Orange’s new enduro sled boasts 170mm travel, mixed wheel sizes and a linkage suspension design


Prepare to have your flabber gasted, because Orange has just released details of its new full susser and it doesn’t feature a basic single pivot suspension design. Before you cry heresy and rush up to Halifax (home of the British brand) with torches aflame, we need to give you a few more details, like the fact it’s actually using a linkage actuated single pivot.

If you like MX wheels, are a fan of British-made bikes, and enjoy a spot of enduro racing, then rejoice, for the Switch 7 will be right up your street. In short, the Orange Switch 7 is a 170mm MX enduro bike with a lightweight alloy frame and tweakable geometry. It’s been developed with the feedback of the Orange Factory Racing enduro team (and we are keen to get our hands on it).

Check out the best enduro bikes of 2022

Need to know 

  • 170mm MX wheeled enduro-ready bike
  • UK designed and constructed frame
  • Ohlins suspension
  • Fully recyclable frame at end of life
  • Linkage-actuated single pivot
Photo of Orange Switch 7 mountain bike on white background

Notice anything different?

So Orange really is still in the singles market then?

Well yes. But the new Switch 7, uses something called a linkage actuated single pivot, which means that the rear wheel does still pivot around a fixed point. But with the help of FEA analysis and 3D modelling the brand has designed a scissor link to help tune the suspension characteristics.

Are you sure? It looks just like the regular Orange silhouette of old.

100% sure. Although you’re right, Orange has gone to great lengths to make the new bike look like the Stage 6, so the linkage is hidden inside the rear swingarm’s outline. Those canny Yorkshire engineers know how Orange customers like their bikes to look, and they’ve clearly played to that market, at the same time trying to hunt out a new one.

Haven’t I read all this before?

Well yes actually, if you’d been perusing mbr back in 2008 you’ll remember the Orange ST4, a linkage bike with 106mm travel and a 120mm fork. They canned it in 2013.

Rubbish bike, huh? 

No actually, it was a ripper, we said at the time. Flexy, but grippy and fast as hell, and the linkage really helped give it bottomless travel, progression and a more controlled feel, we said. I’m no marketing manager, but I know an easy win when I see it. 

Detail photo showing shock and swingarm of the Orange Switch 7 mountain bike

It looks like the Orange suspension you know, but underneath it’s different. But should have a similar ride feel. Apart from the bottomless feeling.

Why has Orange messed with its secret sauce this time around then?

In a word, progression. Orange has some lovely charts to show how the suspension curve ramps up now through its travel, rather than keep its linear feel Orange is famed for, which means as you get to the bottom of the stroke it gets harder and harder to compress, in theory giving a feeling of that “unlimited” travel.

Graph showing how the suspension leverage curve on the Swith 7 differs to the Switch 6 mountain bike

Some lovely charts; compare and contrast how the Switch 7 suspension ramps up compared to the Switch 6

The crazy fools! They’ve sacked off years of good suspension feel to the modern holy grail of progression.

Well, not quite, because if you take another look the mid-stroke looks pretty much identical to the old single-pivot bike, with a lovely linear line. If that’s right we can expect the new Switch 7 to retain the Orange feel of old, but stop us bottoming out at the end of the stroke. Orange also says the bike has high anti-squat to help you pedal it efficiently.

And this is a good thing?

Definitely it is, for racing. And this is exactly why the Switch 7 has been built. Orange says its a bike for enduro racing, with 170mm travel front and rear delivered through a trunnion mounted shock, and MX wheels. Preogressive bikes are a must have for the rigours of enduro racing when you’re hauling ass in big terrain, where a sudden bottom out can have you loose grip or, worse, fire you over the bars. 

Didn’t the Stage 6 promise to do this though, just a dozen months back?

Indeed it did. Orange has been improving the progression of its bikes for years, but there’s a limit to how much you can build in on a single pivot design. Add some links in though and you can control the leverage ratios through the strokes. Really, this change had to happen.

Orange Stage 6 Evo first ride review

What, because of all the haters out there on the internet, beating down on single pivot designs?

Not that, it’s more that air shocks are naturally progressive in nature, and have increasingly been designed to work with more progressive suspension designs too. That’s gone hand in hand with bike manufacturers developing more progressive bikes. If Orange wanted to get the most from the best shocks out there – the big volume models like the Fox Float X2, RockShox Super Deluxe, or Ohlins TTX2Air – or indeed a coil shock, it was going to have to play ball.

Don’t say “Looks just like an old Santa Cruz Superlight”. Do say “Easily the most exciting Orange in years!”

