- Orange Gyro Test (Warning 29er content)
OK, I put the disclaimer in the title, so put away your sad cat pictures, but, yes, I’m afraid it’s another 29er thread. I thought I’d post it anyway in case anybody is interested in the Orange Gyro.
There are a few excellent reviews of the Gyro on the web already, of course, but they all seem to be written by experienced and skilled riders. So I figure that there is a gap in the market for the views of a talentless idiot. After all, one of the defining characteristics of the age seems to be that everybody’s opinion is equally valid, no matter how ignorant and ill informed. So, think of this as the STW equivalent of those news vox pops where somebody in the street gives their opinion of the Euro crisis, based on the fact that they once had a holiday in Spain.
Oh, yes, I should also point out that this won’t be short. I’ll try to post an executive summary once I’ve collected my thoughts, but at the moment I’m still working through things, so I’m afraid rambling is all I can do.
First, a bit of background. I currently have a 2012 Trance X2 and a 2006 Orange Five, which I intend to sell. I like almost everything about the Five. It’s fun to ride, simple to maintain, almost indestructible. I like the way it looks and yes, I like that fact that it’s made in the UK. There are just two problems. First, I just can’t do it justice. It is capable of far harder riding that I have the nerve for and it seems silly mincing around simple trails on it. If that were all though I’d still stick with it; maybe one day I’ll be able to justify it. But after six months of back to back tests I have to reluctantly accept that the Trance is faster and just an all-round better option for 90% of the riding I do. I don’t feel any real attachment to the Trance. It is boring, grey, made in a vast factory in the Far East by a huge corporation, but there is no getting way from the fact that it’s a great trail bike and if 26” bikes were all we had I’d just stick with it. But we also have these 29ers to consider.
I’ve had one decent test on a 29er. A Specialized Carve Comp, which I had as a loan bike while my Trance was getting fixed. There is a thread about it somewhere. I didn’t really get on with it. But as various people pointed out comparing an 80mm HT with a 125mm full suss bike was a bit daft.
Theoretically I quite like the idea of 29ers. There is nothing magic, all bikes are a compromise, but I reckon it should be possible to use the larger wheel to create something that rolls a bit better while also giving a bit more confidence on the descents. When the Gyro was released it seemed to tick a lot of boxes for me and the reviews that I’ve read all look quite positive. I’ve already admitted to liking the brand and the looks of the Five and the Gyro seems to offer that in a package that is more designed for the sort of riding that I actually do than the Five. So I contacted Stephen at Highland Bikes in Inverness and he arranged to get a demo bike in for me to try for a few days. For balance I’ve also arranged a test ride on the Trance 29er, so more on that next week.
A quick plug for Highland bikes, who looked after me very well. Arranging the demo just took a few emails and when I picked it up Stephen fitted my pedals and my dropper post before spending a while setting up the suspension for me. When I mentioned that I had ridden a Five he did give me the Orange party line about this not being a 29er Five and not to ride it too hard (as if). It’s interesting that Orange seem so nervous about people riding the Gyro hard. Is that just to try and create a clearer market for the Five29 or is the Gyro really that fragile? The latter seems hard to believe. It’s a 32lb Aluminium trail bike (that’s for the pro spec in Large plus my Specialized dropper post and DMR Vault pedals, by the way). Other trail bike manufacturers don’t seem so keen to warn you not to ride their bikes hard.
Right, that’s more than enough preamble. How does it ride? Well…
Getting on it after a few weeks of riding the Trance it’s unmistakably an Orange. It doesn’t isolate you from the trail nearly as much and feels almost agricultural by comparison. Comparing with my old Five the Gyro feels a lot stiffer. None of those discussions between the front and back wheels about which way to go, which is nice, but also harsher ride overall.
Speed is the thing that everybody talks about, but that’s a tricky one. I don’t ride with a heart rate monitor, so have no objective way of telling how hard I’m working.
