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Liked a bike check Ibis HD3 "Quicksilver" 3/2/2015 2:19 PM
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Added a new photo album 2015 Test Sessions: Liv Intrigue 1 3/2/2015 12:22 PM
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Added reply in a thread The Theory of Vital Test Sessions 2/27/2015 3:54 PM

Thanks for starting this topic, Nicholast. We'll move it to the main forum so it can get a little more attention. The nature of our reviews and how to improve them is something always at the forefront of our minds, especially around Test Sessions time. ... more »

Liked a comment on the item 2015 Test Sessions: Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon X01 2/27/2015 12:21 AM

SO many sexy bits Santa Cruz put into the development and production of these bad boys. Everyone I know who rides one has had just as positive an experience as you Vital fellers. Thanks for a tasty write up.

Added a comment about product review 2015 Test Sessions: Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon X01 2/27/2015 12:21 AM
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Cheers for voicing your concern. Part of the reason why we have multiple testers ride each bike is so that a system of checks and balances is in place, preventing scenarios like the one you mention. In this case I personally verified the statements written above by Steve, the bike owner, in addition to writing many of them myself. Steve's extensive time on the bike only strengthens his positive and negative ride impressions, in my opinion.

We also don't discuss our ride impressions with one another prior to jotting down our ride notes, just to prevent preconceived notions.

The Nomad rules, and after riding it at Test Sessions I'd willingly buy one with my own dollars too.

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Added a comment about photo 2015 Santa Cruz Nomad X01 2/26/2015 6:40 PM
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Read the Nomad review: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Santa-Cruz/Carbon-Nomad-27-5,15577#product-reviews/2028

See several photos of it in action and up close: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/2015-Test-Sessions-Santa-Cruz-Nomad-Carbon-X01,8637/2015-Santa-Cruz-Nomad-Carbon-X01,87142/bturman,109

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Added a product review for 2015 Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon X01 27.5 2/26/2015 6:35 PM
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2015 Test Sessions: Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon X01

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Reviewed by Steve Wentz and Brandon Turman // Photos by Lear Miller

The 2015 Santa Cruz Nomad is built to be an absolute beast. Now in its third generation, it is longer, slacker, lighter, has updated VPP suspension, and even sports more travel than the previous model. 27.5-inch wheels round out the package, as well as a parts pack that's ready to rock. With all the hype around this bike it was high time to officially weigh in on the Nomad during the Vital MTB Test Sessions.

Highlights

  • Carbon CC frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 165mm (6.5-inches) of rear wheel travel // 160mm (6.3-inches) front
  • Tapered head tube
  • 65-degree head angle
  • 74.2-degree effective seat tube angle
  • 340mm (13.4-inch) measured bottom bracket height
  • 433mm (17.0-inch) chainstays
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured complete weight (size L, no pedals): 28-pounds, 6-ounces (12.9kg)
  • $6969 MSRP as tested

At the heart of the new bike is a closely guarded carbon construction process that Santa Cruz prides itself on. Their fantastic plastic frames have incredibly smooth insides, while many other brands have rough patches and inconsistencies which can result in a weaker frame and unnecessary weight. The "Carbon CC" frame is more refined from what they were even able to do a couple years ago as the technology is advancing at such a fast rate. Santa Cruz also offers a more affordable "Carbon C" version.

Looking inside the frame also reveals the most dialed internal cable routing system in existence. Santa Cruz uses small carbon tubes to make routing internal cables incredibly easy, which also eliminates the chance of cables rattling. Both stealth and external dropper post cable routing options exist as well.

The frame uses the tried and true VPP suspension design to deliver 165mm of travel. You'll notice that the lower link has been recessed on this model with a pivot above the bottom bracket, protecting the link from rock strikes and allowing the designers to really shorten up the chainstay length (the 1X drivetrain specific frame helped, too). Both links are forged, the collet-style axle pivots are easy to access, and the use of angular contact bearings helps stiffen the rear end.

