Delicate, sexy and complicated. Three words you would never use to describe the new Orange Surge. The squat, purposeful aluminium frame, big welds and folded lines are iconically Orange, but in a market saturated with suspension acronyms, is there still a place for a single-pivot eMTB?
Simplicity sits at the heart of the Orange design, but looking deeper, the Orange Surge eMTB is anything but unsophisticated. Orange has never been a brand to try to reinvent the wheel, instead focussing on the continuous evolution of their iconic single pivot platform. As such, the 23.6 kg Orange Surge is more a revision of the current Orange Alpine 6 E eMTB, than a ground-up redesign. However, there have been some significant changes. The new headtube and downtube design feature newly formed tubing while a gusset aims to increase stiffness. The new swingarm and pivot are heavily influenced by the 327 downhill bike to help deal with the increased torque from the motor. More importantly, the shock mount has been moved for more progressive kinematics, an increase in travel from 160 to 165 mm and to accommodate a metric Rockshox Super Deluxe shock.
The geometry of the new Orange Surge
Of course, the bike is also longer and slacker, slackening the head angle by 0.5˚ to 64˚, and lengthening the chainstays to 441 mm to stretch out the wheelbase.
Specification of the new Orange Surge
Hand built in Great Britain, it’s perhaps no surprise to see the Orange Surge placing a heavy emphasis on durability and weather protection. The rear suspension features just 2 large bearings making servicing a breeze and the huge tire clearances and easy-to-clean design should minimise time spent with a hosepipe post ride. The build kit is just as ‘no-nonsense’. The Shimano M8000 motor drives a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain with 34 t chainring provides giving a 500% gear range. The 504 Wh battery sits behind a rubber sealed compartment in the downtube and can be removed without tools using just a key – good for those who like to swap batteries at lunch for longer days out. However, this design does place the charging port and power button in a suboptimal location below the downtube – the power button, in particular, is small and fiddly to find and exposed to attack from wheel spray.
Fork RockShox Lyrik RC2 27.5 (black) 170 mm
Rear shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 230×65 165 mm
Motor Shimano STEPS E8000
Battery Shimano BT-E8035 504 Wh
Drivetrain SRAM XO1 NX mix 12-speed
Brakes SRAM Guide RE 200/200 mm
Handlebar Renthal Fat Bar M35 800 mm
Stem Hope M35 35 mm
Seat post RockShox Reverb with 1x Remote 150 mm
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 3c EXO TR / DHR 2.4 EXO TR 2
Wheels Race Face Arc 30 27.5 + Hope Pro 4
However, there’s nothing wrong with the 200/200 mm SRAM Guide RE brakes and Maxxis Minon DHF/DHR II WT tires, which are both great choices. The Hope finishing kit and Hope Pro4 hubs are known for their durability and a Renthal 35 mm Fatbar finishes the hard-hitting build. We were impressed with the new, neater cable routing, taking cables tidily under the swingarm. Clearly targeted at tough trails, we were pleased to see the Shimano motor sitting behind a robust metal skid plate, and after some very big hits, the dings and scratches show that it’s a necessity.
Only the cheap feeling Shimano M6000 controller lets things down, looking and feeling very basic and out of place.
Exclusive first ride review: Orange Surge RS
When climbing, unlike many slack bikes with wandering front wheels, the central riding position and balanced 441 mm chainstays of the Orange Surge keep weight on the front wheel ensuring it tracks smoothly. The 74˚ seat tube angle may be a bit out of fashion, but on the trails, the ride position felt more central than the numbers would suggest. In fact, the Orange Surge can scramble up crazily steep slopes, where the high levels of anti-squat from the suspension system and balanced ride position helps the Maxxis Minion DHR II rear tire to claw into the ground like Wolverine. On the descents, the Orange Surge is a beast too, thundering through hard terrain with effortless composure. The frame feels stiff and powerful, without any unwanted flex or creaking and cable chatter and drivetrain noise are very well controlled, only the loud hum of the motor breaks the silence. While longer and slacker than the Orange Alpine 6 E, nothing feels extreme or imbalanced. Instead, the Surge feels confident and maintains that fun and characterful ride that has gained Orange such a cult following.
While on the surface deceptively simple, Orange has spent decades refining their single-pivot design and it shows. The low centre of gravity and additional weight of the motor play well to the suspension’s strengths and the long swingarm is controlled well by the Rockshox Super Deluxe shock. Indeed, the high levels of anti-rise under braking that can be seen as a disadvantage on Orange’s unmotorised bikes is less pronounced with the additional weight of the battery and motor, improving traction under hard braking. The more progressive leverage curve gives more support, allowing good riders to play with the bike in the air and providing more predictability for less-experienced riders.
When the trails point downwards, the Orange Surge’s balance and composure provide effortless speed, but it’s a bike best suited to the hands of a strong rider.
However, the Orange Surge is really an eMTB that will be best suited to strong riders with advanced skills. The longer front centre and aggressive angles mean you need to use more strength and technique to push the front through turns on descents. Weak or nervous riders will likely find the slack angles a handful. The geometry pitches the Orange Surge at a target market of ‘enthusiast’ riders. Gentle cruises and long easy tours will bore this bike, it really needs to be fed a regular diet of steep technical terrain.
Sometimes less is more, and the Orange Surge is perfect for high-octane fun. In the hands of a strong rider, the Orange Surge rewards with extremely capable climbing ability and brutally effective performance on technical descents. However, weaker riders will find it a bit of a handful. To describe the Orange Surge in three words: simple, tough, effective.
- Super confident handling
- Simple but highly effective suspension
- Specification suits bikes intended purpose
- Minimal maintenance required
- 504 Wh is usually sufficient, but other bikes now have more capacity
- In-house construction adds cost
- Rear quick-release worked loose
For more information head to Orange bikes.com
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Words: Photos: Finlay Anderson