MTB-MAG.COM - Mountain Bike Magazine | [Tested] Orange Five Pro 27.5″

[Tested] Orange Five Pro 27.5″

[Tested] Orange Five Pro 27.5″

13/04/2015
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13/04/2015

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Orange Mountain Bikes are a British company based in Halifax that started in 1988. Orange over the years have been synonymous with many great mountain bikers, including Steve Peat who rode for Orange earlier in his career. Right now Orange still compete in Downhill with their Dirt/Orange Mountain bike team. However the Five trail bike has probably been their most popular bike over the years, it has gone through a few incarnations. The Five Pro now finds it’s self running with and geometrically adjusted for 27.5″ wheels.

We have spent the last few months riding the Five in and around the Enduro trails of Punta Ala, Tuscany, Italy. Our test location is a center of Enduro and Trail riding. Fundamentally the kind of place a Five should be tested in to see what it can do. We pedalled it uphill and downhill, shuttled with it, and just about did all one can do with a trail bike, whilst each time making sure we finished our rides on the beach…

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After some trail time in Punta Ala (Pictured) we felt it was time to report on what we have found with the Orange Five Pro 27.5″.

We watched the birth of the Orange Five 27.5" in Halifax.
We watched the birth of the Orange Five 27.5″ in Halifax.

In full flow, the satisfaction of riding something you have seen built is high, all bikes should be sold like this...
In full flow on trail 301 Punta Ala, the satisfaction of riding something you have seen built is high, all bikes should be sold to customers like this.

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Build Kit

Frame : Aluminium Monocoque T6 – 6061 Areospace grade, seam welded.

Suspension: Rockshox Pike 150mm, Monarch Plus RC3.

Headset: Cane Creek 49mm For Tapered Steerer

Crankset: SRAM X1 1000 30T

Front Mech: MRP 1X Guide.

Rear Mech: Sram X1 11spd .

Cassette: Sram X1 10-42T 11spd.

Shifters: Sram X1 11spd.

Bottom Bracket: Canecreak.

Wheelset: Hope Pro II Evo + Stans No Tubes ZTR Flow EX 27.5.

Tyres: Maxxis Minion 3C Exo TR/ High Roller II Exo TR 2.3.

Brakes: Shimano XT, Ice Tech 180mm rotors.

Stem: Renthal Apex

Handlebar: Renthal Fatbar Lite Carbon 20mm Rise 740 mm

Grips: Renthal Lock-On Medium – Grey

Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb Stealth.

Saddle: Orange SDG Falcon 2015 Ti-Alloy

Five Pro: Base Price [£3,200.00]

  • Frame Size: L
  • Colour: Mandarin Orange [£100.00]
  • Rockshox Pike 27.5 150 RCT3 Solo Air [£200.00]
  • SRAM X1 11spd [£280.00]
  • Stans Flow EX 27.5 Rims + Maxxis Tubeless Tyres [£160.00]
  • Performance Pack [£150.00]
  • Rockshox Reverb Stealth Connectamajig [£270.00]

Total price: £4,360.00

With the ride kit selected by Orange which they say is one of their most popular selections we are looking at around €5000-€5500 total based on UK VAT and exchange rates.

Weight: (measured without pedals) 13.30 Kilos.

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FIVE GEOMETRY

Monocoque/6061-T6 Reynolds Custom Butted Aluminium tubing
Frame Size S M L XL
Seat Tube Length 16″ 17″ 18″ 20″
A. Head Angle 66º 66º 66º 66º
B. Seat Angle Actual 72º 72º 72º 72º
B. Seat Angle Effective 74º 74º 74º 74º
C. Top Tube 572 581 603 618
D. Top Tube (effective) 590 610 630 650
E. BB Height (from ground) 340 340 340 340
BB height (from axles -12 -12 -12 -12
F. Chainstay 430 430 430 430
G. Head Tube 110 110 130 140
H. Wheel base 1158 1178 1200 1215
T. Rear Travel 140 140 140 140
J. Reach 421 442 456 473
K. Stack 590 590 608 617
Standover 715 730 750 790

As we said before in our previous first look,
“The numbers on the frame put the Orange Five right in the middle of the Trail bike sector. However with their pro build kit specified, we feel that it might be under gunning what is possible to do with the Five based on our initial thoughts…The 66 degree head angle and 72 degree seat tube angle show a bike that is predisposed to be very pedal-able up hill and fast in flat/inclined sections of track… The wheel base lends itself to a bike that can change direction easily. The choice of a 150mm Rockshox Pike up front will open up the head angle half a degree or so, lending the bike to more aggressive possibilities.”