Completely new geometry is another big highlight, and as always the Nomad continues to be geared towards the descents. There are no geometry adjustments, but the 65-degree head angle should suit the bike's target rider well and make for no excuses on the way down. A 340mm bottom bracket height, long wheelbase, increased reach measurements, and compact 433mm chainstays round out the package. Those wanting to get really wild can throw up to a 180mm travel fork up front.

Extra details include a threaded bottom bracket, 12x142mm rear axle, ISCG 05 tabs, and some of the best molded rubber chainstay, seat stay, and downtube guards in the industry. Mud clearance with the stock 2.3-inch Maxxis tires is acceptable with about 1cm of room for the muck. There's room for a water bottle inside the front triangle as well, though it's a tight fit so you may have to use a small bottle with some cages.

Complete Carbon CC Nomad builds start at $6,599 for the X01 option and $8,299 for XX1. Upgrades to the suspension and wheels are available from the factory, with the most expensive build running $10,669 for ENVE wheels, a FOX 36 Float RC2 fork, and RockShox Vivid Air R2C shock. Our X01 build with an upgraded shock and fork ran $6969. If you're looking to save a few bucks and aren't afraid of a few grams, the Carbon C model with X1 starts at $5,599. Or you can build it from the ground up starting with the Carbon CC frame and RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair shock for $2,999.

We were able to test the murdered out flat black Nomad, though if you prefer some color you can choose the Miami Vice tribute magenta and baby blue version.

On The Trail

As luck would have it, one of our testers actually bought a Nomad before our test and has ridden it everywhere between Colorado and California. Resort riding, shuttling, and some all day adventures were just part of the weekly routine. During Test Sessions in San Luis Obispo, California, we were able to try different suspension components and experiment on more trails to complete the experience.

The build kit on our test bike provided 800mm wide Santa Cruz carbon bars, a short 50mm RaceFace Turbine stem, and plenty of seatpost adjustment up and down to accommodate a wide range of riders. Check the reach and top tube numbers in the specs, and make sure you can work with the new sizing as it's longer than Santa Cruz bikes of the past. Our 5'10" tall tester loved the 438mm reach and 610mm effective top tube on the size Large frame. Meanwhile our 5'8" tall tester is usually between Medium and Large frame sizes, and the Medium was a better for him.

We experimented with rear shock sag settings from 30-40% while seated (30-35% is suggested), noting quite a range of performance through those different pressures. After settling on a fairly standard ~20% sag on the FOX 36 fork with the bike weighted evenly, we felt slightly rearward in our orientation, but this lent itself well to downhill use.

The bike's geometry encourages the bike to go fast, and regardless of a good or poor suspension setup the geometry will still take care of you, to a point, which really highlights how far frames have come. We would have killed to have controlled suspension and a 65-degree head angle on a DH bike just a handful of years ago, but now it's standard in a package where you have great pedaling performance to get up the hill as well. The slack head angle, relatively low bottom bracket height, and long front center all make for a bike that's made for hauling down any trail where speed is readily available, and it can come very close to DH bike speeds in rough terrain. It's really incredible how well the bike worked at the limits of our bravery and mental speed limits, a sign of a truly confidence inspiring ride.

On a casual ride, though, the Nomad might not be the best thing. At slower speeds or while you're not fully on the gas the ride can be a bit boring. Why? Because the Nomad is so capable you don't have to pick super precise lines or worry about the little stuff in your path. The trail can disappear beneath you, but that's the trade off for all the stability it offers. Sometimes we like the nature of picking lines, the challenge of keeping our feet on the pedals, or the excitement of finally nailing a tricky section we've had fits with before - the Nomad makes all of these things almost too easy. If you don't want to feel the rough stuff, then by all means bring this gun to the fight.

It responds well and does what it's told, but we wouldn't call it nimble or playful in the tradition sense. It will change lines, but be ready to muscle the bike around a bit due to its length and suspension feel. Then again, if your definition of play is to pull up hard and gap massive sections of the trail, then sure, it's "playful." It's also easy to get over the back of the bike and feel ready for anything that requires a quick front end lift.

