In October last year Orange Bike’s ownership passed in to a new but very familiar set of hands, those of Ashley Ball. Founders Lester Noble and Steve Wade passed the baton and weight of expectation on to Ash who is rising to the challenge and cracking on with the ideas he’s had for years.
Words: Nick Hamilton Photos: Rich Baybutt
Ash is no stranger to Orange or the sheet metal engineering prowess that is synonymous with the brands full suspension frames. He comes from a long line of skilled metal workers and took the opportunity to buy Bairstows, the 130 year old family business, in his early twenties. It was at this time that his uncle Steve (Wade) approached him about manufacturing some mountain bike frames. As a rider of most things two wheeled he got it and has collaborated on design and manufacture ever since. The history and development of the Orange frames evolved from there, always staying true to engineering simplicity and pushing for elegant solutions. As Ash says, “It’s actually harder to engineer something that works brilliantly that is simple” and seeing the internals of a frame for the first time I can see exactly what he means.
We met Ash the day after St. Paddy’s day and he was bouncing back very well from a bit too much Craic. Looking to blame someone else for picking that particular day to be interviewed it soon became clear it was his on bloody fault. Full of energy, laughter and knowledge Ash gave us a tour of two facilities, Orange HQ and Bairstows, which was ten minutes up the road. HQ acts as warehouse, paint shop, assembly line and control centre in a nonedescript industrial unit on the outskirts of Halifax. The walls are lined with historical photos and the showroom upstairs contains many of the most special bikes as well as the full current range including our favourites, the 324 and Alpine 160.