How much harder should an AM 'rig' be to push along than an XC 'wippet'?

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  • How much harder should an AM 'rig' be to push along than an XC 'wippet'?
  • no_eyed_deer

    I recently got hold of a lovely Orange 5 and took it out for its first spin yesterday. Having ridden fairly XC focussed bikes for the last 20 years or so, I found out 2 things:

    1) It’s stupidly brilliant fun going downhill, like boinging around laughing over rocks on an unstoppable, invincible motorbike without an engine

    2) It laughs back at me if I try to push things by riding along uphill, or on the flat, at anything amounting to a vaguely fast pace.

    One of the reasons I actually bought the bike because I actually want to take it a bit easy sometimes and ride in a more relaxed way, but is this ‘draggy’ feeling normal for such a bike?

    It almost feels like the difference between riding a normal road bike compared to a touring bike loaded up with panniers.

    Can I put this all down to the, possibly quite unfeasibly, draggy Maxxis Swapthing front tyre, or am I kidding myself? 🙂

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    Change the front tyre to something else and see what difference it makes, said the man who’d just upgraded his hardtail after getting bored with pedalling a 30lb chunk of very competent steel uphill… what’s on the back?

    i don’t really notice the difference between the effort of riding various bikes uphill, i just go slower if it’s heavier.

    that said my 53lbs Demo 9 was something of a challenge to get up those canadian fire roads, you can only ride so slowly before you fall off.

    On challenging climbs then the slacker head angles and longer travel will obviously make things a little trickier


    What have you changed from?

    There’s certainly a different technique to getting a full suss up a hill as opposed to a HT. Personally I find my boingy bike quite useful on technical climbs as the rear wheel tends to bite and track the ground better.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    I’ve just switched my Carbon 456 from a Maxxis Minion Supertacky 42a front/60a rear to some Bonty Mud-X’s- I’m expecting to fly up the hills now.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    but is this ‘draggy’ feeling normal for such a bike?

    Yes and no.

    It’ll never be as effient along the flat and up hills as an XC whippet due to geometry and riding position mainly, with weight contributing also. I find mine as good if not better for technical climbing than my whippet, but the difference is most stark on a flat road. Commuting on it is a pain.

    However there’s a lot you can do.

    – If they still come with Nevegals, change them for something lighter and better rolling
    – Investigate a longer stem
    – Go tubeless (improves rolling resistance no end)
    – rotate the bars forwards
    – move the saddle forwards a bit
    – get/use wind down-able forks

    You may not get on with all these things, and some (ie stem) compromise downhill handling somewhat in some ways.

    EDIT: just noticed this:

    Can I put this all down to the, possibly quite unfeasibly, draggy Maxxis Swapthing front tyre, or am I kidding myself

    Yes, you can put it down to that. Change asap 🙂

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager

    Forget about uphill – it’ll be slower and that’s just a fact of life. Unless there’s some horrendous pedal bob, or you’re falling off the back of it etc I’d just get on with it and turn the pedals on the climbs.

    It’s the across bits that you want to focus on – some poorly set up AM bikes really wallow around the singletrack IME. They’ll come in to their own downhill of course, but you have to think how one-dimensional you want your bike to be. Should be possible to get a rounded ride out of a five I would have thought.


    1.4 fitnesses harder.


    Yep.. I guess it’s probably mostly down to that front tyre then 😉

    On the rear it’s a Continental Vertical thingy, which seems fairly light-rolling, if not actually light. 😯 The Swapthing is absolutely awesome going downhill through swampy, muddy, rocky wet stuff though – it just sticks like glue! But I guess that’s what it’s intended for! It does almost feel almost as if the front brake is rubbing when you’re on the road though.

    My most recent bike experiences prior to this were a light alu 100mm hardtail and 2007 Giant Anthem with 80mm rear and 100mm front. For technical climbing the Orange Five is – indeed – way better than both those two! It’s just when ‘rolling along’ that things get to be little bit painful..

    I might try some of the adjustments above – cheers guys! Only trouble with the moving the saddle forward thing though is that the bike’s got a rather pimpy short ‘moto-style’ AM stem – move any further forward and I might be clipping my knees on the bars! 😉

    Premier Icon molgrips

    A longer stem will make it less sit-uppy and more XCey. I’ve got 90mm on mine, had 100mm for a while when I was making it more XCish but decided I liked it a bit more AMey.

    Of course, putting your weight forwrd might upset the weight distribution and make it worse on the steep stuff. Also affects the apparent balance of front vs rear suspension, on that bike at least.

    What a neologistical post.

    Btw the tubless thing should be done anyway I reckon. My patriot was a right bear on flats and climbs, so I kept the same tyres and ditched the buffalo hide tubes, and it made enough of a difference (with weight and RR) to get me happily choosing it for XC rides.

    What forks are on it btw?


    Get rid of the swampthings and try locking out the forks and rear on the climbs, higher saddle height will make a huge difference, although if you’re cockpit is a bit tight then a longer stem too – are you sure you got a big enough frame? Apologies if that’s a stupid question?


