The Orange Five certainly isn’t new, but the Halifax brand has made significant changes for 2017 that pep up this trail riding classic.
Need to know
- New slimmed down, Boosted version of the venerable Five
- Tweaked shock position for more progressive suspension feel
- 27.5in wheels, 140mm travel and 150mm suspension fork optimised
- Four builds to choose from, dozens of colours and scores of upgrade options
Only new bikes get a look in on the pages of mbr, simply because with so many innovative designs released each year there just isn’t space for the old.
Orange Five (2017)
Orange is still using the same suspension design and 27.5in wheels as last year, but look closely and you’ll see the shock and pivot location have moved: Removing the front mech and making the bike single-ring only has freed up space and let the Orange engineers get playful and increase the ramp up in the suspension.
Pretty much all the tubing has been reshaped or slimmed down too, except for the seat tube, and all the machined parts have been made lighter, while the back end is now Boost 148mm. And then there’s new, neater internal cable routing that cuts in just behind the headtube with neat fitted rubber seals to plug the frame.
We chose a frame and shock version of the Five (and a custom Mountain Mint paint job for £100) and added the latest Shimano SLX drivetrain, but of course you can get the bike complete too. Choose from four spec levels — basic S up to superlative Factory — and five sizes, plus a range of colour options.
You can also choose to go a little a la carte and upgrade various bits if you like, such as the fork, disc brakes, wheels or finishing kit. There’s almost too much shock choice though, four to choose from is too many and I’d rather this was a decision Orange made for me strictly on performance grounds. The frame’s now optimised for a 150mm fork, but it easily accommodated a Fox Float 36 with 160mm travel without raising the bottom bracket too high or making the front end feel vague.
Now that we’re onto geometry then, the Five has never been lower or slacker than this incarnation. Orange has dropped the bottom bracket height, lengthened out the front of the bike to give you more room in the cockpit and raked the fork out to make it slacker. The sizing has grown too, stretching out the effective top tube by around 20mm on all sizes.
The result is a bike that’s very impressive to ride, and not just going down hill. All the fettling, slimming down tubes and new pivot chopped about 400g off the weight of the old bike, a modest saving but still appreciable.
The bike pedals well without much in the way of pedal bob, something I really wasn’t expecting after riding previous incarnations of the bike, and I didn’t even feel the need to flick the Monarch’s lever to firm up the suspension.
Descending is where I really enjoyed the Five though, shifting the shock and pivot location has resulted in a more supportive ride that feels more playful somehow, letting you load the bike more effectively to spring out of a berm or boost of jumps.
The lower bottom bracket means it corners better than ever, and it’s still got that distinctive Five feel, dropping down into pocket berms and instantly finding grip. It’s a cracking trail bike, and now in old age it’s somehow burlier, stiffer and more fun than ever.