A huge part of the Nomad's capability comes from the suspension. There were no situations where the bike didn't work well in rough terrain. The RockShox Vivid Air shock upgrade is borderline cheating, resulting in tons of control and consistency. The frame stiffness is also top notch. Really compressing the bike into corners yields a confidence that's sometimes a scarce commodity on San Luis Obispo's rockiest trails.

Due to the relatively linear mid-stroke that's typical of VPP designs, the Nomad uses a lot of travel a lot of the time. It's regressive through the sag point, then progressive after that. This allows you to sit into the travel, both aiding in smoothing out the trail and also giving the feeling of a muted ride. Despite using a lot of travel, it's still fairly difficult to bottom out. There is a pronounced ramp up at the end of the stroke which helps immensely on big landings or impacts. That's a very good thing, because odds are that you'll be moving at a high rate of speed when you do use all the travel. Small bumps disappear under the VPP suspension and Vivid Air, and the Nomad is one of the most stable we have ridden on trail chatter. The amount of travel and the quality of the Vivid's damping seem very well matched. We dare say that the capability of the Nomad would not be fully exploited with less of a shock, though the alternate RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair has proven to be a good all-around performer as well. Due to the overall progressive nature of the leverage curve it will also work very well with a coil shock.

On trails that were rocky or had ledges, the Nomad would stay very composed. It wouldn't ever kick us forward, try to spring us off, or surprise us, which is an improvement over the previous versions.

We can see how it would be easy to think of the Nomad as a purely descending machine - it does that job better than many. What really surprised us, though, is what a capable climber it is. The seat angle is very steep, giving you an upright seated riding position that feels more over the pedals than the off the back feel when standing. Owners of the previous generation Nomads will really notice this change, and it makes climbing much better than we anticipated. The fact that the Vivid Air did not have any external climb switches or settings was just fine by us given the added anti-squat that's built into the suspension design.

We were often tempted into questionable lines, and on occasion we would have to sprint into them. Santa Cruz's refinement of the VPP suspension is put to excellent use here, with the Nomad feeling very neutral during all out efforts. This is no doubt caused by the system's use of chain torque to keep the bike around the sag point, instead of extending the swingarm like some other designs. When climbing, the neutral feeling never made it seem like we were flying up the hills, but we always arrived at the top with few hassles. Other than the random pedal spike due to the low bottom bracket, the only other issue while climbing concerned the front end. There will always be a trade off for this type of steed, and in this case it's difficulty maneuvering up steep, tight turns. With a front end so far away and so slack, we really had to lean the bike over to change direction, or else it would feel like we were driving a bus at times.

Build Kit

Our X01 edition test bike came equipped with quality parts from FOX, RockShox, Maxxis, DT Swiss, WTB, RaceFace, Shimano, SRAM, e*thirteen, and Santa Cruz. At nearly $7,000 it's a bit of a let down to not see a top of the line component group, but the bulk of the money goes towards great frame quality and suspension more than anything else - components very necessary for a great ride.

As mentioned previously, our test bike had two upgrades to the stock build, including the FOX 36 Float RC2 fork and RockShox Vivid Air R2C shock. Were they worth it? We think so. The behavior of the 36 coupled with the Vivid Air on the rear made encouraged us to make otherwise questionable decisions, and the adjustability of the compression and rebound in both the front and rear of the bike made for a highly tunable ride. We can't overemphasize how much we appreciate not having extra knobs and levers on the bars, and instead of on/off switches, tuning adjustments that actually make a difference. The 36 had very smooth action and compression control, as well a stout chassis that pairs well with the frame. We also like the Vivid Air's ability to tune the beginning and ending of the rebound circuits independently. These adjustments could be overkill for some people, or some terrain, but for the Nomad it all seemed to fit and align with the purpose of going through rough terrain quickly.

