Big mountain slayer
11th July, 2016 | by Phil Williamson
Considering the reputation that Orange Bikes have for reliability in British riding conditions a very wet day in Bike Park Wales was the ideal testing ground for the new Orange Alpine6. Following Orange’s design philosophy of gradual improvements to their models the Alpine6 has received some small but significant changes to improve performance over the steep, technical terrain that it was built for.
Model: Alpine6 Pro
Discipline: Enduro / Freeride
Rider: Hard hitting trail rider
Highlights: Stable at speed
Tredz Rating: 910
Price: From £3,235.00
Geometry and Name Changes for 2017
Formally known as the Alpine 160 the name has been changed to reflect the 170mm fork that is now fitted on all four models, including the new entry level ‘S’ model has been added to the range.
The whole frame has been updated but it is the rear end that has seen the most attention for 2017. The swingarm is now a significant 31mm shorter than last year’s model but, due to the pivot point being moved back, the effective chainstay length is actually only 8mm shorter. While this does make the Alpine6 slightly more manoeuvrable the real improvements are with the suspension performance. The shock curve is now more progressive which improves the small bump sensitivity while retaining all of its big hit ability.
The single pivot design with oversized pivot bearings offers the reliability you need for all year riding in British weather conditions.
Stiffer rear end
The rear end also feels significantly stiffer. This is due in part to the Boost 148 rear axle but also the revised shape of the swingarm. The stays now feature a crease similar to the mainframe tubes which increases the stiffness without adding any weight. The 2017 Alpine6 is 300 grams lighter than last year’s Alpine 160.
While the overall length of the Alpine6 is slightly less than last year’s 160 the effective top tube and front centre measurement remains the same. This means that the Alpine still feels long and it retains the stability at speed that you would expect from such a big hitter. The bottom bracket height has also been dropped by 5 degrees which offers more of an in-the-bike feel and cornering stability.
Fox 36 fork and Float X shock
With the 170mm Fox 36 Performance fork fitted upfront, the head angle is now ½ a degree slacker. Even with the additional travel the front end felt stiffer thanks to the wider Boost axle spacing. The Fox performance series units now feature a black anodized coating similar to RockShox forks and shocks. The Pro is now spec’d with a Float X shock and both units performed flawlessly.
The Shimano SLX 11 speed drivetrain, combined with the Raceface chainset, offered reliable shifting throughout the test. Quiet and secure there was no need for a chain device. Tubeless ready wheels and wide rims are ideal for hard riding and the KS dropper post worked perfectly without any fuss. The only weak point in the spec was the Shimano Deore brakes which didn’t bite as well as I’d like in the very wet conditions.
On the trail
Right from the off the Alpine6 inspired confidence. It felt so stable when I picked up speed and encouraged me to ride faster everywhere. Breezing through the rough sections the Alpine remained composed on the Red trails at BPW. Grip was never an issue, which was encouraging, as it really was very wet. So wet in fact that I had trouble seeing the trail on flatter sections as there was so much standing water. Even so the Alpine6 never missed a beat. Once I was used to the extra length of the Alpine6 I sought out BPW’s steeper trails and again was impressed with the confidence it gave me.
I was also impressed with the climbing ability of the Alpine6. It is lightweight for such a stiff and capable bike and the new pivot location offered efficient pedalling which is ideal for enduro racing as well as trail riding.