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Poison Oak Finder
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76 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a lot of research and a few demo rides at the end of last year, I finally settled on the bike I wanted. The aim was to get something that was no heavier than my 2009 Scott Spark 30 which weighs in just over 26 lbs. That bike is 26", old geometry, and old tech. While I did convert it over to 1x10 a few years ago I wanted something a bit more "trail". What that really meant was newer geometry and tech and 29".

The Orange Stage 4 seemed to tick all of my boxes. It's "trail" without going too extreme or being in the 130mm+ travel category. It's super simple from a suspension standpoint and has plenty of mud clearance. And I could build it any way I wanted. For my riding style/capabilities and my local trails (Sierra Nevada Foothills) I think it's a great fit.

I did look at several other bikes (thanks to the mtbr users who chimed in on my original thread) which didn't feel right, were too heavy, or had limitations I didn't like. They are all good bikes, but they didn't fit exactly what I was looking for. The SB100 came closest:

Intense Sniper Trail
Yeti SB100
Pivot Trail 429
Orbea Oiz-TR
Santa Cruz Blur TR
Spot Mayhem
Fezzari Signal Peak

At the end of the day after talking to owners here in the US and speaking with the Orange guys in the UK, I decided to go with the Orange Stage 4. Their top-of-the-line model weighed in at 29.8 lbs. but I decided to build from the frame up and see where I could do better. The only importer of the frame is Adventuron in Wisconsin (http://www.adventuron.com). Carl Martens over there was great to work with. He made me a smokin' deal on the parts I wanted so I had him build it rather than do it myself.

Here's the geometry:



I went with SRAM drivetrain and Shimano brakes. The complete build list is below along with the estimated weights. I was hoping to get the bike just under 26 lbs.



It took 3.5 months to get the bike. There were some initial delays in getting the frame from the UK and then my wheel order went in just as i9 was retooling for the Hydra hubs. It was fine though as we had a lot of rain in March and April and I had a pretty big crash at the end of April that sidelined me anyway.

The bike arrived last week and I added my only swappable parts - my Frog Ti pedals. First task was to weigh her and see how decent my estimates were. 26lbs 1oz - not bad for an aluminum framed full suspension bike with a dropper post.





Maiden voyage hasn't happened yet due to ongoing rain making a mess of my local trails. But there was enough sun out for a few pictures today. Suspension is dialed in, but may need a few tweaks out on the trail.











Ride reports to follow.
 

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Congrats on the Orange! They’re wonderful bikes and stand out a little bit too. Mine is a purple Orange hardtail that I bought in ‘94 while living in the UK. Very classic and has a special place here. Except it’s at my sons place......

I hope it performs for you. You’ll be the only kid on the block with a blue Orange.
 

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Poison Oak Finder
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76 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Snuck out of work early and got her dirty and somewhat broken in. Some issues with shifting into the lowest gear - chain jumps off at the top of the cassette but eventually grabs back on -not ideal if you need that gear in a hurry. Probably just a simple derailleur tweak.

I did feel like I was doing pushups the whole ride with those 800mm bars. They'll take some getting used to. I did have a problem with my hands going numb, especially on long descents. It made it hard to operate the brakes. Probably just some tweaks to bar angles, or just my body learning new positioning.

I was pleasantly surprised out how well the 800mm bars+new geometry+29" wheels turned. I was out-turning my old 26" bike - I just have to remember to quit leaning and steer the bike!

I hit one of my favorite local trails which is a short 5 mile drive and perfect for weekday afternoons. 13 miles and 1,400 feet of elevation. My average speed was down from 8.7 mph to 8.4 mph which I attribute to getting to know the bike, not having ridden in 20 days due to the rain, and some lingering cautiousness from my crash 5 weeks ago.

While overall times weren't there, the bike performed very well in the fast descents and twisties through the trees. The bike accelerated really well when transitioning from flat to downhill or uphill to flat - a little bit of gas on my part and the bike just took off.

The biggest test was a longer, rocky, sustained climb (actually two). This bike with the suspension fully open climbed as well as my 26er Scott Spark 30 did with the rear locked out. I had more traction than I was used to and I just motored up the hills. And on all of the other small transition climbs, it performed exactly how I wanted it to.

The other thing I'm still learning is when and how much to use the dropper post. I've never had one before. But I noticed in one long downhill section of the trail, that engaging the dropper let me handle corners better. I didn't have to engage the brakes to slow to make the turn like I did with my old bike. That's due to a combination of things, but getting my center of gravity lower certainly helped.

More to come as I dial it in and hit some different trails.

And because something, something, worthless without pics:





 

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Orange Bikes USA Dealer
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1,416 Posts
Just put some Forekasters on mine as well.

Still loving this bike.
 

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Orange Bikes USA Dealer
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1,416 Posts
I'm waiting for the update to the changes Orange made to the 5 and 6. New graphics and cable ports closer to the headtube.

What some people fail to realize about these bikes is how light they are and how efficient they pedal.
 

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Orange Bikes USA Dealer
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1,416 Posts
I've always liked the looks of those single pivot frames.
My buddy calls it the garbage can. And he can't believe that I can keep up with him on his XC race bike.

The funny thing about these bikes is that they do everything just as well as any other good bike out there these days.

I just took it apart to get it powder coated. It took me all of 2 minutes to have it in two pieces, and another 3 minutes to press out the 2 bearings.

When it gets back from powder coating, it will be the most expensive garbage can in the world and probably the most expensive Orange bike in the world. My point is that I wouldn't spend this much money on a bike that was ****.
 

