Andi tackles the trails on Orange’s latest creation, the short travel, progressively angled 2021 Orange Five Evo LE.
A few years ago I reviewed the Orange Four and I concluded that the short travel, single-pivot Orange was probably the bike most riders should be on. Its lightweight frame, decent geometry and progressive short travel made the Orange Four a playful bike in most trail situations, and even when the terrain became seriously technical and chunky the plucky little Orange dived right in.
The Orange Four is no longer part of the Orange line-up, but its spirit lives on in the all-new Orange Five Evo, a short travel suspension bike that can tackle way more than its fork length might suggest.
But to say that the new Orange Five Evo is just a new Orange Four wouldn’t be doing Halifax’s latest justice, after all, there’s a reason that the new bike is a Five.
2021 Orange Five Evo LE Video Review
2021 Orange Five Evo LE
The Five Evo makes up 50% of the new range of Evo bikes designed, tested and handmade in the UK. Also released today is the Stage Evo, a short travel 29er with new school geometry, but it’s the smaller wheeled Five Evo which blurs the lines between big travel bruisers and sorted short travel trail whippets.
Like all of Orange’s UK made full-suspension frames, the Five Evo starts life as a selection of alloy sheets which over time are folded, moulded and formed into a complex monocoque structure. Ok, so the single-pivot suspension is hardly complex, but the frame details are hardly simple either. Take a close look at the tubes on any modern Orange and you’ll see folds and curves that prove there’s nothing simple about the manufacture of these bikes.
In a recent conversation with Kelvin Lawton from Orange, I learned that it takes around four days to manufacture a single Orange frame. That’s the time it takes to turn flat alloy sheets into a frame that will handle the best off-road terrain on the planet.
At the heart of the Five Evo frame is the telltale Orange single-pivot suspension design. It’s a design that is constantly tweaked and changed and on the Evo, it has been tuned to offer progression and pop, but the quality of travel is more than enough to clean up any wrong line choices or misjudged landings.
The Evo Five sports just 130mm of rear-wheel travel, 15mm less than a standard Orange Five, and is designed around a 140mm travel fork whereas the Five is happy with a 150mm fork plugged into the head tube.
But while it might have less travel than the classic Five, the geometry of the Evo is next-gen. Reach on this size large frame is 485mm, the seat tube angle is 76 degrees, and the head angle is 64 degrees. In comparison, the reach of a large Five is 467mm, the head angle is 65 degrees and the seat tube is 74 degrees.
Now over the past few weeks, we’ve seen plenty of MY21 bikes released with longer and longer reach numbers, and we’ve seen concerns in the comments that bikes might be getting too long. Marketing types in the industry have been keen to get customers to focus on reach, but reach is only part of the geometry puzzle. As modern bikes have become longer, seat tubes have been getting steeper which effectively pulls the rider further forward and has less of an effect on top tube length than you might realise.
So while you may look at the 485mm reach of the Evo Five and feel that this frame might be too long for you, you should also consider the effective top tube length which is 635mm, actually 5mm shorter than the classic Five.
The result is a low-slung frame with plenty of standover that naturally pulls the rider into a central attack position. The stack on the large frame is quite low at 603mm, further emphasising the attack position. I personally get along better with a lower front end and quite like the low stack, riders wanting a taller front end can always raise the stem or run a higher rise bar.
Orange connoisseurs might have already noticed that the Five Evo has a major design change, one that flies in the face of decades of Fives. The Orange Five had traditionally been built with a beam style rear triangle, picture a chunky alloy boomerang, but the Evo borrows the rear triangle design from the Alpine 6 (and the Orange 4).
Aesthetically this makes me very happy as I much prefer the split triangle rear end, but it has a functional benefit too. With the geometry that the Evo offers, Orange knows that the bike is likely to be ridden harder and faster than usual. The split triangle offers slightly better torsional benefits over the original beam design while retaining a low weight, just the sort of characteristics a rowdy short travel frame would benefit from.
2021 Orange Five Evo Geometry
|Seat Tube Length||15″||17″||18″||19″|
|A. Head Angle||64°||64°||64°||64°|
|B. Seat Angle (Actual)||74.5º||74.5º||74.5º||74.5º|
|B. Seat Angle (Effective)||76º||76º||76°||76º|
|C. Top Tube||588||607||622||638|
|D. Top Tube (Effective)||595||615||635||655|
|E. BB Height (from ground)||320||320||320||320|
|E. BB height (from axles)||-35||-35||-35||-35|
|G. Head Tube||100||110||110||130|
|H. Wheel base||1196||1218||1238||1262|
|O. Fork Offset||37||37||37||37|
|T. Rear Travel||130||130||130||130|
Orange Five Evo LE Build
At the time of launch, the Five Evo is only available as a complete bike in a limited LE build. LE bikes come in a new colour for 2021 called Sparks Blue (for the Five Evo only) and are built with some top drawer kit from some of our favourite manufacturers.
Short travel duties are handled by a RockShox Pike Ultimate fork on the front and a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate on the rear. However, you might notice in some of these photos that our test bike is running Deluxe Select + because the correct shock wasn’t available at the time of testing.
