Orange Alpine 6
Words by Andrew Lee
Photos by Chili Dog
A bit of a rolling paradox, Orange Bicycles and their Alpine 6 blend single pivot simplicity with evolved refinement. The UK company started producing bikes back in the late 80’s, handcrafting every frame that leaves their facility. Over the years I’ve heard people all over talk about Orange, yet I never saw many in the wild here on the West Coast. I could never figure out what made people flock to these bikes with such a cultish mentality. “It’s just a single pivot, how great could it really be?” I always asked. With every bike brand in the world constantly working to refine suspension designs and creating all sorts of “new” systems, I had assumed that a single pivot wouldn’t exactly be a sought after ride. Boy was I wrong.
I’m typically the guy that memorizes spec sheets and geo charts. Friends often refer to me as “Catalog.” Before there was Google or Yahoo at our fingertips I was the group’s source of information. Breaking the chains of my numeric OCD, I refused to look at the geo chart until after the shred test. I didn’t want to subconsciously influence my perceptions of this bike.
Upon arrival, it was very apparent that this was a big bike for big terrain. The Alpine 6 has a roomy front end, 160mm of travel and is equipped with a 170mm Rock Shox Lyrik RCT3 fork and a Monarch Plus shock. Rubber is supplied by Maxxis in the form of High Roller 2’s. A special mix of SRAM parts makes up the drivetrain: a GX shifter is paired with an X01 derailleur, a 1×11 cassette and carbon cranks. A set of Guide R brakes, with a 200mm front rotor and a 180mm rear rotor help keep speeds down on the descents. The Alpine 6 sports a 150mm Reverb, but a 170mm would have been a better choice given the XL frame sizing. Hope hubs laced up to Easton ARC 30 rims made up the rolling stock for our test sled.
Orange has been making burly bikes for decades, and each frame begins with their STrange R&D prototype program. Tooling is an in-house affair, which allows them to fine tune every bit and piece necessary to fabricate their British bombers. Being able to produce that much billet under their own roof not only allows them to have direct oversight on quality control, but the ability to be ever-evolving. Fueling their human welders and designers with a steady diet of fish and chips, Orange continues to pump out quality hand-crafted frames day in and day out.