Orange 224 GBR DH review

The 224 GBR is light, efficient, fast as hell and, like many great inventions, it’s British.

The 224GBR DH is an outstanding downhill bike – it’s the closest you’ll get to riding the world-class rig that Steve Peat rode last year and it’s made right here in good old Blighty…

Many great things have emerged from the UK: television, The Beatles, fish and chips, quality beer and, of course, Orange Mountain Bikes. The Halifax-based company have always lovingly handcrafted their bikes and have been well supported by riders from the UK and, more recently, across the world. Working with three-time Downhill World Cup Champion Steve Peat for several years has enabled them to sort the small details that turn already great bikes into amazing machines. The new Orange 224 – Peaty’s World Cup race-winning downhill rig from the 2005 season – is a more than worthy Super Bike…

Handmade in Halifax, the 224 frame starts life as a few simple sheets, lumps and tubes of aluminium. The building process alone is astonishing, with specific machines to make each bend, fold and bulge in the chassis, but that’s a whole story in itself.

The 224 frame is a refined version of the 222 chassis that’s been winning races since it was released in 2000. It’s now an attention-grabbing slender thoroughbred. The older, angular swingarm has been replaced with a simpler, cleaner looking unit and Orange have managed to save weight and increase performance. A new low pivot position offers a noticeable improvement in the rear end’s action throughout the stroke… but you’d probably have guessed that anyway. The front end has been slimmed down and adjusted too. Combine all these tweaks and it all adds up to an amazingly low overall weight that’s just shy of 38lb. Fork lock (the angle through which you can turn the fork) is better than on previous frames and there’s plenty of shock, bottom bracket height and head angle adjustment.

The GBR is the all-singing, all-dancing top-of-the-range machine in the 224 fleet. The graphics are smart, patriotic and mouthy – when this thing comes hammering through a rock garden, all eyes will be on it.

Then there’s the spec. Orange have cut no corners here, fitting the best of everything: RaceFace supply a Diabolus bar, stem, crankset and seatpost, the chainguide is an MRP and the drivetrain SRAM X0. Hope also get in on the act, providing DH4 brakes, Pro 2 hubs and a headset, and the wheels include Mavic X321 rims and Maxxis High Roller tyres. The rear shock is a Fox DHX 5.0 and the fork is a formidable RockShox Boxxer World Cup.

The 224 GBR is astonishingly light because of the frame and fork; everything else is just regular top-of-the-range stuff. You could go mad about weight reduction, fitting a lighter bar and stem, titanium spring, Fox DHX air shock, tubeless tyres and so on, but you really don’t need to – this bike flies as stock. We can’t get enough of it. There’s a whole lot of suspension techno-babble out there but don’t get caught up in it; Orange have kept it simple and the results speak for themselves. The 224 GBR is light, efficient, fast as hell and, like many great inventions, it’s British.


Designed, developed and handmade in Britain

Only weighs as much as a single-crown freeride rig

A World Cup winning mother of a bike


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