The old Orange Crush was an absolute anvil that only the strongest could enjoy. The latest incarnation of Orange’s hardcore hardtail is a lot more versatile but it still needs some muscle to really get the most from it.
The Orange Crush boasts a tough and reassuringly stable frame that suits its likely riders’ high-speed tendencies. There’s a smooth, reliable fork here and the sticky tyres give great trail adhesion. The downside of that stickiness and an inert frame is a lack of acceleration snap and the long wheelbase and slack angles mean slower reactions too.
Orange have certainly shifted the emphasis on the Crush for this year. It’s gone from being a budget version of the monster strong Sub Zero freeride hardtail to an alloy version of the legendary steel P7.
Ride & handling: riotous assembly
Don’t think “hardtail equals race bike”. The Crush lives for riotous behaviour and it’s immediately obvious that any speed/long distance intentions are best fulfilled on Orange’s EVO8.
The super short stem and a steep seat angle that pushes weight forward blend with the supple ride of the sticky tyres to create a surefooted ride, however technical the trails.
The long wheelbase and slack steering angles mean there’s no hint of nerves as speed or steepness increase. Add the extra ground clearance/rock ignorance of the bashguard set up, plus a relatively forgiving back end and the Crush is a real confidence booster.
Things become less ego massaging once the gradient goes up or the trail tightens up. While it’s got more breathing room than the others, the slowest wheel pack here means you’re going to need every gasp to keep up as soon as the pace rises.
The extra stability of the long wheelbase also means you’ll need to take tight stuff a little slower and a little wider. While it’s stiffer than 08 Foxes, the QR Vanilla needs a bit more persuasion to pick and hold lines than the Marin’s 15mm version.
This all adds up to lack of exit speed and more hard work hauling ass after the others on tight techy trails.
It’s a lot handier and easier on back and shoulders than the old Crush, but muscling out a couple of hours fast singletracking will still feel like a gym session as well as a bike ride.
Obviously building up the frame in a lighter style would produce a more responsive bike in terms of acceleration and ease of produce a more responsive bike in terms of acceleration and ease of speed.
But knowing most Orange owners and their tendency to leave the brakes off a little longer and push a bit harder than most we’d leave it as it is and exploit its stability, not fight it.
Frame: grievous bodily harm
Despite its more versatile brief, the Crush frame is still a sturdy piece, with large diameter maintubes, gusseted head tube and seat tube junctions plus a long weld overlap on the seatstays.
Mid-sized round seatstays take out some rear wheel sting, with good tyre clearance between them and the beefier chainstays even with the large Kenda tyres fitted as standard.
The dropouts are definitely the most basic looking on test, and the rear facing, water swallowing seat slot is a surprise on a bike designed in the Pennines. You do get a pair of bottle cage bosses and a Crud Catcher mount under the down tube though.
Unlike the Halifax-built Oranges, you can’t specify different colours, although the white and black frameset is available separately for £349.95.
Equipment: going equipped
While the frame-only option will appeal to some, Orange have put together a very appealing package that suits the tough frame character well.
The Fox Vanilla fork is super smooth whether you’re turning across chattery slow speed roots or over the front, hammering down rocky descents.
The combination of 36-tooth middle ring and bashguard outer means great all-round ratios and log proofing for the RaceFace chainset too. SRAM gears are positive, punchy and quiet in rough situations.
Hayes Stroker brakes are reassuringly powerful and predictable with big rotors either end to handle Alpine heat.
The wheel package underlines the heavy duty build of this bike. The 26.5mm WTB rim width adds some stability to the big Kenda tyres and the Stick E compound front and rear gives serious traction. The stiction and weight definitely limits acceleration and overall agility in snap-and-go situations though.