More capable than ever thanks to a host of changes that keep it relevant
The Orange Five certainly isn’t new, but the Halifax brand has made significant changes for 2020 that pep up this trail riding classic.
Orange Five need to know
- Iconic trail bike with single pivot suspension, 27.5in wheels and now 145mm travel
- RockShox suspension with Super Deluxe shock and Pike RCT3 on this RS build, with option to upgrade both
- Sorted contact points, with 800mm Renthal bar and 50mm stem and custom SDG saddle
- Burlier in 2019 with a longer back end, slacker head angle and lower BB
Anyone expecting a radical overhaul for Orange Bike’s iconic Five in 2019 — perhaps a chain idler to complement a super-high pivot or a carbon fibre front end, I’d mused — will be disappointed to see the addition of bottle bosses under the downtube as the most forward thinking modification. The rest though will be pleased to see the Five retain its classic silhouette, alloy frame and fun trail bike attitude, with Orange adding length, suspension refinements and a stunning new paintjob to make what they already deliver better still.
Indeed, Orange says its bikes and change faster than anyone’s, but because it’s a constant evolution rather than jumps and revolution it’s harder to spot. I half agree, the Five hasn’t led the technology charge over the past five years in terms of construction materials, geometry or sizing. But what it has done is constantly tweak the bike to keep it relevant — 27.5in wheels were added in model year 2014, slimmer tubing to save weight arrived in 2015 and this year Orange adopted the new SRAM DUB axle standard, to name just a few improvements.
The Five then has an extra 5mm of travel, taking it to 145mm, and the RS specced version I rode came with a 150mm Fox 34 suspension fork, although production bikes will come with a RockShox Pike RCT3. Fives have traditionally outsold the longer travel Alpine 6 but in recent months its become more of an even split, Orange says, showing that riders are looking for gnarlier bikes with more travel. The important details are that the bike has now adopted a metric shock with 210mm eye-to-eye length, and to accommodate this and also make the bike more progressive the shock position has moved slightly, mounting to the downtube lower and leaving the shock in a near-horizontal position.
The geometry has also changed, the head angle is a shade slacker at 65° and the bottom bracket has dropped 5mm — combine that with the extra travel the bike now has and it’s a sizeable and much improved shift lower.
There’s a shake-up in sizing too, the XS has been dropped and there’s a new XXL size up and over XL for taller riders. This gives the XL bike 10mm more reach and a measurement of 483mm, which is exactly the same size as a XL Santa Cruz Bronson, to put it in perspective. The size XL I rode has also lost an inch on the seat tube, giving more standover height and the ability to run a longer seatpost. It also opens up the bigger sizing to smaller riders who want to ride a super-long bike and would otherwise have been unable to get the saddle low enough.
The rear tyre on the old bike would routinely rub the inside of the swingarm, but Orange has taken steps to address this with a 10mm wider main pivot to increase stiffness and correspondingly a wider back end with better tyre clearance. The internal lattice inside the swingarm is refined to reduce weight. A combination of increased stiffness and more room for the rear wheel meant the chainstays were unmarked after three days riding, on 2.4in rear tyres.
There are also a host of little touches I like, the bottle bosses on the downtube are bound to draw criticism because it puts your bottle in the line of fire off the front wheel, but I think it’s good to have the option for dry days or bottles with covered valves. The cable routing is much improved too, the hoses and cables enter the downtube much higher and closer to the head tube meaning there’s less showing and they form a tigher, smarter arc. Then there’s the great new saddle, a tie up with SDG producing a wider, more supportive and comfier seat, as well as faultless spec, from the SRAM Guide RE brakes to the XO1 rear mech and on to the Renthal bar and stem.
Orange Five RS: first ride review
The Five went through a host of changes in model year 2017 that saw it grow 29er wheels in its new and complimentary Stage 5 guise, and in 2015 make really significant changes to its geometry in 27.5in wheel size to bring it in line with the market trends. It was a shift change. Is the new Five as big a shake-up? No, but there is a significant improvement in the way the suspension feels — more progression that makes it easier to pump the bike into corners or pop it into the air, despite its extra length. I found this lively feel was best achieved on the old bike when you upgraded to the X2 shock and could increase the compression damping. It’s telling that I rode the bike with a basic Fox Float DPS shock (the Deluxe wasn’t available yet for the launch) on the RS spec without compression adjustments and still found the bike poppy and fun.
The suspension feel of the Five is smooth and capable, the simple single pivot design is decent enough tackling big square edge hits and the more progressive feel means it flows well on swoopy, mellow trails. The Five is at its best sliding down steep trails, using pocket berms and compressions to catch the bike — it’s here the flex of the frame really works to your advantage, controlling the bike and letting you fire out of the corner as fast as you tip in. The greater suspension aplomb is backed up by some good geometry changes, dropping the BB makes the bike feel more stable but most importantly there’s now decent length in the chainstays to lend you confidence on the descents.
It’s not without its limits though, pedal kickback rears its head when things get really rough and I’m glad the production bike comes with a Pike rather than the 34 — I’d still upgrade to the burlier Fox 36 for a reasonable £250 extra though. I’d love to see Orange do something radical, like add that chain idler to eliminate any pedal kickback, but as it stands the Five is a really fun bike to ride, and now more capable than ever thanks to a host of changes that keep it relevant.
Orange Five pricing
- Orange Five Pro, £3,900
- Orange Five RS, £4,850
- Orange Five Factory, £5,700
- Orange Five XTR, £6,400
- Orange Five frame, £2,000