ORANGE t7 titanium hardtail

These Are Our Top 12 Orange Bikes From The Past 30 Years

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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 FUN!

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 Cut Out 1997
The Orange X1 was the first full bounce bike from the Halifax brand.

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.

Mark’s 2nd ‘proper’ MTB was one of these but in slightly higher spec with Quadra 21R forks.

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.

The Mr XC was the start of that iconic “Orange Look”.

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?

Ross takes flight on his Orange 5.

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
These Orange bikes seem to like getting airborne!

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
The Patriot was marketed as a “mega-pinner”.

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.

wil fox 36 factory series fork orange stage 5
Wil railing the Orange Stage 5 during his review.

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.

Now we’re talking old school!

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 29er full suspension alloy mountain bike
More Stage 5 love from Mr. Luv!

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.

Not an original, but still a Prestige.

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.

Chipps still owns this pink Blood!

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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Andi is a gadget guru and mountain biker who has lived and ridden bikes in China and Spain before settling down in the Peak District to become Singletrack's social media expert. He is definitely more big travel fun than XC sufferer but his bike collection does include some rare hardtails - He's a collector and curator as well as a rider. Theory and practice in perfect balance with his inner chi, or something. As well as living life based on what he last read in a fortune cookie Andi likes nothing better than riding big travel bikes.

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Comments (31)

    which is the bike in the banner at the top…?

    oh yeah, of course! nice article btw. Stage 5 wins!! 8)

    @mahalo glad you liked it :D Stage 5 certainly getting plenty of love here at the office.

    and someone once told me off for saying STW were orange fan bois.

    @ton :D I wouldn’t say we’re fan bois/girls but we certainly enjoy a little single pivot action from time to time ;)

    I’m still riding and fettling a Patriot 7+ from 2007. A wider bar, shorter stem and a geometry change, by god it’s good. I have no idea how fast it can go because above a certain speed I start worrying about stuff like trees and corners instead of picking lines, the bike is so composed.

    The Blood was one of the few non-single pivot bikes that Orange ever made

    The Blood was one of the few single pivot bikes that Orange ever made with a linkage driven shock

    FTFY ;-)

    I was going to say Faux Bar, but yes, it’s a single pivot at heart. I’ll fix that now.

    Back in the early to mid – 90’s I was riding a succession of low end, fully rigid Treks and Giants. The bike I lusted after in the magazines, really lusted after, was the Orange Clockwork. Alas, if I remember correctly, I was forever denied my dream due to a lack of funds and the wee tag at the bottom of the advert which said ‘Max rider weight 90kg’. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve been 90kg since I was about 15yrs old!

    Fast forward to around 2000 and I got my first proper mountain bike with front suspension and disk brakes (albeit mechanical), an Orange Evo 02 Ltd Ed. It was awesome and converted me to Orange. Since then I’ve worked my way through a Gringo, two P7’s (still ride one, other’s on the garage wall), two Five’s, a 2001 Patriot (hanging partially built on the garage wall) and I’m now riding a Four. They fit like a glove and just keep on going. My Four is far and away the best and most fun bike I’ve ridden in nearly 30yrs of mountain biking. I love em’.

    I remember Chips letting my young daughter have a go on that Blood at the STW weekender.

    I had a C16r with Quadra21’s… stunning bike until it was nicked, the replaced with a 1996 P7 in Nickel. Still got that bike in the garage. I just cant bring myself to part with it, even all I do these days is look at it.

    ….”but the URT design meant that it locked out a little when stood up” I always thought of URT as an exotic (pointless) suspension seatpost!

    Where’s the MSile? ptang, pting (stones on the downtube).

    Some of the homophobia in those comments make me wince.

    @PrinceJohn tell me about it! We were pretty shocked, to be honest.

    The steel hardtails are the bikes of my XC racing memory, but the Orange that I really lusted after was the Vitamin T. In my head it would have had Pace rigid carbon forks and full XTR (including V-brakes) and seen me to many imaginary podium positions as well as a bunch of North Wales mountain tops. The T9 brings it all back.

    Original Clockwork or P7 for me. The Clockwork was a perfect aspirational bike for a14 year old me. It remained aspirational TBH!

    Original ST4. Yeah sure the back end rarely lined up with the front end in corners, but it was such a fun bike. I loved mine until it died in the Pyrenees having eaten its own BB shell due to the waggly back end. Replaced with the 2nd generation one which was way stiffer but not as much fun.

