The second of two new bikes from Orange has landed – it’s the all new 2020 Orange Bikes Five Mk12.
Words: Jamie Edwards
Photos: Andy Lloyd / Orange bikes
And here we are then, the second of two brand new bikes from Orange Bikes.
Last week we met the new 2020 Orange Alpine 6. This week, it’s the relaunch of a genuinely iconic bike, the Orange Five.
Introducing the 2020 Orange Bikes Five.
2020 Orange Five Mk12 Main features
- 145mm travel
- 27.5″ wheels with up to 2.4″ tyres
- 2020 sees updates to geometry, cable routing and frame design
- Available in Pro, Factory, RS and XTR specs (with an S to come later)
- From £4,000 to £6,500
The Italian Job
If you read last week’s 2020 Orange Bikes Alpine 6 review you’ll know we visited Punta Ala to meet the new Orange range. It was a chance to ride with the team behind the new bikes and understand why the bikes are how they are.
Orange owner Ash has a lifelong passion for classic British cars and motorbikes – he believes in bikes that you need to ‘ride’ with plenty of feedback from the trail. It’s more about a stripped back, raw and ‘real’ riding experience than traction control and ABS. Meeting Ash and chatting about his design philosophy answered a lot of questions for me about Orange, the Alpine and the Five.
The 2020 Orange Bikes Five
The Orange Five has a lot of pedigree. It was one of the original British trail bikes when it was launched back in 2002, playing a huge part in the bikes and the trails we’re riding today in the UK.
Whilst the loose shape of the bike may look pretty similar to 2002, the Five has seen a steady evolution over the years. Whilst the keyboard warriors may disagree, Orange claim that the bike is a completely different beast to that original model and even to the previous version.
If you want one, they should be in your local Orange dealer now. The Five is available in Pro, Factory, RS and XTR specs (with a lower cost S version to come later). They’ll cost between £4000 and £6000 depending on the spec.
So what’s changed?
Many of the changes we saw on last week’s Alpine launch are mirrored on the new Five.
First, the travel has increased from 140mm to 145mm. The bike also now comes with a new-school metric shock, increasing shock length from 190mm to 210mm.
The bike has had a pretty hefty geometry and sizing update. First up, Orange have rejigged the sizing. There’s no XS size any more and the small size has moved from 15″ to 14″. There’s also now a 21″ double XL size for the big-unit pilots and the XL gets a reduction to 19″ from 20″.
“It’s a constant work of refinement” Orange’s Kelvin Lawton told us on the launch. “We’d rather see refinement than change for the sake of change”.
The bike’s swing arm also gets a hefty redesign, despite looking much the same. The pivot width increases 5mm each side to increase stiffness and improve tyre clearance. You can now fit 2.4″ tyres on wider rims than before.
There have also been some structural improvements to the swing arm to make it stiffer and stronger without any weight gains.
The big, flat end of the swing arm also sees some behind-the-scenes improvements to make it lighter and stronger. Orange told us that this is partly design changes and partly improvements to their heat treating process.
Orange Five Geometry updates
The geometry of the Five also gets a few tweaks to make it a bit more aggro. Orange explained that the bike was always designed for single track and trail riding. As people are riding gnarlier trails on shorter travel bikes they needed to sharpen the Five’s teeth a little.
The head angle is now 1° slacker at 65°. The head tube is 20mm shorter. The bottom bracket is also 5mm lower. Orange had planned to spec a 2.6″ tyre up front so prototyped a 10mm BB drop, but struggled with reliability of tyres. We were told that Kelvin had a nightmare day of 10 punctures at Antur Stiniog so, back they went to tougher 2.4″ tyres and a 5mm BB drop. How’s that for genuine UK testing?
The Orange Five also gets a 6.5mm increase in the chain stays for improved stability and a slight wheelbase increase. There’s also a 2° change in the seat angle, steepening it up to 74°.
Last but not least, there’s a 10mm increase in reach across all sizes. Size large will now be 467mm.
