A couple of months ago, I read a review of the Alpine 160 and while I read it, I was once again tempted by the simplistic design and concept of the frames they build in Halifax. The fact that they went from the big massive one piece swingarm to the much less bulky looking 2 piece version on the Alpine frame made the difference for me to decide it was finally time for a new frame to replace the Nox Flux FR.
After seeing a picture of a custom colored bike on vitamtb, I ordered the frame on September 22nd via Radsport Kimmerle. To my knowledge, that was the only german dealer offering Orange bikes but I should learn that that was wrong information.
So anyway, after what seemed like a century, the frame arrived on October 18th. The build went very smooth, except for an axle change on the read wheel (from 135×12 to 142×12) and a different fork, I moved all parts from the Nox frame, even the unfamiliar cable routing on a single pivot frame went well. But when I first adjusted the seatpost to pedalable height, I was in shock. The seatpost had to be taken 29cm out of the frame to reach a good pedaling position.
That looked terrible and not safe at all. The post was still inserted like 12cm into the frame (it’s a 41cm Thompson) so technically it would not be a problem but just look at it. So my first thought was to exchange the frame for a larger version. But both my dealer and the orange guys themselves refused to do that since the frame was built and so not new any more. So I thought I’d put it on pinkbike and IBC and try to sell it as long as it is new without much of a loss and then re-buy the large frame size. Unfortunately, nobody was seriously interested. Other than someone offering a pink (yeah …) orange five frame in exchange, there were literally no offers.
So the bike sat there for like 2 weeks without being moved until my friend Michael came by to look at the bike. The first thing he said when seeing it was “are those shorter crank arms?”. I don’t know how his eyes spotted that but when we measured, they really were. The cranks I transferred from the Nox were actually 170mm short (instead of the usual 175mm) and I hadn’t known that for years. So we switched cranks (had some old 175mm Shimano Deore cranks in the garage) and then rolled it up and down the street. He convinced me to at least give it a try in the dirt the next weekend and boy am I glad I did …
On the first ride, the bike was equipped with the 45mm Nox stem, the old, ugly, worn and heavy Deore crank arms and no dropper post. It still rode uphill way better than the Nox had ever done, even when I was 40 pounds lighter than I am today. The frame comes with a Fox CTD shock, which does a magnificent job in quieting pedal bob on the full suspension frame. The first descents went well, too, although I have to admit that it took some time to get used to the length of the bike.
When I got home, I had a big smile on my face and was sure I did not buy the wrong frame size. The setup needed a few changes, but I was sure I could make it work now.
So I switched stems from the 45mm Nox Headhunter to a 60mm Raceface Respond, bought a lighter XT crankset in a black friday deal and put a kindshock lev dropper post with 150mm into it. It’s a total beast now.
Frame: Orange Alpine 160 26″ 2014
Shock: Fox Float Evolution Series CTD
Fork: Rock Shox Lyric RC2DH Solo Air (2010)
Wheelset: Alexrims Supra 30 + Hope Pro 2 Hubs
Front tyre: Maxxis Highroller II 1-ply 2.4
Rear tyre: Maxxis Advantage 2.4
Crankset: Shimano XT
Bottom Bracket: Shimano XTR
Pedals: Superstar Nano Tech Flats
Bars: Nukeproof War Head Low rise 800mm
Stem: Raceface Respond
Brakes: Avid Elixir R 2009 with 203/180 rotors
Seatpost: Kindshock Lev 150mm
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X7 Medium Cage
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT
Shifters: SRAM X7
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite Titanium (1997)
I will update the blog with descriptions of how it rides once I got more time on it. Just this much right now: I am very pleased with its performance so far.