After some serious trail time we would have to say that we think these first observations are right on track, depending on what type of rider you are.  We were pleasantly surprised with what was possible to do with the bike, which we look at in detail below. Looking at the frame styling as well, Orange have always stayed true to their path since they started making bikes and the Orange Five Pro keeps to their design and styling principles.

The Orange 27.5" Five Pro
The Orange 27.5″ Five Pro has distinctive lines.

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Geometry And Suspension

As a 1.83m tall rider weighing in at 90 kilos, we choose the large frame version to ride, which was absolutely the right choice.  Even with the short stem (50mm) and the trail bike tendencies, we found the bike felt long enough, giving confidence as we put the power down on the trail. The 66 degree head angle was the right balance between uphill abilities and downhill stability. The seat tube angle led well to pedal performance and it was noted how well the bike moved uphill by all who tried it.

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Reinforced head tube welding.

Suspension in the single pivot form is probably the simplest most reliable method of making a bike float over bumps. The plethora of bike companies on the market are mostly focusing on a form of four bar pivot and linkage, Orange have made the single pivot their own. Looking around though its possible to find other designers producing bikes with a single pivot such as Santa Cruz with their Heckler, there is a design available for every type of preferred riding style.

Orange has not been static in it’s use of the single pivot, this latest version of the Five with 140mm of travel has had some positioning refinements and updates applied to the single pivot set-up. These improvements matched with the latest in shock design from Rockshox with a Monarch Plus means we have a suspension system that works well.  The lock out which could be switched off with a gentle tap on the lever situated on top of the shock, was a great feature, with the performance of the shock being tuned for the Orange single pivot design we got used to the suspension feel very quickly. Sag setting was easy to set-up (25%). Bump performance regarding progressiveness, was suitable for most rider’s tastes. When combined with the 150mm Pike fork up front the bike has a complete solid suspension platform. The Pike has been well documented before and our test version performed well in combination with the rear suspension.

Now a word on single pivots, with only one pivot and nothing to go wrong simplicity has many advantages in the world. The basics are clear, get the location right for the pivot to minimise chain growth and with modern components brake squat can be reduced to unnoticeable dimensions as rear tyres grip better and shocks perform better, as the ground activates movements not braking or pedalling.

Journalistic opinion out there about single pivots is fairly clear, if it’s right like in the case of the Orange Five, then it’s going to work well.
“A single-pivot-type suspension configured as such, and designed to drive the shock with a slight rising leverage rate is tough to beat.” (Richard Cunningham, PB)

The single pivot frame is constructed from aluminium sheet that is folded and seam welded. Take a look at how they are made in more detail.

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The rear triangle is a mono strut style swing arm, we found this to be stiff and solid, it tracked well, no flex was felt between it and the front triangle, the look fits with the Orange no nonsense industrial style, it is a masterpiece of light weight welding and engineering.

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A wide bar gives the bike a snappy feel to the steering which is tuned really well for tight twisty tracks.

Single pivot performance is all about where you put the pivot add in a good shock and you have a simple yet effective suspension platform.
Single pivot performance is all about where you put the pivot, add in a good shock and you have a simple yet effective suspension platform. Here you can see the pivot is located above the chain wheel line in front of it and also above the rear wheel axle line.

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The Pike up front is a solid well performing fork that can always be trusted and needs little setting up.

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The Monarch Plus with it’s piggy back performed well. The ability to switch it to free mode so easily was great, we actually appreciated it as we didn’t have to have a bar mounted release lever keeping in line with the simplistic approach across the bike.

