Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Orange Bikes intends administration

Posted by Matt | January 10, 2024 | 10 comments so far

Orange Stage Evo 130mm full suspension bike
As a once long-term Orange rider, I had to comment on this story, sadly.

I’m not the only owner or ex-owner around here. My days of Orange Five ownership ended back around 2016 after ten years, but others are either long-time or new converts to the iconic British bike brand, Orange Bikes, which has started the process of administration.

Take Tony for instance.

A 27.5 Five. A Clockwork. Possibly others that neither we or his wife know about (is there a model called ‘horsebox’?).

Or Elliot, a new owner of a Stage Evo which he describes as one of the best bikes he’s owned (and Elliot has owned a lot of bikes). And ‘young’ JamesS, also a new convert to the Stage Evo. Then there’s Richard, owner of a tricked out Orange with orange ano. The list goes on.

Looking at the Stage Evo image above, I wonder if we are looking at one of the last Orange bikes?

I don’t think so; partly because of how well thought of Orange bikes are. I hope a solution soon appears to keep the famous folded alloy frames afloat (yes, I said that just for the alliteration!).

What went wrong

In general, tough times for the bike industry. A Covid boom followed by a Covid bust, although I am not convinced we can attribute Orange’s issues all to supply issues. The UK built frames are not exactly cheap. Maybe they exported more than we thought and have suffered a Brexit burn?

But part of the Orange problem is obvious looking on their website. They have 8 models that use 27.5″ wheels and that increases to 17 if you include the mixed mullet models.

It’s not that any of these are bad bikes.

It’s just, no-one wants 27.5 wheel bikes these days. Nor do they want 170mm bikes that you pedal yourself, analog style. The range also includes three road/gravel models. Who has ever seen a road or gravel Orange?

On the 29er side there’s still 8 models, including 4 hardtails.

What I would do

I think most likely the range will have to scale back, hard, to 29er models only.

I’d keep just one hardtail – a Clockwork, as a sensible entry model – then the Stage Evo and Stage 6 and the electric Phase 29.

You can’t afford to be sentimental over model names, but I would keep the Five name and apply it to the Stage 6. Maybe call the Stage Evo a Five ST (Short Travel) or Five Trail. Blur the naming convention like car manufacturers do with their badging of engine sizes and models.

Focus all marketing around those and concentrate on getting them delivered in as short a timescale as possible. Big up the environmental benefits of alloy over carbon and deliver in eco packaging a la Canyon. Then get those models into the cycling press, even independent websites (waves!).

When was the last time Orange Bikes were regularly reviewed anywhere?

Basically, Orange should concentrate on being an eco, alloy, single-pivot, low-maintenance alternative to Santa Cruz and be laser focussed about it, only adding extra models once the business case is clear.

But of course that’s just my opinion!

In reality, what might be a bigger issue is that the company that makes the folded alloy frames (a highly skilled undertaking) is separate to Orange Bikes, even if owned by the same person. Who knows how that might affect things?

I have my fingers crossed for Orange. But as always, we shall have to wait and see.

Edit 26 January 2024 : news that Orange Bikes are to continue

Filed under 2024, News in January 2024


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 10 comments on ‘Orange Bikes intends administration’

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  1. Elliot says:

    Sad, but hopefully they will pull through!

    As you noted, I’ve had a lot of bikes, a fact that becomes more than slightly alarming upon seeing how many retired bikes are on my strava. With each of them I will have found aspects I don’t like. Some I wonder if the company actually bothered testing. But mostly I’m just being nitpicky. What’s noteworthy about the Stage Evo is the absence of things to complain about, aside from heavy wheels / tyres and a cheap gear cable. Just a well refined bike. It also has a rather nice ride feel!

    Difficult to pinpoint what needs fixing without knowing why Orange have been loss making for years, even through the covid bike boom. Agree too many models, but is that costing Orange money or just confusing for customers?

    Their bikes aren’t cheap, and being made in this country doesn’t really justify it to me. Definitely expensive propping up a race team and sponsorships for a small company. This goes back to something I’ve thought about Specialized for a while, is the high pricing really to pay for the product? Or their huge sponsorship costs? Back to Orange, mine was about 40% off direct. Wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. Maybe they should just sell direct and price accordingly. Probably attract more sales that way.

    • Matt says:

      Marketing can definitely be expensive. Those drone filmed videos from Specialized et al don’t make themselves after all. It’s the same thing when you buy ibuprofen for pence vs pounds for Nurofen – TV ads gotta be paid for.

      Some of the brands they are up against cost-wise are juggernauts so marketing can be hard. Race programmes are talking to a small audience that’s rarely in mainstream media.

      Bird have been reasonably successful by nurturing their customer-base with a real sense of community, but you still run the risk of trying to sell multiple bikes to the same person rather than growing a brand.

      That’s why I’d narrow the range and focus on doing what’s left really well. Santa Cruz – beyond the quality of the product itself – really grew thanks to the efforts and customer support of its dealers in my view but let’s not forget they are owned by PON holdings who also own Cannondale and distribute a whole slew of bike and automotive brands.