On the tire side of things, the 2.3-inch Maxxis High Roller II treads aided in the bike's stable, capable feel. They roll surprisingly well for the size, and we had no issues with flats thanks to the Tubeless Ready design and EXO casing. While we'd prefer a little more predictability when really leaning the bike over in flat turns (especially once the side knobs start to peel away after a few weeks of use), braking is great and traction while climbing is good, so all in all they're solid performers.

The wheels were entirely capable, and we like the fact that normal spokes, rims, and very reliable hubs were all in place for easy service. The decently wide profile of the WTB Asym i23 rims gave the tires a good seat, and the solid engagement on the DT Swiss 350 hubs was just as we have come to expect. In the several months one of our testers has had with the same wheels there have been a few dents here and there, but nothing too bad considering the WTB rim is one of the lightest available for its width.

Shimano's XT brakes handled stopping duties with dual 180mm rotors, and it's reassuring to not write much more about them other than they were exactly as we have come to know. They're reliable, fade free on all but the longest descents, and easy to adjust. We do wish they would fit on the bar better with some of SRAM's product offerings, however. The dropper post, shifter, and brake levers coming from different companies made for a cluttered bar clamp area with reduced customization options.

Coupled with RaceFace Turbine Cinch cranks and their 32-tooth Narrow/Wide chainring, we didn't have any issues with the SRAM X1/X01 drivetrain. The addition of a E13 XCX top guide means the occasional chain drop is no longer a concern. The whole system works very quietly thanks to to the clutched rear derailleur and excellent swingarm protection that comes standard.

Finally, Santa Cruz includes a 150mm travel RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post that worked perfectly well. The extra 25mm of travel allows you to move the bike around even more on those really steep descents and jumpy trails.

Long Term Durability

Considering the fact that this bike should be purchased for the purpose of going downhill quickly, we would only worry about the relatively lightweight rims. They will hold up fine for a while, but they are not the perfect match strength wise for how capable the rest of the bike is. Other than that, the frame features an easy to use grease port on the lower link, as well as double sealed pivots for better bearing life. It's easy to take care of all areas that could be stressed with heavy use. The company backs the frame with a five year frame warranty and lifetime on the pivots.

What's The Bottom Line?

There is no Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde here, the latest edition of the Santa Cruz Nomad is 95% Hyde. We have not ridden a more capable bike with this amount of travel. If your motto is "go fast, have fun, safety third," this could very well be your calling. Only its surprising ability to climb well makes us believe it really was intended to go up and down. Just remember, this is not a bike for the lazy, as it can morph crazy trail sections into rideable terrain under a motivated rider, but at the same time your average trail might end up feeling a bit more boring than you ever intended.

Visit www.santacruzbicycles.com for more details.

Bonus Gallery: 21 photos of the 2015 Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon X01 up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Steve Wentz - A man of many talents, Steve got his start in downhilling at a young age. He has been riding for over 18 years, 11 of which have been in the Pro ranks. Asked to describe his riding style he said, "I like to smooth out the trail myself." Today he builds some of the best trails in the world (and eats lots of M&M's).

Brandon Turman - Brandon likes to pop off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when he's in tune with a bike and talk tech. In 15 years of riding he worked his way through the Collegiate downhill ranks to the Pro level. Formerly a Mechanical Engineer, nowadays he's Vital MTB's resident product guy.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

Three years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2015's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in San Luis Obispo, California. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Foothill Cyclery. Tester gear provided by Five Ten, Race Face, Easton, Troy Lee Designs, Club Ride, Kali, Royal, Smith, Pearl Izumi, and Source.

This product has 1 review

Added a comment about video Vital RAW - Eddie Masters // Reece Potter // Skyline MTB Park Madness 2/26/2015 1:54 PM
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Holy shit balls indeed.

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Liked a comment on the item Vital RAW - Eddie Masters // Reece Potter // Skyline MTB Park Madness 2/26/2015 1:54 PM

After watching that, i realize i cant corner for shit!

