|Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
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This is an interesting frame. Orange incorporated the one point five head tube into this frame only for 2003. They keep the weight down by using a hydro form style front triangle and rear swing arm. Shock options vary from FOX, Manitou, or Progressive. The flat black powder coat paint job looks mean and the cable routing is well thought out. The rear brake and shifter cables run straight through the swing arm. As the suspension travels, the lines slide freely through guides on the main frame. O rings wrapped around the cables keep dirt out of the swing. 135mm spacing and quick release drop outs keep things simple.
How much does it cost? Who knows? Does anyone pay retail for anything these days? Go see your local dealer. (By the way, DOWN CYCLES is an Orange dealer). That’s why they call them “dealers”. It will cost you over $1500 and under $2000 for the frame only. You can build a complete for around $3000-$5000. The price is right in there with the competition.
Why did I build this type of bike? The answer is simply, for you. I need to experience “one point five” for myself in order to recommend it for customers. This is also my first 5th element rear shock. By owning one myself, I can better recommend specific shock settings. I’m sure the factory static settings work well for most riders, but small adjustments will certainly help smooth out the ride. I need to become more familiar with this shock first hand.
The 15” frame I chose is the most popular size according to Dave at Orange Mountain Bikes. The frame has a longish top tube at 22”. They recommend a 50mm stem for someone 5’ 7”-5’10”. I originally installed an FSA 1.5, 60mm, figuring a 50mm would be too short for the climbs. The 60 worked well for everything but the steepest rolls. By the way, the FSA stem is beautifully made and is also very light for a DH style stem. I then tested a 50mm as recommended. The 50mm works much better for “free ride”. This time I tested the FUNN DH stem with their 31.8 handlebar. This unique stem is super stiff, drop dead gorgeous, but slightly heavier than the FSA. FUNN includes a neat spacer that must be used under their stem. This set up worked great after cutting more than an inch off the bars. Ride these bars stock and die. They measure at 30” across. Most bars that wide would bend in one day. The FUNN’s hardly even flexed. They are so stiff it hurts.
Orange must measure its frame size from the center of the Bottom Bracket to the top of the top tube. The frame actually measure out to 16” to the top of the seat clamp. The chain stays are a hair over 16.5”. That’s right 16.5”, a dream come true. Finally, a big hit bike with shorter stays! Strangely enough, the bike is not so easy to manual. This must have something to do with the main pivot location, slightly higher and more forward than most single pivot bikes. Don’t get me wrong, the bike manuals, but not as easy as expected. The balancing point is a tad further back. Wheelies are a cinch. This may be the best bike I’ve ever owned for wheelies.
Head angle, wheel base bottom bracket height, bla bla bla, all depends on you choice of fork. Sit on the bike and it just feels right. Pedal it and you will feel stability. I feel absolutely no pedal feedback! How can that be? I guess Orange just got it right. What’s that? No floating rear disc brake mount. God forbid. Will you even be able to ride with out one? After riding with a floater for years, I wondered this myself. I found that I actually miss “brake jack”, contrary to every test I’ve ever read on the subject! I found I can actually use brake jack to my advantage! I dusted off the old pre floater skills and noticed jack is my friend. He’s back and he is fast. Timing is everything, tap the rear brake in the bumps, send that rear a flyin and drop it into the turn. Bang, you’re gone. This technique requires concentration and skill. The only way to pull of this move is by using a tremendous amount of speed.
The progressive shock brings the bike to life. Bob is nobody’s friend and the Orange has none of it. The 5th element is a necessary upgrade for single pivots. The stock spring is 525lb. I feel this is too stiff for a 160lb rider. I’m still using the stock spring with no preload and only 100lbs of air pressure. I fully opened up the beginning stroke and ending stroke compression. It is normal to bottom out your bike. If you never bottom out, then your suspension is too stiff and you’re not using all your travel.
Two problems with the bike. One can be rectified the other is a lost cause. Problem number one: The rear suspension works much better than the one point five Sherman. That is a bold statement since the Sherman blows away every single crown fork on the market, (except for the prototype 6” travel Marzocchi). The rear suspension is just that good. I tried the stiffer springs in the Sherman. Drop off a 10’ cliff with 6” up front. You will get a headache. The solution to this problem, install a 1 1/8” DH fork. Cane Creek makes a special headset for this type of application. So what is the point of “one point five”? Purchase the bearing race kits from Cane Creek and swap your DH fork with the Sherman for lighter duty rides. The Orange climbs very well. Install a double chain ring and ride all day.
Problem number two: This bike sounds like a train wreck. It is just plain noisy. My bike is so noisy it scares off the mosquitos. Animals scatter and your riding buddies will hide under a desk. It’s like the end of the world. This “noise” is just normal noises every bike makes, amplified by ten. The hydro form design is the culprit. Solution, your guess is as good as mine. Be courteous and charge the section before your friends get there or just ride smooth.
Who should own a Patriot 7+? The bike is for DH. Maybe the prototype 7” Sherman would balance the ride. The frame design is light for a DH or free ride and ultra stiff thanks to the box style down tube. The swing arm has almost no hint of flex. It performs better than other single pivot and multi pivot bikes on the market, but will it last? I’ve heard only good things about Orange bikes durability. Only time will tell.
Get one if you want to be different. This is an aggressive bike, maybe too aggressive for some people. Race it into a salt mine, hit a 60’ snow board jump, or take it to the dirt jumps. Get one if you’re a Peaty wanabe. The bike is pure quality. You will not be disappointed. Mountain Creek, reopening day, it’s been too long. See you out on the mountain.
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