Detail photo showing the shock frame mount of the Orange Switch 7

Spot that rather beautiful seam welding on the aerospace grade aluminium frame

Development of an enduro race machine

Why, you might ask, has Orange created a bike that at first glimpse seems like a significant departure from its standard fare? Look a little closer, however, and you’ll see Orange DNA running through the Switch 7. And the short answer is that Orange wanted to create a race-ready bike for its Factory Team members to ride at the Enduro World Series. 

Enter STRANGE, or the Special Technology RANGE, which is Orange’s R&D department. STRANGE have been responsible for plenty of the innovations seen on Orange bikes from grips to frame prototypes over the years, not all of which ever see the light of day. And Orange has released bikes with different suspension systems before, so this is not completely out of character for the brand. 

The Switch 7 frame is unusual in that it has been designed, developed and actually constructed in the UK. And by constructed, we mean fabricated from raw materials, not just assembled from important parts. 

Photo showing recessed section on downtube of green Orange Switch 7 mountain bike

Orange even engineered in a recess in the downtube to make accessing the water bottle easier

Orange used 3D modelling and FEA or Finite Element Analysis in its initial design phases, which is a computer simulation system that allows virtual models to be accurately tested in a range of environments. The next step was real-world testing of prototypes by the Factory Team riders, until the final design was settled upon. 

And worry not, single pivot fans, Orange isn’t going to be moving away from its beloved suspension design any time soon. In fact, it’s put a lot of work into the Switch 7 to recreate the characteristic ride feel and performance, just with a little more travel and oomph. 

Frame design and materials

The Orange Switch 7 frame has been constructed from a combination of aerospace-grade aluminium sheets, custom fabricated aluminium tubes and CNC-machined alloy components, with purpose-specific seam welding. The result, Orange claims, is an alloy bike that’s lighter in weight than many of the carbon enduro bikes on the market today. 

Photo showing bottle attached to the frame of the Orange Switch 7

There’s even room for the all-important water bottle

Switch 7 suspension and the STRANGE Power Link

Rear suspension on the Switch 7 is driven by a 205×65 link driven trunnion shock mounted low in the frame to aid stability and keep the overall centre of gravity low. The factory spec build uses bearings rather than bushings and cartridge bearings on the frame pivots to decrease breakaway force and thereby increase sensitivity in the initial stroke phase. 

The bike can run with either large volume air can or coil shocks, with a progressive shock curve to provide that coveted bottomless feeling. As the bike moves through its travel, the ratio falls from 2.85 to 2.10, which equates to 36% shock force progression. 

A low pivot position – the lowest on any Orange bike – minimises kickback, with anti-squat at 120% at dynamic sag, and from 130% to 105% full suspension travel on the Switch 7  with 32/52t gearing. 

Photo showing frame protection on the Orange Switch 7 mtb

The Switch 7 boasts some serious frame protection

Geometry can be shifted by lowering the bottom bracket height via Orange’s ‘dog bone links’ which are available separately and allow a height increase of 5mm for a 0.5 degree shift in head angle steepness. 

Orange longevity

Orange is justly famed for the durability and longevity of its bikes, and that’s something it was keen to continue in the Switch 7. 

Photo showing rear cassette and deraileur on the Orange Switch 7 mountain bike

Orange have fitted the UDH or Universal Deraileur Hanger, which should make getting replacements a doddle

To this end, most of the bearings are safely tucked within the swingarm where they’re less likely to have the grease blasted out of them from a jet washer. Reparability is helped by the use of SRAM’s UDH or universal derailleur hanger, a non-bike-specific hanger that, should the worse happen, should mean you can pick up a replacement in most bike shops.

Finally, there’s a five year warranty for the original owner, followed by ‘heavily subsidised pricing’ for said original owner beyond the five year period. 

We’re also impressed by the fact that Orange have created a bike frame that can be fully recycled. While you probably don’t want to be thinking about what happens to your bike once it’s been ridden to pieces, the fact is that alloy bikes are currently easier to recycle than carbon bikes, which in turn helps to reduce their environmental impact. 

Orange Switch 7 SE price, spec and availability

Photo of the Orange Switch 7 in a forest

Everything’s changed, most things are still the same

The first Switch 7 available to market will be the Switch 7 SE, resplendent in British Racing Green colours with fetching silver decals and retailing for £7400 / $8800. 

  • Price: £7400 / $8800
    Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame: 6061-T6 monocoque UK formed custom aluminium tubing
  • Fork: Ohlins RXF 38 M.2 Air 170mm 29
  • Shock: Ohlins TTX2 Air 205×65
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT 12spd with Hope Black crankset
  • Brakes: Shimano XT Trail 203/180
  • Wheels: Stans Flow Mk4 + Hope Pro 4 (Black) 29” + 27.5”
    Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 3c EXO+ 29 / DHR II 2.4 3c EXO+ 27.5
  • Seatpost: SDG Tellis 150mm
  • Bottom bracket: E13

Additional content by Aoife Glass