Long Termer: Orange Five Review – Part Deux

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Long-time no see for my beloved Orange Five here on Factory Jackson, but I think it’s about time I pulled my finger out and wrote up a follow up to the FactoryFive-1

France / Morzine Trip

So the beast took on France and conquered some pretty nasty stuff in and around the Morzine Portes du Soleil region – I had an awesome time and although I usually end up taking my DH bike on such trips, this year was going to be different. With the prospect of a sick trip into Europe on the cards and with some of the best riding this side of the Atlantic ahead, I knew there would be a string attached, and that was I would only be able to go if I rode the Five…

Nothing can prepare you for the views in this part of the world – simply stunning!


A familiar sight when ascending some of the high Alpine passes on the French/Swiss border.


Any hesitantcy I had was not because I thought that the bike couldn’t cope with what lay ahead, but more because everything is so damn rough out there. Nevertheless, looking back on it all I’m glad on many levels that the ‘big bike’ stayed at home, as taking the Five opened up a new realm of the Portes du Soleil region for me. This meant that a day’s ride wouldn’t be “oh a few runs here, a few runs there” like it would be on the DH’r but more of “oh I fancy a trip to Switzerland, we’ll bash out a couple of runs before dinner – then head and hunt off piste” – it was great and without a doubt, I rode way more than I would on the big bike. The whole holiday was more laid back and even the simpler runs that are just rippled out with braking bumps are different on a little bike… You find yourself searching for cheeky high lines into every turn, little gaps, hopping here and there and skipping around with a grin on your face as if to say “yeah Joe Barnes check this” – kidding of course! But joking aside, tackling the ‘big boy’ stuff that all the euro squids are just smoothing out with a 42lb tank, well, it just makes you feel pretty bad ass, not to mention the way you look at the trail.

Going over how the Five handled the holiday, to summarise it up I’d say it did well, especially as I wasn’t holding too much back and by the end of the week, I was generally attacking what was in front of me like I was on the big bike. I had one mechanical issue, which was a broken spoke in my rear wheel, due to general rock damage on a simple VTT section that was full of large, sharp and very loose rocks… I guess my front tyre picked it up and kindly passed it along to my rear wheel, which wasn’t too pleased about the whole situation…

Most people would be like “oh, a broken spoke, no biggy” – but when your tubeless with tyres that shouldn’t really be tubeless, and have no sealant with specialist spokes like DT Swiss Super Comps (they run smaller nips – 1.8mm vs standard 2mm) this meant stripping the wheel down, cutting the air tight Stan’s tape, replacing the spoke with a standard one (no one in the area had a super comp spokes) and popping a tube in because I had nothing to get everything back up without a tube… Bit of a faff and it took me a while, but I know from my own experiences that ZTR rims are awesome but easily unsettled by taking one spoke out as they need nursing and the spoke replacing ASAP.


I was hesitant to say the least, especially with a bike purpose built for the job at hand being left behind in the UK, but be that as it may, the Orange Five has done nothing more than consistently surprise me and induce severe grinning, ride after ride and I was certain that with a few minor alterations to the ‘UK set up’, I could get the Five Alp ready without too much fuss!


As I mentioned in my FactoryFive-4FactoryFive-3FactoryFive-5FactoryFive-6

Back in Yorkshire

Moving on from France, the sun and the dust, I was soon back home in Sheffield, building my bike back up and thinking about what things I would be fitting to the Five next so that it would get me through the crappy British winter… Off came the dinner plate discs and in came my standard 180/ 160mm setup, as well as my trusty Tech X2’s – other than that, all I did was swap out the relatively sluggish DH rubber to a more sultry single ply 2.35 super tacky High Roller up front and mounted a tubeless 2Bliss Specialized Purgatory on the rear. This has been an awesome combo and the tacky 42a compound up front really inspires confident in situations involving those nasty wet roots. The only other thing I have done since France is mount up the big discs and cut spikes off of my 224, for times when I wanted to ride DH but the weather was to grim to justify messing around with the tank. So that’s it for now, if you have any questions, bang ’em in the comments below and until next time, happy trails and get down your local TomKahlerFiveArticle-1TomKahlerFiveArticle-2

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