Bike Check: Benji’s Orange Switch 6

by 63

This bike check is either the worst timing or the best timing, depending how you look at it. And what happens next.

By that, I mean what happens next in terms of the outcome of Orange Bikes calling in the Administrators as reported last week.

In terms of what happens next for this Orange Switch 6 you see here, that’s rather more definite and immediate: I’m going to ride as much as I can for the next few weeks.

I almost wasn’t going to write this Bike Check. It felt a bit… wrong, given everything that’s happening over the hill in Halifax. But then I thought about the past month of riding I’ve enjoyed on this amazing machine and changed my mind.

ORANGE BIKES!

Without getting too far into the realm of ‘review’ – let alone jumping the gun on the whole Bike Check thing that this feature is supposed to be – the two brilliant aspects listed above give Orange single pivot bikes a genuinely unique and arguably unrivalled appeal.

Now, more than ever, is the time to shout about Orange Bikes.

This feature is part Bike Check and part clarion call for a genuinely important and great bike brand. A brand that had better not go away or we’ll all be in a worser world. The bike industry needs brands like Orange. Not for sentimental or odd jingoistic reasons. The industry needs brands that do what they believe in.

I’ll get on to the Bike Check nerdery in a minute. But first, some things need to be stated.

Whatever has put Orange Bikes in its current troubles, it is absolutely nothing to do with how the brand’s bikes handle.

The effing problem

I think deep down, we all know what has landed Orange Bikes in trouble. It’s the F word. Not Function. Not Form. But Fashion.

Orange Bikes’ face doesn’t fit in the depressingly narrow range of populist pushbikes. Where are the linkages? Where’s the carbon? Where’s the headset routing? Where are the dubious science graphs? Where are the tube shapes that are acceptable? Where’s the OTT progression ratios?

It’s been said by many an internet typist, but the ‘problem’ with Orange bikes is they haven’t changed for decades. Which, in one sense is true. The brand still makes single pivot full suspension bikes. For some people, the silhouette of mountain bikes is all they look at. These people are the reason why bike brands have to reinvent themselves every three years. And have teams of marketeers permanently spin spin spinning their alternative facts as to why they’ve gone back to the drawing board.

Too discreet change

In a much broader sense however, the statement that Orange bikes haven’t changed for decades is just so wrong it’s laughable. Even putting aside the linkage bikes that they now offer (Orange Stage 7 review anyone?), Orange Bikes has been at the forefront of mountain bike geometry and chassis feel for pretty much ever.

Orange knows what is important when it comes to making mountain bikes that handle amazingly. What Orange come up with, various less bold but more fashionable brands do a few years after.

You see the ‘long’ chain stays on this Switch 6? You see the straight seat tube that offers oodles of dropper insertion AND a seat angle that is genuinely what it says on the chart? You’ll see those on Fashionable Brands in about MY2026.

Single is not simple

Without Orange, where would we get a genuine single pivot bike from? If you can think of a brand that makes good single pivot mountain bikes, leave a comment below because I can’t think of one.

Why would you want a genuine single pivot bike? Because they can be utterly amazing to ride. Your fork doesn’t have a linkage in it. Why does everyone insist that a frame must have something interfering with its behaviour?

There are two brilliant aspects to the single pivot design on this Switch 6.

  1. The near linearity of its progression.
  2. Insane levels of 3D traction [ AKA lateral compliance, chassis ‘give’; helps maintain traction on cambers etc ].

You know what an Orange single pivot is going to do. All the time. Every time. And a lot of the time what an Orange single pivot is going to do is clean that section. And clean it with such an exciting combination of elan and flair that it reminds of why you sodding ride mountain bikes in the goddamn first place.

An Orange single pivot may not be as fashionable or as pretty as a lot of folk’s bikes. But it’s very probably better. Loads better.

Anyhoo…. on with the Bike Check.

Orange Switch 6 Frame

  • Price: Framesets from £2,900, complete bikes from £4,900
  • FromOrange Bikes

When Orange first showed the new Switch 6 (at Eurobike?) I got very excited. Like, OMG excited. It looked to tick every box in my important checklist.

  • Great colour (Angel Delight!)
  • An Orange single pivot
  • Mixed wheel but with a decent length chain stay (450mm)
  • Good reach figure (504mm)
  • Decent head angle (64°)
  • Normal head tube standard that would accept angle/reach adjust headsets if need be
  • Proper length head tube (130mm)
  • Straight seat tube that will easily swallow 210mm droppers
  • Steep enough seat angle (76.5°)
  • Not overly low-slung bottom bracket
  • Bottle mount inside the front triangle
  • Bearing mount shock
  • UDH
  • Frame storage

And to my eyes, it looked/looks freaking well cool. I honestly don’t know if I think it’s cool because I can see all the great function it offers. Form follows function. Form follows function and tells fashion to f*** off.

