It’s not easy finding magazine reviews on the Orange Blood, It’s even harder finding long term tests, because of this i thought i would contribute my own words on the Blood as its true that rider reviews are few and far between on this bike.
The accompanying paragraph Orange mustard up to explain their bike the Blood was nearly as mind blowing as the Blood itself. “A tight handling trail whippet which performs beyond its image”. Don’t read between the lines on Orange’s accurate description. It was all in the sentence. Click here for the Orange bikes account on the Blood. Its a long post so get comfy.
Blood on the trail:
I havn’t got the space or time to write massive amounts on all the locations we went on for this post. Yes this post is about the bike but without mentioning the locations & trails i feel it would have left the post in my eyes a little flat and two dimensional. So, I’m adding in a bit of descriptive background info to help paint a better picture of what we got up to and where.
Chamonix Valley. France
Molini di Triora. Italy
Finale Ligure and Calizzano. Italy
Livigno Bike Park. Italy
Albstadt Bikepark. Germany
Bad Wildbad. Germany
Martinsberg. Rottenberg am Neckar. Germany.
Schönbuch. HW5. Germany.
Chamonix Valley. France
I’ve ticked off many a trails in the Chamonix Valley over the 7 summers and as time went by the trails got bigger and more demanding. Some trails stand out more than others and the ride below was one of the crew’s valley secret favorite.
The epic starts at Charamillon Mid station Le Tour. From here it takes the climbing winter cat-track up to the Col de Balme Refuge hut and then onto the winding trail around the left side of the Tete de Balme before veering off right to Switzerland on the high traverse which eventually drops down into the village of Trient in Switzerland.
I have no worries keeping this entwined trail a secret as the correct path dropping to Trient is hard to find and when your in you have to be committed to ride it to the bottom, its tough riding, a natural alpine vertical trail to chomp through, A steep technical descent that will keep you hard pressed till the very bottom.
From here it’s a spin over the Swiss / French boarder back via the Col de Montet and arriving back at my cabin in Trelechamp for a cup of tea rounding off a 3.30hr epic.
It’s worth mentioning the Mid station Charamillon spin down the Col des Posettes switch back or onto the techie switch back ridge entering out onto my old garden in Trelechamp is Orange Blood country.
Molini di Triora, Italy
Nestled in the region of Liguria behind Sanremo,15km off the Alpes- Maritimes French /Italian boarder lies one of the best kept natural freeride spots in Europe Molini di Triora. It’s an under-developed, pure biking Mecca with friendly locals and an uplift service that puts neighbouring Finale to shame.
Sadly no campsite was found so a spot of low key roadside camping was in order. Not many places left in Europe where the Police wave every morning past our foreign plate campers with bikes and kit chained to them.
Thanks to our guide Ray who in his former life must have been French resistance as he knew every goat track in the area and Mark at www.molinifreeride.com It will be an annual visit for years to come. Also have to say thanks to Dirt magazine for the excellent issue on Molini.
Morning warm up sessions was a quick pedal up the road to Corte Molini to hit this years Super Enduro circuit. I’ve listed a few of the runs we rode below. Web search them and you will find plenty of them made into mini movies.
Fantasy (red), Fantasy2 (blue), Berlinda 1, 2 (black), Caravan 1 (blue), Caravan 2 (Black), Agrifolia (Black), Terre Rosse (Black)
Magic Roundabout (red) and it continues……. to the double black runs of Oranges, Face Plant, Peos Run…an on and on.
Then it was onto.
Finale Ligure and Calizzano, Italy
Morning sessions on the Finale Ligure Super Enduro 24hr race track then into late afternoon map reading and pining the famous singletrack routes and trails in the area. Hot and sandy and only May.
The terrain is massive and the riding is endless but the one to write about was the 616 Ticket to Ride. Was marked as a red route 47km. We easily pushed this to a 60km ride with some extra loops we added to the route. Some massive all mountain runs in a remote spectacular setting. Click here for route detail. Bloody freezing, snow at lake level, visibility poor to say the least. Proper alpine conditions. GPS Map details
Livigno Bike Park, Italy
Hans ‘No Way’ Rey mountain bike legend, freeride pioneer and testimonial for Livigno designed & crafted this endless flowing bike park. Not only was it amazing time out from the natural terrain I’m use to but it added another side to mountain biking i was keen to experience and the blood was the core to modernize my bike skills. Click here for bikepark details
The Blood and I clicked, bonded or what ever else you wanna call it when you & your bike unite.
