Orange P7 Pro Performance review£1,990.00

Tough trail classic

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The new P7 is tougher and ready to tackle the trail more than ever, but there’s been a shift to more ballistic than distance-focused riding since Orange introduced the more classically cross-country R8. With its pliable ride the P7 is a smooth and friendly way to whip along singletrack and technical trails. Frame weight and flex mean it lacks steering and power-stomping bite, though. It’s also better value as a bike than a frame.

Ride & handling: Great fun, tough trail classic but soft feel reduces climb and charge performance

Going for a complete bike build rather than a frame-only deal enhances value. The tough Fox/Shimano/Mavic trail component spec of the standard P7 Pro can be upgraded with Hope components, a tubeless wheel pack and custom frame and rim colour options. Our sample was enhanced with Easton, Fizik and Thomson kit from the Performance upgrade package.

The carbon fibre Easton Haven bar reduces sting and vibration through the grips compared to a similarly sized alloy bar. Despite the CEN standard reinforcement, the same smoothness and flex is inherent throughout the slim steel tubed frame. The Orange has a degree of spring to its ride quality, tending to ricochet off stuff that some other steel bikes thunder straight through.

This is great for steel fans, but is less impressive in terms of accuracy as the frame tends to twang and quiver either side of where you’re aiming. It also feels more sluggish under power, making it slower up climbs and in sprints, even if traction was helped by its pliable ground-hugging nature.

There’s enough length in the top tube for easy breathing, and rider position and handling balance are excellent. Wide bars give plenty of leverage to keep on top of any slippery moments, which is lucky given the unpredictable grip of the Maxxis Advantage tyres. The P7 corners well at high speed, although we struggled with the low bottom bracket on rooty/rocky/off camber trails.

Frame: Chassis is expensive on its own, and a little heavy, but offers a good ride

Orange’s P7 frame has been around for a decade but this new version is certainly the toughest and most downhill focused to date. This hardcore hardtail was developed and evolved in Halifax, Yorkshire and uses a UK-developed steel tubeset from Reynolds.

The butted 653 pipe is cheaper and heavier than the top-of-the-range 853, but displays the same air hardening, post-weld strengthening properties as the flagship tubing. The head tube is ring reinforced to stop ovalising distortion from the press-fit cups and a long, deep square-edged gusset reinforces the head tube/down tube junction.

Despite the reinforcement, the skinny steel tubes still give the P7 a dynamic and well-sprung ride feel for long drops or long haul comfort.  This whippy feel won’t be appreciated by riders wanting to get power down as efficiently as possible, so may want to check out the stiffer, but otherwise very similar Orange Crush.

There’s reasonable tyre room at the rear, while three-bolt sliding dropouts allow singlespeed chain tensioning. The bottom bracket gets ISCG tabs. Crud Catcher mounts sit under the down tube and rack/mudguard mounts at the rear as well as two sets of bottle cage bosses on the down tube and seat tube. These features and reinforcements make the P7 heavy and expensive as a standalone frame..

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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