Orange Four Factory first ride review

Simple on paper, superb on the trail

Orange came under new management from its manufacturing partner recently and that’s seen the introduction of smarter, lighter frames and whole new bikes by the hardcore brand, including this Four Factory.

Orange Four Factory spec overview

  • Frame: 6061-T6 Alloy
  • Fork: Fox 34 Factory
  • Shock: Fox DPS EVOL Factory
  • Wheel size: 650b
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide ULT
  • Head angle: 67
  • Seat angle: 72
  • Reach: 458mm (L)

The re-engineered Four uses Orange’s trademark jigsaw of faceted, curved, folded and seam welded pieces but in a thinner gauge metal, with hollowed out keystone sections to shave significant weight off its chassis.

The single pivot suspension has been refined for over 20 years though and a slight shock and pivot reposition to add progression means you probably won’t need to touch the short stroke Fox Factory EVOL shock once you’ve set the basic sag pressure.

The Four has Orange’s signature boxy looks and single pivot suspension out back
The Four has Orange’s signature boxy looks and single pivot suspension out back

Turns out that you don’t need to worry about obvious flex in the lighter weight frame either, because there’s a vital, visceral connection between the floor, the Four and the rider that can’t be explained on paper.

As the back end is too twangy to influence it, wherever you put the tyre-fattening wide profile RaceFace front wheel using the massive 800mm RaceFace SixC carbon bar, that’s where it’s going to stay however aggressive you’re being.

The intuitive interaction between pedal pressure stiffening the suspension and steepening the angles and conversely relaxing your drive and the bike, gives it a deliciously dynamic and infectiously playful trail feel.

SRAM’s Eagle X01 provides extra gear shifting
SRAM’s Eagle X01 provides extra gear shifting

The 12.5kg overall weight is lighter than some carbon bikes, too, while you also get extra gear shifting from SRAM’s new Eagle X01 plus ultra durable Hope Pro 4 hubs.

So while the outward simplicity might be off putting to armchair theorists and multi linkage, carbon frame fans this latest evolution of Orange’s evergreen classic will prove them emphatically, addictively wrong where it really matters — on the rowdiest trails you dare ride

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

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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