For the first ride I took the bike on some of the Moray Monster trails as I’d ridden them on the Trance just before the snow arrived, so I have a recent marker. I had a route with a nice Blue to start (to give those 29er wheels time to explode) then the Fochabers ring red route. Heading from the car park up the first climb I was flying. Riding the middle ring where I’d previously been in the granny. The time to the top was 6 minutes faster than I’d done on the Trance, which is daft. Maybe I’d stopped on the way up on the Trance for some reason? But even for a shorter 10 minute section where I know I didn’t stop the Gyro was 2 minutes faster. That’s 20% faster on a fire road climb! No way. I don’t believe that. There was clearly some bias creeping into this poorly designed experiment. I wanted the Gyro to be faster so I was riding it harder. Sure enough, when I got to the next long climb to the monument on the red route I was suffering and expected to see the times drop off. But Strava tells me that I was still 10% faster up that climb than I had been on the Trance. In fact, of the 14 segments that Strava identified (up and down) I got personal records on 13 of them! The only exception was a section where a tree had fallen down blocking the trail at waist height. Basically, up and down I was always at least 10% faster than the last time I’d ridden this trail. Still, I can’t say for sure that I wasn’t just riding harder. Also, I’ve only got one other ride to compare it with, which is hardly significant.
I also went out today and rode a route that I know much better. There is only one section that Strava identifies, which comes towards the end of the ride. It’s a rocky climb and has become a bit harder after all the rain last summer and the recent snow, with lots of loose rocks. After the ride yesterday I felt tired and didn’t think I’d ridden that section very well. But when I got back and loaded up the results I saw that I’d done the climb ten times previously with times ranging from 11:30 to 13 minutes. Today’s time was 10:30. So again around 10% faster on a rocky climb.
While I could put the extra speed down to trying harder, what’s harder to explain are a few of the trickier sections that I managed to clear for the first time ever today. Rocky climbs that I’ve never managed and some rocky descents that I wimped out of only last week on my Trance where dispatched with seeming ease. While it’s easy to put a bit of extra effort in if you want a bike to be faster, it’s harder (unfortunately) to suddenly improve your skills.
So, so far, it looks as though the Gyro is living up to expectations. It’s seems to be both faster overall and inspires more confidence on the tricky sections. However, I’m always suspicious when a test that isn’t done blind confirms what the observer though at the start. It could still just all be in my head.
A few things I’m less happy with: First, the hotrod bars didn’t suit me at all. With a short head tube and only 10mm of spacers under the stem, the flat bars just put too much weight on my hands and the sweep didn’t suit me. However, a quick switch to a set of riser bars today made a huge difference to the feel, showing the importance of getting the contact points right when testing a bike.
Second, I’m not sure about the Fox CTD system. The climb mode is very stiff on the shock (feeling almost like a hardtail) but perhaps not stiff enough on the forks. Trail mode is still pretty stiff, but Descend mode is just too active. With the pressure set to give 20% sag even I could blow through the travel on anything vaguely rough. So I tended to stick in Trail mode but found that my wrists (in particular) were taking more of a beating than usual. That may be partly down to riding faster and hitting stuff harder, but I’d still prefer a softer trail option or a firmer descent option.
Finally, while the bike does seem to be faster in almost all situations there is one area where I’m struggling and that’s very slow climbs. The ones that I can barely make on the Trance and where speed drops to 3-4mph for extended periods seem to be harder on the Gyro. It could just be a matter of gearing. The bottom gear on both bikes is 24×36 but the 10% larger wheel on the Gyro translates to a 10% longer gear. I’m very much a sit and spin type of climber, so it may just be that I’m struggling to keep the bigger gear turning over at optimum cadence. But I’d also be interested to see how the Gyro performed with lighter wheels/tyres.
Right, that’s an awful lot of words. Far more than anybody will want to read I’m sure. So let’s end with a picture.
