I bought my 18" Orange Sub5 with Deore spec just over a month ago. I wanted
a do it all bike that could be ridden all day and then have the saddle dropped and
used to blast the downhills. I swapped over the Manitou SXs for my 100mm Marzocchi
Z1s right away so I could use my current disks. The Deore spec bike comes with a
set of Ritchey hubs laced to WTB Speedmaster rims which were well built and sensibly
sized for all round trail use. These were also swapped for Hope Sport wheels hubs
to accommodate the disks.
First ride up on local trails was done in the wet but immediately the Orange felt
at home. British designed and built with massive (the biggest I have seen on any
bike) mud clearance. The back end really is suited to a bigger fork up front although
the geometry is slackened by using a longer fork than the 80mm standard. Note though
that because of the very light monocoque frame construction, this bike is not designed
nor recommended for use with a triple clamp. With 5" at the rear wheel, the
bike was set with an inch of sag and quite a fast rebound. Preloading the back end
on the run up to lips or root sections, the bike can be fired into the air to clear
any obstacles and the light weight means it is very manoeuvrable once in the air.
Technical climbing, the bike digs in and once you have the excellent Fox Float R
air shock set up properly, you can spin in the saddle and let the suspension action
deal with the roots and rocks. Descending with the saddle lowered, the Sub 5 compares
with the best downhill bikes in all but the most extreme terrain. The low front end
makes for plenty of steering traction and the nicely long top tube means you can
shift about in the corners and steep sections. In a recent XC Sport race on the start
sprint up a grass climb I found myself in 10th at the top of the hill. This was only
down to the bikes sprinting ability.
The Sub 5 does everything Orange claim in their advertising spiel, excellently. Nice
touches include the tidy routing of the brake hose and shift cable through the swingarm
and the fact that you can spec the bike how you want it when your Local Bike Shop
orders it (cheers to Northern Dirt in Frodsham). Orange were helpful when I questioned
them on everything from getting a shorter stem to having it supplied in different
colours. The only thing I would criticise is the choice of speccing the bike with
semi-slicks but most shops should change those at time of sale.
The bottom line – It’s a downhillers XC/trail bike and XC racers should try it when
they are thinking of converting to full sus. I own and have ridden a lot of different
bikes and I agree with Orange, ‘The greatest all rounder?’. Definitely.
At the end of February 2000, I spoke with a local bike shop, Heales in Highams Park,
London E4, to discuss a strip down and rebuild of my dusty P7. £45 what a bargain!
Now, heres my problem….how did I go from this to a custom built Orange Sub5 costing
over two and half grand? Not sure really, it seems to been via a process of evolution.
Especially given the only stuff I actually transferred fom the P7 was the skewers,
cranks/chainset and the saddle.
Anyway, I haven’t been on a bike for over a year and have got v.v.v. lazy. The bike
hopefully in its final guise has Manitou X-Vert Supers, Hope XC4s, SRAM’s ESP 9.0s
and lots of Easton and Middleburn bits. Shimano only get a look in with the chain,
cassette and pedals.
For a long travel (in my build anyway) full suspension do it all bike it comes in
a very respectable 27lbs. So as an unfit and tad lardy lapsed MTBer I took the bike
out for it’s first outing in Epping Forest. At first it felt a bit pedestrian….but
realistically that was me…out of condition and unpractised. I took the bilke out
again on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.
It is a complete relevation. The Manitou’s and Fox rear shock seem to be so forgiving
and ooze class. The bike handles fantastically – just point and shoot. Point it downhill
clogged with mud (for Epping read Clay), ruts, berms whatever, this bike can handle
it & fast. I am already tackling sections at speeds that I couldn’t achieve with
my old P7. For it’s weight and given the long forks that I’m running it climbs really
well. All of the shocks are completely tuneable and even with the default settings,
providing my bum was on the saddle the bike barely bobbed at all.
The bike looks the pups nuts and rides even better. 5/5
Got a bike you’d like to review?