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Component Performance

In all the time we spent on the bike we felt that everything worked as it should with no failures or adjustments needed. The Renthal bar and stem combo worked well, no creaking, and combined with the super dependable cane creak 40, we had a smooth solid control base up front. Cable routing was right on, and the overall finish to the bike was that of a high end bike.
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740 mm bars were ideal for our riding situation, the right combination of flex and stiffness for trail riding. Minimalistic controls, no clutter, what more could a rider want?

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Shimano XT brakes, faultless and powerful, no problems reported here.

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SRAM X1 dérailleur and cassette, again we liked the gear changes, they were smooth and precise, the chain moved well over the cassette and didn’t falter. The gear range for the weight of the bike, combined with a 30T up front and our average fitness was great, no hill stopped us.

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A stealth Reverb seat post, no messy cables, we liked the micro adjust-ability of saddle height.

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The Orange branded Falcon saddle was surprisingly light weight and comfortable.

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We have been using Renthal grips on all our bikes for a while now, the standard as far as quality grips are concerned for us. ?The mounted versions  (medium softness) will wear well over time.

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An MRP top chain guide performed well and kept the chain on, is it necessary? With the drop stop style chain-ring for a trail riding bike we think not if the bike is aimed purely at trail riding, maybe it’s a hint of where you can take the Five.

Climbing

Getting on board the Five was an enjoyable experience, the cockpit was right for our size and weight and allowed us to be comfortable immediately, especially when in a climbing position. Pointing the bike uphill and getting on with what was in front of us was actually quite a rewarding experience. The main overriding feeling from the Five is that it responded to your pedal inputs smoothly. One particular ride we decide to compare a climb against a VPP bike, we actually felt that our energy inputs on the Orange, despite it being made of aluminium and marginally heavier compared well to the stiffer carbon frame of the VPP bike. The Five seemed snappier in it’s response as we put the power down. Move that into fairly technical rocky climbs and we found ourselves zipping upwards over stuff easily. For a 13.3 kilo bike it was refreshing. With the direct connection to the ground with no links to dull any connected feeling from the ground, we found ourselves able to respond well to what was under us at each given moment. It’s possible as a rider with the Five, to feel when an object or feature on the trail creates a loss of traction and respond accordingly. No doubt this was assisted by the Monarch Plus shock, which in lock out mode really made the bike firm up well. We have spent a lot of time on Fox variants of rear shocks and they have a different approach to lockout, with the Monarch on the Five it really feels locked out and the bike becomes super responsive.

At the front end the reasonable 66 degree head angle paired with the Pike kept everything together, no excessive wandering or feeling like your pushing a wheel barrow up a hill, true trail geometry, ideal for corners and technical climbs. The wide bar added to this positive feeling by giving the leverage needed to snap the front wheel into position around the rocks. A pure Enduro bike on the same type of climb might be a bit more vague if it had a more open angle, even with a similar component set-up, proving a lot of the story is about correct angles with trail bikes.

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At the top of a 550 metre climb with the Five, over looking Punta Ala Trail Center, it’s possible to ride from here to the sea on majority of single trail.

The hill in the back ground is where we were going, we got there also by shuttle...
We kind of proved a point here with the shuttle time we spent on the Orange Five. It’s a bike that can be used for all types of riding, as we discovered when we started blasting downwards.

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Descending

When we first received the Five we honestly didn’t know what to expect from a more traditional trail machine like this. We rode a great deal of Enduro and Trail bike trails, linked up with pedal sections, a few shuttle runs and one or two epic day rides. The Five when let loose and the lockout freed up, was a really fun machine that made us want to ride it and chuck it around whenever we could, whatever the trail it was that we were on. We particularly liked it’s response in mid ability trails with technical sections, smooth fast corners, mini drops, roots, rocks and a gradient that was not excessive, basically the exact type of trail that 80 percent of us like to ride. The frame is stiff where it needs to be and at the same time smooths out vibrations as you push it around corners and over trail features in a way that is traditional of aluminium frames, the Five does not have a heavy feeling to it.

The wheel package was well built and based on Hope Evo II hubs, and Stans No Tubes Flow rims, they stayed true the whole time and we did not touch a spoke key, the hubs remained tight with no bearing pre-load adjustment necessary. On the descents this translated into strong feeling wheels that you could plant into the trail with confidence and that carried speed well when flowing through smoother sections.

