As is traditional, we popped in to see Halifax metal-benders Orange who kindly bring a big stack of magazines for us to give out each year, saving us from almost certain bankruptcy due to Ryanair’s excess baggage charges.
They’ve always got some new and interesting hiding on their stand and this year is no exception. After the long gestation for the Gyro, their first bouncy big wheeler, they were showing off this Strange stickered 140mm travel 29er. They’ve yet to decide what they’re going to call it; whether it should be a big wheeled Five or a long travel Gyro is still a subject for debate. What’s more concrete is the time they’ve spend playing about to get the geometry correct.
The numbers look good, with a steep seat angle and a nicely relaxed 67° head angle. As Michael Bonney says “it’s taken us three years of work to get a 29er we’re happy with”, so long travel and big wheels isn’t something they’ve rushed into just to keep up with marketing trends.
The frame has some neat features which debut on this bike but will probably be seen on future versions of the Five. The shock yoke is a neat item that’s broader than the older design, allowing Orange to produce the bikes to tighter tolerances. At the other end of the shock, the mount is also heavily machined to reduce weight and allows for thinner tubing.
The headtube is a full 1.5″ item, so you can run any fork you like or an Angleset if you want to push the geometry further. In a first for Orange, the back end uses the 142×12 standard with a Maxle too.
In other news, there’s a new big wheeled hardtail in the form of the Clockwork 29. Designed to run with a 120-100mm fork up front, it’s built as the trail bike counterpoint to the racier E9, building on knowledge gained there to give a lightweight but durable aluminium frame.
There will be two models, the basic Clockwork 29 which comes with a 100mm Rock Shox fork and the slightly posher Clockwork S, which gets a 120mm fork up front and posher components. No final word on price for these.
It’s always fun to ask the straight talking Mr Bonney about whatever new fad or fashion is going on in the industry and without doubt, this year’s talking point is 650B. So are Orange doing a 650B – or 27 4/8th as they prefer to call it – bike? It’s not been discounted, but in typical fashion they’re waiting, testing and trying it out before they rush into anything…