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Orange Five 29 | Dropping In

The Orange Five has been a tireless servant to UK trail riding for a decade.  It has dominated like no other. Many bikes have sought claim to the title, most have failed, others…well they’ve been misguided in the idea that the Five might not be as brilliant as many say it is.

DIRT ISSUE 132 – FEBRUARY 2013

Words by Steve Jones. Photo by Steve Jones

How wrong. Great angles, a simple, effective and understandable suspension system that offers support and grip, the right amount of travel, at the right price, are some of the hallmarks of a bike that can win races at any level. More typically it is the soldier that has battled most effectively in the mix of rough–cut and worn out trail centre riding here in the UK.

It is most certainly one of mountainbike’s most valuable tools. Even a second hand six year old one off eBay, dressed with a fresh shock and brace of bearings will be as good as nearly any 140mm bike you can buy today. This is a timely update ahead of so many of the world’s mountainbike manufacturers. Only Intense, Specialized and Cube currently offer anything of any real competition at this travel.

We’ve already put this bike through its paces and will be spending the next few months experimenting with a brace of Cane Creek shocks to try and get the most out of its 147mm of travel. When you take into account this, a large, is but a quarter inch shorter than Steve Peat’s XL team downhill bike it gives a hint at its insane stability at speed. That said, even with pedals (oh and ahem, the incredible Sram XX1) it’s still a sub 30lb all–round flying machine of the very highest order.

We had a quick chat with Pete Scullion at Orange Bikes about the road ahead for the Orange Five 29. Dirt: What is it?

Pete: The Five 29 is our first long travel, full suspension bike to roll on 29″ wheels. The first prototype was ridden May 2012.

What class?

While we’re wary of pigeon–holing bikes, this bike will cover trail riding, all-mountain riding and enduro racing.

Can you outline the main similarities/differences between this and a standard 26” Five?

The seat and head tube angles are identical on both bikes. Sizing is slightly different with the 29″ bikes being marginally longer in the top tube. To accommodate the 29″ wheels, the wheelbase is suitably long, giving the bike an incredible feeling of stability at speed. The 29er has a straight–through 49mm headtube rather than the Five’s tapered one. The rear has a 142 x 12mm spacing and is slotted for easy fitting of the rear wheel. Both shock mounts are revised on the 29er.

Looks like it’s built in a shed, and is too simple surely?

The shed houses some fairly complex machinery and skilled welders responsible for our frame production. This bike is no more or less straightforward than any of the bikes we’ve put out in recent years. Bikes should be cheap and easy to maintain and the Five 29 stays true to that.

How many sizes?

A limited run of bikes will be available in medium and large. More sizes will be introduced when we launch the full range later in the year.

The original Five, with its proven effectiveness in both a competitive environment and as a UK trail servant, there’s probably still some doubters though right?

No two people ride the same way, so it’s all down to what the rider wants. We make the bikes we want to ride and it turns out a few other people want to ride them as well. Anybody who hasn’t ridden one of our bikes should book a demo ride on one of our many demo bikes.

This takes the Five into a class of its own almost. The longest travel, slackest, lowest 29 trail/enduro bike out there?

It is without a doubt an incredibly fast, stable and nimble beast. It’s definitely at the sharp end of the new breed of 29″ wheeled bikes on the market.

Was it a tough call to go 650b or 29”?

Not entirely. The 29″ market is far more developed than 650b and we’ve already done one 29er, so it made sense to go with 29. We won’t be diving in with 650b, but haven’t discounted it either.

So there you go, after several weeks of testing our first impressions are that you need to get along and get yourself a demo ride.

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