If you know your bikes, especially your Orange bikes, you can just look at the Switch 6 and feel how it’s going to ride. Honestly, every time I glance at this bike a part of me goes “YES!”

Cockpit

Leading the charge is a combo from another classic British marque, DMR. The 35mm DMR Defy stem and the DMR ODub handlebars. Aluminium all round. The bars are the 50mm rise version. I like high rise bars on bikes that are lengthy. There’ll be a review of the bars appearing at some point soon by the way.

Despite the relative briefness of the period that I’ve had the Switch 6 finished and rideable, I’ve been through a handful(!) of grips already. I’ve tried Ergon lock-ons. I’ve tried some NS Bikes Hold Fast lock-ons AND push-ons (pictured above). But… I’m going to go back to my faves (Gusset Sleeper push-ons).

In the above pic you can also see my shifter: SRAM AXS Pods. And yes, I really do run them that far forward under the bar.

Brakes

I’m trying the 2-pot Cura X brake from Formula. We really liked the Formula Cura 4-pot brakes (they actually came out top in our recent 4-pot disc brake test). And there have been plenty of folk who’ve said that the 2-pot versions are just as good, if not better. So here we go.

I’m running a combination of Formula’s regular organic Black pads and longer lasting organic Red pads. And 203mm rotors front and rear.

Seating arrangements

Much like with grips, I’ve already tried a few different saddles on the Switch 6. I had another go with that SQ Lab 6OX Infinergy Ergowave Active 2.1 but it was still not for me (it seemed to be even more uncomfortable than before if anything!) Long story short, I’ve robbed the superb Saracen Custom CRMO E-MTB saddle from the Saracen Ariel 50E because it is gert lush.

Dropper post? One Up init. Seriously, I don’t know why anyone opts to use anything else. The One Up Dropper V2 has the longest drop with the shortest insertion and at a decent price tag. I can fit a 210mm One Up even with the relative deep rail/stack of the aforementioned Saracen sofa saddle.

Drivetrain

Sorry, Transmission.

Having UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger) on a frame has become de rigeur if you’re in the business of testing bike bits. Case in point, SRAM AXS GX Transmission doesn’t fit on anything that isn’t UDH. And I’ve been testing this drivetrain on various bikes since it came out.

Am also running SRAM GX chainset. Truth be told, as soon as the test period for the GX AXS drivetrain is over, I’ll very probably swap the cranks for something a bit shorter in arm length. At the very least I’ll stick on a set of DMR Axe 165mm crank arms. Or I might try to source something even shorter from someone like 5DEV. The pedals are a set of Wolf Tooth Waveform flatties. Review coming soon!

Round things

For the wheelset, I’ve called on my trusty ol’ set of Scrub Alloy Trail wheels. They just get on with it and aren’t bothered about a bit of neglect/abuse. Touch wood.

Tyres. I don’t have much of a 27.5in tyre pile. But I am quite a fan of Hutchinson Griffus so I’m more than happy to run a 27.5 x 2.4in one of ’em on the rear. It’s a bit like a Maxxis mInion DHRII with a bit more bite in looser conditions. Up front I’ve actually been running a cut-down Maxxis Wet Scream throughout December into January. But I’ve just installed a Continental Argotal now to see what all the fuss is about.

Shockers

Suspension. I’m running a Formula Selva C 170mm coil sprung fork. Yes, the Switch 6 is nominally designed around a 160mm fork but Formula forks run a bit shorter in an axle-to-crown sense; a 170mm Formula is similar length to a 160mm fork from Fox/RockShox.

Despite the stanchions being ‘only’ 35mm diameter, I’m finding them plenty stiff enough so far. In terms of damping circuits, I’ve tried the ‘standard’ orange coloured CTS valving for a bit and am now having a try of the ‘softer’ Grey CTS valving.

In the heart of the bike is the Formula MOD Coil rear shock. I’ve tried the bike with a special Joe Barnes-era Orange Bikes specific tuned CTS valving and am now trying out the ‘softer’ gold coloured CTS valving. So far, I’m really enjoying the plug and play aspect of the different CTS valving setups.

YES!

