Last week saw Orange Bikes launch its 2019 range at the Forest of Dean. As opposed to some of the more exotic and far-flung launches that we’re seeing these days, the Orange launch was more of an open event with Orange inviting their dealers from far and wide to head over to FOD for a couple of days lapping the downhill and Enduro tracks and trying out the 2019 range of bikes.
Van uplift was provided by Wye MTB to keep legs fresh and let the dealers try out as many different models while smashing out as many runs as possible.
The day before the dealer event, Orange invited a select group of media (that’s us..!!) along to go through the 2019 range and chat over the updates. While there was nothing completely new launched at the event, it was a chance to get a closer look at some of the newer models.
2019 Orange Five XTR
As the name suggests, the Orange Five XTR features the brand new range-topping Shimano XTR 12 speed groupset and is available from 1st October. Prices for the Five XTR start at £6,300 with full Fox Factory suspension, top end Shimano drivetrain and stoppers and a whole load of other top end kit from Burgtec, Hope and Stans, although the blingy Sterling Silver paint will cost you an extra £100.
2019 Orange Crush 29
We first saw the Crush 29 at Eurobike this summer and it immediately stood out as a good option for the UK rider. The Crush has been a popular model in the Orange range for some time now and after seeing the trend for bigger wheels gain traction (no pun intended!), Orange has added a big wheeled version to the lineup for 2019.
Although not yet listed on the Orange site, the geometry of the Crush 29 is based on the same numbers as the Crush with a 65º head angle, reasonably long reach and plenty of standover. Prices will start at £1500 for the Comp build, up to £3300 for super bling RS build, with a mid range Pro model sitting in the middle at £2100.
2019 Orange Alpine 6
While there weren’t any particular frame updates to the full suspension range, Orange was showing off some eye-catching new colours. On top of the Sterling Silver shown on the Five XTR above, Orange was showing this Alpine 6 in very cool mustard colour and other new colours include Ron Burgundy and Wasabi Green.
As with all Orange full suspension bikes, you can pick and choose the colour of your frame from a possible ten options, along with six decal colour options, along with plenty of other spec options giving you a broad scope for customisation
2019 Orange Clockwork Evo
The Clockwork has remained pretty unchanged for 2019, although it now carries the Evo moniker, with only one base model being the plain old Clockwork. Designed as a bigger, radder, version of the Clockwork, the Evo knocks a degree off the head angle and adds quite a bit onto the reach numbers as well. Available after 19th November, the Clockwork Evo is going to be available with either 27.5 or 29in wheels and in two spec variants – Evo Comp and Evo S – with pricing around £1700 for the Evo S and £1250 for the Evo Comp.
Riding The Orange Stage 6 At FOD
Once chatting and tyre kicking was over, and we were all fully caffeinated, it was time for us to have a go of the bikes themselves. Orange had arranged a day of uplift for us with Wye MTB, a local guiding and skills company based in Monmouth. Rather than just lapping the Forest of Dean downhill tracks though, we were treated to a guided off-piste FOD and Wye Valley tour.
Bikes were assigned and track and shock pumps deployed. Once we were all happy with our pressures and had got out brakes levers set ‘just so’, the bikes were loaded onto a trailer (being towed by a rather pimp Land Rover Defender 110) ready for the off. To get the day started I rode a Stage 6, a bike I’m familiar with having spent a fair bit of time aboard one.
The Forest of Dean, and particularly the Wye Valley are not areas that I’m overly familiar with for riding. After only having done a couple of uplift days and the odd race down that way, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I came away really impressed. The morning had started pretty damp with persistent drizzle, but once we were in the wood the tracks were running awesome with only the odd greasy patch to catch you out, along with a few terrifying sections of wet limestone.
The morning was spent hammering fast flowy, woodland singletrack – winding in and out of trees with the odd steep drop to spice things up. The big wheels and sorted geometry of the Stage 6 kept things rolling, and the added security of a Lyrik RC2 up front meant that it was easy to get off the brakes and ride these new trails at speed.
Before I knew it we were dropping into our third (or fourth?!) track of the morning, and our final run before lunch. Where the other trails had felt a bit more open, this track was slightly sunken and followed the lines of old stone walls, giving it a familiar feel to the trails near Singletrack HQ. It certainly wasn’t the time to let familiarity take over and lose concentration with plenty of super tight corners, steep rolls and awkwardly placed rocks to keep you guessing.
After a short spin along the banks of the river Wye (through a good few inches of silt where the river had burst its banks) we arrived in Tintern and the Kingstone brewery for lunch. At the Kingstone brewery, not only do they brew beer, but they offer a range of food using locally sourced produce. We were treated to homemade wood-fired pizza fresh from the oven, served to us in a disused greenhouse surrounded by peach trees and various vines, topped off with amazing cookies made by the owners’ children.
Riding The Orange Stage 4 at FOD
With lunch done, and more caffeine consumed, it was time to head out for more riding. This time though I chose to ride the Orange Stage 4, the shorter travel sibling to the Stage 6. The afternoon riding kicked off with a fast, rocky trail through open woodland that was littered with rocky drops and multiple lines choices. Bearing in mind that the Stage 4 only has 110mm of travel it didn’t ever feel out of its depth and was a ton of fun to let off the brakes and let it run through the rough.
The rest of the afternoon was a blur steep and fun woodland tracks, with loads of off-camber corners and tricky sections to keep the interest up, culminating in a final fast, flowy, classic FOD track, with high speed catch berms and turns everywhere that lead us right back to the visitor centre and a cold bottle of ale.
The sheer amount and variety of tracks around the Wye Valley and FOD were amazing, and it felt like we’d only just scratched the surface of what was offered. It’s somewhere that I’d definitely want to return to, and to get the most out your day I’d recommend getting some local knowledge, or go the whole hog and speak to the guys at Wye MTB for the full off-piste uplift experience.