Orange have a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the best riding bikes around. The G2 and G3 bring that enhanced enthusiasm and enjoyment right down to economy class, proving you’re paying for much more than just the name. The G3 is a winner from singletrack to summit.
Ride & handling: Agile, technically-minded trail ride
What makes the G3 so good is the handling and overall ride character. Orange have gone for a super-short stem that’s a perfect match for ultra-technical riding. Where immediate reactions are essential to control a tyre slide or keep you on line, having such light steering feel keeps you constantly involved and informed. The Race Face Ride bar is wide enough for reasonable leverage and a great shape too.
While the standard G2/G3 geometry is relatively steep, the 120mm-travel fork slackens it just enough to stop the whole bike being too twitchy and attention seeking. That said, nervous or novice riders could go for a longer stem to add stability. If you’re thinking the short stem might make breathing space cramped, don’t worry as there’s plenty of stretch to get into your rhythm on climbs without the front end constantly popping up.
The Continental Mountain King tyres are a good choice for UK use, with reasonable traction in all conditions and not too much drag on hardpack. They’re light too, which adds to the Orange’s refreshingly responsive feel, as does the RockShox Tora SL Air fork. This is in a different class to RockShox's cheaper Dart forks, letting you take the attack to the trail rather than going on the defensive as soon as things get rough and dirty.
The combination of slim frame tubes and a 27.2mm seatpost is enough to take the sting out of rocky sections too. Cue more technical control to match the fork and greater comfort on longer rides. The twin-bolt Ride seatpost will survive plenty of abuse via the SDG saddle as well.
Frame: Balanced, nicely detailed chassis with decent fork and aggressive cockpit
The G2 and G3 framesets are the latest in a long line of entry-level Orange chassis (previously known as the Gringo, Halifax history fans). The complete bikes are a subtle mix of traditional styling and state- of-the-art trail handling. The short ring-reinforced head tube is backed up by a long throat gusset, with a shared top and down tube seam increasing front end integrity further. The main tubes are custom butted to save weight.
Out back oval to round chainstays end at small cowled dropouts. Skinny round-to-oval seatstays complete the chassis circuit via a short stub wishbone section behind the extended seat tube. The rear-facing seat slot needs more regular cleaning to stop the post seizing than a forward-facing one, but practicality is impressive otherwise. Mud room is reasonably generous and you get bolted mounts for a Crud Catcher and twin bottle cages.
While the £650 G2 (same frame) comes with a Dart 2 fork it can be upgraded for £60 to a 100mm-travel Tora SL. Going for the G3 gets you a Shimano Deore/SLX transmission (rather than SRAM X4/5), Avid brakes (rather than Funn) and higher grade Shimano hubs, which will all shave weight. You also get pimpier ﬁnishing plumbing in the shape of Race Face Ride kit. Otherwise tyres, saddle, hand-built wheel quality and the four frame size options are the same. If you’re feeling really ﬂush you can get RockShox Recon or Fox F32 upgrades.