    Oh yeah, the forks have a lockout – Fox Float 32 RLC 140mm jobbies. And I use it too! 🙂

    Bike’s definitely the right size and the saddle’s the right height , I was only joking about the knees on the bars thing.

    It probably does have tractor tyre inner tubes though, this may also be the problem. I’ll have to investigate this soon.

    It’s weird the whole apparent balance of the front and rear suspension thing – ’cause going uphill it often feels a bit like the rear is wallowing a tad, but on the way down it’s seems to be just about nicely balenced. I guess I could iron that out with the propedal, but then I’d be losing technical climbing suppleness. I’ve never noticed this issue much on the Anthem (with only 80mm rear), but it seems that with more travel, it’s tricker to get the Orange ‘sitting right’ for the terrain – any slight imbalence leads to a weight shift which further accentuates the problem. More air pressure might take care of it, but then that’s sort of like turning 5.5 inches of travel gradually into a hardtail 😕


    I’m running tubeless Bonty Mud X’s on my Zesty AM with 140 mm, and it climbs pretty fast, will never be a XC whippet though. Start with the tyres.

    Premier Icon mboy

    Fast rolling tyres make more of a difference to how “draggy” a bike is or isn’t than anything else. Put some 1.5″ slicks on a Freeride bike, you’ll still be able to bomb it along the roads, it’ll just take a bit longer to get up to speed.

    Swampthings are notoriously slow and draggy tyres. The Conti Vert you have on the back isn’t the fastest either. Look for some faster, lighter tyres (still approx 2.2″ width though I’d suggest) like Nobby Nics or similar, this will make no end of difference to the speed of the bike on the ups/flat without slowing it down going downhill. Also get rid of the heavy DH tubes! That’s just criminal in my view… Convert to tubeless ASAP for a real benefit, but even just some normal cheapo innertubes will be a better short term solution that cuts rotating weight by about 1/2lb per wheel!


    Sweet..! This should be easy to sort, as I’ve got some Nobby Nics sitting on both my XC bikes, yet somehow I didn’t think you were ‘allowed’ to put such a light-ish tyre on such a burly-ish bike.. 🙄

    How much I have to learn.. 😉

    I’m just running the bike with tyres it came with, so I figured that they were sort of typical of the type of tyre you were ‘supposed’ to use on this sort of bike, but after my first ride on it, I’m probably begining to wonder if they suit my riding style. Either that, or I’m going to end up with thighs like Chris Hoy.. 😯

    I like the idea of putting 1.5″ slicks on a freeride bike though, would be awesome to do a flat course time-trial or something similar, with a bike set up like that 😛

    move any further forward and I might be clipping my knees on the bars!

    You bought a size too short?

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    It’s a single pivot. They bob. SmallBlock8’s soon as the trails dry.


    If you like the front tyre then keep it – you’ll get used to it. First time out on my High Roller ST I was wondering too if my brakes were binding but after the first rooty muddy downhill and I knew it had to stay. I’m sure if I was to revert back to 2.1s my bike would feel like a rocket but what I don’t know can’t hurt me. Awesome tyres 8)

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I guess I could iron that out with the propedal, but then I’d be losing technical climbing suppleness

    Not that much really.

    I have my bike set up with the correct sag (30-40%) at both ends on the flat when seated. On descents I tend to swing my weight around a lot to get the suspension to move where I want it. The weight shift thing is disconcerting at first but you learn to use it to your advantage I think.

    And as for the swamp thing – try Trailrakers. Also very grippy in mud but not too bad rolling 🙂

    My Five has Conti Speed King 2.3s on it. Very light and fast, and just about manageable in the mud where I live. Well – until I realised that they needed MORE pressure not less to get grippy.

    “but is this ‘draggy’ feeling normal for such a bike?”

    Slow and knackering was our experience of an Orange 5 pro when we demoed one for a day. It’s probably those tank-like qualities that make it good for AM. Not my cuppa tea though.


    +1 on change the tyres. I’ve got a Five with a Fat Albert on the front and Nobby Nic on the back for general use, it does feel slower uphill still but I expected that.

    Went out to Spain last year and got a pair of Super Tacky 2.5 Minions, run tubeless. Absolutely amazing downhill, however on the ups it was torture. On a couple of road climbs (in 25-30 degree heat) I swear I could see a black line going back down the hill. Usually I’d have been around the middle of the pack on climbs but with these I was waaaaay back!

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Slow and knackering was our experience of an Orange 5 pro

    I bought my 5 in a hurry after all my bikes were nicked. I was in no mood for shopping and wanted something to ride; I knew it had a good rep and my LBS with all the stock is an Orange dealer. So I bought a 5 Pro there and then.

    I was coming from a Fisher Cake which is 5″ travel bike but very nimble and XCish (loved climbing on it, descending less so) so the 5 felt like a dog. So I spent more insurance money on tricking it out. Longer stem (which I went back on) lots of lightening up kit including wheels and tyres, and new slightly shorter forks (130mm vs 140mm although less difference in axle to crown). It all really helped. Some I’ve gone back on, now I have Revs instead of the Paces and a shorter stem, but some I’ve kept. So now I’m very happy with it indeed. It’s still an AM ish machine but is way way quicker than it was originally.

