orange 329 downhill bike

Vaughan Evans’ Nasty Orange 329 Prototype 29er Downhill Bike

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And we mean ‘nasty’ in the good kind of way.

Orange first showed a prototype 29er downhill bike at Eurobike last year, which was originally labelled up as the ‘Strange DH29’. The Halifax-based bicycle manufacturer has been refining its big wheel concept since then, with tubing, geometry and the rear suspension design all receiving tweaks to get the performance dialled in just-so. Orange is still keeping quiet on any expected dates of arrival for the bike that is now known as the 329, but given how good this one here is looking, we don’t expect it to be that far away.

orange 329 downhill bike

The owner of this X-Large 329 prototype is a chap called Vaughan Evans, who brought his lovely bike to Fort William to display on the Orange stand. His frame has a custom raw polished finish, and there are lovely details abound including a slew of titanium bolts, a titanium rear axle, and a titanium main pivot. Oh, and a bejewelled head tube badge. We’re also told that the shock mount is different, with Orange experimenting with different shock locations and lengths to fine-tune the progression and feel of the travel.

Orange 329 XL Prototype Features

  • Prototype 29er downhill bike
  • Made in the UK
  • 180mm rear travel
  • 200mm travel Fox 40 fork
  • Head angle: 64.5°
  • Reach: 456mm
  • Chainstays: 465mm
  • Wheelbase: 1286mm
orange 329 downhill bike
Given how popular 29ers are getting in the longer-travel genre, is the 329 a replacement for the 324?

The frame itself is of course made from alloy, and it features Orange’s characteristic single-pivot suspension design, with a high and forward main pivot. Rear suspension travel is just on 180mm, and Vaughan has that paired to a Fox 40 fork with a full 200mm of travel.

The wheels are built with Hope Pro4 hubs and Stan’s No Tubes Flow rims, which are wrapped with 2.5in Wide Trail Maxxis Minion DHF tyres. Of note is that these tyres are the regular EXO folding-bead versions, and not the heavy duty 2-ply downhill model. The drivetrain is a bit of a combination setup, with Hope cranks, Kore flat pedals, a Renthal chainring, a Shovel carbon fibre chainguide, and a SRAM GX 7-speed rear mech and shifter. Look a little bit closer, and you’ll also spot a Hope cassette too. It isn’t a regular Hope cassette though, but rather the first seven sprockets of a Hope cassette, with the larger alloy sprockets removed. This smaller portion of the cassette is machined out of a single billet of steel.

orange 329 downhill bike fox 40
Up front is a full 200mm of travel via a Fox 40 dual-crown fork.
orange 329 downhill bike
The Fox X2 shock pierces the downtube right through the middle.
orange 329 downhill bike
A large, CNC-machined shock mount supports the rear shock, and provides a welding surface for the two sections of the downtube.
orange 329 downhill bike fox 40
Another look at the downtube ‘pocket’. Oh, and we like the Segment sticker on the back of the seat tube.
orange 329 downhill bike
The elevated swingarm employs the newer style split-stay arrangement, with the folded sheet metal forming a hollow monocoque structure.
orange 329 downhill bike
orange 329 downhill bike hope cassette
The huge bolt-up dropouts are clamping down on a titanium rear axle.
orange 329 downhill bike hope cassette
Vaughan has his Orange 329 setup with the smaller portion of a Hope cassette. Combined with the SRAM GX rear derailleur, he has seven speeds at his disposal.
orange 329 downhill bike hope
Spot the titanium bolts in this photo.
orange 329 downhill bike
The curves on that swingarm are dead lovely.
orange 329 downhill bike
Those stays are long – the rear centre measures at 465mm on the 329.
orange 329 downhill bike
Hope cranks feature a 30mm spindle and a threaded bottom bracket.
orange 329 downhill bike
The 329 has some stance, but the current prototype isn’t the longest or slackest bike out there.
orange 329 downhill bike jewel
More titanium bolts for the clamps on the Fox 40 fork.
orange 329 prototype jewels head badge
Bejewelled head tube badge and everything!

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