2003 Orange Patriot: Old Timer Test

I’m gonna add a few leisure posts here every year now as I feel its an important part of my life and a big influence on my work. So before i get my head back into zero energy balanced housing here’s a post on my old noble steed i dusted off and brought back to life.

orange patriot 2002

What can I write about the Orange Patriot that hasn’t already been written?

It was a raw, brutal looking engineered masterpiece that was to become the platform for many single pivot designs to follow.
The Patriot had a personality to match its looks: Solid as a rock, a noble steed and a true friend, Yep it was easy to say the Patriot was a pure icon and a true legend.
If you love old motorbikes like I do then you’re understand where I’m coming from. This is the Z900 Kawasaki of the mountain bike world.

So who sold their old Patriots and wished they had hung on to them?

Well I guess when I blew the dust of mine last year I was instantly thrown back to the glory days of epic secret stash singletrack sessions with mates in the Chamonix Valley.
Rebuilding the Patriot was never about seeing if I could get it to out perform today’s bike, if I wanted to that I would have just gone an bought an Orange Five or Alpine, this was just more about customizing a legend, like we did as kids. We took stock old classic motorbikes and made them individual.
I didn’t want the nostalgia to just fade away so I guess thats why i decided to restore it back to its glory days with the latest tech you find with today’s components, nothing wrong with that is there?

2003 Orange Patriot

Wheel set

Hubs: Hope Pro 2 Disc Front 15mm / Rear. Rims: Mavic XM719 Disc. Spokes: DT swiss. Rear Cassette: Shimano Saint/SLX 9 Speed HG80 11-32


Front:2010 RockShox Revelation. 150mm Dual air.20mm maxleLite. Rear:2010 Fox RP23. 190x50mm Re-tuned 2010 orange blood


Front:Hope Tech X2’s. Rear: Hope Tech X2’s. Disks: Hope saw disk rotors. 183mm Front, 160mm Rear.

Drive Train

F Mech: Shimano XT M771. R Mech: Shimano XT Shadow. Chainset: Shimano SLX. Triple M660 22-32-44 170mm. Shifters: Shimano XT. Chain: Shimano HG93.


Bars: Sunline Handlebars V1. 711mm – 19mm riser. Grips: Sunline lock-on.  Stem: NC-17 pro signature. Pedals: Crank Brothers Flats. 5050 X. Headset: Cane-Creek S-1. Seat Post: Orange. Seat: WTB Rocket V


Winter:Maxxis high roller XC. 2.1’s. Front / Rear. 70a. It’s taken a few runs to trust the width again but now feel the patriot, dives in quicker, is much faster rolling, no drag. Summer: Maxxis Minion 2.35 Front 60a.(single ply), Maxxis high roller 2.35 Rear 60a. (single ply) Tubes: Summer: Maxxis DH tubes Winter: Maxxis welter weight

Size M. Re-spayed Mandarin Orange by Orange Bikes.

The Original Patriot 2003.

Some are laughable, some are true and some of the downs are the reasons why I still adore single pivot. I actually like a bit of Pedal kick back, make’s me feel the bike and I are in tune together, one thing’s for sure though that Rockshox Sid Air was bloody dreadful.

Even back then the Patriot felt like someone had rolled out the red carpet down the mountain. It was well nimble in the tight techie switchback stuff and moved mentally fast through the chiselled out alpine routes.
Yep, hardtails had their advantages but I was now hooked on rear suspension and was blown away by the balance and simple pure line of the Patriot. 

A few positive remarks (Comments taken from various on-line forums)

Single pivot workhorse with nothing to go wrong, they just keep working
Aluminium Lite Beam 2 Box frame enhanced lateral pivot rigidity
Extremely strong and had a very predictable spring curve
The Patriot had it’s own style and technology
A super stiff, hand built Halifax beauty

Up’s and down’s of the original 2003 (Comments taken from various on-line forums)

I’ve read them all but these are some of the best:

Orange’s Creak
Noisy frame when stones hit
Stickers / Graphics not the best
Bad Brake-squat Thank for putting me right on the correct technical term Luc.
Every fault of single pivot design
Pedal bob
Pedal kickback
Bean Can construction
A Boutique brand

orange patriot

orange patriot

Orange’s creak and stone’s ting against the frame, brilliant!

Out on the trail with my 2010 Patriot.

