Though their O2 was a competent bike, with it’s chunky aluminium frame and well designed strengthening gussets, it was never really quite “there”. In an area of the market overshadowed by GT’s do-everything Zaskar, the O2 sold well to die-hard Orange fans, but never shone like some of the companies other products. The Evo2, an evolution of the O2 fights its corner better. Orange have another bike which will have the mass-production crowd worried.
Though they’re not the biggest manufacturers in the world, Orange devote a healthy amount of time to development. All the staff ride – not in a hippy-happy communal or ironic way – in a real, “lets go for a ride” sense. This shows on their bikes. Director Steve Wade’s personal bike is a rolling testbed for development ideas, rather than a perk of the job for a suited boss – far from it.
What this means is that the thoughts that have gone into the Evo2 have firm foundations. All of which probably explains why it is like it is. The sign of a good bike is one which, once the saddle height’s adjusted, just gets on with it. The Evo was a case in point. No fiddling with stem height, component set up, or pedal changing. We rode it as it came, and it went back in the same trim, albiet slightly dirtier.
Instantly comfortable, whether you’re slogging around the moor, nadgering round low-speed rocks, jumping, riding to the shops or racing. The bike does it all in such a classic, subtle manner that some could even call it boring. The beefing up of the downtube and the superb multi-shape chainstays keep the chassis looking up to date, and add to the ride quality. The rear end is stiff enough to give top accelleration, give good feedback over the big bumps, but without the dead, heavy feel from some bikes. In short, it works, though you’ll know you’re on aluminium at the end of the day – a fat rear tyre is a good OEM comfort blanket.
Tyres are from that classic arena too. WTB’s Velociraptors aren’t trendy right now, but with their grippy compound and well-thought-out tread pattern, they cut through trail debris to give grip where you thought impossible. The round section of the front tyre works when you’re banked over, or when the ground goes sideways.
Other bits do the job in a predictable way, leaving you to get on with riding. XT rear mech with an LX groupset, Ritchey wheels with double butted spokes and a long 350mm post means your tall mate can ride it too.
What best sums up the bike is something that happened when we were testing. I was only meant to be turning round on a bit of singletrack to get another shot of the bike on a corner. I rode off, stopped 20mins later and turned round to come back. You just want to ride it till you can ride no more. Is there a better recommendation?