Orange’s range-topping G4 frameset has lost around 200g in weight over the past year, thanks to a few design tweaks, and has a nice-looking brushed, paint-free finish. With its compact ride position and wallet-friendly pricing, it’s intended to be a trail all-rounder with a dose of fun thrown in for good measure.
With its old-school frame build and 100mm-travel fork, the G4S is the very definition of the kind of simple, one-bike-for-everything design philosophy that used to define the industry. But the stubby stem and slack head angle suggest it wants to play hard. Confused? You will be.
Ride & handling: Too cramped for all-day rides, not enough travel for a hard-riding trail bike
Out on the trail, this Jekyll-and-Hyde character never quite resolves itself. Too short in the cockpit to hunker down and reel in the miles on the one hand, but with a coil-sprung RockShox Tora fork that’s not long – or competent – enough to engage in any real hooliganism, the G4S falls uncomfortably into a limbo between the two extremes.
Neither efficient nor comfortable enough on the one hand for day-long trail duties, but frustratingly under-forked for just playing out in the woods, it ends up not quite convincing on either front. An extra £100 will score you a smoother, more adjustable RockShox Recon air fork, but what the G4S really needs is more travel.
The last time we rode a G series bike, around 18 months ago, it had a 120mm air fork. And we liked it – a lot. The longer fork slackened off the geometry just enough to make front-weighted hard riding a pleasure, while simultaneously kicking the seat angle back and allowing the slender seatpost to take some of the sting out of the rear end.
Frame & equipment: Straightforward, no-nonsense chassis and decent finishing kit
In an age of aluminium frames that bear more and more resemblance to high-tech sculptures, the G4’s no-nonsense chassis is a refreshing reminder that there’s not much wrong with plain ol’ round tubes. Fastened together with tidy weld beads on full display, thoughtful touches include rear rack and mudguard mounts and a pair of Crud Catcher bosses under the down tube.
In the absence of shape-shifting plumbing, there’s an old school reinforcing gusset up at the head tube to protect against hard frontal impacts. Curiously, though, for a bike born and bred in Yorkshire, there’s surprisingly little mud clearance at the rear. The 2.2in Continental Mountain King tyres fitted to our test bike are fine, but you’d struggle to run anything wider in the muck.
A full 10-speed transmission with sensible 36-tooth large sprocket gives the G4S serious wall-climbing potential even without leaving the middle ring, while Avid’s Elixir 3 hydraulic discs haul everything reliably back to a halt on the descents. Race Face finishing kit adds a touch of class to the proceedings, the stubby stem hinting at the G4’s playful character.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.