Orange Stage 7 LE Review: A Jaffa Smasha

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The Orange Stage 7 LE is the latest bike from the Halifax metal masters to feature the brand’s new Strange Power Link system.

  • Brand: Orange
  • Product: Stage 7 LE
  • From: Orange Bikes
  • Price: £7,400
  • Tested: by Ross for one month
A very Orange environment

Following on from the Switch 7, the first bike to use the Powerlink system and based around mullet wheels, the Orange Stage 7 is a full 29er 165mm travel Enduro race bike designed for going as fast as possible. 

While the Stage 7 might use a different suspension design from the brand’s more well known single pivot bikes, it is still unmistakably an Orange. The tube profiles look the same and are made in the same way – by bending flat aerospace grade sheets of aluminium – which are then seam welded, with each tube being made for a specific application. The linkage sits inside the front part of the rear triangle and is made from CNC’d aluminium. 

The use of the link allows Orange to position the shock lower in the frame to slightly lower the overall centre of gravity but more significantly has allowed Orange to fine tune the suspension characteristics of the bike. It means they can have a much more progressive curve than they’ve previously used. Throughout the travel, the ratio falls from 2.85 to 2.1, which means a real working progression of a whopping 36%. This added progression means that the Stage 7 is much better suited to coil shocks (as well as air shocks, still).

One of Orange’s big draws for a lot of people is the ease of maintenance and this is something that the Orange engineers took on board when designing the new suspension system. Because of this, the majority of bearings are housed within the front triangle, to keep them a bit more protected and they also come with a five year warranty for the original owner.

The frame features internal routing for all hoses, which doesn’t go through the headset, but through cable ports at the top of the downtube. Cables then exit the downtube under the link and enter the inside of the chainstays.

On the downtube and chainstay are new custom protectors to help keep rock strikes at bay and quieten down chain slap, while under the top tube and on the downtube are accessory mounts. I tried a few different bottle/cage combos on the top tube mounts but couldn’t get one to fit with the piggyback shock. Potentially, an offset Fidlock mount and small bottle might work but I didn’t have one to try. 

Geometry

One look at the geometry sheet and the intentions of the Stage 7 are pretty clear. We’ve had a size Large on test and headline numbers are 484mm reach, 63° head angle, 76° seat angle, 468mm chainstays and a 338mm BB height – long, low, slack. 

Build Kit

Currently only available in one build spec (LE) or frame only. The full build Orange Stage 7 LE is generally full of top end, well thought out kit. Front and rear suspension is Factory level Fox with a chunky 170mm 38 Factory Elite up front and a Factory Elite X2 out back, both offering all the adjustments you could want (LSC, HSC, LSR and HSR). Fox also take care of the seatpost with a 175mm Transfer.

The drivetrain is a mix of the two big S’s, with a Shimano XT shifter, rear mech and cassette, and SRAM GX Eagle crankset with 32 tooth ring. Shimano were also on braking duties with a set of XT 4 piston brakes clamping onto a 203mm IceTech rotor up front and 180mm out back. 

Wheels are Stan’s Flow MK4 rims laced on Hope Pro4 hubs and wrapping these is the classic combo of Maxxis Minion DHF up front and Maxxis MInion DHR II out back. Both in Exo+ 3C Maxx Terra compounds. Cockpit is a Renthal FatBar 35 held in place by a Hope stem. Rounding out the components is a SDG Bel Air 3.0 Orange branded saddle and a set of own brand Strange grips.

Setting Up

I set the suspension up with 20% sag on the fork and 30% on the shock. I weigh around 87kg in riding kit and this equated to 95 psi in the fork and 225 psi in the shock. Rebound and compression settings were initially set as per Fox’s recommendations but then adjusted to suit. After a couple of rides I progressively removed a few clicks of LSC and couple of clicks of HSC, and then sped things up a few clicks to suit, on both the fork and shock.

Given that the bike arrived in a sopping July, I changed the front tyre for a more suitable one and swapped out the stock Maxxis DHF for a DH casing Maxx Grip Shorty! After the first coupIe of rides I made a couple of additional tweaks to the stock setup. The stock Renthal bars had been cut to 760mm which felt too narrow for me (I run 800 on all my bikes) so I swapped them for a set of full 800mm width Burgtec bars that I had in the shed. 

The final tweak was a seatpost swap. The 175mm Fox Transfer that came on the Stage was fine, but after being used to 200mm drop – and given the bikes capability and intentions – so I quickly swapped it for a 200mm Brand X dropper to allow a bit more freedom of movement and clearance. 

