With the 30th Anniversary of Orange Bikes fast approaching we thought we would look over the past 3 decades and pick the Orange models that meant the most to us. Below are 10 bikes which we either lusted over, owned or have reviewed from the Halifax based bike brand.
Orange Four – Andi
The Orange Four was one of the first test bikes I rode when I started here at Singletrack, and it remains one of the most fun bikes that I’ve ridden to this day. The Four is often seen as an XC bike due to its shorter travel, and while it does perform cross country duties very well it is way more capable than the travel might suggest.
Progressive suspension gives the Four a playful ride, with plenty of pop making this Orange a good choice for heading to the BMX track or dirt jumps just as much as aiming it uphill for an all-day slog.
Orange X1 – Andi
I never owned an Orange X1, I never got to ride one and the closest I came to one was a frame hung up at a Leisure Lakes. The X1 was Orange’s first ever full-suspension bike and it was made of steel, not aluminium. Like today’s Orange bikes, the X1 had a single pivot for simplicity, but the URT design meant that it locked out a little when stood up. Still, it looked pretty darn cool and I still wouldn’t mind owning one today.
Orange C16R – Mark
My second proper mountain bike was an Orange C16R. It had a silver paint job and came with Rockshox Quadra 21 – the original seasonal fork in that they only worked in the summer – elastomers you see.. remember those?
The stem was by Orange and was a quill stem and resembled a rudder being as it was a good 140mm in length. Wow! And the headtube took a 1inch headset. Angles? I can’t quite remember but the number 71 comes to mind. It certainly climbed well. I don’t recall going fast downhill on it though. It was equipped with Shimano STX bits, which were amazing as everyone who used them will clearly recall. I raced this bike in the heady XCV racing days of the mid 90’s. Orange ruled the race scene in the UK back then. You couldn’t move on the start line for Orange hardtails. I loved this bike. But I really wanted the chrome P7. I just couldn’t afford one.
Orange Mr XC – Mark
After the Clockwork I got myself an Orange Mr XC. This was my first full suspension bike and I expensed it in my tax return once I began freelancing for various bike mags. I got it for a great price direct from Orange thanks to the amazing Michael Bonney, so it remains the cheapest and most tax efficient bike I’ve ever bought with my own money. Looking back it was essentially a Five but with horribly steep angles.
I hammered the headset in myself with a mallet and block of wood and almost shit myself at the angle of the top cup after the first hit. I managed to salvage it back though. That’s my overriding memory of this bike, apart from the bloody awful decision I made to have the swing arm painted orange. On the red front triangle. What was I thinking?
Orange Five – Ross
I’ve always liked Orange bikes – especially the full suspension. I like the semi-industrial made-in-a-shed, hydro-what look of them and the fact that they’re made ‘int north. In 2011 I got my first Five, in apple green. It was brilliant… fun, pedal-able and with a set of 36’s on the front you could ride anything. I did everything on it, from big XC days, to uplifts, to racing the mega!!
Orange Stage 6 – Ross
Fast forward to 2017 and I got a Stage 6.. this to me was the perfect evolution of my Five, and everything I wanted in a modern day trail/enduro bike. Longer reach, better angles, bigger wheels. It rides so well, is simple to maintain, and can be pedalled all day but is also amazingly confident on rowdy tracks. For me, it’s one of the best modern-day trail bikes you can spend your hard earned on.
Orange Patriot – Wil
I think the love for Orange Bikes centred a lot around the 222 and 223 downhill bikes, which, thanks in part to the personality and successes of Steve Peat (remember that special edition yellow and black paint job??) were probably the most common models spotted in Oz. However, it was the Patriot freeride bike that caught my attention when I was flicking through the pages of AMB Magazine as a teenager. I remember seeing one fitted with one of the original Manitou Sherman forks – the Patriot was an early adopter of the 1.5in head tube standard (which should have never gone away IMO) and with the huge single crown fork and the frame’s coffin-sized monocoque downtube, it looked an absolute hulk of a bike.
Orange Stage 5 – Wil
More recently though, I’ve become very partial to the Stage 5 – a bike that I tested and reviewed last year, before dishing it out an Editor’s Choice Award. If I were to go out and buy a mountain bike right now, that one would be right near the top of the shopping list. It has superb geometry, a solid alloy frame, and a sense of all-weather practicality that I’ve come to appreciate after living in the UK for the past couple of years. It may not be superlight, or made of carbon, or feature a complex multi-pivot suspension design, but that’s kind of what makes an Orange an Orange.
Orange Clockwork – James
The iconic Orange Clockwork the one with the orange/white fade paint job, slim steel tubes, rigid front ‘n’ back, big ol’ quill stem, narrow and flat handlebar with big fat foam grips, cantilever brakes and tan wall tyres with knobs on. Seat up high and bars down low. My oh my what a looker?!… I stared longingly at this fine machine either in the well-thumbed catalogue or through a pane of glass – This particular bike was window candy in my local bike shop and caught my eye time and time again back in those heady early days of UK Mountainbiking.
Orange Stage 5 – James
Now…It has to be the STAGE 5. It looks just right to me! A simple and versatile trail bike that’s up for messing around the woods and heading out into the hills. Enough travel and great attitude.
Orange Prestige – Chipps
I’m going to be different/difficult here (partly because the orange/white Clockwork has already been picked) and go with the black Orange Prestige. I remember it appearing on the NEMBA start lines in early 1990s, at a time when the orange/white Clockworks were THE bike to have. There was a picture of a pink and yellow lycra-clad Schmoo rider on the front of the first MBUK I ever bought – but the Prestige took it to another level. After all, it was made of Tange Prestige – which just sounded thin walled and zippy and it was seen under the fastest of races in those early years (usually with a Pace fork on the front…) Since then, I’ve owned a Clockwork, but the Prestige has always escaped and so will always be on my ‘Ooh, I’ll never know what it was like…’ fantasy ownership list.
Orange Blood – Chipps
A short-lived bike that was quite ahead of its time, even if it was a little heavy and its target market appeared to be ‘Guys who ride in jeans’. The Blood was one of the few single pivot, linkage-driven shock, bikes that Orange ever made (the other was the ST-4, which nearly made my list too). The Blood was enduro before enduro, featuring a 66° head angle (way back in 2009) and a cool-before-its-time reverse mullet travel of 160mm fork up front and 127mm out back. It came in a 15in and a 17in size and featured a lovely flattened oval top tube that recalled old alloy Yetis. It was chunky and mean and it was a surprisingly good climbing bike too. It was heartening to see a few still being ridden hard at this year’s Ard Rock.
Chipps’s showed his Blood build to Singletrack readers back in May 2009, which lead to 74 comments and not many of them complimentary.
Which Orange Bikes have had a lasting impression on you over the past 30 years? Let us know in the comments section below.
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