
- Shifters // SRAM GX, 11-Speed
- Cassette // SRAM PG-1150, 10-42t, 11-Speed
- Brakes // SRAM Guide R, 200mm Front & 180mm Rear
- Stem // Renthal Apex 35, 50mm Long
- Bars // Renthal Fatbar 35, 800mm Wide, 20mm Rise
- Grips // Renthal Lock-On Ultra Tacky
- Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth, 30.9mm, 170mm Travel
- Saddle // SDG Strange Bel Air 2.0
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes available // Medium, Large, X-Large
- Weight // 13.73kg (30.206lbs)