Tight switch backs were responsive as the short chain stay length and directly connected back end could be whipped around and knocked into and out of corners maintaining speed well. We found particularly on the trail Termine 24, it was an ideally suited bike. An Enduro bike on that trail would have been sluggish at certain moments. The responsiveness of the Five on the other hand was fun, rewarding as you zipped around the corners.

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Ride it calmly and the Orange is fun.

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Push it harder and faster taking it over more Enduro style trails and the Five can cope.

In descents the single pivot Monarch Plus based suspension system teamed with the Pike up front gave a perfect balance of responsive reactive riding and shock absorbing comfort. We felt as we ratcheted up the trail difficulty levels the Orange coped well. We wanted to discover where the comfortable limits were for the Five. When we rode harder on rockier trails we started to discover those limits, essentially, the bike always remained true to its design, stayed stable and reactive. Increase the speed though to a higher level where many normal riders don’t normally go and those characteristics start to become more of a handful for the less experienced riders out there, reflecting it’s Trail characteristics. The choosing to spec a 150mm Pike fork does give a reassuring feeling up front and the protection one needs when upping the the trail difficultly level. It moves the Five forward somewhat into a lower level Enduro category bike for those who can ride more technical trails. When the going gets heavy, the limitations of the Five can be felt, that’s why the Alpine 160 exists.

This being said, we still felt that the Five was incredibly capable. The reactive suspension was easy to tune and the wheels stayed in contact with the undulating trail when they needed to, keeping the bike steady and gripping in turns. We did not experience any showing of brake squat in the conditions that we rode in, shock performance is a big part of this.

The use of Maxxis High Roller II tyres behind and a Minion up front are sensible choices and bring no surprises. Predictive tyres that in our tubeless set-up, only added to the positive feeling we had onboard. The SRAM X1 drive train was faultless, gears were clicked and they changed smoothly when asked, dust, mud, dry, it was all good, no mis-shifts, it was also a good choice to have a 30T up front making climbs less tiring. Coupled with Shimano XT brakes which worked felt positive and dependable, plus the well chosen Reverb seat post and we felt satisfied with the overall package.

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Overall

Orange are a small bike company that have been making a home grown traditional British product for years, that has been continually updated. With their latest version of the Five we can say that it has maintained it’s position as a solid trail bike. The component build that we tested cemented a grin  on our face when we were riding. This particular build is actually the one recommended by Orange as the build most riders select when buying. There are no compromises and the use of a 150 mm fork brings the Five into mini Enduro territory. Orange offer a complete custom build service on their website or through dealers, custom paint, everything is selectable.  The aluminium frame is well made, in our opinion looks distinctive, and with the build we had, it was a bike that turned heads when we rode by.

On the trail is where it counts though and is where the deals are made or broken. In all honesty the Five surprised us with what it could do. It was one of the most fun bikes we have ridden in a while. It pedalled uphill well, was 100 grams lighter than our current carbon framed Jekyll Enduro bike we have been running in parallel and every time we hit moderate descents we felt we were having a great time on it. This is a bike for trail riders no doubt (that’s about 80 percent of riders out there). It’s also a bike that can be pushed harder if needed. In fact it’s a bike that satisfied all our riding needs. It’s possible to understand why the Five has been around for so long. Bringing it up to date with 27.5″ wheels was a no brainer.

The price is reflective of what you are getting, a home grown, quality, specialist bike that does everything we wanted to do with it. We will be very sad to give the Orange Five back. Following the whole process from frame construction, to riding it and then reviewing it was an experience that genuinely left us attached to the Five. It highlighted the benefits of bike companies creating a closer more personal long-term relationship with their customers and followers, something it seems only small companies like Orange can do. The general consumer trend nowadays is for close to home production, trust and a product that works well. Orange seems to have served that up with their new Five 27.5″.

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The Orange Five was a great bike to explore the views around Punta Ala.

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True trail bikes like the Orange Five, take you to places like this, Cala Violina Beach.

Orange Bikes
Test Location: Punta Ala

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