    The thing about bikes is that the AM/FR/XC/Trail whatever designations are not rigid and immutable in definition or implementation – there’s a whole spectrum of slightly different bikes. And where a particular bike sits on the spectrum is partly down to the frame and partly down to the components on it.

    I could fit say Fox 36s, a coil shock, Sunn Singletrack rims, Race Face Atlas cranks, Hussefelt bars, double and bash, Hope v2s, a 70mm stem and 2.5″ FR tyres and completely transform the bike into an almost FR bike weighing 35lbs. Conversely I could fit all XC gear, DT forks etc and have a 26lb marathon racer.


    Some interesting ideas there guys.. cheers! Particularly Molgrips – basically I can over time have fun turning it into whatever I want it to be. Sounds like a great bike – Sweet! 🙂


    I had a Stumpy then a Heckler and now an Alpine 160 each time gaining a few more pounds. Definately choice of tyres makes as much difference as the weight of the bike in my view. I run swampthings on the Alpine at the moment and they are quite draggy, although awesome traction

    Premier Icon Vortexracing

    Is the swampy a supertacky?

    I have just put some Bonty mud X tyres on my Soul after running swampy ST/60a combo. The difeerence in rolling resistance is quite remarkable.


    as good as the Bonty tyres are they are not as good as the swampy’s going down especially if a mixture of rocks and mud is about.

    so ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’

    Premier Icon molgrips

    basically I can over time have fun spend tons of money turning it into whatever I want it to be

    Fixed that 🙂

    If you’re South Wales way in 5 months’ pop by for a ride. I’ll also see if I have any pics of my build.


    Cheers mate.. moving to Aberystwyth in the next month, so might pop by sometime!

    and yes, Vortex – supertacky compound, which explains pretty much everything (both good and bad!)

    Premier Icon FOG

    Recently I rode my Ht and FS on succeeding days on the same start to two different rides. Despite being similar weights and same size tyres, the HT was a lot easier to pedal even when the FS was fully locked out. Maybe I was just knackered from the day before when I rode the FS!

    Premier Icon soulrider

    You do switch the Pro pedal on dont you?

    for roads I have it on 3 ..
    fireroads and in general 2..
    uppy downy singletrack 1..

    blasting down – off..

    I run Maxxis High Roller 2.35 60a Folding.. not fastest rolling tyre but they do alright. I have Lyrics (coil) up front (with wind down)
    for racing it I have a light set of wheels and Conti Race King Black Chili plus some 140mm Rev airs..
    turns it into a pretty damn quick XC bike that can still cope with really rough stuff.
    Did me proud on the Tour de Ben Nevis last year.


    No one has asked what shock you have?

    I have a prophet which is the same and i used to run a Manitou Swinger 3 way with SPV which when pumped up helps loads. It takes out the pedal bob which is what you will be noticing loads i suspect. If your shock is soft then it will be more fun on the DH but takes a lot mor effort to get up.

    Check your shock pressure is right for your weight, maybes pump it up a bit more till you get used to it and then as you accept and learn to ride differently let a bit out till you find a good balance.

    The swampies wont help though, they drad like hell, try high rollers or crossmarks esp if you are a trail centre regular


    Just swop the tyre it will be fine as is. 😀

    In November I bought a Cube Stereo Race and found it to be an efficent climber for a 150mm trail bike, dropped the big ring for a bash guard and found it to be heavyish on the climbs but the frame is very pedal efficient, Oranges never will be due to them being single pivot, it pivots near the shock whereas other frame designs like DW, ABP etc use other pivot points to counter pedalling and braking forces, so they make better climbers.

    Last week I bought a Niner Air 9 and I can honestly say it will do 80% of what the Cube does and jsut as quick, it flies up the hills and gives great comfort for a HT, did a night ride last night and was great fun on super techy bits too, it’s propelled itself to best bike status within it’s first week of ownership and within 75 off road miles.

    I think we need a full suss and a XC bike to allow us to keep our skill levels high, so my Missus is beng told anyway 😆


    I don’t know OP. Maybe you’ll get used to it. A friend of mine has a really heavy slack bike but he beats me on the climbs because he’s a lot fitter and stronger than I am. My bike weighs about 35lbs I think so his bike must be well heavy!

    I find that the High Rollers do roll very well but they’re heavy. One thing I’ve found with full suss is that you don’t want the saddle too far back as that encourages the suspension to sit back more and make things slacker.


    Tyre choice, saddle height, shock ‘firmness’, head-angle all come into play.


    Thanks guys! I followed some of the tips above, changed the tyres for N-Nic 2.25, moved the saddle forward, set the suspension sag up correctly and the bike is totally transformed!

    It’s actually quite nimble and sprightly now 😀

    I’m impressed!

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