Being one of the most experienced mechanics in the Tweed Valley, our mechanic Nic has seen industry trends come and go and has worked on almost any brand you’d care to mention. Over the last 33 years of riding, one brand stands out amongst Nic’s bike collection, Orange. With such a plethora of knowledge and experience working on, and riding, such a wide variety of bikes, what is it that keeps bringing Nic back to Orange?
We sat down for a chat with the man himself to get his take on the iconic Halifax brand.
TVB - Ok, let’s start with the big one. What is it that keeps drawing you back to Orange?
NJ - A few things really. First and foremost the ride, Orange bikes have always ridden incredibly well and that’s been the main draw for me. The feel of a single pivot keeps me excited to ride my bike. The pop and surge of speed you get when you nail a corner can’t be replicated on any other bike, in my opinion. They’ve always been a brand to focus on the geometry of a bike. The latest generation of Orange’s are testament to how much of a difference this makes to the ride of a bike. They’re all so capable and ride with more confidence than the travel numbers would suggest.
A very close second has to be the ease of maintenance and reliability of the bikes. I spend my working week working on other peoples bikes and keeping them running smoothly. When I’m in my own time I want a bike that just works. The riding around here is tough on bikes so having something that I can rely on year round is fantastic. The quality of workmanship on the frames means the frame bearings get a long life, and when they do need changed it’s a very simple job.
From a personal point of view, I’ve always been a fan of the way Orange have operated themselves as a brand. The constant evolution of their designs over the years, implementing manufacturing techniques not seen anywhere else in the bike industry, they’re a brand who aren’t afraid to do things their own way if they believe it’s better and I’m a fan of that.
TVB - Can you give us a run through of your Oranges through the years?
NJ - So it all started in 1992 with an Orange Prestige, a bike I actually still have. I used that to race XC on back in the days before disc brakes and functioning suspension. The NEMBA races I entered on the Prestige were actually organised by Michael Bonney, who went on to become the Managing Director of Orange Bikes.
Besides the Prestige it’s been a flurry of Fives, a couple of Alpine 5s, including the Strange prototype that would later become the first 29er Orange, and an ST4. Most recently I’ve had a 2019 Five which I mulleted and loved, this led me down the path towards my current ride, the Switch 6.
TVB - Why did you choose the Switch 6?
NJ - I chose the Switch 6 based on the style of trails we have in the Tweed Valley; steep and technical with a few sharp turns thrown in, the mixed wheel setup is a great choice for this style of trail. I also don’t have the longest legs, so the smaller rear wheel gives me a bit more room to move around on the bike.
The geometry of the bike is pretty much spot on for the type of riding I tend to do. Winching up fireroad climbs is comfy because the Switch has a steep seat tube angle. Point it down and the slack and long geometry makes the bike very confidence inspiring to ride.
My previous bike before the Switch was a Five which I fitted a 29” fork and front wheel to. The bike was a blast to ride, but the high front end created by the bigger fork made for a compromised seated pedalling position and the head angle ended up incredibly slack, probably too slack. When I heard about the Switch 6 coming out I was on board straight away.
I’ve built the bike up to be as capable a descender as possible, no lightweight components here. The Tweed Valley is tough on bikes so I wanted to create something I didn’t need to worry about after a winter's worth of riding.
Nic’s Switch 6 uses a parts list carefully curated by the man himself to maximise the ride quality and longevity of the bike.
Frame: Orange Switch 6 size Medium
Fork: Fox Factory 36 160mm
Shock: Fox Factory Float X2
Wheelset: Hope Fortus 26mm wide
Tyres: Vittoria Mazza Enduro
Brakes: Shimano XT 4 piston
Drivetrain: SRAM Eagle X01
Bar: OneUp Carbon Handlebar 20mm rise 780mm wide
Stem: OneUp Stem 50mm
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb AXS 150mm
Saddle: WTB Silverado
Grips: Ergon GFR1
If Nic’s Switch 6 has got you mixed wheel curious, or wanting to feel that single pivot zing for yourself, pop into our shop in Innerleithen to see current Orange stock or organise a demo.