Orange Patriot '07 review£2,900.00

A rough diamond with character and confidence

BikeRadar score4.5/5

We first rang Orange for a Patriot because its simple swingarm action and adjustable shock chuck made it the perfect mule for testing long travel forks and shocks.

Designer Steve Wade was actually planning to make a limited run of 1.5in head tube versions for his own experiments. However, when this one accidentally turned up at my house - officially it was meant for Justin - I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

With no clever linkages or need for specific tuning, the simple 'can crusher' action made its performance obvious, whatever we plugged into the back. Adjustable geometry keeps handling sweet, running everything from a RockShox Pike or a Marzocchi 888, too. The Maxle bolt-thru back end means 12mm bolt-thru axle stiffness without any actual bolts to come loose. The more sculpted and curved 07 frame is shockingly stiff too, so I can guarantee any flex I feel is coming from componentry not the chassis.

We'll admit not all the words we used trying to thread the gear and brake lines through the back end were 'Queen friendly', although the big slabs of uncluttered frame were easy to hose down at photo time.

In theory, there are more adept suspension systems around. It jacks up under braking or power injection and it'll tug your feet backwards on big landings. Sometimes the big hollow frame sounds like somebody has kicked a Caribbean steel band down the hill behind you.

The thing is, though, the Patriot feels so alive, so communicative and so instinctively involving that whenever I ride it I can't believe how much I enjoy it. When I've just come back from a ride in treacherous summer storm conditions, where trusted lines and braking points have turned traitor, you can stuff your fancy theory and clever axle paths up your arse. I survived several big time tyre slides just because I knew exactly what the tyres were doing, and every reflex body shift made an instant difference.

Starting each sluiced out descent hunkered down and anticipating disaster, but relaxing, unfolding and flowing with each section noisily - but never nervously - dispatched until you blast out of the bottom standing tall and triumphant on the pedals. Even on short sharp climbs, out of corners or up the final hill sprint to Pizzaficio on a Thursday night, it always surprises us with how hard it charges.

It might not be the smoothest or subtlest ride around but it never does something without telling you first. If we had to personify honesty in bike form, we'd give you a Patriot to play on. I wouldn't give you this one though, not a chance, and frankly Justin shouldn't be holding his breath either.

Kit? Great tyres are essential, but apart from that any simple, honest stuff that doesn't break will do just fine. After all, there's enough confidence and character here to compensate for almost anything.

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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