The Ride Ascending

The Stage 7 may well be designed for red lining between the tape, but as an enduro bike it still has to pedal to the top. And it does it well. And not just well for a 165mm travel bike, it pedals well full stop. I would ideally like an even steeper seat angle but by sliding the saddle forward I managed to get my hips further forward over the BB and into a better position.

Seat angle aside, the Stage7 pedals well. It spins up quickly and is easy to pedal along, up and over. Compared to other similar travel bikes it definitely feels lighter and sprightlier when climbing. The suspension gives a great platform for pedalling while still remaining sensitive enough to deal with lumps and bumps, and I didn’t ever feel the need to flick the climb switch.

And not only does it pedal well, you can pedal up anything. The long rear end adds tons of traction on steep and loose climbs and lets you stay seated and spin away. There are a couple of short but super steep parts climbs local to me that have the front end lifting on most bikes but on the Orang Stage 7 you can stay sat down, in the centre of the bike, and just winch your way up. No chest-on-stem front-wheel-weighting needed. It’s obviously pretty long and pretty slack and takes a bit more input to get round really tight turns but it’s totally doable once you’ve adjusted to it. 

The Ride Descending

Gapping in the gloom

It might be good going up, but it is after all a bike designed primarily to go down. Fast. And flipping heck it doesn’t disappoint! It’s big, it’s long, it’s stable and it’s quick. It’s definitely got that classic Orange feel to it. There’s a liveliness and eagerness when you pump it or push through rough compressions and it feels like it’s pushing you on rather than sapping momentum. 

Get off the brakes and let the bike go and it picks up speed and carries it through rough sections amazingly. The rear end soaks up big and hard repeated hits, and with the progressiveness of the rear, it always feels like there is something in reserve rather than being on the edge. 

Smashing through rough rocks and roots it never feels out of shape and always has enough in reserve to load up and gap sections, and while some big bikes feel glued to the trail, the Stage 7 is the opposite and has an engaging liveliness to it. It’s happy to use bits of trail as lips. Spot your gap, load the back end, give a bit of a pull and clear more than you thought. 

Dropping into steeps, the geometry of the Orange Stage 7 just works. The slack head angle, good reach and long rear give you loads of confidence to stay centred on the bike, weighting both wheels, maintaining grip and picking braking points. It’s genuinely confidence inspiring and lets you ride things quicker and more in control than you thought. You feel as though you can stay centred, in a neutral but attacking position between both wheels and feel as though you’re really in the bike.

While it might be long at the front and rear it is one of the best cornering bikes I’ve ridden in a while. But I’m going to caveat this statement. It’s one of the best cornering bikes if you‘re willing to properly ride it. I went across to Orange HQ to pick the Stage 7 up and while there had a good long chat with Ash, the main man. He was clear to point out that the Stage 7 is for racing, for going fast, and not really for pottering about – they do other bikes for that. And that is pretty accurate.

If you’re willing to wholly ride it and put the effort in – attack turns, push the front in – then it’s really, really good. Whether it’s a steep catch turn or a fast slappy rut, you can tip it in, weight the front a bit and rail turns or just cut inside and slide the rear. For such a long rear end it’s easy to get it drifting if you want.. But if you’re not really wanting to push on, and want to be a bit more of a passenger then it can end up being a bit vague, and can drift a bit wide. But then it’s a bike that’s been designed to race.

Overall

I like the Stage 7. A lot. In fact, I’d say it’s quite possibly the best and/or my favourite bike I’ve ridden this year. It’s big, it’s confident, it’s fast and it’s fun. Oh, and it looks amazing. If you want a bike that goes fast, corners amazingly, but is engaging to ride then get yourself a Orange Stage 7. 

Lurk in the murk

Orange Stage LE Specification

  • Frame // 6061-T6 Monocoque UK Formed Custom Aluminium, 165mm
  • Fork // Fox Factory 38 Float 170mm 29
  • Shock // Fox Float X2 Factory 205×60
  • Wheels // Stans Flow Mk4 + Hope Pro 4 (Black) 29
  • Front tyre // Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 3c EXO+
  • Rear tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4 3c EXO+ 29
  • Chainset // SRAM GX Eagle, 32T
  • Drivetrain // Shimano XT 10-51T 12spd
  • Brakes // Shimano XT Trail, 203/203mm
  • Stem // Hope M35 x 35mm Black
  • Bars // Renthal FatBar M35 800mm
  • Grips // Strange Grappler Lock-On
  • Seatpost // Fox Factory Transfer, 175mm
  • Saddle // SDG Strange Bel Air III
  • Bottom Bracket // SRAM DUB
  • Size tested // L
  • Sizes available // M, L, XL
  • Weight // 16.5kg
  • Head angle // 63°
  • Effective seat angle // 76°
  • Seat tube length // 457mm
  • Head tube length // 120mm
  • Chainstay // 468mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,313mm
  • Effective top tube // 645mm
  • BB height // 36mm BB drop
  • Reach // 484mm

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Review Info

Brand: Orange
Product: Stage 7 LE
From: Orange Bikes
Price: £7,400
Tested: by Ross for 1 month
Author Profile Picture
Ross Demain

Ad Sales Manager

Ross pairs his childlike excitement for bikes with a complete disregard for the wellbeing of his ribs, or his rims. Best known for riding cheeky trails, his time is also spent trail building in his local woods, drinking beer, eating pies and entertaining his two children.

