The Alpine 160 is the longest, lowest and slackest it’s ever been, but can this simple single-pivot design still cut it in a world of multiple links and bamboozling suspension layouts?
The Alpine’s straight-cut looks and simple suspension won’t be to everyone’s taste, but cast an eye beyond the no-frills silhouette and things look extremely promising. The front centre (distance from BB to front axle) on the medium bike is a whopping 770mm, the reach a very respectable 446mm, and the kicked-out 64.5-degree head angle just begs to be pointed downhill.
The alpine sticks with orange’s proven single-pivot monocoque frame design:
Details wise, the single suspension pivot means easy maintenance, as does the traditional screw-in BB. The lack of internal cable routing – apart from for the dropper seatpost – makes trail or race pit fixes that bit easier too.
Related: Orange introduces the Four, reworks the Segment for 2016
The extra length of the frame means Orange now spec the Alpine with a dinky but solidly built 35mm Hope stem. Both suspension units come courtesy of RockShox, work well and are easy to tune. The KS post performed fine for the most part during testing but did get a little sticky at times.
Comfortable climber, deadly descender
Even with that stubby stem, the Alpine offers a roomy cockpit that helps make climbing a comfortable affair. The RS isn’t particularly rapid on the ascents due to its burly 14kg (31lb) build, but the low-speed compression lever on the shock – which is really easy to access – lets you firm up the back end enough to make things feel efficient.
The roomy cockpit is a boon when climbing:
The roomy cockpit is a boon when climbing
The small 30t chainring helps too, and we never felt held back on the seriously steep, technical climbs of our test route. Keep the pedals turning over rough terrain and you can feel some feedback through the cranks as the single-pivot back end works away, but it’s not enough to disrupt flow.
The descents are where the Orange feels most at home though. The poised rider position, lengthy wheelbase and slack head angle mean the Alpine doesn’t shy away as speeds pick up, and things feel nicely stable and confident.
While it’s a surprisingly pain-free, climber, the alpine truly shines on the downhills:
While it’s a surprisingly pain-free climber, the Alpine truly shines on the downhills
Adding a few Bottomless Token volume spacers to the Pike fork helped even out the suspension feel, balancing things nicely front to rear (the Monarch Plus shock comes filled with volume bands to get the back end ramping up nice and early).
In terms of feel, there’s definitely something a bit more tangible here when compared to many of the Alpine’s competitors. Although the Orange feels well balanced, composed and more than at home being thumped into some ferocious bumps, it maintains a liveliness and feedback-rich feel that makes it one seriously fun bike to ride.