What attracted you to the Orange Alpine 160 in the first place?
I had the opportunity to test ride an Alpine for the first time a few months before deciding on my longtermer and I immediately clicked with it. It felt incredibly fast and solid and it instantly leapt to the top of my wish list.
Did you change anything straightaway?
Orange provides a number of upgrade options when buying the bike, so from the stock build I added the £300 ‘freeride pack’ which includes a 750mm Renthal Fatbar, 50mm Duo stem and RockShox Reverb seatpost. Paranoid about dropping the chain mid-race run I also opted for the Gamut Dual Ring chain device and a 36t chainring over the stock 34t.
Was the bike easy to set up?
I like to run the front end of the bike fairly low, but the shifters would hit the top tube when the bars spun round. It’s a common clearance issue on size large frames, and not wanting to smash the shifter pods in a crash, I raised the stem slightly higher than I’d otherwise have desired. Apart from that, it was an easy initial set up followed by minor rear shock tweaking.
How did it ride?
Those initial thoughts of solid and fast have remained throughout the year, but I’ve fine-tuned my opinion on which trails best suit the Alpine. Fast and steep is where the Alpine is at home, so its name couldn’t be more appropriate. The slack head angle cries out for high-speed, sinuous, singletrack arcing from corner to corner or rooty “close your eyes, let off the brakes, and hope for the best” chutes. It’s so confidence inspiring that when I was out in the Alps racing the Mountain of Hell, it felt like I had an unfair advantage. But, being so solid comes at a price; namely weight. OK, 34lb is not over the top for a size large 160mm travel bike, but the Alpine definitely lacks enthusiasm when a trail points up. Thankfully, the combination of single pivot suspension design and the Fox RP23 rear shock keep pedal induced bob to a minimum.
Did anything break or wear out?
Beyond the usual brake pad replacements I worked through two BBs, snapped four rear gear cables, lost a chain device roller (that literally rolled off) and wore out a cassette/chainring due to lack of maintenance. Oh, I wore the grips out too.
So no real breakages to speak off, but I’ve had reoccurring issues with the Avid Elixir brakes. The bite-point seems to change of its own accord: sometimes from one week to the next, sometimes from one corner to the next, despite a number of bleeds. Reliability only really improved after getting it bled by SRAM, along with some new lever internals. The Fox Float 36 forks felt a little dead after the first few weeks of riding, but a regular seal clean and oil sorted that. They’ve been perfect since.
If you could change one thing about your longtermer what would it be?
A few pounds off the weight would be ideal. Lighter cranks and wheels would give the Alpine more zip for UK riding.
Would you buy this bike?
Definitely. Not only does it have geometry that can only be described as sorted, the sizing, for once, fits my 6ft 4in frame well without the bike feeling too unwieldy. The simplicity of a single pivot design has always been regarded as a positive for UK conditions and it’s easy to see why; after nearly a year of hard riding I’d expect the swingarm bearings or shock bushings to have some play but they both feel like new.
Mbr rating: 9/10