The changes are designed to move your weight forward, bring your seated position closer to the bars and generally give the bike some stability improvements. In Orange’s words “the bike has shifted itself forward to blur the line between a modern trail bike and an enduro bike”.
And the fine details
Again, like the Alpine, the Five has had its cable routing tidied up.
Hoses and cables now route much further up the down tube and on a much better angle. They also route lower in the swing arm than previously. Whilst it’s a small visual detail, the swing-arm changes have a big effect on the frame strength, which Orange hope will fix issues with previous bikes.
And, of course, the bike now gets a bottle mount below the down tube. You’ll either like this or you won’t. My last two long-term bikes haven’t had mounts, so I like it. Buy one of these if you don’t.
And on the Italian Dirt
Our test ride of the Five was on loose, cat-litter strewn Italian dirt.
We pedalled from base camp at Punta Ala Trail Centre and took in some fast, flowing and very fun trails. All natural, all baked dry and hard pack and full of roots, rocks and big, deep berms.
Much like the UK there were plenty of short, punchy climbs followed by steep, rooty descents. Despite a coffee and a cake for energy, I got my legs thoroughly ripped off by a fast and fit group of journos. It was brilliant.
The Orange Five is massively fun on this stuff. It picks up speed instantly with a few spins of the cranks. Sit your bum down, pop the seat up and it climbs in a relaxed, well behaved manner. I’d have no qualms pedalling the Five up and along anything I ride back home.
The fun continues when the trails start to point down. It’s easy and fun to pop off roots or out of corners. Smooth landings and no-brakes corners are rewarded with instant and rewarding bursts of speed.
The geometry feels perfect for manualing, hopping and chucking about. There’s no deadening of the trail from the suspension, it’s a very engaged, rewarding and lively experience.
Is it perfect?
The Five would destroy any UK trail centre you fire it round… but sticking to the surfaced stuff would be a waste of its potential. It’s your do-it-all ride for that ride which takes in every bit of terrain you can find.
It’s a bike for your local lap, your big weekend ride and probably your week away in the Alps too.
Is it perfect? Not necessarily, though that depends on you as a rider. All the eccentricities of the Orange design that we talked about on the Alpine 6 live true in the Five. When you get out of control, out of your comfort zone, into wild and choppy terrain the Five gets lively.
The Orange Five is a bike that comes to life when you’re riding loose, comfortable, off the brakes and feeling good. When you’re tired, hungover, nervous and tense it isn’t a bike that’ll flatter your riding or do you loads of favours.
But, when you find your rhythm and relax it’s one of the most fun and versatile bikes you can ride.
Finally, a note on pricing. The Orange isn’t cheap. You can buy plenty bikes with similar suspension platforms for a lot less money. You can buy plenty bikes with more sophisticated technology for less or similar money.
Orange’s answer to the pricing conversation is simple and honest. The bikes are hand fabricated in the UK to a standard that comes at a certain cost. “We’re not Orange cheap bikes, we’re not Orange “let’s do it the easy way bikes” owner Ash told me.
They’re designed, tested and built by hand in the UK. They can be re-jigged at short notice and each frame and size within the family of frames is a custom design. That’s an expensive process that Orange aren’t willing to cut corners on.
What do we think?
That Orange Five silhouette might look the same but the 12th incarnation of the Halifax hauler has had some very welcome updates.
The Five is (and always has been) a fun, versatile and very easy to maintain bike. Rather than taking a huge leap, the updates quietly hop the bike forward to the next stage in its evolution.
- Geometry feels ‘just right’
- The updates hop the bike forward to meet up to date geometry and suspension technology
- It’s a fun, lively, rewarding bike to ride
Could be better:
- That bottle cage won’t suit everyone, but, you’ll get over it
- It isn’t always the most flattering bike to ride and may not suit everyone
Read more about the 2020 Orange Five Mk12 here on Orange Bikes.
Words by Jamie Edwards
Photos by Andy Lloyd
Thanks to Orange Bikes for bringing us along on the press camp. Orange, for full disclosure, covered the costs of the trip which involved a quick visit to Punta Ala Trail Centre in Western Italy.