Interpretation has become increasingly twisted recently. What is the Orange Five RS?
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones.
Orange market the Five, now mounted with 27.5” (650B) wheels only, as an out–and–out trail bike, yet they cover their bases by saying that it’s happy in an Alpine (Orange’s 160mm bike) descending environment too. The website also classes it as an enduro bike in its ‘Ride guide’. The Five 29” meanwhile is said to be the enduro podium race bike. Hmmm. Surely the Alpine is the bike for all places south of Geneva, the Five 29 your 140mm UK trail bike and the Five 650 for those afraid to stray too far? Ah yes but the Five is the “bike that does it all.” So what is it? Apart from what it is?
Orange’s problem is that each of their 140 and 160mm bikes can win an enduro race, rage weeks on end in the Alps or hit a rock strewn Lakeland path. An Alpine built sub 30lbs, a Five 29 with a solid wheelset are both incredible bikes.
Is the Five 650 late for the party then? Is an Alpine 650 still doing its make–up?
Late, well slightly, but well prepared. Given wheels, the Five 29 as a trail bike will offer more British grip than the 650, a faster ride too and will deal with the washed–out trail centre surfaces better. The Alpine, whatever it happens to be doing now or in the future, commands a lofty place in 160mm territory. This Five’s biggest strength is that it provides the more bulletproof option of 140mm travel.
Many companies are offering their 140 bikes in 650 or 29 and leave the decision up for grabs, so to speak. But most of them are garbage to begin with because they haven’t done their homework thoroughly enough on each bike’s quite different angle needs. Orange meanwhile have got this bike absolutely smack bang on. The shock/suspension offers incredible grip, the ride dynamic the most upbeat of any trail bike in the world. Its shock lock–out strength enables a good climb characteristic and has perfect balance for grip finding when in open mode. It’s true this bike could well be for those who are either too scared or don’t understand 29 or are afraid they might break the wheels. However, decision making aside it’s an absolutely brilliant bike – and really that’s all that matters.
Great to see a good range of size options (five), in the past a six–foot rider was stuck in between to an extent… the 19” might be the one for those riders. As a 140mm trail bike it’s still the wrong side of 30lb (it weighs in at 30.2lb/13.7kg), the cable routing isn’t as tidy as it could be and the tyres on this pretty expensive build are junk. These minor negatives are off–set by the brilliant RockShox Pike/Monarch pairing and the SRAM X1 groupset, so if you’re looking between the SE or RS models the latter is by far the better option. Also available as a frame at £1499, bottom line is that the Orange Five RS still rules.
Price: £4199.99 (Frame £1499.99)
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