Added reply in a thread Im gettin' a copy 2/25/2015 10:03 PM

YEAH BUDDY!

Added a new photo album 2015 Test Sessions: Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon X01 2/25/2015 12:52 PM
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Added a comment about photo 2015 Orange Alpine 160 RS 2/25/2015 8:21 AM
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Read the Alpine 160 RS review: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Orange/Alpine-160-RS,15576#product-reviews/2024

See it in action and up close: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/2015-Test-Sessions-Orange-Alpine-160-RS,8635/2015-Orange-Alpine-160-RS,87123/bturman,109

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Added a product review for 2015 Orange Alpine 160 RS 2/25/2015 8:05 AM
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2015 Test Sessions: Orange Alpine 160 RS

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Reviewed by Dylan Stucki and AJ Barlas // Photos by Lear Miller

For 2015, Orange moves to the 27.5-inch wheel size and slightly more aggressive geometry on their Alpine 160 RS. Still sporting the trusty single pivot suspension design that has taken them through many years of mountain bike history, the Alpine 160 RS aims to contend with the industry’s finest enduro rigs. Vital MTB's Test Sessions was the perfect opportunity to evaluate the merits of the handmade British bomber.

Highlights

  • Aluminum frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 160mm (6.3-inches) of front and rear wheel travel
  • Tapered head tube
  • 65-degree head angle
  • 74-degree effective seat tube angle
  • 344mm (13.6-inch) measured bottom bracket height
  • 439mm (17.3-inch) chainstays
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured complete weight (size L, no pedals): 31-pounds, 9-ounces (14.3kg)
  • £4130 MSRP as tested (approximately $6,300 USD)

Born from craftsmen at their Halifax factory, Orange has always been known for robust and moto-esque single pivot designs. Although the single pivot is far from new, it has certainly held its own as a reliable suspension design and capable performer. Just look to Greg Minnaar (2001), Steve Peat (2002, 2004), and Tracey Hannah's (2006) Downhill World Championships for indisputable proof. The Alpine 160 RS builds off that legacy with 160mm of travel and geometry numbers that rival those used to win downhill races not long ago.

A quick glance at the spec sheet and you'll see it's a true modern enduro machine with a proper 65-degree head angle, 465mm reach on the size Large frame, and 640mm effective top tube. It was among the slacker and longer bikes of the 19 in our Test Sessions round up. Orange has always pushed the long front center concept, and the Alpine 160 RS goes even further to provide more stable handling at speed.

Visually, one might argue that the 6061-T6 monocoque/Reynolds custom butted aluminum frame is a little stuck in its glory days with the basic design and bulky rear swing arm, but there's certainly something good to be said for simplicity and the reliable traits that can result. Surprisingly, though, a visual inspection of the welds raised a few eyebrows with many bead inconsistencies along the downtube.

Orange hits the major notes on the features list pretty well, including 27.5-inch wheels, a threaded bottom bracket for creak-free performance, tapered headtube, ISCG tabs, ample mud clearance, and stealth-style dropper post routing. Aside from the dropper, cable routing runs along the outside of the downtube which makes for easy service and a rattle free ride. With single chainring drivetrain systems absolutely taking off, Orange makes a confident vote for the 1X setup by making it an integral piece on the RS build, however the frame includes an E2 type front derailleur mount if it's needed. There's no water bottle mount, so plan to figure out an alternate hydration transportation method.

The Alpine 160 is offered with "RS" and "AM" build kits, both of which are customizable from the factory. We spent our miles getting used to the RS, which is geared more for the descents and starts at £3800 (~$5,875 USD). The AM model has increased usability with a 2X drivetrain at £3000 (~$4,335 USD). Frame and shock packages start at £1700 (~$2,625 USD). A whopping 13 frame colors are available, as well as S, M, L, and XL sizes.

On The Trail

The Orange was put to good used on the trails of West Cuesta Ridge and Madonna Mountain in San Luis Obispo, California, where a great mix of long climbs, high speed chunder, big rocks, tight switchbacks, and ripping turns made for some of the better zones to test bikes.

