2016 Orange Segment Factory review
November 20th, 2015
Product Full Name: Orange Bikes Segment Factory
Retail Price: £4500
Available From: Orange Bikes
The unassumingly fruity trail slayer
This is the Orange Segment.
It has 29in wheels, and just 110mm of travel.
Most people that have seen us out riding it ask if it’s a Five; and many turn their noses up at the minimal travel it has. But really, this thing is faster across most terrain than you can imagine. And it’s probably a better bike for most folk too.
Check out our 2016 Orange Segment Factory review to find out why more people should be riding less travel…
Turning back the Clockwork
With the designed and made in the UK mantra, Orange Bikes have gained a loyal following over the years. The no-nonsense approach that Orange fans buy in to stems from the reason founders Lester Noble and Steve Wade started the brand in the first place.
In the mid 80’s before mountain biking really existed in the UK, windsurfing was the popular alternative sport. On days when there was no wind, early adopters would ride around on new fangled knobbly-tyred off road bikes, like those talked about in America.
At the time Lester Noble was working for sailmaker Roger Tushingham, and having been riding Muddy Fox bikes for a while set about doing their own bikes. These early bikes were called the Tushingham B52.
Before long, Roger got involved with some serious sailing projects, so Lester teamed up with friend Steve to make their own bikes. Wanting to produce a comfortable bike for riding and racing they aimed to called the brand All Range.
Say that fast out loud, and you’ll know what they did next.
Their first bike – the Clockwork – was made from Tange Infinity tubing, but later bike design largely moved to aluminium making the most of Steve’s sheet metal business, Bairstows. Incidentally, Orange Bikes was recently sold to Ashley Ball, who is Steve’s nephew and has owned and been running the Bairstows metalwork business since 2000.
Even a fleeting glance confirms the identity of an Orange. The Segment shares that classic look with the Five, Alpine and previous models all the way back to the classic Patriot from the late 90’s.
It’s part of the reason Orange have such a big following – they keep things simple, and do it well. There’s a lot to be said about a company that refine, as opposed to redesign.
Whilst some people find anything less than an injection moulded carbon fibre enduro race bike dated or bland, I find the simplicity of the Segment very pleasing. It’s an honest looking bike.
The front end uses Reynolds 6061 T6 Aluminium tubed seat tube, top tube and head tube with a monocoque down tube design. The classic looking deep section swing arm is joined by a sturdy single pivot located just forward of the chain set and inline with the chain.
Top tube and seat tube are Reynolds 6061 T6 Aluminium, and are joined to the monocoque down tube design and the iconic deep section swing arm. A 142mm Maxle keeps things in place out back.
Although the basic design has not changed much over the years, the way the frame and swing arm is constructed has been improved – saving weight, increasing strength and stiffness – and no doubt making the manufacturing process more efficient. Which is especially important as Orange full suspension bikes are still painstakingly hand made in Halifax, UK.
As with the rest of the frame, all the CNC machined parts like the head tube; shock mounts and drop outs are locally machined by their metal working partners – it’s a complete UK frame build and comes with a five year warranty.
Our test bike was the no-holds-barred Factory model, retailing for £4.5K and laden with some seriously good kit.
A Fox 34 Factory with 120mm of travel and Fox DPS Factory Kashima compliment the frame. The fork has the best damper in it yet, and the new Dual Piston System of the rear shock offers three positions from fully open to completely locked.
Excellent 27mm wide Easton Arc rims laced up on Hope Pro II Evo hubs with decent sized 200/180mm rotors and SRAM Guide RS brakes make for strong, and very stiff wheels with plenty of power to halt our size XL test bike.
Drivetrain is SRAM XO1 1×11, and uses Race Face Six C Carbon cranks with a 30tooth chain ring and an MRP chain guide to ensure you can keep cranking.
Finishing kit includes a Reverb Stealth post; SDG Bel Air II saddle and Race Face 50mm Atlas 35mm stem and 800mm Six C bar.
Out on the Trail
Although the Segment has 29in wheels and just 110mm of travel, it’s not an XC bike. The fairly slack 67.5 degree head angle is the first visual giveaway; then there’s the internal dropper post routing and high volume 2.35 Maxxis tyres. This thing might have the travel of an XC bike – but it has the stance of a hard hitting trail bike.
A lot of riders confused it for the Five when they saw me out riding it, and when I told them what it was, their reaction would always be to question why I’m riding this over the Five. What the Segment lacks in travel from the Five, it gains with bigger wheels.
They don’t mask the trail though – they just work perfectly with the suspension. Enough suspension for grip and to enhance the ride – but with the rolling momentum gained from the bigger wheels. A great double act.
The size XL Segment is a big old bike. A 1200mm wheelbase; healthy 450mm chainstay and roomy 640mm top tube put you in the ideal position. It works equally well for climbing and descending, and just fits brilliantly. It doesn’t feel geared to any one type of riding – just comfortable everywhere.
That’ll be part of the all range thing.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love 27.5in wheels and the incredible suspension performance offered by forks like the Fox 36. But bikes are getting so good now, that unless you ride them to the point of wrecking yourself you can become isolated from the terrain somewhat.
A shorter travel bike puts you in touch with the ground and lets you know when you mess things up. The simple single pivot of the Segment works admirably, but doesn’t quite offer the grip and feel certain linkage bikes can. Though not in a bad way – Orange bikes have a characteristic feel that you tune in to.
With a little time on one, it’s really hard not to like them – and you discover what they are really capable of.
Whilst the 110mm of travel gives the tyres traction and absorbs the worst hits, you don’t immediately think the Segment is anything amazing – until you open things up a little. It can take a hell of a lot more than you think. The harder you push the Segment the better it gets – it really does come to life when you give it some shit.
A passenger will return home with a mud speckled grin, but a pilot will come home pumped up with wild eyes and thorn lashings all over.
The huge bridge-less swing arm doesn’t suffer from mud clearance issues like other bikes do, but the huge Maxxis High Roller II on the 27mm Easton rim is very close to the swing arm. Close enough that on those Bikepark Wales berms where you feel your wrists will snap before you lose grip, I was buzzing the tyre on the frame. Not much, and not all the time – but it happened.
I also tried running a 2.25 Ardent which was fine – and sped the bike up. But under hard braking the rear end gets a little wild. A combination of the short travel and the single pivot suspension design means you need to adjust your braking style a touch.
Whilst half the MTB world is getting carried away with 160mm travel bikes, there are plenty of great shorter travel bikes going under the radar. Short travel bikes are so much more capable than many people realise, and to be perfectly honest – far more realistic for what most people need.
They climb a lot faster with less effort; they feel a lot faster across the ground as you feel the trail more – and they reward your input.
The Orange Segment is a really good example of what a modern mountain bike should be. It’s simple; has enough suspension to keep things under control and is a hell of a ride when you push it hard.
Will you really have a better ride on a bigger travel bike? We doubt it.
Are you an Orange Bikes fan?
Would you rather go for more travel, or less?
Let us know in the comments below…