Orange Switch 6 specification

  • Frame // Monocoque 6061-T6 Aluminium, 160mm
  • Shock // Formula MOD Coil, 205×65 trunnion
  • Fork // Formula Selva C, 170mm, 37mm offset
  • Wheels // Scrub Trail Alloy
  • Front Tyre // Continental Argotal, 29 x 2.4in
  • Rear Tyre // Hutchinson Griffus, 27.5 x 2.4in
  • Chainset // SRAM GX DUB Eagle, 32T
  • Brakes // Formula Cura X, 203/203mm
  • Drivetrain // SRAM GX Eagle AXS T-Type, 10-52T
  • Stem // DMR Defy, 35mm
  • Handlebars // DMR O-Dub, 35mm, 800x50mm
  • Grips // NS Bikes Hold Fast push-on w/ Revgrips bar plugs
  • Seat Post // One Up Components V2, 210mm, 30.9mm
  • Saddle // Saracen Custom CRMO E-MTB
  • Weight // Not weighing it yet 🙂

Geometry of size XL

  • Head angle // 64°
  • Effective seat angle // 76°
  • Seat tube length // 457mm
  • Head tube length // 130mm
  • Chainstay // 450mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,399 mm
  • Effective top tube // 665mm
  • BB height // 19mm BB drop
  • Reach // 504mm

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Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 63 total)
  • Bike Check: Benji’s Orange Switch 6
  • WildHunter2009
    Full Member

    I mean the really obvious single pivot brand would be Starling…..

    BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    It’s been said by many an internet typist, but the ‘problem’ with Orange bikes is they haven’t changed for decades. Which, in one sense is true. The brand still makes single pivot full suspension bikes. For some people, the silhouette of mountain bikes is all they look at. These people are the reason why bike brands have to reinvent themselves every three years. And have teams of marketeers permanently spin spin spinning their alternative facts as to why they’ve gone back to the drawing board.

    Damn those customers with their fickle, shallow ways and those pesky ‘internet typists’.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    That’s brilliant.

    Comrie Croft bikes have a Stage 6 in a really lovely green glitter paint – I keep lusting, but realistically I need a shorter travel bike.

    2022 Orange Stage 6 Evo Team Special Edition Custom Paint

    FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    Ah so it’s customers fault that they are having problems 😂

    I think most of us would wish there was more standardisation of ‘standards’ etc

    Why does the article avoid the much talked about high prices too?

    mashr
    Full Member

    Having a pop at your own customer/typists is always an interesting move

    Jason Bateman Cotton GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    Having a pop at your own customer/typists is always an interesting move

    You might think that, but you’re just an ‘internet typist’, what do you know? Next you’ll be saying that Orange bikes are expensive and a bit ugly and that Rwanda is an unsafe country 😉

    johnnystorm
    Full Member

    Anyone with an ego so fragile as to be upset by being labelled an “internet typist” would have already found something else to flounce about.

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    There are two brilliant aspects to the single pivot design on this Switch 6.

    The near linearity of its progression.
    Insane levels of 3D traction.

    I thought Orange significantly increased the progression?

    mashr
    Full Member

    They were regressive before, so they probably did

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    Quote from Benji’s NBD

    With the New Switch 6 we have also updated the bike’s kinematics. Sporting 160mm of travel and a more progressive feel. The original Switch 6 was almost completely linear while the newest version has a real working progression of 6.2% considerably higher than the original bike (0.7%).

    NBD: Orange Switch 6, SRAM Apex, Lapierre E-Zesty…

    rockhopper70
    Full Member

    Sounds like marketing spiel, but what is “3D traction”?

    My son has an Orange Five so if he ever says he needs a new bike, I can use this reported benefit to convince him otherwise, providing I know what it is.

    ico86
    Full Member

    I came here to say Starling, and to question what in hot hell’s name is 3D traction? But that’s already been covered so I’ll just add:

    Curtis.

    And to balance out the above I’ve always liked my Oranges and think it’s a damn shame.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Glad it isn’t just me wondering what 3d traction is…have I only been riding in 2d??? Has the marketing spiel not been thrown far enough away from this article?

    Blake
    Full Member

    “3D traction”

    Actual LOL at that one. Particularly given it was prefaced by a moan about fashion and marketing killing a brand.

    Can we have a comment about square edged hits as well to get a full house of bike journo bobbins?

    rickmeister
    Full Member

    Framesets from GBP2.900 … and 3d traction?

    smeear
    Full Member

    yeah starling

    and pipedream

    i do hope orange stick around though

    Ben_Haworth
    Full Member

    “Insane levels of 3D traction [ AKA lateral compliance, chassis ‘give’; helps maintain traction on cambers etc ].”

    Edited in this explanation now. It wasn’t very clear before was it? Soz! 🙂

    And yeah, good shout about Starling etc. Ta!

    chrismac
    Full Member

     AKA lateral compliance,

    Is that code for the back ends still flex sideways and the tyres can still rub the stays

    The bike industry needs brands like Orange

    Surely the bike industry needs companies that make bikes people want to buy.

    sillyoldman
    Full Member

    Tough crowd.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    There’s a lot going on with that front triangle, not a fan. The green Stage 6 posted above looks so much better.

    chestrockwell
    Full Member

    Find it strange that people who don’t like a certain brand spend so much time following them around on the forum to comment. Bit too much time on your hands?

    Not a huge fan of the down tube on this as it makes it look wonky, much like many other bikes from other manufacturers.

    yoluka
    Full Member

    Yep! My Curtis. Love it.