Orange recommends 25-30% sag, so we began with 28% on the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 shock. The RockShox Pike RCT3 SoloAir fork was also set to the recommended pressure for our body weights. Visual indicators and/or charts on both made the process painless.

With 800mm wide Kore Torsion bars and a 35mm length Kore Repute stem, the cockpit components provided a setup ready for some good old fashioned aggressive fun. The bars can always be cut to fit, if needed. Our 6'3" tester ran the stock stem length, while our taller 6'5" tester opted for a 50mm to keep things consistent between bikes and gain a little extra length.

The updated geometry of the Alpine 160 made for a well rounded fit well suited to the enduro and all-mountain genre. The top tube and reach provided plenty of room to move around comfortably, and combined with a 65-degree head angle the bike handled well on the steeps and at speed. The 439mm chainstays kept things lively and maneuverable, allowing for quick changes of direction, and getting the front end up was never an issue. The 344mm bottom bracket height fit the build perfectly, being low enough to keep the center of gravity down, but still high enough to provide ample clearance through the rough bits.

While the bike's geometry added to the confidence inspiring feel, once we got fully up to speed and really started charging hard, the rear end seemed stubborn, not wanting to stay planted with an almost springy, uncontrolled feel. Adjusting the sag down to ~35% greatly improved cornering and traction in this scenario, and finite rebound adjustments made incremental improvements as well. Even so, the bike still wanted to skip around, lacking that super stable feel of many of its competitors. This was amplified with the front wheel off the ground when charging through rock gardens while the rear end seemed to wander and deflect.

Although the ideal rear suspension feel was never achieved, perhaps due to a lack of truly adjustable compression adjustments, the Monarch Plus provided decent small bump compliance at all times despite not having the DebonAir can. The shock also ramped up nicely through the stroke, providing good support in g-outs and big compressions that the perfectly linear leverage curve of the single pivot design doesn't naturally provide. Ripping fast, smooth turns was another notable highlight.

While the single pivot design does see some brake squat, the pivot placement keeps things in check without any truly odd braking characteristics.

The frame is fitted with a nice and steep 74-degree effective seat tube angle, making the climbing position more optimal than many other bikes in the enduro/all-mountain category. This improves the 31.6-pound bike's willingness on climbs without needing to integrate travel or geometry adjustments that can hamper performance on the descent. Both suspension components feature pedal-friendly compression modes that aid in getting back to the top of the fun, though the bike pedaled efficiently even with the rear shock wide open.

Build Kit

Orange keeps an eye on true performance gains versus value with the Alpine 160 RS, selecting components they know work well from a variety of companies. Select upgrades are available for those wanting a boost here or there. We opted for just two of the more popular upgrade packages, which included Stans wheels, Maxxis tires, and an improved gear range on the rear cassette.

The top end Rockshox Pike RCT3 Solo Air fork performed flawlessly with a sufficient level of adjustability, that renowned smooth-as-butter small bump feel, and a solid chassis to push against. Hard chargers will be pleased with the ability to add Bottomless Token volume spacers for greater bottom out support.

The 2.3-inch, triple compound Maxxis Minion DHF EXO and High Roller II EXO tires were a nice change from the standard Continental Trail King spec, and really allowed us to get the most out of this bike on loose and rocky terrain. Paired with the Stans No Tubes ZTR Flow EX rims featuring a 25.5mm internal width, the tires had a robust profile, solid footprint, and secure tubeless connection. The rims were laced to Hope Pro II Evo hubs which we've found to be very reliable. After several days of abuse the wheels were still in good shape.

The drivetrain was fitted with a Shimano Zee rear derailleur, 10-speed Shimano XT cassette, and Hope’s 40-tooth REX cog to give the bike a bit more range. Unfortunately there was an insufficient amount of B-tension available on the derailleur, and the chain was very loose in the bottom of the cassette as a result. This led to the bike being incredibly noisy on fast descents (as did the lack of a chainstay pad), and shifting was sub-par due to the maxed out B-tension lifting the derailleur too far off the cogs. The Zee setup seems to work well paired with an 11 to 36-tooth cassette based on past experience, however the 40-tooth add-on seems to push the derailleur beyond its ideal limit.

