Big news at Biketart. We have a new bike brand coming on board. They are British. They hail from Yorkshire. They’ve been around since the dawn of MTB time. That’s right folks..Orange bikes are coming to Biketart. Time to let you know a bit about their history and development. Because that sort of thing’s important, right?

It all begins with wind surfing. Yep, that’s right, windsurfing. Keen outdoor sports guy and windsurf company owner, Roger Tushingham acquired, in 1986, a Muddy Fox Courier Comp (affectionately known as ‘Blanche’ and still on display in a shop up in Yorkshire) to try out this new fangled sport of ‘mountain biking’ that he had heard about. He liked it. Tushingham got chatting to staff member and fellow windsurfer (former European windsurf champion) Lester Noble about the idea of Tushingham getting some bikes put together to appeal to the growing number of adventure sports people who were getting into the sport. Muddy Fox were selling mostly to urban riders and Noble reckoned they could pick up on the outdoor market that he felt was being left behind.

In short order (basically in 1987) Noble and fellow windsurfer Steve Wade started marketing the newly minted Tushingham B-52, a fully rigid steel MTB imported from Taiwan and assembled in from Halifax, West Yorkshire. They sold the lot. But Tushingham didn’t sound very ‘mountain bike’ and the pair wanted something that spoke more to the mountain biker looking to do a bit of everything. They wanted their bikes to appeal as a sort of ‘all round range’ of machines. “All Round” or “O” “Range” jokingly became “Orange” and the B-52 was turned, by the two Stanley Kubrick fans, in the Clockwork. The Orange Clockwork was born and in 1988 British Mountain biking gained what was to become the most enduring classic in its entire pantheon to date.

The first bike was soon joined by a stablemate. Constructed from Tange Prestige tubing, the Orange Prestige eventually morphed in the P7 and the mountain bike world had gained two names that send shivers of nostalgia down the spines of anyone who has been riding long enough to remember cantilever brakes and seven speed drivetrains. The iconic ‘orange dotted’ race jerseys worn by team members could be seen at race meets, adventure events (like the Polaris Challenge) and Trailquest (remember them? No, look ‘em up, they were fun) competitions nationwide.

At this point, though, Orange remained a brand, rather than a true mountain bike manufacturer. The frames were Taiwanese imports, the HQ was effectively a warehouse where the frames were assembled into complete bikes and much of the finished product was sold through a handful of shops in the North of England. Noble and Wade had bigger plans. They wanted to build their own bikes. In the UK. Yorkshire had form for this, with Pace cycles just up the road making their own square section aluminium frames & carbon legged forks and Hope technology already a force to be reckoned with and entirely British built.

By the now the range included aluminium models (the original ‘Elite’ bikes) and a the titanium Vitamin T, plus the guys had experimented with full suspension in the form of the fascinating UTR X-1, but they were looking at doing something a little more individual than simply ordering from a Taiwanese catalogue. Steve Wade had sheet metal engineering experience and there was a local supplier of 6000 series aluminium just round the corner. After a fair amount of trial and error, in 1998 Orange produced their first in house full suspension frame.

The Patriot hit the catalogue in 1999 and was joined, in 2001 by the Five. Both bikes had a distinctive, box section style swingarm, attached to a similarly industrial looking front triangle via a beefy single pivot which Steve Wade was convinced was simultaneously the most effective system for providing suspension and the most ‘UK weatherproof’ option available. Since then, little has changed in terms of overall design ethos. Aside from a brief flirtation with linkage designs in the form of the ST4, every Orange full suspension bike adheres to the following formula:

Designed and built from scratch in Halifax, West Yorkshire
Constructed from 6061-T6 aluminium
Oversize single pivot
Standout appearance unlike anything else in the MTB world
And it works. Modern platform shocks negate any ‘pedal bob’ issues that might affect single pivot designs. Mud and grit is kept largely at bay by keeping the pivot out of harm’s way. The design lent itself easily to the growth in 605b and 29er wheels. Orange’s approach turned out to be future proof as well as extremely practical. It all looked rosy for, well, forever.

Then, in 2016, Orange underwent the biggest change in their nearly 30 year history. Founders Lester Noble and Steve Wade finally hung up the welders’ gloves in order to get some more riding in. Unlike almost every other company owner in the history of the sport (Fisher, Klein, Salsa, Pace forks) the brand didn’t end up in the hands of a multi-national bike corporation or run by an investment company. Instead, Ashley Ball, owner of Bairstow Brother’s sheet metal manufacturers in Halifax – the very people who sold the 6000 series aluminium with which Orange have been working for 18 years – made an offer that the owners (eventually) could not refuse.

This was not only a unique move, but a genuinely sound one. Ball loves Orange bikes. He is all about Orange bikes. He believes passionately in what they do, understands the engineering side of the business and wants to see it grow. Since he took over, Orange have added four new machines to the full suspension range, including the amazing new Stage hardcore 29ers. They have also refined all of the existing models and there is talk of more to come.

Biketart are genuinely excited to be the latest dealer to be welcomed into the Orange family. We just can’t wait for the first bikes to land at HQ and see our first proud Orange owner ride out of the shop door.