Longtermer: Gary's Orange Gyro – Just in!
The truly great opinion dividers in mountain biking’s past: suspension and disc brakes. Both greeted with skepticism and now both almost universally adopted. Lets face it anyone running a rigid bike for whatever reason is in the niche minority. And most of those on rigids are actually running disc brakes! The latest is not so clear cut – wheel size.
And I really don’t think there’s going to be a single victor from this latest ‘conventions’ blood bath. Much of the buying public are eyeing 29ers and now 650b with suspicion. Why now have 29ers gone properly mainstream after so long as niche status; with 650b being ushered in so quickly afterwards; and all at a time when mountain bike evolution has got a bit trickle-like in its improvements, rather than the uber revolutions of nineties and noughties? To “sell more bikes” I hear you scream!
But if you take the tinfoil hats off for one second and ride a few, you’ll realise each has its merits and this is ultimately going to come down to rider preference rather than a single size ‘winning’ at the end. I’m as confident that 29ers are here to stay, as I am that 26ers will be too. Big manufacturers can keep dropping 26ers form their ranges, but I think they’ll just be playing into the hands of smaller, often frame-only manufacturers. Cotic still sell 3 Souls for every 1 Solaris 29er.
and for the rest of us we have the virtue of choice. I like choice.
Privateer recently made some very good points about how this could be quite negative for XC racing in particular and I agree. But semi or actually-competitive XC racers are the minority, and for the rest of us we have the virtue of choice. I like choice.
Me? I’ve gone 29er over the last year. It’s not because I’m tall either. At 5’8” I’m apparently in the ‘too short for 29ers’ demographic, but after riding Santa Cruz’s Tallboy I was intrigued, and after Trek’s Superfly 100 I was entirely sold. I just like them, I like the extra speed (sensation and actual speed, it doesn’t matter what xc trails I ride, the 29er is always faster), and I actually like the way they ride. Don’t judge me for it, it’s just my choice!
So when it came to my longtermer for the 2013 season, I knew I wanted a 29er, I knew I wanted something full-suss, I knew I wanted something a bit do it all, but specifically I wanted to dabble in the UK’s fastest growing racing format, Enduro. And specifically on a 29er!
I considered a few things but a chance conversation with Pete Scullion—who’d just left Hotlines to take up the task of handling Marketing and Sponsorship at Orange Bikes—resulted in us quickly talking spec and options on Orange’s new Gyro (OK, honestly? We mostly talked custom colours).
If you don’t know, the Gyro is Orange’s first stab at a 29er. They didn’t play it safe and put a hardtail out first though (although prototypes are doing the rounds). Nope, straight for the full susser! Of course this is a smaller gamble really. I mean they only had to go into the shed and weld up a Five with some bigger wheels on it, right?
Well that’s not fair or true, although the fact they can weld them up and try them out the next day definitely helped! The Gyro has been in development for a while and Pete’s predecessor Dave Flynn had been riding prototypes around for ages on the quiet. He even bought one of the final bikes for himself when he left. Orange can’t afford to release a whole new bike without good reason, and Michael Bonney who does the day to day running of Orange was a touch skeptical of them, so the fact that the bike is actually on sale at all means Orange must be pretty pleased with it!
Previously only available as a limited run of 50 bikes in ‘Black Gold’ flavour, the Gyro sold out and has made the full line up for 2013 – and apparently there’s another full-bounce one on the way! If you’re familiar with the Orange line up, there’s the usual S and Pro specs. An SE spec has been hinted at and I wouldn’t rule out an AM spec either, the Gyro is good for a 140mm fork! Fox 34s anyone?
I’m jumping ahead though. At first glance, the Gyro literally looks like a 29er Orange Five, the level of build is similar, the silhouette not too dissimilar. It’s had to give back a bit in terms of travel though, but the weight gain over the Five is minimal. Standard fork travel is 120mm (rated up to 140mm), the rear offers up 110mm. The Gyro is not exactly the shortest bike in the chainstay but they’ve managed to keep the seatpost straight, use a standard clamp on mech, and maintain a healthy amount of tyre clearnace, all by keeping rear travel shorter.
What I’ve got here is the Pro spec Gyro in Neon Green (custom colour, £100 extra). For £2,999 you get one of Halifax’s finest hand-built frames kitted out with Fox Float CTD rear shock and Float 29 FIT fork, also with CTD. It’s a bit of a hybrid groupset consisting of SLX Shifters and front mech, an XT Shadow-plus rear mech (the one with the clutch thingy that minimises chain slap and droppage), and a Race Face Evolve XC triple crankset. The Hope Tech Evo X2 brakes are a highlight too.
