Around in one form or another long enough to be considered a classic, the Orange P7 is still a great 'serious cross-country' hardtail that'll challenge you to reach for the sky
Orange’s P7 has been around for ages. Today it exists in three forms: the P7 Pro, with XT equipment and a Fox 32 Vanilla R fork; the singlespeed P7 One; and this, the P7 S. They use the same steel frame, which has enough frame fitments (praise be!) that you can make your own mind up what you do with it.
Ride: poised and in control
Frame angles (68-degree head, 70-degree seat) are slightly slacker than the other bikes’, which works better when you put a taller fork on and point the bike downhill. With its wide bars, shortish stem, and average reach it still feels ‘right’ on the flat or uphill. Even in the car park it feels more poised. In the forest you find yourself attacking trails instead of just pedalling around them because you feel connected and in control.
We managed to scrabble up a steep, sandy, root-interrupted climb on the first attempt, with no dabs - something most other test bikes couldn't manage. Coming down, it feels tight enough for you to turn your own effort dial up to 10.
It is, in short, fun – so much so that: a) its ride belies its weight, which you’d swear was a good bit less than a bike like the Raven Sterling; and b) you may well stack it after getting cocky. (We did, dreaming of the film Roam and then eating dirt like some dink off YouTube.)
Frame: built tough with full options
The chromoly frame is designed for a fork up to 140mm; reflecting that bigger hit capability is the beefier gusset at the head/down tube joint.
At the back end, there are rack and mudguard mounts, along with neat sliding dropouts that allow you to run a derailleur, singlespeed or hub gear.
The disc mounts are integral to the slidy bit, so you don’t need to reposition your disc caliper if you pull the wheel back. You can’t run V-brakes, which you might want for a continent-crossing expedition.
Equipment: sound & dependable
Any hardtail with a derailleur clatters down rocky descents compared with a hub-geared bike, and you suddenly think twice about the rear mech sticking out like a proffered chicken’s wishbone. Then again, with the P7 you can fit a hub gear if you want one – or experiment with singlespeed.
If you’d prefer Shimano XT kit and you can’t afford the P7 Pro, you can upgrade the not-as-snappy-but-not-bad-really Deore as and when it starts to wear out. The Avid Juicy 3 brakes have lots of bite, thanks in part to bigger, 180mm rotors, and the rest of the spec is sound – from dependable Kenda Nevegals through to lock-on grips.
The Tora 302 fork isn’t as nice as the 318 and it is a bit heavy. On the other hand, it’s quite smooth, although a little notchy, and it’s easy to adjust on the fly. You can control the rebound, you can lock it out for climbing or fireroad work, and there’s even a U-turn adjuster if you want to wind down its 130mm travel. For a budget cross-country fork, it ticks all the boxes.