After the Lenzerheide & Livingno trip it was inevitable the bike and i wanted a coil shock. Read in results below on why.
Thanks to Gabi & Tobi for a good trip.
Albstadt Bikepark, Germany
Became my weekend homeruns this year.
Nordschleife, The mini DH, Castle Trail run.
Stoney, Rock gardens, Tree roots, Berms, Jumps, Drop offs, Pumps, Rollers set in a continuously damp environment at times and other times muddy as hell. Generally hard going for me in the beginning but i stuck with it. The Blood lapped it up, it wanted more and more. This is where the Blood wanted to be. I made the mistake of reading between the lines on Orange’s text and thought it could be tamed for XC….Why ever i wanted that.
Albstadt was perfect for the repetitive training i needed. 20 laps a Saturday riding out this heavy, stoney & muddy terrain.
Martinsberg home trail, Germany
We put together a great mixed singletrack, spinning cat track routes with including various figure of 8 loops which could be added to the route depending on the mood from steep ridge runs to continuous slashing switch backs and hard pressing rock gardens.
Route times 1-3hrs.
HW5 Schönbuch, Germany
Loops can vary from 18-60km runs. Would’nt put them down as to technically demanding but to keep up with the Local Haico race team on this natural terrain is a new experience to say the least. Fuck they’re fast. – Singletrack Flattish Endurance spin session is sadly not the country for the blood to excel on. An Orange ST-4 would be blisteringly fast on these sprint run.
2010 Orange Blood. 15 inch frame. Polished, Maxle Swingarm.
Wheel set. Hubs: Hope Pro 2 Green. Rims: Mavic EX721. Spokes: DT swiss Competition S/S Black. Rear Cassette: Saint/SLX 9 Speed HG80 11-28
Suspension. Front: 2010 Fox Float 160mm RC2 FIT 20QR. Rear: 2010 Fox RP23. 2011 changed. Fox Van RC 190x50mm.
Brakes. Front: Hope M4 Green. Rear: Hope M4. Disks: Hope saw disk rotors. 203mm Front, 183mm Rear Green.Mounts: mount adaptor Green
Drive Train. R Mech: Shimano Saint. Chainset: Shimano Saint Single. 36T 170 mm. crank arms. Chainguard: 2010 Gamut P40. 2011 Sunline V1 Travel guide. Shifter: Shimano Saint. Chain: Shimano HG93
Control. Bars: 2010 Sunline V1. 711’s,19mm riser. 2011. V1. 745mm 19mm riser. Grips: Sunline lock-on. Stem: Sunline V1 DH. Pedals: Sunline V1 platforms. Headset: Hope Conventional. Seat post: Sunline V1. Seat clamp: Hope. Seat: SDG Bel air
Tires. Front: Maxxis minions 2.35 (2.5 2011) 42a. Dual Ply. Rear: Maxxis minion 2.35 (2.5 2011) 42a. Dual ply. Tubes: Maxxis DH tubes.
Click here Bloods Geometry specs. (Orange mountain bikes website)
For me It’s not only years of fine tuning, perfecting geometries, stunning weld details and legendary metal folds that makes an Orange what it is but the legacy of what they have already achieved and left behind that still comes through strong in their models still to come. They are wonderful raw pieces of engineering that have come from totally different approach than that of the mass bikes market and the Blood is another true example of this. A smooth as silk rear progressive suspension offering quality over quantity and simply just getting on with the job in classic Orange fashion without being loud and making a song and dance about how bloody efficient it really is.
You dont configure a front end like that to be opting for a 140mm build.
I should have known that a bullet proof welded up slack head angle like that and a bottom bracket just high enough not to be dragging on the floor was never gonna allow me to be contempt using it for XC .
The Bloods stunning weld details.
I didn’t purchase the Blood new hence the full Hope Team Rider Green componentry and the raw aluminum polished frame. Stunning aint she!
Few changes through the year. Bars went wider from 711 to 745. I always felt my hands were right on the edge of the 711’s. Individual alterations to fine tune the comfort of the ride.
On a few trips away i ran a Shimano SLX triple crank up front with an XT front mech. It ran smoother than the single. Read Results.
XC Spinning sessions i would swap for single ply Maxxis High Rollers and a lighter inner tube. This would just help the bike roll a little better even though this bike was never set up for XC trails or trail centers with its 36T single ring up front.
Saying that the original owner would pedal all day on a 36T single.