Orange smartly includes a MRP AMG chainguide to help the somewhat small 30-tooth Raceface Narrow/Wide chainring do its job while also providing some bash protection.

Shimano's XT brakes lived up to their popularity, and we'll once again praise them for their reliable, sure-footed stopping performance. The bike has 203 and 180mm rotors which help provide plenty of power.

The build was topped off with a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post that also worked flawlessly.

Long Term Durability

The Alpine 160 held its own in the rocky terrain of San Luis Obispo, leaving little concern for long term durability issues. Orange backs the frame and pivot bearings with a five year warranty, and maintenance is as easy as can be due to the design.

The only real concern lies in the 40-tooth cog upgrade. With excessive chain slap and maxed out adjustments, the potential for wear in the drivetrain area increases significantly.

What's The Bottom Line?

It’s always nice to compare apples to Oranges, and with the Alpine 160 RS being among the few true single pivot designs still available it was interesting to evaluate its merits against the industry's more intricate designs. What the frame lacks in complexity it makes up for in durability and simplicity, which can really appeal to some riders.

Given our experience, we think the Alpine 160 RS is best for riders who prefer the playful feel of a quick and snappy rear end paired with the stability offered by a lengthy front center. If loose, rocky terrain is your jam, the bike may not be the best weapon because it lacks a composed, comfortable feel when things get truly hairy. In this case the well chosen spec and geometry only go so far, and some bikes with more advanced suspension designs provide increased capability and a more well rounded feel at the same cost.

Visit www.orangebikes.co.uk for more details.

Bonus Gallery: 20 photos of the 2015 Orange Alpine 160 RS up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Dylan Stucki - When he's not busy popping no-handed wheelies or shot-gunning beers you're likely to find Dylan comfortably inside the top ten at Big Mountain Enduro races. Since he's a big guy and charges hard he breaks a lot of stuff. He's naturally a perceptive and particular rider who picks up on even the smallest details.

AJ Barlas - In 15 years on the bike AJ has developed a smooth and fluid style. Hailing from Squamish, BC, his preferred terrain is chunky, twisty trail with natural features. He's picky with equipment and has built a strong understanding of what works well and why by riding a large number of different parts and bikes.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

Three years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2015's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in San Luis Obispo, California. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Foothill Cyclery. Tester gear provided by Five Ten, Race Face, Easton, Troy Lee Designs, Club Ride, Kali, Royal, Smith, Pearl Izumi, and Source.

This product has 1 review

Added a new photo album 2015 Test Sessions: Orange Alpine 160 RS 2/24/2015 2:03 PM
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Added reply in a thread Vital switches to mobile version on Mac with Safari 2/23/2015 9:31 AM

Try clicking "full site" at the bottom of the page. That should change your cookies back. Cheers.

Liked a comment on the item THE TROY BROSNAN INTERVIEW 2/19/2015 11:09 AM

For those who heard the question on slide #14 and said "huh?", this is the reference the interviewer was making:

http://www.vitalmx.com/videos/member/Replay-Chad-Reed-Black-Flagged-Anaheim-2,11415/ML512,13480

EDIT: keeping the link in the Vital family.

Added a new slideshow First Look: 2015 YT Industries TUES Carbon DH Bike 2/19/2015 3:24 AM
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Liked a comment on the item Tested: SR Suntour Aion RC Fork 2/18/2015 9:16 AM

2 things we wanted to add

1) The Aion is in stock in North America. Contact SR SUNTOUR (supported by USUL) 608-229-6610, Both 27.5" and 29" available

2) We are working on a revised Air Volume Adjustment Spacer which will be available late 2015, it will be modular and QSP. For now Air...more