More posts from Ross

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
  • Orange Stage 7 LE Review: A Jaffa Smasha
  • happybiker
    Free Member

    Geometry looks great, nice to see a long rear end for a change.

    If only it had water bottle mounts.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Sparkly purple = a yes from me

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    Any comparison to the Deviate Claymore you recently reviewed?

    chestrockwell
    Full Member

    Looks lovely does that. Too much bike for me but I’d be interested in a more trail version.

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    I don’t just want to be negative about Orange bikes all the time so I’ll concentrate on the positives.

    This bike is very pretty and reasonably priced.

    Northwind
    Full Member

    Looks good to me and it also looks like some of the frame changes are to counter the cracking issues previous Stages have had, so that’s positive too. I wonder if it’ll struggle like previous Orange linkage bikes, people seem very tied to the simple single pivot design

    prettygreenparrot
    Full Member

    🤔 if it weren’t for the fugly seat tube support and the e-bike pricing plus it being WAY TOO MUCH bike for me I’d be interested.

    The ‘simplicity’ of the rear suspension setup and its neatness are good.

    Bottle cage mounts?

    Is it available in a really cool red? Or a stealth black? Purple 🫤

    dumbbot
    Free Member

    Holy chainstays, that’s a lot of chainstay…

    Claymore comparision?

     

    VanHalen
    Full Member

    looks like there are bottle mounts on underside of top tube?

    Stevelol
    Free Member

    Same size chainstay on all sizes, would be interesting to ride the small that has a 10mm shorter reach than chainstay length…

    chrismac
    Full Member

    I’m loving those cable clips. Can you get non branded ones

    dumbbot
    Free Member

    I don’t think Orange offer the Stage7 in a small, for the same reason that Starling cycles only offer the Mega Murmur in L-XXL…it unbalances the bike.

    If you wanted the small you’d have to go for the Switch7 which is the mullet version,…would be great the have a comparison of the Switch 7 Vs the Stage 7. Reckon my money would be on the Switch 7 as it looks more versatile rather than just a full on race rig, but that would depending on how big you are I suppose.

    mashr
    Full Member

    dumbbot
    Free Member
    I don’t think Orange offer the Stage7 in a small

    https://www.orangebikes.com/model/stage-7

    Reaches – 458
    Stayz – 468

    and its not just the small either, medium still has the stays 2mm longer than the reach

    dumbbot
    Free Member

    I see that, and they do quote the geometry numbers for the small Stage 7 on site….but can’t order one vie the drop down menu box.

    https://www.orangebikes.com/bikes/stage-7-factory/2024 – Sizes M,L,XL.

    As I said, for my money(and size) the Switch 7 seems a bit more balanced, and versatile. I’m sure the Stage 7 is fast but it looks huge on paper.

    I’d still love a shot on one.

    mashr
    Full Member

    Might just be that the smalls will be the last batch they make. They start with the most popular and work back from there (or used to anyway, cant imagine that changing)

    markdoyle
    Free Member

    £7500 for an aluminium bike. 16.5kg would be way too much for me. My carbon specialized is 14kg odd and I find that a bit heavy.

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    I’m loving those cable clips. Can you get non branded ones

    Similar https://76projects.com/products/cable-bobbins

    benos
    Full Member

    Amazingly, those huge stays on a size L end up at the same F-R ratio as my size M Bird Aether with its short 430mm stays: 1.8.

    georgesdad
    Full Member

    Too much bike? Try the Alpine Evo… I **** love mine. Outdated small wheels (which I prefer) obviously, but it absolutely flies downhill. Climbs better than my previous Spectral, is lighter, prettier and is made in the UK. Gobbled up Ard Rock this year. Not sure why there’s so much hate for Orange bikes. They’re expensive because you’re supporting small volume UK manufacturing, which has got to be a good thing, no? They’re simple but that’s not to say they’re somehow bad. Personally I wouldn’t go back to my Spectral, I don’t think the rear end was anything like as good, but that may be a DPX2/X2 thing.

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)

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