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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Orange Alpine 160 Factory

No-nonsense 160mm is simply built for charging around. Job done.

Looking back a few months it seems I described the Orange Alpine as one which delivers a superbly confident ride into choppy terrain, one that allows for grip to be sniffed out and for downslopes to be hit with precision. What I don’t get is why so many people think that these Halifax made bikes lack the things that some of the pretty bikes have.

Yes, the Orange range can at times be slightly rough around the edges in finish but when ridden head to head with many pretentious and wildly showy bikes on the market the Alpine will ruck them off the park with control, a feel for grip like no other and a simplicity that makes nearly every Orange bike understandable to ride and accurate. Paint or performance?

“the Alpine will ruck them off the park with control, a feel for grip like no other”

Yet it’s not perfect. Our test bike came fitted with a Monarch Plus Debonair which was some way off the correct tune as fitted to the Giant Reign, it was slightly overweight compared to many new 160mm bikes and the finish not as polished as what we’ve come to expect with the frames from the east. The Monarch even when fitted with three or four volume spacers lacks the poise of the Fox Float, the Alpine needs to start losing weight and get down to thirty pounds and the boys in Halifax need to steady their hands on the welds. And here it is – 29.14lb – the factory Alpine 160.

Available in Pro, RS or Factory build kits the Alpine begins at £3000 for the Pro and goes up to £4900 for this the Factory. The latter gets the unbeatable Fox 36 fork and stiff Race Face Six C crank along with Hope/Easton wheelset. It’s these small details which put it slightly higher in price than many other 160mm bikes on the market but which ultimately makes the difference.

Silent

It’s a wildly capable bike. In fact when it comes to uplift sessions on mid travel style bikes it’s the bike most of us would reach out to. Bulletproof, silent and simple when heading into tricky encounters. Orange have also got the sizing and the geometry spot on with this bike. It’s low, long, slack but still a bike that gets from A to B on flatter grounds pretty efficiently.

For one of the squarest shape bikes on the market it’s one of the best all-rounders, allowing you to get fully out of shape but keeping your wheels on the ground. Still a favourite and it’ll take some pretty bright idea to change our minds that this design still works brilliantly in nearly all circumstances.

YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS BUT…

Jay Tolan, Orange General Manager

Steve Wade (owner and designer) built a prototype of an Alpine 160 with geometry that he wanted back in 2011. It had a 64 degree head angle, low bottom bracket and a shock slider for geometry adjustment. He spent a lot of time in the Alps on this bike, came back to the UK and said it was ready for production.

We all said that the geometry was too radical. It was a mini DH bike for fuck’s sake. People just wouldn’t get it. Reluctantly, the head angle was steepened to 65.5 degrees and production began. Within 12 months 27.5” arrives (or what Steve calls 26.75”) and demand for this wheel size goes mental so another refresh is necessary.

“the boys in the prep’ department find the swing arms are a bitch to work on”

By summer 2014 we had another version of the Alpine 160.  This had 27.5 wheels, longer top tube and shorter stem. We had to lose the slider to fit the bigger wheel in so we settled on a 65 degree head angle. At the time it was the same angle as a Santa Cruz V10, but on a 160mm trail bike. Sometimes, Steve’s just too ahead of the game.

Behind the scenes here at Orange I know the boys in the prep’ department find the swing arms are a bitch to work on because unlike a Five swingarm, the cables are externally routed. This means there are no holes in the swingarm for internal cable routing so the swingarms don’t sink easily when submerged into the acid etch tank, prior to painting.

An ongoing battle between the workers doing the job and the office boys saying “you’ll figure something out.”

 

 

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