The Hope Tech M4 set up is faultless. Brake reach easy to adjust and set. Endless power and never any fade from the twin pot calipers.
Calipers are slot adjustable to the mounts offering plenty of caliper to floating disk alignment. Build quality 10/10.
I did have a few issues but it wasn’t the brakes fault. Read Results below.
The Fox Float 160mm RC2 FIT 20QR were made for this bike. Individually the frame and forks are both impressive. United they are amazingly balanced, smooth, seamless for a perfectly weighted front end.
Fox Van RC 190 x 50mm
No quarrels what so ever with the front end, I melted into the front straight away. Like my notes early quoted I found the Fox 160mm forks integrated perfectly into the old Bloods burly head angle and anything less we would have all frowned upon.
The 2010 model also had a 66º head angle that was slightly slacker than the head angle of 67º on the 2011 model, which also offered 140mm Fox 32’s and a triple that many reviews suggested “This does not suit it at all”.
Perhaps it was just a tamed model aimed at the groomed trail centres and offered a slightly less aggressive model for being able to spend longer time in the saddle.
So, Geometry dimensions for me were spot on. I followed the trend recommendation and went for the 15 inch frame. I’m 5ft10 (178cm) and 11 stone (70kg) everything felt comfortable like Oranges always do.
With the saddle set high never did the short DH stem, Wide bars and flat pedals moan about climbing. No reach over problems, No back, Wrist or Neck aches. All seemed at first a bit “Normal”.
Calling the bike schizophrenic may sounds a bit harsh as that’s the last thing I’m trying to say, but when you drop the seat from high position All mountain XC mode into “Going Down” mode it breaks out of being a well behaved and actually somewhat boring stiff ride into a fuckin hooligan. Sorry like, there was no other way I could explain it. It comes as bit of a shock and totally out of character to what you would expect after you have just been climbing with it for half an hour.
More cable routing than you can shake at stick at and little fixing points everywhere to keep cables and brake lines tight and well managed to the frame. Well that seemed to be the idea anyway. Sadly under the top tube we had to clip away all the cable ties holding the lines tight in place. The Reason. The ROCKR-Link under compression would kink the lines. During the year the rear mech cable wore the plastic outer sheet to the metal.
Ok so not a major problem. The big problem was the brake line kinking whilst the link was under compression. The rear Hope brake would go from seriously powerful to weak sponge depending on the shocks compression.
To over come this problem we firstly attempted to keep the line fixed tight with cable ties and add a splint where it was kinking. Not pretty but it worked for a while. Eventually the kink wore through. Next attempt seems to be working. We had to add a hoop in the the brake line. Now when the suspension is under its maximum compression it will use the excess hoop length and prevents the kink and keeps the fluid at a similar pressure. Its not pretty but it works.
The backend on the other hand was a chore to work out.
Picking the bike up it feels rear heavy and over built but once into the ride it feels short, responsive and makes light work out of big problems. It really is snappy and keeps up with the big boys like the magazines say.
I felt the rear Fox RP23 was continuously shooting through its suspension curve. We played around with what was voted the best rear shock on the planet for freaking months and never got it set right. I ran the Fox RP23 constantly with ProPedal keeping it lively but consistently tight. Clicking it off ProPedal and the shock became way to soft, would fall through its suspension curves and sag would drop 50% after long session. Obvious signs of something wrong!
Like other Forum reviews i read the Fox RP23 from the beginning had this Sucking and Squelch sound under compression.
On one big mountain ride we dropped into an hour rutted stony old mountain sheep path, with still half the vertical to ride the vibration and shock going through the frame became unbearable and almost impossible to keep the thing in a straight line. The rear shock had completely emptied its air chamber. After correctly pressurising the chamber it was mind blowing the difference of how buttery smooth the progressive linkage was and the fault was obviously coming from the shock.
Two positive things came out that moment. The RP23 was the problem and this bike needed a coil shock.
Of coarse I would have loved a CCDB but there was a price tag. If the bike had been a single pivot I would have waited for a CCDB. Anyway the UK Company TF Tuning offered me a great price on a tuned Fox RC Van. There’s nothing more to say.
It completely changed the bike overnight. Today it never shoots through its travel and feels like the rear progressive suspension is balanced to the front 160mm Fox Floats. It’s now easier to feel the stiffness of the rear swing, if it wasn’t stiff enough it’s held there with maxle axle. Its how invisible the rear end feels which impressed me most after spending so much time riding single pivots (which i still love)
Today the bike is purely in the park and I really cant envision changing the Bloods build for any other purpose.
