Trail and Enduro Bikes

Orange Stage Five

A bike in a hurry

The scene was set years ago. No drama, just simple, effective, reliable performance. The problem was people made a meal out of performance, largely prima donnas holding front stage over a good solid act.

Overthinking, melodramatic design and mountain biking design have gone hand in hand for many years but one simple act has been the backbone of british riding for over a decade. Delivering simplicity and fun is central to what the Orange Five has always been about since it was first introduced some time this side of 2000.

The boys in Halifax flirted with bigger wheels about five years ago with the 529 but got scared and the 29” Five was chucked back in the cupboard. It was a brilliant bike, ahead of its time in many ways yet the heir apparent had many battles to face before it succeeded a bike so close to so many people’s hearts, the Five.

Quite what changed the minds of the Halifax boardroom I don’t know, but at 135mm rear travel the Stage Five is a few mil more than its name suggests and with 140mm up front is a capable machine. It’s some way off its Stage Six stablemate (160/150) so does a bike with so little travel have any right to venture into bombed out territory like its bro’? Probably not.

But it does. Don’t underestimate the Stage Five, don’t overthink or indeed overestimate the riding you do. Heard that a million times? Me too. Up front a Fox 36 fork takes the punches well, on the rear the suspension uses its travel sparingly and efficiently and with the bike’s lively nature is one that can be danced around front stage. This is an all-action bike.

The chassis on this bike has had more thought than many. Overthought no, evaluated yes. The geometry is almost perfection, we’d simply like a degree off the head angle, some cleaner lines on the cabling and a touch of swingarm protection. Speaking of which we rode this bike with two different swingarms and prefer the one piece look even if there is little to chose in terms of performance.

Our test bike had no chain device and dropped the chain on a few occasions, but production bikes come with one fitted. What we would like to see is some straighter cabling out of the downtube area but this is being super picky because the company have worked hard making the bike look good, which it does.

Orange have certainly raised their game on presentation the last few years and when we lined up the Dirt 100 bikes recently the Five was a stand out with its well balanced graphics and its distinct lines over what are becoming run of the mill carbon frames. It just needs that protection to keep it a bit quieter.

Elsewhere all is calm, and preposterously quick, in fact one of the quickest trail bikes we’ve ever ridden. The bottom bracket allows you to carve up the woods. This is a shredder.

More than anything though, the Stage Five has an absorbing ride characteristic, one that makes you want to constantly engage with the terrain, giving and taking, generating speed and lift. The beat goes on.

Frame: £1760

Completes: From £5500

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