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Up next is the Orange Stage 6.
Orange hasn’t reinvented the wheel with each iteration of bikes they’ve released. Instead, they’ve stuck to their guns and have used each bike as a stepping stone to refine their tried and tested single pivot layout. It's about as simple as it gets, aside from a hardtail, with only two bearings to maintain. But low tech doesn't mean low performance - let's dig into the numbers and see how the Orange stacks up.
Stage 6 Analysis Details
Travel Rear: 146mm
Travel Front: 160mm
Wheel Size: 29
Frame Size: L
COM Height: 1150mm
Chainring Size: 30T
Cassette Cog Sizes: 50T, 24T and 10T
The Stage 6 has 0.6% progression with an average ratio of 2.56 – that's as linear as it gets. Air shocks are going to help a bunch here, to provide some ramp up support and also some help in the mid stroke portion of travel. Some newer generation air shocks have bigger bottom out bumpers in them, providing a nice bit of “mechanical” ramp in the shock, which is going to help with the lack of ramp in the leverage ratio. Coil shocks will likely be far too linear overall in conjunction with the leverage ratio, unless you mount one with a good progressive damping nature and perhaps some control over the bottom out forces.
The average ratio, which in this case is basically the ratio at any travel point, is slightly lower than some of the other bikes in the enduro segment. In theory this would help balance out the spring vs damping amounts, but seeing as it’s likely to be over sprung, the spring forces will take precedence and you'd likely need some damping intervention to help control the bike with this linearity.
However, the leverage ratio has minimal deviation, which should translate to buckets of predictability on the trail. Granted, some of that might be being able to predict you need to brace your ankles for impact every now and again. But the leverage ratio doesn’t have to repeatedly climb and descend any roller coaster business in the curve, which would introduce uncertainty and second guessing what the bike is going to do given a certain situation.
Due to this linear leverage ratio, and the likely use of more spring than normal, the bike should not get hung up too much on each impact like an overly progressive bike. This should in turn translate to the bike carrying speed quite well.
Contrary to popular belief, the Orange Stage 6 shouldn't pedal like a sack of potatoes. In all gears the values are above 100%, and there’s even enough anti-squat to counteract the cyclical mass of your legs spinning.
This is probably easy to see, as the main pivot is a good chunk above the chain line. So, in addition to the natural anti-squat that the suspension system has, the chain is going to add valuable anti-squat to the overall equation by pulling the rear wheel down and extending the suspension.
In combination with the leverage ratio, there might be some bogging down when pedalling in chunkier terrain. The level of anti-squat is going to do a good job of keeping the mass of the rider supported when climbing, but if you were to encounter a bump while pedalling, you’ll fall into the same ease of using travel problem as described in the leverage ratio segment. Climb switches will help this, as they’re going to directly resist the shock's compression with the bump impact, but it will up the amount of impact force sent through to the rider.
When changing into the harder gears the anti-squat increases. So, situations that happen out of the saddle, likely sprinting, will be met with really good support from the bike. In fact, sprinting in the harder gears is going to result in force put back to extending the suspension, and probably help traction by forcing the rear contact patch into the ground. It should give a quite spritely and “on the chain” feel of pedalling in these scenarios. But as you get to the 10T cog the anti-squat is quite high and may cause some adverse suspension extension when pushing really damn hard on the pedals.
The amount of anti-rise is quite a bit higher that the other bikes in this segment, touching 94% at the start of travel and not dropping below 74%. This is due to the main pivot height being slowly pushed up and up throughout the years of Orange bikes, and so, increasing the anti-rise values.
These higher figures should provide more mechanical resistance to the mass transfer encountered while braking, and compress the suspension to act against it. This suspension compression squats the bike down in an effort to keep the riders center of mass in a static position. Compressing the suspension is also going to put the bike further into the leverage ratio and spring curves, where the spring forces are higher, and so the rear contact patch will send back more information to the rider about what’s going on. This can make the bike feel "harsher" than a bike with lower anti-rise figures, but on the flip side it can also make it easier to tell what the back end is doing versus a bike with lower anti-rise numbers. The linear leverage ratio is going to help this somewhat, as it will be a bit easier for the suspension to compress from bump impacts while braking.
The curve is, like all others, extremely constant in its change, throwing up no surprises and sudden drops or gains in support while going through the travel.
One trait of having bigger wheels is the increase in axle height. If the main pivot, or IC, doesn’t follow this increase in axle height then the axle path is going to suffer with a more forwards trajectory. Orange's increase in main pivot height has helped the bike in more areas than just the anti-squat and anti-rise, as the axle path is more rearward than in previous models.
While comparing axle paths is interesting, I still maintain that unless you go really rearward, the other combinations of anti-rise, anti-squat, leverage ratio and shock rate are going to have a bigger perceivable effect on how the bike rides. We'll be analysing some true high pivot bikes later in the series to show the benefits, necessary actions and drawbacks of going down that road.
A big thank you to Lucy and Phil at Bike Verbier in Verbier, Switzerland for letting me loose with a measuring tape on one of their bikes.Previous Behind the Numbers Articles:GT Force Suspension AnalysisMarin Mount Vision Suspension AnalysisStumpjumper EVO Suspension AnalysisIntroducing Behind the Numbers - A New Suspension Analysis Series