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I'm intrigued by this bike.
I'm more of an XC guy, and prefer simplicity and reliability over marginal gains in performance, so the Orange has been on my radar for a while.
I'm fine with an active suspension, and don't need platforms, lockouts or complex suspension intended to enhance efficiency, but usually result in a choppy ride.

The geometry looks like it is in line with my preferences as well...but I need another bike like I need another hole in the head.

Bob
 

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Orange Bikes USA Dealer
Joined
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1,416 Posts
I'm intrigued by this bike.
I'm more of an XC guy, and prefer simplicity and reliability over marginal gains in performance, so the Orange has been on my radar for a while.
I'm fine with an active suspension, and don't need platforms, lockouts or complex suspension intended to enhance efficiency, but usually result in a choppy ride.

The geometry looks like it is in line with my preferences as well...but I need another bike like I need another hole in the head.

Bob
Well if this helps, in the last 1.5 years I've had 2 Epics, 1 Santa Cruz Blur, and now own an Orbea OIZ. I ride primarily technical XC type singletrack in Michigan.

Of all those bikes, the Orange is the most fun. I'll ride it on every ride, unless I am racing.

It does not have a lockout and it does not "bob"when pedaling, but it doesn't get hung up on roots or rocks on technical climbs.

Also, a Large frame is 3.0 kg with shock, axle, and seat clamp. That is super light for an aluminum frame. I've had mine at around 23 lbs with pedals.

Plus, if it gets dinged up, or you get sick of the color, have it painted or powder coated whenever you want.

If they ever come out with a newer version, I will buy another, and give this one to my son, but I don't ever plan to sell it.
 

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Wow, excellent info, thanks Zerort!
I really appreciate the detailed info.

You answered the questions I was preparing to ask.
My greatest concern regarding rear suspension performance is the sometimes steep, slippery techy climbs in late summer when everything is eroded and dusty.
You are well aware of these climbs.
When I'm in decent shape, I'm a fairly skilled climber, but I'm not getting any younger!

I find a good, fairly active rear suspension really helps to keep the rear tire planted over the anti-erosion timbers, mesh and ridiculously large tree roots.

Secondarily, I like the suspension to soak up the smaller, high frequency stuff.
My Top Fuel does a pretty good job, but the aggressively tuned Re:Aktiv shock doesn't respond to some of the smaller stuff (higher volume tires help a bit).
And the bike has TEN rear suspension bearings!

Honestly, the weight of the Orange frame is quite respectable. I would be on a medium, so it would be slightly lighter than the large.

I'm in SE Michigan as well, right between the Poto and Brighton. 10 minutes to either trail.
We're also about the same age (I'm 50).

Another question: does the suspension work best with a 32t ring?

Anyway, I can't wait for spring so I can get my (much weaker than usual due to a 3 month mystery illness) butt back on the trails!

Bob
 

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Orange Bikes USA Dealer
Joined
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1,416 Posts
Wow, excellent info, thanks Zerort!
I really appreciate the detailed info.

You answered the questions I was preparing to ask.
My greatest concern regarding rear suspension performance is the sometimes steep, slippery techy climbs in late summer when everything is eroded and dusty.
You are well aware of these climbs.
When I'm in decent shape, I'm a fairly skilled climber, but I'm not getting any younger!

I find a good, fairly active rear suspension really helps to keep the rear tire planted over the anti-erosion timbers, mesh and ridiculously large tree roots.

Secondarily, I like the suspension to soak up the smaller, high frequency stuff.
My Top Fuel does a pretty good job, but the aggressively tuned Re:Aktiv shock doesn't respond to some of the smaller stuff (higher volume tires help a bit).
And the bike has TEN rear suspension bearings!

Honestly, the weight of the Orange frame is quite respectable. I would be on a medium, so it would be slightly lighter than the large.

I'm in SE Michigan as well, right between the Poto and Brighton. 10 minutes to either trail.
We're also about the same age (I'm 50).

Another question: does the suspension work best with a 32t ring?

Anyway, I can't wait for spring so I can get my (much weaker than usual due to a 3 month mystery illness) butt back on the trails!

Bob
Hi Bob,
I ride Brighton all the time. I haven't been to Poto in awhile as it is a bit farther for me. I'm in Commerce.

Yes, 32T would work great and probably offer a bit more anti-squat on those punchy climbs. I'm on a 34T Wolftooth oval. I have them on all my bikes.

Send me a message sometime this spring if you want to check the bike out. We could ride BREC together.

For reference, I'm 5'9" on the Large and run a 40 or 50mm stem.
 

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Poison Oak Finder
Joined
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76 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm intrigued by this bike.
I'm more of an XC guy, and prefer simplicity and reliability over marginal gains in performance, so the Orange has been on my radar for a while.
I'm fine with an active suspension, and don't need platforms, lockouts or complex suspension intended to enhance efficiency, but usually result in a choppy ride.

The geometry looks like it is in line with my preferences as well...but I need another bike like I need another hole in the head.

Bob
As a purely XC guy who wanted newer geometry and a bit more trail-worthiness, this bike has not disappointed one bit. I am as fast on this as my pure XC bike. The 26 lb weight doesn't hurt, but beyond that the bike handles and performs so well. My key thing was no matter what it had to climb well and it really does. Plus I have much better downhill confidence with the geometry.
 

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Orange Bikes USA Dealer
Joined
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1,416 Posts
Re-build update:
Bicycle tire Tire Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel Wheel

Bicycle tire Bicycle frame Wheel Tire Bicycle wheel


The yellow decals from Orange don't quite match the Ohlins so I didn't use too many.

Still needs cassette, chain, derailleur, and grips.

21.88 pounds as it sits now.
 
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