The Stage Evo - By far one of the best bikes Orange has produced!
Working at Big Bear Bikes comes with some perks, one of which is access to the occasional demo bike. In this case I got to borrow an Orange Stage Evo for a week and it certainly made an impression.
Orange have been in the bike business since 1988 and are ubiquitous with the UK mountain bike scene. They have produced some classic bikes over the years from the Clockwork through to the ever present Five.
Hand built in Halifax the Stage features 130mm front and 120mm travel at rear. Orange have over the years been criticised for their constant use of the single pivot (they have produced multi linkage bikes before, see the ST4). This deceptively simple looking swingarm belies the years of evolution and design that has gone into ensuring the Stage uses every millimetre of the travel efficiently while still keeping that classic Orange pop.
The Stage has an increased pivot height which has generated more anti-squat, combined with the slightly recessed shock mount, the nose of the shock sits a little lower increasing progression. All this adds up to mean that despite the relatively short travel, the Evo doesn't blast through it all when things get rough. This combined with a 65 degree head angle means this bike is plenty capable of taking whatever you throw at it.
The 76 degree (effective) seat angle means the Stage is as good at climbing as descending. Now you won't be drag racing any XC race machines up a climb, however the Stage will see off climbs and fire road drags with ease and comfort. Point the bike downhill and the long wheelbase (1240 on the large I was riding) and slack head angle come into play.
This bike is so stable and calm with the big wheels, it does mean you find yourself approaching trail features a lot quicker than you expect, thankfully the Hope brakes are there to slow the rapid progress with their assured power and modulation.
Despite its length the Evo is quick and easy to turn and has a lovely light responsive feel to it. It eats up flowly sections of trail and really brings a smile to your face with how rapid it is. Even in tight twisty technical terrain you rarely struggle to get the Evo around. It pedals with ease and is a pleasure to ride even at slow speeds as I did recently riding with my daughter.
The Stage Evo is by far one of the best bikes Orange have produced. I've ridden a lot of Orange bikes over the years and they have all been good bikes that excelled in areas, however very few have ticked all the boxes quite like the Evo has.
The model I rode was the launch edition which is no longer available, the RS spec (with a Hope brake upgrade option) would be the closest to it.
The Evo is available starting with Pro at £4,500, RS spec at £5,500, Factory at £6,300, all the way up to the top spec Xtr Evo at £6,500 with various colours and upgrade options in between.
Summers round the corner, so if I don’t see you in store, hopefully we will all be out on the trails together again soon.
Richard Smith is a senior bike mechanic at Big Bear Bikes in Pickering – pop in and chat to Richard about his experience and explore the full Orange range.
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