Well the news is officially out: Orange has a brand new short-travel 29er. But this one ain’t called the Segment…
Replacing the current Segment for 2018 and beyond, the brand new Stage 4 is also designed around 29in wheels and features 110mm of rear wheel travel, but that’s just about where the similarities end. The geometry has changed, the frame is entirely new, and the suspension design encompasses the same improvements that were rolled out in Orange’s most recent full suspension bikes such as the Four, Five, and Stage 5.
While Orange is currently revealing its new 2018 lineup to the media at the Eurobike show in Friedrichshafen right now, given we’re just over the hill from Orange’s base in Halifax, we nabbed ourselves an exclusive first look at the new 29er a few weeks back, along with an exclusive first ride too.
Before we go any further though; why the name change?
Well, there have been enough changes on the Segment to warrant a change of name, and Orange decided it would do exactly that to help simplify the lineup. For 27.5in wheels you’ve got the Four, Five and Alpine 6. And for 29in wheels you’ve got the Stage 4, Stage 5 and Stage 6. Then the higher the number, the bigger the travel. Simples.
Another reason is to do with the popularity of the Stage 5 and 6 models, which have been in scorching-hot demand since they were first debuted at Eurobike last year. Looking to build on that success and round out the range, while capitalising on the reputation of the Stage name, the Stage 4 slots into the lineup as a short travel 29er, which still encompasses many of the same design and engineering features as its bigger, burlier siblings.
So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what makes up the Stage 4, along with Chipps’ first ride impressions from testing the prototype back in June at the Go Outdoors Mountain Mayhem 24-hour mountain bike race.
Orange Stage Four Features
- Full suspension 29er XC trail bike
- Made in Britain
- 6061-T6 aluminum monocoque frame
- 110mm rear travel
- Single pivot suspension design
- Metric 190x40mm rear shock
- Designed for 120mm travel forks
- 67.5° head angle
- 74.5° seat tube angle
- 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
- ISCG 05 chainguide tabs
- Boost 148x12mm rear hub spacing
- 435mm chainstay length
- Internal routing for brake, gear and dropper post cabling
- Available sizes: Medium, Large, X-Large
- Frame RRP: £1760 (TBC)
- Complete bike RRP: £2800 – £5600 (TBC)
Like the rest of the Orange full suspension range, the Stage 4 is manufactured right here in the UK in Orange’s Halifax factory. Most of the frame is constructed from 6061-T6 alloy sheet metal, which has been folded and welded to create complex hollow structures – many of which are hidden internally where you’ll never get to appreciate them. The 44mm head tube and threaded bottom bracket shell are CNC machined from billet alloy, as are the dropouts, shock mounts and main pivot assembly. The round seat tube is the only stock tube that Orange buys in to the factory.
The biggest visual change on the new Stage 4 compared to the outgoing Segment is of course the move away from the distinctive monocoque swingarm. Retaining the single pivot design, the back end of the Stage 4 uses the same rectangular split-tube design as you’ll find on the Four and Alpine 6. It’s lighter and stiffer than the monocoque swingarm from the Segment, and features the Boost-offset to align with the 148x12mm thru-axle dropouts.
In moving to the split-stay swingarm, Orange has also shortened the rear centre length on the Stage 4 by 12mm. Compared to the Segments 447mm rear centre measurement, the Stage 4 comes in at a more compact 435mm.
Orange has also altered the kinematics of the Stage 4’s suspension design. The main pivot now sits closer to the 32t chainring, and rather than piercing the downtube, it mounts to a separate machined brace that wedges between the downtube and seat tube. Along with wider bearing placement, this new main pivot is said to significantly improve stiffness.
Possibly more noteworthy is the use of a metric-sized rear shock, making the Stage 4 the first Orange mountain bike to feature the new-school shock sizing. It’s a 190x40mm sized shock, which has a way longer eye-to-eye length than the itty-bitty 165x38mm shock used on the Segment. The new shock lowers the average leverage ratio slightly, but it also pushes the upper shock mount further up the downtube.
A more subtle upgrade for the new Stage 4 has been an increase in standover height, made possible by a beautiful curved top tube. The seat tube has been shrunken in length slightly, offering up greater compatibility for those who want to run a dropper post with more than 125mm of travel. Along with the move to internal cable routing through the downtube, the Stage 4 cuts a very clean profile.
Although the rear centre length has been shortened on the Stage 4, Orange has opened up the reach measurement by a decent amount. As an example, the Medium frame size grows to a 444mm reach, up from the 435mm reach on the Segment. Other tweaks include a half-degree slacker head tube angle (now 67.5°), and a half-degree steeper seat tube angle (now 74.5°). As such, the Stage 4 sits the rider more centrally between the two wheels by pushing the front wheel further out front.
There will be four different spec options available with the new Stage 4 frame, starting at £2800 for the Stage 4 S, and going all the way up to £5600 for the Stage 4 Factory. Shown here, the Stage 4 Factory is equipped with a Kashima-laden Fox 34 Float fork, a SRAM 1×12 Eagle drivetrain, and Fox Transfer dropper post. Wheels are laced and built in-house at Orange with Hope Pro4 hubs and Race Face ARC 30 rims.
Chipps’ 1st Ride
During the 2017 Mountain Mayhem 24-hour mountain bike race back in June, Chipps was provided a prototype Stage 4 to test out on the 11km course in Gatcombe Park. So what did Chipps make of the changes over the Segment – a bike he has tested and reviewed, and knows very well?
“As luck would have it, this Mayhem, I was on the RideForMichael team with someone from Orange Bikes who happened to have a prototype Stage Four in his van and happened to ride the same size bike as me.
The frame felt very familiar, due to the similarities to the new generation of Orange bikes we’ve been testing over the last year or so: the Four, the new Five and Stage Five, all share the same DNA, so hopping on the bike felt very familiar.
The Gatcombe Park course offers a fast, rolling loop that’s high on singletrack, interspersed with some short, tough climbs. The Stage Four offered a very trustworthy and stable feel when hurtling into the dark woods from the blinding sunshine and took in all the roots and half-buried rocks that the Mayhem course offered. There was enough travel to suck up any trail buzz, as well as some of the punchier hits from hidden rocks and roots as the course wore in. I found that leaping out of the saddle for climbs still gave plenty of grip and a lack of bobbing. I kept the shock wide open for all of my laps. The shorter travel of the Stage Four (compared to the Five) results in less of that ‘hingeing in the middle’ sag that can affect Orange’s bigger travel bikes on technical climbs’ and the Stage Four allowed a lot of power put-down.
I have a Gen1 Segment from only about three years ago. Will I be trading it in for one of these? Absolutely. There seems to be enough of an evolution, along with an adoption of all of the standards (Boost, metric shock, etc) to make the new Segment a worthy upgrade.”
While Chipps enjoyed his time with the prototype Stage 4, the rest of us in the office are very eager to get our hands on one to test.
In the meantime, check out the Orange website for more information about the new Stage 4 and the rest of the 2018 bike line.