The dropper post is a 150mm travel SDG Tellis topped off with an Orange branded SDG saddle. I’ve used various Tellis since it launched and they’re simple and pretty reliable, but I would have preferred something with a little more drop to really get the seat slammed out of the way.
Fellow UK brand Hope is on hand with the headset, bottom bracket, chainset, hubs and 4 piston Tech E4 brakes. They all come in silver with the brakes getting smart orange highlights.
Burgtec gets a look in with the new Enduro MK3 stem, also in silver, and a pair of Ride Wide Enduro riser bars. Fitted to those bars are a pair of Strange branded Orange grips with a single lock on collar and a 12-speed Shimano XT shifter.
The shifter drives a matching XT rear mech which pushes the chain across a Shimano 10t – 51t cassette. Hope Pro 4 hubs are laced to e*13 TRS 30mm wide rims and shod in Maxxis DHR and DHF tyres.
LE spec bikes are in stores now and cost £5300 for either the Five Evo or larger wheeled Stage Evo, however, Orange does plan to release more builds and frame only options later in the year.
Riding the Orange Five Evo LE
I set the suspension with 25% of sag which ensured a progressive and lively rear, with plenty of support and enough left over to patter over obstacles.
Climbing on the Orange Evo Five is fast and efficient. Although the rear shock has a damper lever to firm the rear end up I didn’t need to touch it. When sat in the comfortable SDG saddle the Evo pedals very well with no noticeable bob, meaning every ounce of energy goes toward getting you to the top of the trail. Coming from my own Meta AM, I appreciated the narrow rear triangle of the Orange. It offers lots of heel clearance and allows you to thread the back end of the bike through tight rocks easily.
Seated, the Five Evo is an efficient short travel trail bike. The steep 76-degree seat tube angle places you in a comfortable and efficient position while the lengthy cockpit and low stack pull the rider into a stretched, almost racy position. The Five Evo is a comfortable place to be with all of this room even on longer classic XC style rides, but with those geo numbers, it would be a crime not to throw it around a berm or three.
It’s no surprise that with a flagship Pike plugged into the front, the Five Evo knows how to handle itself when the trails open up and start to head back down. Again that efficient pedal platform plays a major role when sprinting into a trail, propelling the little Orange up to speed quickly.
The Five Evo isn’t shy of rough rocky trails, and while it doesn’t absorb shocks as sofa smooth as longer travel bike, the high-end RockShox suspension package does an excellent job of taking the sting out. The shorter travel combined with the smaller wheels means you’re able to feel what the Evo is doing and how it is interacting with the terrain. It’s an engaging ride, and as long as you remember to ride loose it’s a comfortable and fast one too.
The low standover, stack and long reach place you centrally and plant you down in the frame making the Orange a joy in berms and corners. In the dry, the Maxxis DHF and DHR combo roll fast and are predictable, but on those stormy days I did wish for an Assegai upfront.
Swooping into berms, the low-slung Evo rails impeccably, with oodles of grip and control. The confidence-inspiring ride is eager to get you on the limit, but unlike other shorter travel bikes, this Orange won’t throw you off when the going gets really rough.
3 things that could be improved
- I would prefer a longer dropper post so I can slam the seat down as far as possible.
- Down tube bottle bosses aren’t great for a wet day or tech riding. I would love to see a special Orange-specific bottle that fits in the frame.
- DHF in that surprise rain was a little slippy in the slop. An Assegai would have been spot on.
3 things I love
- Amazing geometry. Don’t say it’s too long before you get on one and try it.
- Despite the short travel, the Evo’s geometry inspires enough confidence to hit terrain a full pelt.
- A quality build using no-nonsense parts.
The Five Evo’s sorted geometry is proof that you don’t necessarily need huge amounts of travel to have huge amounts of fun. This capable single-pivot bike might be designed to test the skills of pro riders on the gnarliest of terrains, but it won’t turn its nose up at a day of classic XC riding. A true all-around mountain bike, that likes to play on the wild side.
2021 Orange Five Evo LE Specifications
- Frame: 6061-T6 Monocoque frame, 27.5in wheels, 130mm travel
- Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 190 x 45
- Fork: RockShox Pike Ultimate, 140mm
- Shifter: Shimano XT 12-speed
- Cassette: Shimano XT 10-51t
- Rear Mech: Shimano XT 12-speed
- Chainset: Hope with black 32t chainring.
- BB: Hope
- Headset: Hope
- Brakes: Hope Tech 3 E4 203mm front, 180mm rear
- Handlebar: Burgtec RideWide Enduro 800mm
- Stem: Burgtec MK3 Enduro Silver 42.5mm
- Seatclamp: Hope
- Seatpost: SDG Tellis 150mm
- Saddle: SDG Radar Cromo rail
- Grips: Strange 130 single lock-on black
- Wheels: E13 TRS 30mm, 27.5in rims with Hope Pro 4 hubs.
- Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT front, DHR II 2.4 WT rear.
- Colour: Sparks Blue
- Sizes: S,M,L,XL
- Size Tested: L
- Price: £5300
- From: Orange Bikes
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Orange Five Evo Podcast Interview
Join Andi and Kelvin from Orange as they talk through the reasons behind the changes to the all new Orange Five Evo
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|Tested:||by Andi Sykes for 3 weeks|