by Dave Anderson
January 3, 2014
Six months in how's the Five RS coping?
If you read the introduction to the Five RS you’ll know my intention with the bike has been to use it for everything and everywhere it’s ‘jack of all trades’ reputation suggests. Six months in here’s my thoughts on the bike so far…
The Five RS sees the latest evolution of Orange’s ever popular trail bike introduce a longer top tube, slacker front end, 44mm head tube for maximum fork choice, 142×12 rear end and of course that new wheel size 27.5. The RS in particular also includes a complete SRAM themed drivetrain, brake and suspension package all strapped onto what seems to be a love/hate ‘Galactic Grey’ frame set.
Up front suspension is handled by a 150mm Solo Air Rockshox Pike RCT3, a fork that simply out classes it’s current competitors, and sets the Five RS up perfectly for hitting up hard and technical terrain with confidence and speed. (Here’s my Pike thoughts if you want a bit more info).
The 140mm of rear travel is managed by the paired Rockshox Monarch RCT3 which works well with the single pivot design creating a very stable pedalling platform. The latest Five is certainly a better climber than earlier reincarnations and hooked up well on short steep technical pulls; the slightly larger wheels contributing to extra traction. It climbed with minimal wandering and while it’s never going to be a fast climber it wasn’t particularly slow either. With the 32t X01 chainring and 10-42t cassette out back there’s more than enough gear range to tackle anything the UK can throw at you. For long climbs in the Alps we’d probably opt for a 30t just to get a little more spin.
Point it downhill and flip the lever to open and the bike becomes a lively and competent descender, the fork and shock working well together to offer a very tuneable ride. There’s a definite ‘single pivot’ feel to the way it handles drops and turns, with plenty of feedback to the rider. This is a good thing in my opinion and creates a very involving ride once you’ve got the hang of how to tune your style to get the most out of the bike, don’t just sit there and expect it to do it all for you. Well timed braking, body shifts and weighting the front end will really make the bikes performance shine.
Braking has been consistently superb with the Elixir Trail 9 brakes (full review of these is coming up). Chain retention hasn’t been a problem on anything I’ve thrown it down so far but the frame has ISCG tabs for a chain device if you want the extra peace of mind.
One of the best by products of the 1×11 set up is of course the neat and sparse bar set up with the Stealth Reverb remote mounted under the bar on the left. This not only creates a neater set of controls but also makes using the dropper a simple and intuitive thumb movement; much easier to do on the move which should encourage you to use it more often. This is a good thing.
So where are the compromises? Let’s face it all bikes have them to hit a certain price point.
First to go on my bike were the tyres; Schwalbe Nobby Nics, a tyre which did nothing to enthuse me to ride the bike and had such a negative impact they only lasted one ride before they were swapped out for something with a bit of grip which better suited the capabilities of the Five. There’s a lot of supply issues with 27.5 this early in it’s introduction so hopefully we’ll see Orange spec a better tyre in the future. I’m currently running a Maxxis High Roller II rear/WTB Vigilante front which better suits it.
Secondly, and I know this one’s a bit more personal, but the 70mm Thomson stem was a bit out of place on a bike geared up for hard technical riding so that got swapped out for a shorter 50mm Raceface Turbine. Mainly for a ‘collars and cuffs’ aesthetic I’ve had to change the 730mm Thomson All Mountain bar for a slightly wider Raceface SixC.
And lastly we have the Mavic XM319 rim. While it’s built up into a wheel with Hope’s bombproof Pro Evo II hubs which is a good thing, it’s a bit overwhelmed given the capabilities of the rest of the bike. A Stans Arch EX or Flow seems the more obvious choice given where the Five RS is headed (Flows are available as an upgrade option from Orange). Some new wheels will probably be the next change I make to the bike.
Thoughts so far? The Five RS is a bike that’s almost right straight out of the shop. You’re getting a sorted suspension platform, simple but capable drivetrain that combined with a simplicity of the single pivot design adds up to a pretty capable and competent but low maintenance whole.
A bike that’ll deal with everything you want it to and do it with no fuss. It’s the logical progression in the evolution of what is a very popular trail bike.