    @singletrackandi – show’s how different things are 10 years down the line – I would’ve had no qualms describing something I didn’t like as gay 10 years ago, makes me cringe to think I would’ve nowadays.

    Had a ’93 Clockwork in all orange – lush – Flite saddle, XT thumbies. Only died about five years ago when the stays rusted through, and now hung on the garage wall.

    An Orange Evo4 was my first ‘proper’ MTB, followed by a much loved and noisy Orange Patriot (2002).
    Sadly my 2009 17.5″ Orange Blood was recently stolen, but it was such a fun bike to ride – a proper ‘razzin’ it around’ bike!
    Which leaves my Orange Alpine 160 … the last of the 26″s? :-)

    I had a early ‘90s clockwork. I also remember the late, great Steve Worland telling me that one of his early jobs in cycling was to rebadge Muddy Fox bikes as Oranges back in the very early days when they were still involved in making Windsurf sails.

    Can’t believe the Vit-t didnt make it.

    I have the same as Ross, a 2011 Orange 5. Bloody loved that bike, actually a bit too much as I carried on riding and upgrading it about a year too long before retiring it. I was slap in between sizes when I bought it, needed the standover of a 16″ but the length of an 18″, sadly they weren’t making any 17″ frames for a long time and I got impatient so ordered the 16″. It was great with a 70mm stem but when the shorter stem fad took off I couldn’t go any shorter. Seeing as my riding was moving towards the steeper end of things I was really starting to struggle with certain features and it got to the point where I was riding round things that I knew I could do on a slightly longer bike so I retired it at the beginning of this year. The parts were sold off so I’m left with the frame and the original broken shock ready to hang in the mancave at some point. The bike wasn’t the wrong size for me though, as stock it fitted like a glove. But my riding moved in a different direction (I’d been an XC whippet before buying it and genuinely thought I’d bought too much bike!) with Alpine holidays and the plethora of bike parks opening up so I’ve moved on. It will never be forgotten though and the frame will never be sold, despite being offered lots of cash for it a few times!

    Very much a Marmite bike to look at but my god did it ride well.

    No vitamin T?????? Shame! Shame!

    I still regret selling my Orange P7 – That mofo shredded!!!

    After custom building a PC for my old boss and swapping said PC for the frame, headset and BB, I built it from bits I repurposed, old brakes that needed fully rebuilding and forks that really needed binning, I ran it 26 1×10 – 26 single speed – 69er rigid 1×10 – 69er single speed.

    God, I loved that bike. You couldn’t kill it.

    I still have my black Prestige – mainly for sentimental reasons – it seemed so fast back in the day with the inevitable Pace forks although the elastomers turned to marshmallow a long time ago so on went the Bombers. Downhill line choice was always careful but memory tells me it could climb anything.

    vit-t was a lovely bike, I used to stare at that in the Orange catalogue but in the end opted for E3, which I still have and still gets the looks all these years on. Clockwork excellent ride too, I regret selling that. I never owned a P7, that has to be the classic for sure.

    Had a lovely C16R in metallic blue to replace my Rockhopper back in the day. Then a Sub5 in silver. Both amazing bikes at the time. Took me 13 years to replace the Sub5.

    Back in the 2005 I had an orange 5 in the no paint option. So it looked even more like a tin can than usual but rode, well, like an Orange. In February took my son to Nottingham Uni for an intro day and headed off to Leicestershire for a ride. It was bitterly cold so I wore a balaclava. It was also the first day of the new hunting law and when I turned into the car park it was full of Jorrickses and horse boxes setting off to defy the government. Of course they thought I was a saboteur so several of them pursued me across the first section of the ride intent on giving me a kicking. Eventually to get away I had to escape along a canal towpath where the hawthorn had just been trimmed. multiple punctures followed, all spare tubes were used and I was lost. I manged to navigate back to the car park by road on two flat tyres – of course stuffed with grass as was the custom back then. I finally made it back to nottingham about an hour late, picked up my son and headed home (London) in a less than jovial mood. The tyres were unusable and went in the bin, the bike had gone from hero to zero through no fault of it’s own and went on ebay. A very sorry tale and I’ve never even ridden an orange again to this day.

    My Orange 5 from 2005 with wider bars, a shorter stem and self drilled for a dropper seatpost was my only mtb until very recently. It is still a cracking bike and rides well.

    No P7? probably the best hardtail to come out of the halifax factory… Still got mine 11 years on.. runs like a dream…

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