Posted 5 years agollamaMember
I’ve tried a stumpy 29 carbon comp
It is very good. Fast. More like the fsr from a couple of generations ago. Ride is rather remote from the trail (not saying that’s good or bad). Didn’t get on that well with the fork, but found it much better than 29 revelations. The carbon puts me off as does the funny shock.Posted 5 years agoold_mtberMember
It seems that Shimano are about to address the gearing issue with a specific crankset.Posted 5 years ago
Taken the manufacturers long enough to sort out this disadvantage though.
There seems to be a trend to do away with the lowest gear ratios in favour of “simplicity” – great until you come to that long rough and muddy climb!righogSubscriber
Enjoyed the write up. Will you be having a try on a Five29 ?
As much as I love my Five, I don’t think I would be buying a built up bike from them again.
You could buy the Gyro frame and a Canyon Nerve AL 7.9 for almost the same price as the Gyro pro, and swap the parts over, and then sell the canyon frame.Posted 5 years agodannybgoodeSubscriber
‘None of those discussions between the front and back wheels about which way to go, which is nice, but also harsher ride overall.’
That sir is a line worthy of many a seasoned reviewer – made me smile!
Good write up, don’t buy Orange. Better bikes for the money out there.
Danny BPosted 5 years agosharkattackMember
I’ve never posted on a 29’er thread because I’m not bothered either way but the OP highlights my main issue with them.
29’er reviews are all fast this, fast that, fast fast fast! When you’ve talked everyone into buying one because they’re so fast, you’ve lost your speed advantage. You’re back to the back of a group of talented riders on bigger wheels and you don’t look as impressive on Strava. You might start to feel pretty slow again.
Then what? An engine?Posted 5 years agoold_mtberMember
I run 1×9/10 on my Ht/FS 32×12:36 on both what gearing is 29er specific?
Current gear ratios are designed for the 26″ wheel size. Using those ratios with a 29″ wheel effectively gives higher gearing across the range. Apparently Shimano are to address this issue with a 22-30-40 c/set.
I can appreciate the simplicity of a single c/ring, unfortunately my knees won’t like the lack of a granny!Posted 5 years ago
Thanks for the feedback folks. To be honest, I’m amazed that anybody read all that let alone got anything from it. A few interesting points have been raised and addressing them will probably mean another long rambling post, so I’ll try to divide it into sections and you can just read the bits that interest you.
It’s not all about speed
I couldn’t agree more. I don’t race and mostly ride on my own, so speed isn’t that high up on my agenda. So why so many comments about the speed? Well, mainly because it is easy to measure I suppose. Now we have Strava it’s very easy to analyse a ride segment by segment to see how it compares with all your other rides. But how do you measure fun? If you start asking “am I having fun” then you probably aren’t. Also, when you are testing a bike it is natural to focus on the bike. But I have the most fun when I forget about the bike and focus on something external; the trail, the weather, nature, company etc.
I did another quick blast this morning. I was still a bit tired after the previous two days of riding. Strava still reckons I got personal records on all the section it recognized, but that wasn’t really the point today. What I notices was that, by this third ride, the bike was starting to feel “normal” and I was able to just enjoy being out in the woods in the light drizzle.
Although I can’t say whether the Gyro is more or less fun than my Trance I can say that I haven’t noticed anything that would detract from the fun of a good ride. For example, a lot of people argue that 29ers are less playful and harder to get airborne, but that hasn’t seemed to be the case here. Now I should point out that I have no skills. If both wheels are off the ground it’s probably not by design and will probably end badly. But picking the front wheel up onto rocks or over water bars seemed, if anything, easier than on the Trance. Yes, you can steamroller the trail more if you just want to get to the bottom as quick as possible and that can be fun in itself, but you can also mess around popping it off stuff for fun as well.
Shocks, Gearing and frame vs full build
I agree that full bikes from Orange don’t look like good value. i guess they just don’t have the purchasing power of the big boys. If I did go for one of these (and I’m a long way from making that decision) it would be a frame only. I’d probably go with the RS Revelation RCT3 Dual Air shocks that CRC are still knocking out at half price. With a bit of fiddling I suspect that I could get them to feel better (for me) than the Fox CTD on this demo bike. I’d probably also upgrade the rear shock to the “Fox Float Factory Series CTD Kashima” option as I understand this gives you three different settings in Trail mode. The problem here is that I don’t have the experience to be able to judge how the bike would ride with different shocks. As I like a lot of things about the bike it’s tempting to tell myself that the things I’m not so sure about can easily be fixed with a different shock and fork. But I could just be deluding myself.