  2. Tony says:

    Well (gulp!) +30yrs of MTBing and I’ve always had an Orange, still having my original 1991 Alu O, gravel converted 2006 Clockwork (running 650b) and my mongrel Five Evo.

    I like an Orange MTB as a winter full sus. Super wheel clearance, single pivot and with the latest generation of shocks – they ride really well. Even pretty light. I’ve been thinking of moving up to a Stage Evo – although that may not happen now, maybe second hand.

    I do appreciate that Oranges particularly slightly older ones have the aesthetic appeal of a Peugeot boxer horse box.

    The other problem – is Orange an “old gits” brand? Not sure. I don’t seem to see many younger folks (male and female) out on MTB anyway, at least compared to road riding?

    I hope they make it. Possibly in a cut down range / direct marketing model.

    • Matt says:

      I would still have an Orange if I could afford it and I think the Stage Evo is exactly the one to have for all the reasons you suggest.

      My Bird Aether 9 is great but currently out of action because I need to replace all the pivot bearings whereas with Orange, it’s about £8 for a pair of bearings every couple of years.

      As for MTB’ing and – ahem – old gits… I have another article in mind for that!

      • PETER WHITE says:

        They Had Too Many Differing Types And You Used to Be able to Choose the Color But Not Anymore !
        There E MTB Bikes Look Outdated As Soon as They are Available and the Prices Were Twice That of Others For a worse Looking bike.

        They Can Only Go 2 Ways i am afraid.

        1.Make Made to Order Frames at a Higher Price Like Nicolai Do,But there Welding Needs to Improve if You Look at Orange Welds and Compare to an Alloy Nicolai Theres are Fantastic To Look at And Orange Look Like I Was Welding after Just Learning.

        2,Reduce there Range Down After Looking at What are the Best Sellers,And Get Them Made in Taiwan As I Know they Already Do Get Frames Made there So They Know What there doing.

        Pace are Still Going in Yorkshire and there Frames are all Made in Taiwan As i Was Talking to there Man Not Long ago,They used to Have a Factory Years ago But Making Things in the UK is Too Exspensive Now,If you Want to Make a Profit You Must Reduce All Your Manufacturing Costs.

        • Matt says:

          There’s definitely some truth in what you are saying Peter. I’d disagree about the build quality as these are not bespoke frames and I’ve never heard of one failing more than any other frame.

          Also, the folded alloy is unique and I’d argue a key differentiator of Orange. Not easy to replicate anywhere else.

          But, costs are too high, and too many models for sure. I’d also say that because they look so unusual they have not marketed the brand properly.

          They are actually very light despite the looks. I once got my Five down to 28lbs in weight. But people think the opposite because they are rarely reviewed anywhere.

  3. Ricky says:

    As a proud owner of a barely used Orange four which replaced a 2008 Five,I am sad to see this iconic brand going under but after reading a lot of these comments agree that things should have changed a while ago ie,shaving down the choice of models for starters.Car manufacturers should take note of this too-why SO many models from the same brand??

    Sorry for stating the obvious that we can all expect the demise of many other high profile companies and brands in the near future due to the state of the world just now which Brexit didn’t cause (whichever side of that divide you’re on.)

    Tbh for long enough I feel the bike industry (in particular) like a lot of outdoor sports and has been overpriced for too long to keep the peasants out and are now getting deservedly bit in the a$$.

    Whatever the r&d hype trying to justify exorbitant prices a bike is only as fast as the human operating it and is worth peanuts on resale-especially your once state of the art 26inch wheeled non electric steed.

    Once upon a time upgrading to a new bike was at a stretch still within reach but nowadays impossible and unjustifiable as a hobby for the average enthusiast.
    Hopefully Orange WILL return but I wouldn’t hedge my bets in this current disastrous climate.

    • Matt says:

      Ricky, agree that the bike industry has sat back for too long trying to sell more bikes to the same customers.

      I’ve never understood why the big manufacturers don’t have a team visiting large corporates to do demo days or offering demo bikes for staff, with promotions for Cycle2Work for example and linked to the local bike shop.

      Or offering to install sponsored, high quality bike storage in town centres. Or re-purposing empty shop units as bike storage for shoppers. Imagine a shop with ‘Bike parking by Trek’ over the door, right next to where you need to shop.

      Would be a good way to encourage non-cyclists to think again.

      I definitely also used to think ‘well, I can’t afford a Ferrari, but I can afford the equivalent bike-wise.’ That’s not at all true now. Prices are mad and I am not singling Orange out here.

      A ray of hope though – Orange posted on their Facebook page ( this week to say this is not the end. Fingers crossed

  4. Ricky says:

    Matt,thanks for your kind reply and posting the Orange bikes Facebook link to view.
    It’s truly amazing to see so many sharing the love for these bikes,the brand and let’s not forget the dedicated,skilled workforce.
    Forget the components and “marmite”looks,an Orange frame really is for life with its bombproof strength,tough paintwork,2 bearing simplicity and a visceral unique ride feel.The thinking person’s mtb!
    Wish you great people back in business ASAP.💪🤞

  5. Related: Start the (new) day with Orange Bikes - 2024, News - Muddymoles - mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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