    WildHunter2009
    Full Member

    The green frame a few comments above is lovely. I test ride a Five years ago and really liked it and they are one of those bikes that I just associate with mtb in the UK. This one does look a hoot though and nice to see a not RS or Fox build.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Comrie Croft bikes have a Stage 6 in a really lovely green glitter paint – I keep lusting, but realistically I need a shorter travel bike.

    OMG that’s sensational.

    Have you had a look at the Stage Evo? Such a great fun bike and surprisingly light.

    mildred
    Full Member

    Have you had a look at the Stage Evo? Such a great fun bike and surprisingly light

    You ranggg??

    IMG_7985

    My Large Stage Evo. More fun than a barrel of monkeys..! Every time I ride it, which up until December was most days, it amazes me how capable it is – definitely punches above its weight. Probably the  only thing I’d swap it for is a Stage 6.

    DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    Sounds like marketing spiel, but what is “3D traction”?

    I strongly suspect its marketing spiel, aka bollocks.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    My Large Stage Evo. More fun than a barrel of monkeys..!

    My medium. What a stunna eh?

    Stevelol
    Free Member

    I was ready to buy an Orange frame in 2022 but constant reports of them cracking put me off, nothing to do with fashion.

    Orange’s USP is their simplicity, they need to stop chasing lighter weights, instead make them durable as hell, slim down the range and keep on top of geo and suspension design, nothing wrong with single pivot.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    @mildred ‘s frame above looks so much cleaner – is the awful downtube on the Switch purely for the storage box? Price not worth paying if it is.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Storage and space for water bottle.

    Yep, I’d rather go without both and keep the frame style I currently have.

    tomparkin
    Full Member

    The seat tube is also quite a lot shorter on the newer frame design by the looks?

    Personally I prefer the visuals of the previous incarnation, but the ability to have a bottle on the frame and to have more standover are not insignificant benefits. Storage box in the frame I’m less convinced about but maybe it’s actually ace.

    biggriffo
    Full Member

    common sense from Benji as always, i am lucky enough to have four bikes for different disciplines, like most of the readers i am involved in a variety  of out door activities , kit needs maintaining and i want to be doing stuff, the orange works its simple and reliable, the good design allows more time for fun. Perhaps a more positive attitude from some contributors would be more realistic, at 70.5 i think i have some experience of what works and what does not contribute. x Griffo

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    Current bikes allow a bottle under the down tube, i thought? Even if not, wouldn’t be that hard to accommodate one with a few smaller tweaks.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Insane levels of 3D traction [ AKA lateral compliance, chassis ‘give’; helps maintain traction on cambers etc

    I’m surprised to read this, because (as a big Orange fan and Stage 6, 4 and Evo owner in recent years) I’ve found them very much on the tighter side in terms of chassis compliance.

    That’s part of the appeal because they’re fast, fun and very engaging as a result, but they are chalk and cheese with my Starling – which genuinely does smooth things out when it’s leant over.

    So you think this new frame design significantly increases chassis compliance Ben? Or are you benchmarking against even-stiffer carbon bikes?

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    Personally I prefer the visuals of the previous incarnation, but the ability to have a bottle on the frame and to have more standover are not insignificant benefits. Storage box in the frame I’m less convinced about but maybe it’s actually ace.

    I agree, the previous version is better looking. Regardless if I were buying I’d go for bottle and storage, appearance be damned

    chakaping
    Free Member

    . Regardless if I were buying I’d go for bottle and storage, appearance be damned

    I’m very curious how much weight has been added to get water bottle space and storage though.

    And whether that eeb-esque downtube now allows a longer stroke shock as well, or any other claimed benefits like that.

    Maybe Ben could ask Orange?

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    I can’t find it now but there is/was a video of Steve Peat, Hans Ray and Danny Mac riding Torridon trails. Danny was on an Orange. Slo-mo of Danny riding over some bumpy stuff – the back wheel is twanging all over the place side-to-side…I’m not sure I’d describe it as stiff by any means – you don’t tend to see it at normal speed, but I bet a single arm to a wide mounting point in the middle is going to twist quite a lot when it is bouncing over variable terrain.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    That Torridon video must be 10+ years ago now.

    The split swingarm design feels pretty tight IMO.

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    Probably the most cringey, over defensive thing I’ve ever read on here. And that pink thing is utterly hideous.

    It reeks of “everyone who doesn’t like me is a hater.”

    Survival of the fittest Orange, make stuff people want to buy and sell it at a competitive price, don’t go into administration. Simple.

    Disclaimer: I have owned 4 Oranges. In the old days when basically everything was crap, Orange had the advantage of being simple and reliable. Now there are too many other far superior options and far more acceptable prices.

    andybrad
    Full Member

    3D traction? Oh you mean its a flexy frame?

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 63 total)

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