Rotation duties are taken care of with a set Hope Pro 2 Evo hubs laced to some Mavic TN319 rims, Conti’s Mountain King II in 2.2 takes care of grip. The whole thing is finished of with Race Face Ride XC stem and seatpost, SDG Falcon saddle and Orange’s own Hotrod 700mm flat bar.
Up on the scales and the stock Gyro Pro records a weight of 30lbs 1oz, without pedals, for the medium sized frame. It was a little more than expected given I’d not even put any spuds on yet. I initially swapped out the standard, heavy, steel-bead Mountain Kings for some fancier, faster rubber – Bontrager’s excellent 29-1 Team Issues in 2.2 to be precise. They’re a little bit close to the XC end of the scale for the Gyro but on man made trails they’ve proven to be an exceptional tyre all year on my Superfly. With that, it clocked the scales at a more reasonable 29lbs 2oz, without pedals.
The Bontys really helped give the Gyro a little more spring out of the blocks but when pushing really hard they were quickly overwhelmed. I’ve got some WTB Wolverines and Conti’s Rubber Queens on review (I've put one on each end) and while gaining a bit of weight, the Gyro doesn’t feel that much slower. Initial signs are that this burlier combo is a much better fit for the Gryo and it’s still a touch lighter and faster rolling than with the Mountain Kings.
I’ve also got a BB mount chain device to fit (no ISCG tabs) and I’m going to run a double and bash guard as well. The Gyro comes ready with dropper post guides and no Enduro bike would be complete without one, so watch this space.
The weight certainly makes itself known as you pull away and it’s very much a case of winding it up to speed rather than exploding forward. With that said, it carries its speed well once moving and the Gyro name feels pretty apt. Riding it back to back with a much lighter built 28lb Orange Five, the Gyro felt quicker and no heavier once moving on most things except steeper climbs. And then the 29er traction levels took over anyway if it was technical.
I’ve got a 1km singletrack segment I use as a little benchmark, it’s not all that conclusive or rough, but it’s a fairly flat, pedally, berm-filled man-made trail. It’s a pretty good test of bike handling and power delivery though, and this seems to still be more of a factor on the time than say bike weight for example.
Trek’s Superfly 100 AL Pro (28lb) and Whyte’s 29-C (24lb) hold my personal best with equal times, the Five (28lb) is some 10 seconds slower than the two 29ers, Trek’s Superfly AL Pro hardtail (27lb) is the only other bike I’ve done it on which was another few seconds slower than the Five. My run on the Gryo was a little scrappy and a bit too try-hard and I was pretty unhappy with it. But despite a two wheel washout (that’ll be Bonty tires giving way under the brutish Gyro) and subsequent stall on the berm, the Gyro was still only 3 seconds down on my PB. I’m going back out on the Rubber Queen/Wolverine tyre combo the first chance I get. If I can set a new PB on this nearly 31lb bike on such a smooth trail, that’s going to be pretty impressive start to our time together.
Speaking of which, I can’t wait to see how it scales up on rougher trails. The Gyro seems like it’s going to hold up and be a bit of a monster. When you put your foot on the pedal and try and flex the BB area, it’s impressively stiff and not just for a single pivot bike. Load it up into big, fast berms, and you’re forced to use that tired old cliche: it genuinely corners like it’s on rails. There’s something very freight train about it in terms of momentum, there’s no sense of deceleration or stalling in corners and no sensation of scrabbling or smearing your way out of the exit (with the right tyres of course). It’s hilariously point and shoot to ride! Again, I hate to use another cliche, but man it just rolls! If I had to be a little critical, the longer chainstay length means it’s a little unforgiving and makes itself known if you go too deep/tight into corners, and you’ll find yourself fighting it a little bit to get the front round. Ride properly and you’re fine!
a bike that’s very good at simply doing what you ask of it, exactly as you intended.
The Gyro is instantly ‘Orange’ in terms of familiarity, if you’ve ridden Oranges before, you’ll feel like old friends. It has that classic balance and neutrality found in both the Five and Patriot, which allows you to start riding at your maximum pretty much from the first corner. There’s not much to learn about how it rides, no character flaws, quirks or nuances that you need to learn. Some might mistake that for being boring but it’s also the sign of a bike that’s very good at simply doing what you ask of it, exactly as you intended.
Despite feeling very weighted and slow on the road, it seems to come alive very quickly the second you get offroad and it’s very easy and keen to pop about on the trails. Repeated, opposing turns are swallowed up, slamming into one then the other with never a grumble or reaction, other than the one you intended of course!
Well that’s all I can say for now. I’m really looking forward to getting out on something ‘bigger’ and seeing if the Gyro really is up to the task of being a 29 inch Orange Five. My gut says it is, and so far it really does just feel like a Five with 29er wheels stuck on it, but in a really good way, and dare I say it, faster?