“Why does that bike say, Strange on it? Looks like an Orange, mate.”
Asked a friendly rider in the uplift queue at Bike Park Wales as I waited to load the 2017 Orange 5 onto the trailer.
In case you don’t know, Strange is the R&D part of Orange Bikes. It is used to denote pre-production and development bikes that are not available to the public just yet. On this occasion there was a small fleet of them, giving us a sneak peek at the 2017 Orange Bikes range.
Introducing the 2017 Orange Five and Alpine 6
With the shorter travel Segment and Four left unchanged for 2017, the main story here is the development and changes made to the iconic Five, and hard hitting Alpine 6 (formerly Alpine 160) models. Both bikes still maintain the classic, Orange silhouette with large swing arms and single pivot layouts, but there have been quite a few modifications that should see both bikes perform better out on the trails.
The 2017 Orange Five
The first thing that is noticeable is the reduction in weight, with both frames shedding around 300g depending on frame size and making them more competitive with many of their lighter rivals. The Five has got longer in the top tube by 10mm and shorter in the chainstay by 4mm, keeping its long wheelbase and stable ride whilst adding a bit more fun and maneuverability. The Five also sees an increase in fork travel to 150mm as standard with 140mm out back. The bottom bracket has also been dropped by 8mm which should improve cornering performance.
The 2017 Orange 6
It is a similar story on the Alpine 6 with the chainstays being shortened by 8mm and a head angle of 64.5 deg, 1/2 degree slacker than on the 2016 model. The forks also increase to 170mm in travel as standard, making it a true all-mountain machine capable of handling big lines and road trips to the Alps. To help improve cornering, the bottom bracket also drops 5mm from 2016, to 342mm. To enable this to happen without constantly hitting your pedals and chain ring, the shock curve has been made more progressive mainly through a revised shock mount position.
On the trail
I got to do 2 runs at Bike Park Wales on each bike and the first thing I noticed is how quiet and refined both bikes felt. Both the Five and the Alpine 160 were a lot of fun, feeling well planted on the trail but with a bit of a pop when you wanted it to clear a feature or a jump.
The 2017 offerings from Rock Shox on the Five and from Fox on the Alpine 160 all felt rock solid with plenty of support throughout the travel. The slightly tweaked pivot placement on the down tube creates a slightly more progressive suspension curve which helps to create this sensitive but supportive sensation at the back.
Most of these bikes will be available in your local Orange dealer by the end of July. They all come in Small to XL size range and there will be an XS Five model available later this year as well.