At a glance
What can we say about the Orange Alpine, straight out of the box it looks every bit the purposeful All Mountain machine that you would expect from a company like Orange.Buy Enduro Bikes on
Do not let the name deceive you as this bike is as at home on hardcore xc rides as it is on Alpine terrain.
You may ask do you need 160mm of travel front and rear, well with the steady increase in travel on trail bikes going up every year we think that the answer may well be yes, especially if you want to keep up with your mates on hard hitting technical trails. Bikes like the Alpine 160 AM are increasingly becoming their owners one and only and having ridden this bike in almost every conceivable type of discipline from a 24 hour enduro to a downhill race we can see that the time is coming when these All Mountain bikes will in fact be just that.
The Alpine 160 frameset has been designed to accommodate the longer shock stroke required to achieve the 160mm of travel that Orange were looking for. To do this the rear swingarm had to be redesigned and the pivot assembly beefed up. Tubing is a mixture of Reynolds and 6061 and makes for a very stiff and reasonably light frameset and it comes with ISCG 05 Tabs for chain device mounting.
Cabling is now routed externally and Orange has decided not to complicate things by speccing a Maxle rear drop out which works well and adds stiffness out back. The frame comes without any geometry or travel adjustment.
Suspension duties are taken care of by the excellent Fox Float RP23 which comes with Propedal.
The geometry of this frame is what really affects the way it rides. A relaxed head angle of 66.2º inspires downhill confidence while the steep seat angle of 73.6º matched with the short rear end gives a comfortable and quite effective pedalling position.
We built our 18’’ frame up with Fox Float RC2 36 forks up front with a 70mm Thompson stem matched to a Easton 710mm lo rise bar, an E –Thirteen DRS chain device using a double ring setup, a mixture of XO Sram and XT running gear with braking being taken care of by XT Servowaves, wheels are Hope hubs laced to Mavic 819 rims shod with Maxxis Highrollers.
On the trail
The Orange is an easy bike to set up and once that is done and you are out on the trails the cockpit is comfortable and just right for moving your weight about with ease.
It is noticeable that the Alpine 160 is a stable low slung machine which when married to the slack head angle gives enormous confidence that urges you to push the bike hard.
Whenever the terrain started to point downwards we found ourselves flying into corners and technical sections at higher than normal speeds and coming out the other side carrying even more speed due to the fact that the bike truly rails corners and eats rough terrain. On several occasions one of our more vocal testers could be heard whooping during downhill runs and it was a struggle to get the bike back off him.
It launches jumps and felt very solid throughout our rides, never making us question whether it was out of its comfort zone.
That rigidity helps with tracking when it comes to pedalling through twisty singletrack where it is not lightening quick in the handling department but it is far from a slouch. Getting the power down is no problem due to the comfortable saddle position and that helps when you are pedalling back to the top which you will do as by going back up you get to come back down.
The Alpine 160 AM is probably as much fun as you can have when it comes to heading down. Fast and very reassuring enabling you to push yourself hard knowing your bike will hold your line and not let you down. Planted and fast through singletrack and not unpleasant to ride on the ups it very quickly became a favourite with our test team.
The build quality is second to none and is backed up by Orange’s no nonsense customer service plus you can now spec any Orange bike/frame in a bewildering amount of colours for an extra £100.
The rear suspension is not as sophisticated as some and this leads to a degree of bob when tackling the climbs but this is offset by the Propedal on the Fox Float RP23 so it is a minor niggle.
Cable routing is a disappointment, we do not understand why bike companies that sell to the UK or any other soggy countries do not allow for full length cable outers.
You can build the frame up either XC light or DH burly depending on your poison, though we feel that a strong lightish build is a good use of this very capable and versatile frame.
With the simplicity of a single pivot there is less to go wrong or maintain which will be a boon to the just get out and ride brigade but may leave fettlers scratching their heads.
It climbs well for a bike in this category and is relaxed and comfortable on more long distance rides. Add to that the fact it is an out and out pleasure to ride downhill and matched with a stiff well controlled fork will tackle pretty much anything you can throw at it.
To a man we have all enjoyed this test and are loathe to let the bike go which we think speaks volumes.
The figures for the frame on test are:
Frame Size 16"
Head Angle 66.5°
Seat Angle 74°
Top Tube 559
Effective TT 580
BB Height +6
Head Tube 120
Rear Travel 160
Shock Length 215
Seat Tube Ø 27.2
Unless otherwise indicated all measurements are in mm.
Frame angles are measured static, without rider sag.
Bottom bracket height measured from axle.
This review was in Issue 1 of IMB.For more information visit Orange Mountain Bikes
By Nigel GarroodNigel Garrood was one of the instigators of the IMB project and has been with us since the very beginning. This loveable rogue has more stories than the Bible and is known to enjoy a beer or two. On the bike, he’s fast and loose and often puts younger riders to shame. Equally he’s been known to suffer from the odd crash and carries the scars to prove it. He was once referred to as being a robot sent from the future to save us all!