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Trail and Enduro Bikes

2017 Orange Alpine Six

An all-time favourite just got better

 

It was a grim day after a hectic weekend of racing and beer but I arrived at Bike Park Wales greeted by a pair of new bikes from Orange, suddenly everything was glorious.

Words: Ieuan Williams          Photos: S.Jones

The new Orange Alpine Six was the first of pair of revamped models from the company from Halifax, but I was already thinking that surely there can’t be much to change from the previous model. It was already a great bike.

At first glance you can see that the boys have been busy making the bike look far less industrial than its predecessor, most noticeably that the XL model no longer looks like something you would keep the sheep in a pen with.

But other than the aesthetics what’s new for 2017? With the past model being a very well respected bike, notably being part of the Dirt 100 and being a testers favourite among the office, they have just taken feedback from riders and changed the important things.

A major advancement is the weight, this new frame coming in an impressive 300 grams lighter than last year. Then there are some changes with the geometry with a lower bottom bracket shifting lower – 5mm more drop to last year’s bike and a now shortened rear stay to give a more snappy feel to the bike.

The pivot positioning has also undergone some love and is now closer to the bottom bracket, Orange have also decided to make the pivot 6mm wider for a better load distribution and to cope with the new models being in a Boost wheel format.

The older model that we had on test struggled with the linear shock curve when using the Rockshox Monarch rear damper. With the new placement of the pivot this has also changed the bike’s shock curve to give a more progressive feel to the bike, this has then made the bike more user friendly within the lower specification models that don’t come with a better tuned Fox damper.

With four different specifications for the different size wallets out there ranging from the cheapest at £2,900 and ranging to the top end at £5,200 so that’s a little price increase from last year but a worthwhile investment for a rocket ship like this. And now that the XL looks the part it’s on for some good riding!

A run down of the new geometry

Specification

As for specification on the new and improved Orange Alpine Six you will have 4 different levels to choose from, without going into too much boring detail (that you will be able to look up) this is how the two ends of the spectrum look.

As it goes for the cheapest specification bike at £2,900 you still get something to keep things reliable with no real compromise in performance. The dampers have been taken care of by SRAM with a RockShox Yari 170mm boost fork upfront and at the rear a Monarch Plus R damper gives a good starting point. With a change in brand for the drivetrain and braking system from Shimano having an SLX 11 speed setup and the Deore stoppers and with RaceFace taking care of the finishing kit with a Chester 40mm stem and 780mm bar it is not a bad looking build for the money when you take into consideration that the frame takes up the lion’s share of this at around the £1,700 mark.

Jumping straight up the ranks to something for those with high aspirations or some competitive racing in mind the Orange Alpine Six Factory cannot be far away from spot on, coming in at £5,200. Yes it’s a fair jump from the bottom build but you’re getting quality for the extra money. Upfront one of the best forks on the market at the moment, a Fox 36 Factory RC2 Boost fork accompanied by the Float X2 rear damper with the new 2 stage compression lever.

Drivetrain from SRAM on this build with carbon Descendant crank with a 32 tooth chainring, the all new Eagle X01 12 speed drive and a massive 10 to 50 tooth rear cassette range – climbing should be ok here! To slow you down when you need it most there is a SRAM Guide Ultimate brake that has been in the Dirt 100 and keeps impressing us. RaceFace take care of the rims with the ARC 30 rim laced to a Hope Pro 4 hub, Hope headset and some more goodies from RaceFace to keep that cockpit feeling fresh with an Atlas 35mm stem and the 6C 800mm carbon bar. Not a part that needs changing in here.

First ride

Taking the Alpine up on the lift at Bike Park Wales was a pleasure with no pedalling or much pushing involved and I was keen to compare this new bike to the Alpine that I have used as a personal long term bike.

Straight away from the get-go it was noticeable that Orange have not been messing when they say that this is a different bike, and the small changes to the bottom bracket height and head angle have given the new Alpine more poise and balance over rough terrain and it was not like it was a bad bike before. The bottom bracket change has also made the cornering on this bike better giving you a lower centre of gravity when you are smashing through some Welsh rocky turns.

Another change that was mentioned earlier was the new pivot position and the wider mounting for the rear stays, this has made a massive improvement to the way the Alpine handles the RockShox Monarch rear damper, it’s now far easier to set up and the sag/ride height is in a better position. The new lower mounting point and more progressive shock curve given by this means the sag can be set at a point that keeps the bike in good shape while riding.

Our current size large Alpine was chosen primarily on size obviously but the new extra large will be an option for some riders. The standover height on the new bikes is lower, much lower in fact with the XL measuring in close to the size L from last year in that dimension.

Overall however, a complete re-working of a classic. Yes all the up dates are in place with the standard mountainbike spin of lower, longer, faster, lighter but of major importance here for Orange is that it’s curvier than ever. One of our all-time favourite bikes just got better.

orangebikes.co.uk

New to enduro bikes? Check out our buyer’s guide HERE

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