The gearing should be easy to fix. I’ll have to check the numbers. Id it really is an 18% difference in wheel diameter that would explain why I find it hard to get on top of the gear on steep climbs. Basically it’s all Lance’s fault as it stems from years of trying to train myself to spin a small gear on the road bike. But dropping the granny from a 24T to a 22T looks to be easy enough.
Incidentally I weighed the wheels from the Gyro and my Trance this morning. Both are Hope hoops (so the same hubs) and I weighed the full wheels (with tyres, rotors and cassette, but no axles). The Gyro wheels were 400g and 450g heavier for the front and rear, respectively. That’s quite a difference considering that the Trance wheels aren’t that light (Flow EX rims and 2.35″ Nobby Nic tyres).
There are better bikes for the money[/u]
This is undoubtedly true. With so many trail bikes out there it is a statistical certainty that something will be better. I will test the Trance before coming to any decisions, but, to be honest, I’m not sure it matters. I’m not looking for the best bike, I’m looking for my bike. This will seem daft to many people and I admire those who can treat a bike as just a tool. Of course the sensible approach is just to buy the best bike you can for the money. But cycling isn’t my job it’s something I do for fun and I’ve always looked to by bikes that I feel some connection to. My road bike, for example, is a Principia Rex. It probably wasn’t the best bike when I bought it and I’m sure there are better bikes, but it doesn’t matter. It’s my bike and will be until the sad day when it breaks. It says Principia on the downtube, Issac on the forks and Newton on the stem. The fact that hardly anybody gets the connection doesn’t matter, it still makes me smile. Orange bikes have always given me that smile too. My wife and kids saw a picture on the Web of a neon pink Five with neon Green rims and are no adamant that I should buy one of those. I think I’ll resist that, but it’s that sense of fun that you can get with Orange bikes that I find more appealing than subtle differences in the efficiency of the suspension.
Having said all that, I’m still not sure this is the bike for me. Or to be more accurate, whether the advantages are enough to make it worth getting rid of my perfectly good 26″ Trance.Posted 5 years ago
Euro One thing missing though. You climbed and climbed, then climbed some more but didn’t mention coming back down? Do you live on top of a big hill?
Ah yes, fair point. Too many years as a Roadie, where it is all about the climbs I guess. Actually, although I didn’t mention it specifically, many of the Strava segments are descents. So far, in three rides, I’ve recorded personal records in all except two of them. One because there was a tree down, which I had to climb over and one because I went round a blind bend a bit fast, hit a rock and ended up in the heather. One of those falls where you get up laughing then try to work out what you hit.
I guess it kind of goes without saying that the bigger wheel will roll over bumps easier and having that big tyre out in front does increase confidence on the more technical descents. I’ve managed to get down a couple of sections that I’ve never managed before and I generally feel more confident on all the descents.
But all that was kind of expected. What worried me more was how it would cope with climbs, which is probably why I focussed on them so much. I can’t really see why a bigger wheel would help much there and I still think there is a fair element of me wanting the bike to be faster and pushing harder, but I am at least fairly confident that it isn’t any slower uphill and may actually be a few percent faster.Posted 5 years ago
I had to take the Gyro back today 🙁 but squeezed one more ride in 🙂 This was around the Pitfichie Red route and being the fourth ride in as many days I was more tired than a tired thing. Still, Srava identified 9 segments (up and down) and 9 more personal records! My previous four rides down the main descent were all within 16 seconds of each other, but today I was a minute and 14 seconds faster than my previous best! More importantly I was grinning like an idiot at the bottom.
So, time for a quick(ish) wrap-up.
