The Alpine 6 E–Electric Powered Orange

published by bktr on 05/09/2017 17:14:07

Orange Shred

Back at the start of 2017, a ripple of excitement to swept the Mountain bike community as Orange announced their plan to develop a pedal assist e-bike. Granted, if you spent enough time in the murky world of internet mountain bike forums you’d see that not all of this excitement was necessarily positive. As is always the case with e-bike related news, a few loud voices proudly announced to the world that they don’t need pedal assist and that it’s not real mountain biking if you’re not wheezing up chunks of lung at the top of each climb. These people are, of course, idiots. Those who actually quite liked the idea of a pedal assist Orange were encouraged to register their interest in the product on Orange’s website. The results were overwhelmingly in favour of the new bike going into production – so Orange set to work making their plan a reality.

Hover Orange

  Fast forward to August 2017 and the Electric Powered Orange, or EPO, was born. First off, kudos to whichever genius in Orange’s marketing department came up with the name. Orange have had some well named bikes in there time, but the EPO electric bike might be their best yet – now if they can only get Lance Armstrong to do the promotional work they’d be laughing. At the moment Orange’s EPO fleet consists of just a handful of demo bikes, which we were given the chance to test a few weeks ago. The production models will be hitting shops in the very near future.

Never far from the Gnar

It’s always difficult to give an objective assessment of new e-bikes. Within the first 30 seconds of getting on the saddle you’re having so much fun that you pretty much forget what any other bike is like to ride. You find yourself racing up the climbs, picking lines that you would have been to knackered to even acknowledge on a traditional bike. Flat single track becomes interesting again as you bomb down it, weaving in and out of trail features. Descents can be repeated over and over without dreading the climb back up to the top. At no point, however, do you ever feel like your not riding a bike – it just feels like you’re much better at riding a bike than normal.

Steps

  The most striking thing about the EPO is how much it doesn’t look like an E-Bike. Orange opted for the Shimano Steps battery and motor system, and looking at how well it integrates into the frame you can see why. The Steps system is up there with Brose in terms of its sleek finish, and at just 3kg for the battery and motor, it’s one of the lightest systems on the market too. The really impressive aspect of the Shimano system, however, is it’s performance. The Steps motor provides buttery smooth transmission, without the jerkiness we’ve seen on other models. This smoothness lends itself to more technical terrain as the bike behaves in a much more predictable manner, providing just the right amount of power, exactly when you need it.

One Hander

  Geomtery-wise, the EPO is essentially an Alpine 6 on... well, on EPO I suppose. This means you get 170mm travel front and rear and a super slack head angle – the EPO is not an e-bike for dordling around on canal tow-paths or weaving through traffic filled streets – it’s an e-bike which means business. The result is pretty much as you’d expect – a bike which is absolutely unstoppable when you point it down a hill, and zero effort to pedal back up. What might have previously been an all day ride followed by 3 days of walking like a cowboy, can now be a quick 2 hour blast  with plenty of juice left in the tank. Orange have got a pretty clear idea of the people who are going to be interested in this bike – the weekend warriors with an appetite for big rides, big terrain and big smiles.

Zoooom

   The EPO is currently only available in a super bling Launch edition spec. The key feature of this spec is the Shimano XT Di2 drivetrain, which integrates superbly with the Shimano Steps battery and motor. One of the most common complaints we’ve had of e-bikes is that shifting can be clunky unless perfectly timed, as it can be difficult to judge the amount of power going through the drivetrain. Shimano have all but solved this problem by having the Steps motor back off when the Di2 shifter is used, saving time on gear changes and putting less strain on your drivetrain. The Steps display unit also syncs with the Di2 shifter; displaying your current gear as well as indicating the motor’s power output – helping you to chose the optimal gearing for your cadence.

 

Launch Edition

  The rest of the LE build is as you’d expect from a top of the range Orange. Full Kashima coated goodness, Hope bits wherever they’ll fit and a striking colour scheme. The Stans Flow rims are a new one for an Orange build, with the extra strength helping support the e-bikes larger weight. The Launch Edition build will set you back £7500 – not a bad price for a bike with Di2 and top spec components! Orange will also be making the EPO available in the RS and Factory spec options in the near future, although prices for these build have not yet been announced. You might also be please to hear that Orange have not gone down the 650b+ route on the EPO, which seems to be pretty commonplace on the e-bike market, opting instead for a normal 650b wheel size.

Sideways Orange

  The best e-bikes are the ones which you forget are e-bikes, and this is certainly the case with the Alpine 6 E. It has everything you’d expect from an orange – great ride feel, incredible balance and stability, and confidence inspiring geometry – and combines it with the impressively well thought out and well engineered Shimano Steps battery and motor. For those who don’t mind spending a little extra, the LE model lets you get the most out of the Steps system with it’s Di2 shifting and top-end spec. We will be receiving a couple of Alpine 6 E Launch Edition bikes in medium and large in the near future, so be sure to pop into our Amblside store if you want to see the bike for yourself. The pricing for the RS and Factory spec models should be announced in the near future, so keep an eye out for more details!

 

Happy trails,

 

Joe