This is Orange’s new 224, as ridden to victory at the recent Fort William World Cup by Steve Peat. Although in profile it looks very similar to the 223, the 224 has a whole host of changes. They’re mostly aimed at trimming a bit of weight without losing strength and giving the whole bike a rather sleeker look. To that end, there’s a new monococque section at the front, complete with some very intricate bits of welding up around the front of the shock mount. Behind that is the down tube – still a monococque-style folded and welded sheet, but now without quite such marked corners on it.
The swingarm has been redesigned and now looks a lot cleaner, with a tidy curved section up front and a straighter run to the dropouts. Shock options are a Manitou Swinger Coil 4-Way or a Fox DHX5.0 Air, as shown here. Yes, this is a DH race bike with an air shock – in top-of-the-line “GBR DH” spec you get an air-sprung RockShox Boxxer World Cup, too… Rear travel is actually slightly reduced, at 215mm (8.5in). That’s in the interest of a better-controlled suspension action – these bikes are running the longest shocks available, so eking out extra halves or inches of travel means upping the leverage ratios, which leaves the poor old shock with a lot of work to do. Orange has gone for very slightly less, but better quality travel. Can’t argue with that.
The eagle-eyed will noticed the presence of cable stops for a front mech on the frame. They’re to accommodate the 224 DD Freeride, which has a Race Face Evolve DH twin-ring/bashguard setup, Deore transmission, Hope hubs, Hayes 8in brakes and a Marzocchi 888VF fork. The DD will be the cheapest 224 at £2,699.95 for the full bike, with the DH Race (Boxxer Race, Swinger Coil 4-Way, XT transmission, Race Face Diabolus/MRP crank setup, Hayes brakes) at £2,899.95 and the full-bore “Peaty spec” (Boxxer World Cup, Fox DHX, SRAM X.0, Hope Mono M4 brakes) GBR DH at 5p under four grand. Quite a lot of money, but then you’ll be riding a bike capable of winning World Cups – leave your excuses on the start ramp…
Frame-only options start at £1,599.95 with the Manitou shock, with the DHX Air available for an extra hundred notes.
Dave took the latest Five for a spin around the World Cup XC course at Leanachan Forest: “With the Manitou SPV shock the suspension feels good, all the time, especially while climbing, but importantly the bike still feels alive. Turn the speed up and you’ll find yourself pinging favourably off rocks, bumps or anything that mildly resembles a lip, and it corners with fantastic accuracy. The combination of the 130mm fork and sorted geometry give a superbly balanced feel, and it inspires confidence.”In a more all-round vein, Orange’s Five trail bike builds on its 2005 overhaul with a new, more rounded look. The ’05 bike had some substantial geometry changes, going to 5.5in of travel and steeper angles. The 2006 model follows the lead of the Patriot 66 with its rounded swingarm and smoothed-off corners. Orange says that the new frame is slightly lighter but hasn’t lost any stiffness or strength. It certainly looks good to us.
A Five frame’ll cost you £1,099.95, with either a Swinger Air 3-Way or Coil 4-Way shock. Full bikes start at £1,699.95 for the Five S, with a RockShox Recon fork, Deore transmission and Hayes brakes. Then there’s the Fox-forked, full XT Pro at £1,999.95 or the same thing but with Hope Mini brakes at £2,199.95. Top of the tree is the Five SE – Fox Float RLC fork, SRAM X.0 transmission, Race Face Deus cranks – at £2,699.95.
There’s some great-looking stuff elsewhere in the Orange bikes range, too. The classic P7 will have singlespeed-friendly sliding dropouts for 2006 (although complete bikes come with gears), with the same 130mm-fork-ready geometry as the ’05 bike but new black finish complete with black decals. The new version of the Crush aluminium hardtail has gone a bit more ‘core, now quite closely resembling the popular SubZero.
Need to know more? Keep checking on Orange’s website – 2006 stuff should be there soonish.