The juiciest Orange to date
This Orange Alpine 6 is a special edition celebrating 30 years of Orange bikes. Stealthy black and gold finish with XX1 bling and Cane Creek suspension.
Orange Alpine 6 need to know
- Special edition celebrating 30 years of Orange bikes
- Stealthy black and gold finish highlights XX1 bling and Cane Creek suspension
- All-mountain/enduro bike with 160mm travel/170mm fork
- Formula finish and build kit also available on the Five for £6,800
Can it really be 30 years since Orange started making bikes? How things have progressed since the original fillet-brazed hardtails, where the Formula models of yesteryear were the very best of the best and for team riders only.
Three decades on and it’s the Orange Alpine 6 and Orange Five that get the Formula treatment, but this time round anyone can have an Orange Formula – OK, anyone with the best part of £7k to spend.
Both bikes feature top end Cane Creek suspension, SRAM XX1 drivetrains and light but tough Race Face carbon rims, all wrapped up in an anodised matt black frame finish with gloss black decals, but it’s the Alpine 6 we’re focusing on here.
The frame itself had a fairly major overhaul for 2017, with the adoption of Boost hub spacing, additional creasing to the tubing for increased stiffness and a lower BB height.
The suspension changed too – the main pivot positionof the forward mounting position of the shock on the down tube moved slightly to increase progression towards the end of the 160mm travel.
Small tweaks on paper, but it makes for a significant improvement in the way the bike rides, and helps keep the single-pivot shredder relevant in the days of ever more complicated linkage designs.
The choice of Cane Creek suspension front and rear is an unusual one , especially given that you can buy an Alpine 6 with Fox Factory suspension and an XTR drivetrain for £500 less. You can’t argue with the performance of the Cane Creek suspension though. The Helm fork has solid 35mm upper tubes and delivers 170mm of super-sensitive travel with excellent damping and support.
Out back, the Cane Creek Air IL shock replaces the Inline and fixes all of the old shock’s reliability issues without sacrificing any of its performance. Both units have plenty of scope for tinkerers to fine-tune their set-up, but it is still easy to get a good ballpark setting.
As befits a special-edition bike, the rest of the specification is all top-drawer. Shifting duties are carried out by SRAM’s gold XX1 Eagle groupset. Brakes are Shimano Saints and offer all the power and feel you need to keep the Alpine 6 reigned in. The icing on the 30th birthday cake is the carbon Race Face Arc 31 rims. Laced onto trusty Hope hubs, these produce a solid wheelset that feels strong enough to plough through anything, yet provides a little extra zip when cranking hard.
As befits a bike with the name Alpine 6, we took the Formula edition to the Alps to really see how it performed. The old Alpine 160 was always a supremely capable descender and the Alpine 6 is no different, with an almost bottomless feel from the suspension that encourages you to hit rock gardens flat out. The slack 64.5° head angle and long 1,231mm wheelbase certainly contribute to that bomber feeling, but for a size L the Orange isn’t super-long for a modern enduro bike. Still, with the standard 35mm stem the fit felt spot on for rider around 5ft 9in tall.
And while it has Alpine in the name, it’s not a one-trick pony designed for lift-assisted riding, as the Formula edition rides light and can still be playful, popping off lips and skipping around turns on flatter trails.
In fact, the only real sticking point here is the price. At nearly £7k the Formula doesn’t come cheap, but if you think the eye-catching build is worth the eye-watering price you certainly won’t be disappointed in the ride quality. Roll on the next 30 years.