Maxle axles & Drive Trains:
Apparently maxle axles transfers more force through to the swing arm & rear mech hangers. Makes perfect sense with the Blood as the maxle axle passes through the hanger.
Of Course these things (mech hangers) go at the best times. 20 minutes into a run off the 2865m Lenzerheide peak shear force popped the hangers screws out of the frame. Luckily in my emergency tin i carried spares. 2 days later at Livingno Bikepark in did it again. This time it took the rear mech / chain completely away from the back wheel. No one seems to know why this happens. Some mention maxle axles others mentioned the rear saint mech.
I contacted Orange and the hanger was replaced (free of charge) and delivered in one day to Germany. Quality follow-up customer service I have to say.
Maybe it was just a faulty part, who knows. Since the new one’s fitted, loc-tightened in it hasn’t budged after many sessions in the park.
When in Finale I ran a SLX triple crank, XT rear mech, XT front mech and XT Shifters. The set-up was slick and never dropped on me one. Ok, Obviously not as tight as the Saint set up and at times you cant help thinking ouch when you hear the big ring catching and bashing through a narrow unavoidable rock section.
However I have endless on going problem with the Saint crank, Saint rear mech & Shifter with chainsuck/derailment. When In the park it refuses to keep the chain on the ring for a full day. I had inspected the chain ring for signs of impacted teeth or bent and lubrication was good.
Firstly was a Gamut P20 bash ring & chain guide, then onto a Sunline and now onto an E thirteen and 32T sixpack racing chain ring. This is an on going component issue and will take time to find the perfect set up.
Singletrackworld Forum mini review: Click here
Dirt Magazine review: Click here
MTB review: Click here
I’ve been a big fan of Orange bikes since back in the day of 1995 when I first set my eyes on the Clockwork Orange but unless your UK based its not an easy task to get to try one out and be hooked, so I guess I feel lucky I ride Orange without having to return to the UK to test and buy.
In Germany the guys ask. Nick, why do you always ride Orange Bikes, is it because they’re British?
Nope. It’s firstly because Orange Bikes fit me like a glove, secondly they have a “Philosophy” I believe in and thirdly they’re simply beautiful. There’s not one uncomfortable line, angle, detail to overcome with an Orange. From the moment you put your leg over the saddle you realise nothing feels foreign and everything feels familiar.
I personally love the fact orange stick with their design principle and don’t follow the trend of hydra forming all of the parts so they can throw out as many bikes as possible as quick as they can from some giant factory in Taiwan.
I stand by Oranges Philosophy and can relate to a company keeping production local and a product that comes from under one roof and helps support local employment and a prides itself on its products competing against the big players out in the world.
It was a sad moment when I checked in on the Orange website and sore they dropped the Blood without a mention. Gob smacked I wrote on Oranges facebook wall. It was a warming reply. It went something like;
It wasn’t axed. Its blood line keeps going and flows into what is today a XC single track winner the ST4 and you can be sure that wasn’t the end of linkage and Orange progressive suspension days. There’s plenty more to come from the Strange developers and if you’re lucky enough to own a Blood you have a very special bike.
Orange must have had good reasons to halt production of the Blood. Who knows. Maybe it was not as favourable as other models and fell short on its production quota. Orange had their 160mm travel market well covered with the successful Alpine 160 and Five AM.
Is this why in 2011 the Blood was made available in the 140mm travel market which seemed strange to down grade this burly frame but where else could it fit in as the 180mm Patriot was reborn and slotted in its place one step higher.
I just don’t think that this is a bike you can categories and file away into your 120, 140, 160, 180, 200mm allocated, selected and available draw space.
The Blood stood alone. It refused to be stereotyped into some draw, after all It rewrote the book on what a 127mm suspension should be allowed to do.
So instead it sat around on top of a cupboard for a while until the new Blood line ST-4 was born. Look how the reviews came flooding in. Another award winning Orange because it could get easily categorised. It is good to see the knowledge of the Blood line flowing into the ST-4 but sad all the same this world has no space for free spirits to wonder.
The Blood was a natural born all-round athlete. Just like a school report would write; It struggled to differentiate the boarders between the playground and classroom. It’s personality was that of a handsome educated rogue with plenty of charm.
So to all you Blood owners out there, we all own a part of proud Orange Bike History.