Inside Orange Bikes

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Welcome to the Orange Bikes factory in West Yorkshire, England. Soak the atmosphere of making modern mountain bike frames made by hand. <b>Story by Seb Kemp, photography by Grant Robinson</b>
Orange pioneered the 6000 series aluminum monocoque frame and they are masters of the origami art of metal cutting and bending. This is the same as custom butting tubing, putting strength were you need it and saving weight where you need it.<br />
Giant sheets of aluminum are where each Orange monocoque bike is born. Through the different stages of production, shape is bent into what later becomes the complete frame.
The sound you can hear is the turret punch, not a machine gun. The computer operated machine cuts shapes out of the flat piece of material using up to thirty two different tool heads.
Some of the faces behind the Orange bikes.
The flat pieces are then fed into a CNC press brace that bends, folds and presses the flat pieces into more recognizable shapes. There are many different types of folds required for each section to make it the precise shape for each model and size of Orange frame.
Tubes are cut, sized and mitered each according to the model and size. Top tubes and seat tubes are where most tubes are used.
All the tubes and parts are collected and assembled in the frame building jigs. Here Nigel tacks up a frame before it is moved onto the full weld process.
Head tubes and bottom brackets are CNC'd and created at the Orange factory.
Orange Bikes feature that hand-made touch with details that may go easily un-noticed, like custom-fabricated bottom brackets with ISCG tabs.
After spot welding, the frames are moved over to another welder (in this case Ben) who fully welds the frames.
When welding is finished, the frames are taken downstairs where they are jigged and aligned. The pivot axle, shock mounts and cable guide are welded on following alignment and then the frame is sent to heat treat.
6061 needs a full quench and age-hardening process to give it strength. The frames and swing arms are placed into jigs that will hold them straight whilst they undergo dynamic temperature changes.
The human touch goes into every frame at Orange.
In fact, the metal comes to within 0.5℃ of turning to a liquid state. Effectively, heat treating turns the many pieces of the welded frame into one cohesive piece of aluminum.
Bikes come down from the frame building plant and are acid dipped and rinsed to clean off any imperfections, impurities, and oil before paint. After paint they are brought back in here to check for paint imperfections, and if any are found, they will be stripped back to raw to go through the paint process again.
Frames are first blown to check for imperfections, marks or nicks. The frame is hooked up to a positive charge and the gun negatively charges the powder. The is a very fine mist and the color that it comes out as looks nothing like the final color. We saw a gun metal grey frame being sprayed which will turned out to be a forest green when it’s baked.
Riders with a passion for frame building make Orange Bikes what they are today.
This is where the frames are checked again, stickered, and built with the exact parts specification according to the customer order. Orange have a number of build packages and they have no problem custom-tailoring and swapping parts around. <a href="" target="_blank"><b><font color=#ffff00">Visit</font></b></a> for more information.
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Danny MacAskill and Joe Barnes rip it up on the 2011 Orange Five, courtesy of MTBcut.
Intro Graphic
Get industrial with a walk-through tour of the Orange Bikes frame fabrication process. The mountain bike frames are hand-made in England with care, soul and technology. Story by Seb Kemp, photography by Grant Robinson

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