Testing the Orange Stage 6 Mountain Bike

A potent gravity-oriented machine that will make you a better biker

(Ben Fox)

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Many American riders have never heard of Orange. The British brand builds its aluminum steeds in a factory in Halifax and only recently started selling online in the U.S. But don’t let its lack of name recognition fool you. It’s venerated overseas, especially among enduro riders, and it’s helped launched the careers of the likes of Steve Peat. Known for alloy-only builds and single-pivot frame design, Orange is easy to slight for being simple, even behind the times. I’ve been testing its big-hit enduro race bike, the Stage 6 Factory ($7,830) for the past few months and have come away impressed by how effortlessly the bike has swallowed steep trails and big drops.

The Stage 6 is a potent gravity-eating machine, with a 65.5-degree head angle, long 450-millimeter chainstays, a 35-millimeter stem, and 800-millimeter bars. It gets its 150 millimeters of rear travel via the smooth Fox Elite Float DPX2 piggyback shock and features Fox’s finest Boost 160-millimeter Factory Kashima 36 fork. It has a droolworthy spec list too, including a 12-speed SRAM XO1 drivetrain, so you get that huge gear range, and the burliest tires around, with a 2.5-inch Maxxis DHF up front and a 2.4-inch DHRII rear. At 31 pounds, the bike is really not too much of a Clydesdale, although admittedly I was still skeptical of the alloy frame. But Orange has nailed the geometry and feel, and I quickly forgot I wasn’t riding carbon.

(Ben Fox)
(Ben Fox)

I didn’t expect to like this bike as much as I do, especially since it’s beefier than is required for most Santa Fe riding. And yet over the past few months, I’ve had a great time riding on the local trails and at a few lift-accessed spots in New Mexico and Colorado. I’ve been surprised by how few people have ever heard of Orange, and the bright blue paint job is certainly a conversation starter. I’ve plowed it through sketchy scree fields and over the biggest and chunkiest terrain I’m capable of riding (the bike definitely gave me the confidence to push my limits), and a nearly bottomless rear end has handled it all. It’s outrageously stable on steeps and at high speed. It does demand to be ridden hard and will be exhausting for riders not willing to be, or not used to being, aggressive. Sure, the Stage 5, the 6’s more trail-oriented little brother, is probably a little better balanced and more fun to climb on—it is almost four pounds lighter, after all—but the bigger fork and tires on the Stage 6 had me feeling more secure on descents.

The bottom line? An impressive race-ready all-mountain machine, the Stage 6 is a worthy choice for riders who emphasize the down and like riding something different from everything else at the bike park.

Through August 15, get 20 percent off full-suspension Orange bikes with the code Orange20.

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