Basically, with the Gyro (like the ST4 before it) Orange have produced a trail bike for those us us that don’t want to throw ourselves off cliffs. But this time retaining the single pivot feel. It may still suffer the same fate as the ST4, with people looking for an Orange 29er opting for the burlier Five29 even though they don’t need it “just in case”. But personally I’d rather start with something shorter and lighter (and upgrade if I break it or feel it’s getting out of its depth) than lug around more bike than I need all the time.
While I’m still a bit skeptical about some of the times I’ve recorded (particularly on the climbs) and accept that there could well be an element of (subconsciously) trying a bit harder, there is no doubt that it rolls over things easier and gives more confidence when the trail gets rocky or technical. The big appeal of 29ers (to me) is that it seems as though you can get this extra confidence without giving up speed (either on the climbs or overall), as you would if you just went longer and/or slacker on a 26″ bike, for example.
Despite looking quite hard for them I didn’t really find any of the traditional disadvantages of 29ers. As I said earlier, I don’t have much in the way of skills, but the little wheel lifts and mini-jumps that I can do on the 26″ Trance all seemed just as easy (if not slightly easier) on the Gyro.
The other, much trumpeted disadvantage of 29ers, maneuverability, just didn’t seem to be an issue at all. One of the sections I rode on Saturday involves navigating through a boggy area with lots of sink holes and big rocks. There is basically a thin, tortuous and lumpy path that needs to be negotiated at low speed (plus a ditch that has had me over the handlebars a few times). I’ve never managed it without at least putting a foot down before, but cleared it quite easily on the Gyro. Carving through swoopy singletrack at speed also seemed to be a lot easier, with loads of grip on tap.
So, there you are. As you can tell, I liked it. Is it the best trail bike out there? Probably not. There are so many to choose from how could you ever tell? But it does the job very nicely. Nice enough to be worth dumping my perfectly good 2012 26″ Trance? Now there’s a question. To be honest, I don’t know and I’m in no great rush to decide. But it might be.
If I did go for one I’d make a few changes. I’d buy a frame rather than complete bike. I’d go for the upgraded shock, not for the Kashima coating but because it gives 3 different settings for the damping in Trail mode. Basically I found trail mode too stiff and descent mode not stiff enough and the upgrade would sort this I think. Although, I dare say that you could get the standard model shock tuned to your liking for less than the cost of the upgrade. I’d also probably look for different forks, although that’s mainly on a value for money basis as these CTD forks seemed OK to me. Finally I’d probably try and shave a bit of weight from the wheels. Oh yes, and I’d have it in one of the neon colours, even though the red and white does look quite smart.
Posted 5 years ago
Thanks folks, I thought I was talking to myself at the end there 🙂
I just noticed that I never answered righog’s question about testing the Five29.
I’m certainly looking forward to reading more reviews of the Five29, but based on what I’ve read so far it’s not on my list to test. A big part of the appeal of the Gyro for me is that I like the Five but it’s more bike than I need and I suspect that the Five29 would be the same in spades.
Oh and rOcKeTdOg: I wish 🙂Posted 4 years agodeejayenSubscriber
Thanks for the ‘review’ – great stuff! It made me remember seeing a review for the Gyro S in the CTC magazine, so I also dug that out and read it last night. I was in the same bike shop the other day (looking to buy my first MTB) but didn’t notice the Gyro – only a neon orange Clockwork. I hadn’t really been thinking of an Orange, but will now have to consider them! Also, you could maybe PM me if you think you’ll be selling your current bike.Posted 4 years agocakefacesmallblockSubscriber
Well put together stuff there, Roverpig, thanks.Posted 4 years ago
For what it’s worth, as a very average rider, who lacks skills and (now) youth, I’m still having lots of fun on a variety of terrain on my 2008 Trance, I’ve often wondered, just how much difference an alternative bike would make, maybe a big wheeler. I don’t crave out and out speed either, I dont race, yet would benefit from something perhaps giving more confidence at pace on the downs or techie stuff.
