We have been extremely lucky to get our hands on a new Orange Bikes 322…
The 322 is the newest downhill bike from Orange Bikes, folded from sheets of aluminium in Halifax, and assembled just down the road, she’s a thing of beauty. When we popped into to pick her up Pete Scullion ran us through the development…
“Everyone automatically links this [the 322] to the 224 Evo, but there is another step in the 225. We put the linkage in there to try and get a different leverage ratio… and eventually we ended up dropping the top shock mount though the downtube and lowered the pivot – that leads to a far more progressive suspension action. It’s still really supple on the small hits, but it doesn’t blow through it’s travel on the big stuff – that’s all come from rider feedback. It’s a fantastic looking bike and we can’t wait for everyone to know about them!”
Unwrapping my new mistress for the next couple of months, there was no denying it was one good looking bike. Clean lines, tidy welding and a nice sticker job. The stickers, especially on the top tube feel pretty thick and vinyly so hopefully they will stay looking good come rain or snow…
Building the bike up using my Transition TR450 we came across a couple of compatibility issues. Orange have stuck with the ISCG style mounting, so I had to dig out a spare chain device – some of the bulkier devices on the market such as the old Superstar and some E13 guides won’t fit with the swing-arm. With an MRP on, that was that one sorted. Next, and a topic of MUCH internet discussion was the 135mm/73mm rear axle/bottom bracket.
“It all evolved from wanting a good rear axle clamp width. With a 150mm axle you have to have a very wide drop out which is heavy and gets in the way. 135mm allows you to run a very wide axle clamp, and combined with the vertical pinch bolts it makes for a very stiff back end. When you run with that [135mm] you have to have a 68/73 shell to get the chain line right. That’s nice as you get a massive range of cranks – including XTR which Joe Barnes is running, that looks pimp!” – Pete Scullion explains again.
With some very pimp Spank Wheels acquired (not pictured, more to follow!) we were up and rolling.
Sadly I’ve only managed about 15 minutes on the bike so far, as I’ve had to take it back to bits and package it up for a month in British Columbia! After a few skids round some corners, and a few drops and rough bits I can comment that I took to the bike pretty much immediately, and have no regrets about missing out on my TR450 (Though I will miss her a lot!). Stable and speed, and supportive through the corners are the two things I’ve got so far, I reckon a month of chairlift based riding will let me add plenty to that!
While I find my passport and a checked shirt, why not check out the 322 Press release from a couple of weeks ago – http://ride.io/news/orange-bikes-2013-322-downhill-bike/ – We will have a full first look coming to you from Whistler next week – keep your eyes peeled!
Donor Wheels for Photos – Neil Bridgstock