Evolving a cross country bike from the downhill machines that Team Animal ride mightn’t
seem the most obvious development route possible. Orange have succeeded in
combining downhill R&D with XC experimentation, with the result – Mr XC – being as
trail-capable as any other true all-round suspension bikes we’ve ridden.
Mr XC has more in common with the downhill bikes than we expected. Pivot location,
design and indeed bearing material is common to all the FS bikes. The basic layout of the
swingarm is the same, however the cross country bike uses a Superlight Beam swingarm,
made of noticeably thinner alloy sheet than the downhill models, Mr O and Patriot. The
pivot use Orange’s horiz-hold design, which provides a stiffer pivot for a given bearing
size, by extending the axle and clamping the swingarm to the bearings – the reverse of
what most bikes do. It works – the bike’s stiff despite it’s light weight.
Our model was one of the very final pre-production samples, and for testing purposes was
equipped with Hopes’ superb Pro brakeset. Other finishing kit was eclectic, but the theme
was production throughout, picking parts, as you would, from the general Orange parts bin.
Riding the bike gave no surprises, with the machine simply vanishing under you whilst
riding. Front and rear suspension were incredibly well matched, both performing superbly
with excellently damped and sprung performance from the quite differently designed
shocks – air shock at the back and springs at the front, thanks to the Fox Vanilla Air shock
and Manitou SX Ti fork.
Handling was neat and agile, despite our reserves about the longish cockpit length. Agility
was particularly noticeable whilst picking through rock sections and performing trail-hops
Weight was good, with further grammage being shaved for production. Apparently a 23lb
build up option will be possible.
Orange have been producing suspension bikes for the cross country set for a while now –
the X1, X2, UFO. All have been an evolution, but this marks a new start in their XC bikes,
and a bike that can compete with the other top cross country bikes out there.
Price is expected to start at around £1500 for an STX RC/LX mix.
We’ll confirm these later, but for more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit the website at www.orangebikes.co.uk