Food for thought, although I imagine I’ll still be wondering in a year or so !
cakefacesmallblock:[/u] I certainly found that the Gyro gave me a bit “more confidence at pace on the downs or techie stuff” than my 26″ Trance. However, I expect that a similar boost in confidence could be gained by sticking a 140mm fork on the Trance (as may people do). The result would be lighter and easier to hop around on that the 29er too, no doubt. Personally I think the bigger wheeled Gyro probably does give a slightly better overall package for the type of riding I do than a Trance at 140mm. But the differences are subtle and it’s still only a “probably”. Change the terrain or type of riding slightly and things could easily swing the other way.
The bottom line, I think, is that there is nothing revolutionary about 29ers. They are just bikes. It still takes effort to ride them up hills and skills to ride them down. But they do give a slightly different set of compromises that may suit some people (including me) better. If you are planning on buying a new bike anyway then you’d be daft not to at least consider one, but I don’t see a big enough difference to make it worth dumping a bike that you are happy with.
deejayen:[/u] There is a Gyro in Highland Bikes in Inverness (at least there was on Monday). It’s just on the right as you go in the door. A size large, Pro spec with upgraded rear shock, I think. Luckily for me it’s in a silver (raw?) finish. If it were in on of Orange’s more lurid colours then it would probably be hanging in my shed now.
I’ve stripped the old (2006) Orange Five down with a view to sticking the bits on ebay. I haven’t really made a decision on whether to sell the 26″ Trance yet. But if you (or anybody else) is interested in a 2012 Trance X2 in size Large then drop me a line. I guess it would make my mind up for me 🙂Posted 4 years ago
I’ve been back on my 26″ Trance for a few rides now, which is interesting after the Gyro.
The first thing I noticed was how much more the Trance moves about under you. You can interpret this as not rolling over stuff as well or as having a more playful feel, depending on your point of view. Both are true. It feels more playful because it is being knocked about more by the bumps. That can be fun on less technical trails, but does mean I have to back off sooner when I get to the more technical stuff.
The other thing I hadn’t picked up on was that I get a lot more pedal strikes with the Trance than the Gyro. Not sure if this is due to the suspension or the BB height, but it’s very noticeable.Posted 4 years ago
No problem. I realized after I posted that it might actually be a £4K+ SE model that they have. Lucky for me I don’t like that colour anyway 🙂
I think there should be an email address associated with my profile, but I must admit I’ve never used the PM system on here. If you want to drop me a line though you can get me on andy2002 AT gmail DOT com
AndyPosted 4 years agoRogan JoshMember
Great review, I’ve recently bought one and had a good few weeks smashing it around the lakes.
I don’t use strava or time sections, but I find the bike very fun, very capable, not extremely lightening fast on climbs or on fast sprinty sections but as a shorter travel, fun, trail bike that still can feel ‘quick’ I’m very very satisfied with it. I bought the base model but with hope wheels and headset, fox forks and performance pack upgrade, basically a pro but without the hope brakes. I got mine in apple green too which looks lovely, I’d post a pic but I don’t know how too, if anyone is considering one and wants to see pics (as I did) then email me firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don’t race, and want a trail bike, but still want to feel a bit quicker all round than you may do on a 5, or you are used to riding short travel bikes or ht’s like me then I think you would be as satisfied with a gyro as I have been.Posted 4 years ago
Thanks Rogan Josh. I didn’t get the chance to take the Gyro on a proper big mountain day out, which is a shame as that’s the sort of ride I enjoy most. So, it’s good to hear that it coped OK in the Lakes.
It’s interesting that you didn’t find it fast on the climbs, which would lend weight to the theory that I was only faster because I was trying harder.
The simplest way I’ve found to post pictures here is to sign up for a free photobucket account. If you view a picture in your library there it will give you a load of links. Click on the direct link (which copies the link to your clipboard) then post it into the box you get when you click on the IMG button. Alternatively, if you’d like to send some to the gmail account I gave above I’ll be happy to post them up here for you.Posted 4 years ago
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