Orange’s Five Pro combines the practicality born of British trail-riding experience with a dose of hard-hitting long travel versatility and plenty of pace. It’s a compelling package that does almost everything very well indeed
No one could accuse Orange of neglecting the hard-hitting full sus market. A full complement of Halifax-crafted single pivot machines covers the gamut of fat tyre niches from downhill race and freeride to all-day cross-country.
The Five Pro fits in at the lightweight end of this spectrum, offering 5.5 inches (140mm) of front and rear wheel travel in a package aimed squarely at trail riders, endurance racers and anyone who wants a bike that’ll take most trails in its stride.
There’s a refreshing simplicity to the Orange’s design. In essence, it’s little more than a classic front triangle with a tidily minimalist swingarm bolted to it. But there’s a lot more going on than first meets the eye: the devil, as always, is in the detail.
The down tube is one of the most important parts of a modern full sus design, providing the backbone around which all the other components – whether static or part of the suspension system – fit. Rigidity is a big issue. Orange’s established monocoque solution manages the tricky balancing act of combining strength, low weight and a distinctive look. The dropped top tube and standard seat tube look near-anorexic in comparison, but the beefy down tube structure eliminates the need for extra strengthening gussets.
The angular swingarm continues the monocoque theme, pivoting just ahead of the big chainring but in line with the middle ring. Internal cable routing keeps the clean lines uncluttered at the cost of slightly more fiddly maintenance, but it’s a price most riders will probably be prepared to pay. Radically cutaway dropouts complete the low-weight-but-stiff-enough look. A pair of Fox shocks – a Float RP23 at the rear and a 32 Float R up front – carry out rock and root-munching duties. It’s a well matched combo, the rear shock in particular providing a good balance of supple and predictable wheel tracking with decent, controllable indifference to pedal input. We missed adjustable compression damping on the fork, and adjustable travel would have been even better. An upgrade to the Float RLC, which adds compression damping and lockout, is available for £70 extra.
Hope hubs and brakes emphasise the ‘made in Britain’ theme and give good, smooth performance that complements the slick shifting Shimano XT-based transmission, while big-knobbed Kenda tyres provide huge amounts of grip. We opted for a ‘performance upgrade’ pack that substitutes Fi’zi:k’s comfortable Gobi saddle, Thomson’s finely crafted stem and seatpost and the ridiculously light Easton Monkey Lite carbon bar for the standard fare. At an extra £150 it is good value for top-notch finishing kit.
A roomy top tube, comfortable saddle and wide, confidence-inspiring bars make it easy to get settled quickly on the Five Pro. Despite the inline seatpost and compact stem, there’s plenty of room to shift weight around quickly on unexpected sudden changes in trail gradient, making this a willing partner on both uphill grunts and steep downhill chutes. The rear suspension patters happily over all but the tiniest of trail obstacles without becoming wallowy, and there always seems to be plenty of travel in reserve for when you bite off more than you can chew.
Stomp on the pedals, wind the Five Pro up to speed, and things just get better. Loads of travel combined with grippy, big-volume tyres inspire flourishes of trail bravado – which are invariably rewarded with a big grin. From fast, twisty singletrack to full-bore rocky descents, this bike flatters a rider’s skills and nudges them to the next level. It doesn’t quite have the Scott’s accomplished nonchalance or implacable solidity of the Cannondale, but it’s a great example of single pivot simplicity done well.
Too good to be true? Almost. It’s hard to get the right balance of response and stability once fork lengths go beyond 100mm, and the payback for the Five Pro’s impeccable high speed manners is a fork that’s floppy and uncooperative at the limits of climbable gradients. But it’s a small price to pay for great handling, a well balanced spec and massive grins all round. Unless you’re obsessed with climbing infeasibly steep trails, the Five Pro is all the lightweight all-mountain full susser you’re ever likely to need.
SO GOOD Lively feel, great handling and top-notch components combine to build a trail bike that’s inspiring in almost any situation.
NO GOOD Non-adjustable fork makes the front a floppy handful on steep climbs, and it’s not as solid in the rough as some of the competition.