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