I had to find a trail I could ride a hundred times to record accurate comparisons.
In other words it takes me a long time to feel how these things work and it’s obvious I’m no pro rider but just a happy enthusiast.
The main difference now than before was that I live in Southern Germany and not the Alps so I needed to find a good test trail. The locals pointed me to a flowing singletrack that twists and turns continuously for 19km. No major climbs and no major descents just a proper demanding pedalling style run to teach me how to pump the Patriot through the trail.

The trail definitely put both of us through our passes. It was something completely new for me, totally different to the years I spent in Chamonix grinding up hills in granny wheels trying every technique to prevent the back from loosing traction to dropping the seat and hanging on with white knuckles.
To be honest where I live now is perfect Orange ST-4 country so the newly put together Patriot was always going to struggle but there was a few surprises to be found with the old girl.

At the time I never realised how high the Patriots BB was. It was like sat on a barn gate for years but not realizing it until I jumped on my Orange Blood, which I guess is on the other end of the scale for BB heights.
After the Bloods Buttery smooth back end it took a little while getting back into the single pivot feeling. I started realising it would pedal through, around and over everything the Orange Blood would grind and bash its way through the same trail and I was having to think ahead to dial in every pedal stroke on the Blood. So the bottom line was that within a week on the Patriot i started to put in quicker times than the blood. My hopes the Blood was the all-rounder i was looking for had been cut down in flames and the old Patriot was back on flying form, which I’m really proud about. It also meant i could now concentrate on running the Blood solely for the purpose of gravity and to stop pretending i can make an XC bike out of it.  (click here to read further on the Blood)

Bottom line

Boom proof non-complicated single pivot frame teamed up with the plushest rear air suspension on the planet. The technology of the Fox RP23 eliminated all questionable 2003 problems leaving you to concentrate on the advantages of single pivot simplicity.

My Patriot weighs in at
Summer build 14.2kg 
winter build 13.6kg

Best component product: Hope Tech Product.


As a cool Visual Magazine test it would be great to put the 2012 Patriot up against the old 2003 Patriot as a classic head to head test. I think it would make a colourful read to show how the Orange Patriot has refined itself through the years.

But today I guess the 2003 Patriot Genetics would be better compared to as the Cousin of an Orange Five or the slack headed big brother Alpine 160 but nowhere near the new 2012 Orange Patriot. It just shows how far the Orange Patriot has come. 

Mine still creaks, but at least its an honest original Orange creak.
I’m being sarcastic in case you didnt get that, the Patriot doesn’t creak.

Thanks to 

Orange mountain bikes, The staff at Chainreactioncyles.com, Bike mailorder.de, Hope tech, Fox shocks, Rockshox, Shimano, Sunline, Mavic, Maxxis, Crank Brothers and any other product I used and forgot to mention.

Bike dreams & Dust Bikes

Gabi Olpp for showing me the HW5

Rona, Mini & Zoe for putting up with Bike frames, spare parts and dad popping out for a spin up on the HW5

Riding photos: Rona. Bike Detail photos: Me.


4 thoughts on “2003 Orange Patriot: Old Timer Test

  1. Fantastic write up – love what you’ve done with your old Patriot. That all over shockinrangepaint b fntastic. I’m trying a similar thing with my trusty 2003 Patrot except with Vanilla 36s, tubeless rims and Mono6Tis

    • Thanks for the feedback Dave. Been busy on a project for 6 months. Will be back blogging again soon as i’m now building up a 2012 orange patriot. now i can do a back to back test. Cheers.

      • Great write up Nick. But isn’t it actually a 2003 model? I’m currently hesitating over buying a cheap but knackered 2002 or a cared for 2003 Patriot, and your review reminds me of the pleasure in restoring an old dog to a thing of beauty. Might just push me towards the restoration option. Would be fascinated to see how your 2012-2002/3 back to back goes!

      • Cheers for the feedback Nick. It was bought in 2002. LT. Had a friend at the time when i was living in Chamonix who had good connections to Orange.
        I have two new blogs coming together. 2002 vs 2012. We have just up rated the the old 2002 patriot to give it a fighting chance to the new. But really no comparison.
        The other test we are doing is giving the blood also a 2nd chance. We have stripped its weight down to 13kg now and running it on next years 2013 SlX 2×10. Now it really is a lightweight trail whippet. If you are on Facebook and like the orange page you can se other peoples photo etc where we just posted the two patriots. Good luck Nick.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s