Enter the Orange Switch 7, taking its name from our fun, popular MX wheeled Switch 6 but going bigger, faster, and harder, this bike is taking things a little more seriously.
The aim with the Switch 7 was to produce a race bike, to take everything we already knew with the addition of feedback from supported EWS racers and the newly established factory racing program and combine that to make a bike that’s even more capable of competing at the sharp end of races on the toughest tracks in the world.
The Switch 7 is a true representation of Orange Bikes’ capabilities in frame development and production. The frame and each individual component have seen extensive FEA analysis and 3D modelling to identify any potential issues and to optimise each structure to perform at its best.
Of course, we back all of this up with real-world prototype testing and have clocked up the miles amongst the test team, Factory Racing team and a few riders who are known for being hard on bikes, validating the computer analysis and giving us the confidence in the design.
FEA has been used for for both deflection and fatigue to fine tune the frame’s elements for strength and optimal compliance.
Although the frame silhouette is still very intentionally that of an Orange, a great deal has changed, but also much remains the same. This is a completely UK made frame, manufactured by the hands of craftsmen with decades of experience, from flat sheets of aerospace grade aluminium to individually custom-fabricated tubes, seam-welded for each specific purpose, working in harmony with CNCed components from aluminium billet meticulously modelled and analysed.
This all produces an aluminium frame with a weight less than that of many ‘carbon’ frames in its category. It also means we have a product that’s strong, durable and fully recyclable at the end-of-life cycle.
WHY THE SWITCH 7 NOW?
Orange’s image in the media has always been “Those British guys who make the simple single-pivot bikes in the grim north…”
Well, first up, it’s not grim up North, it’s pretty damn spectacular and we are blessed with some of the finest trails in the country on which to hone and test our bikes.
Secondly, performance single-pivot is and always will be the core of the Orange Bikes philosophy; that will never change. We believe in the benefits of a single-pivot system, its performance and its unique ride feel that make an Orange Bike iconic; and that is not as simple as you think.
Racing has been a part of our culture since Orange’s inception, the hunger to compete and challenge ourselves has always been part of the company’s ethos from day one. The new Switch 7 was born out of a need simply to go faster on the race track!
So why now? That’s not to say that we haven’t done a linkage bike before!
Over the years there have been many examples of Orange bikes using a linkage, some that we have put into production and many more which we have prototyped. At the right point in time when we find a valid reason to proceed with a linkage bike, we have done, and these bikes have been used on the UCI World Cup downhill circuit, with privateer racers as well as on your local trails for years.
When we conceived the idea of a new Orange Factory Racing team to compete in the EWS the seeds of a new enduro race bike were already germinating.
At Orange we are passionate about all things two-wheeled. The mix of decades of development with our unique frame construction methods, along with a race team with plenty of years under their belt, meant we had the ideal melting pot to create our greatest race platform yet.
SWEATING THE DETAILS
The Switch 7 is an MX wheeled enduro bike 170mm travel front and rear. It uses a link-driven 205×65 trunnion shock, mounted low in the frame helping to lower the bike’s centre of gravity and allow for a more neutral weight distribution whilst riding. A trunnion mounted shock in our factory spec runs on a full complement of bearings instead of bushings, both the trunnion mount and lower eyelet, along with all the frame pivots run on cartridge bearings allowing us to achieve as low as possible break away force, providing incredible sensitivity to the initial part of the shock’s stroke.
The lynchpin of this dynamic bike is our STRANGE power link. STRANGE (Special Technology RANGE) has been responsible for numerous projects, from prototype frames to general components like grips, for a large proportion of Orange’s existence. It forms a huge part of our development process and has seen some pretty incredible products over the years. Some of which never saw it past the testing phases.
The STRANGE power link allows us to have a considerably more progressive shock curve than we have used previously. It’s this shock curve which adds to the truly bottomless feeling that the Switch 7 delivers, but also allows the use of both high-volume air cans or coil shocks. Through the rear shock’s travel, the leverage ratio falls from 2.85 to 2.10. Looking at shock force, this means the real working progression is 36%. The curve was developed so it maintains the fun direct feel that Orange bikes have become famous for while adding the big travel requirements of a very progressive platform.
With the bike’s kinematics sorted, this race machine also benefits from our lowest pivot position to minimise pedal kickback, and drivetrain induced interference, leaving the rider to do the job at hand. Anti-squat numbers for the Switch 7 in the 32/52t gearing start at 130% falling to 105% at full travel. Around dynamic sag the anti-squat is at 120%, this means that the bike will be efficient on the pedals when pushing hard in or out of the saddle.
An additional request from the Orange Factory Racing team was to have an option to increase the bike’s bottom bracket height, we’ve done this using an additional pair of “dog bone links” which are available separately and increase the bikes BB height by 5mm with only a half-degree steepening of the head angle, giving the rider the choice when the terrain demands it without adversely affecting the steering geometry.
The frame is covered in features not previously seen on our bikes and are the result of meticulous analysis and testing. The Switch 7 sports a 49/56 ZS headtube, this has helped improve both strength and stiffness at the front end of the bike, increase the surface area for welding between head tube, down tube and top tube as well giving us enough room to drop the downtube slightly to allow for a water bottle in the front triangle. To make access even easier new tooling was produced to create a recess on the top side of the down tube. The bike also uses a UDH gear hanger incorporating SRAM’s new industry standard and allowing a spare to be bought at nearly every bike shop on the planet.
Technology developed on other models also plays it part, the Switch 7 has an asymmetrical swingarm design similar to the recently released Stage 6 Evo, this swingarm allowed us to increase the bike’s vertical stiffness whilst tuning its lateral compliance, producing a bike with a direct feel but with buckets of grip.
Focussing on chassis dynamics has been important throughout the Switch 7’s testing program. It’s easy to make a bike too stiff and effectively end up with reduced traction and a “dead” or “wooden” feel to the bike’s ride. A large part of the additional grip being produced by this bike is down to a design that isolates the shock from the lateral forces coming through the frame particularly during hard cornering and large compressions, so the shock is only loaded in a linear manner. There were a few reasons for doing this; first to ensure the best possible life of the shock and bearings, second to minimise any external input that could increase friction and hamper the shock’s performance, and third this linkage design allowed us to control the swingarm’s lateral compliance using custom designed and manufactured tubes specific for the job.
Throughout the design process we were conscious of our reputation for low maintenance bikes. We made every effort to conceal the majority of our bearings within the front of the swingarm, out of harm’s way and safe from jet-washers.
Bikes will come with a 5 year bearing warranty for the original owner and any original owners outside of that period will receive heavily subsidised pricing.
The icing on the cake is our new chainstay and downtube protectors. These keep your pride and joy looking sharper for longer, help dampen chain slap, impact from stones and are the final details on a bike that has seen an incredible amount of development.
- Frame: 6061-T6 Monocoque UK Formed Custom Aluminium Tubing. Wheel Size: MX – 29/27.5. Rear wheel travel: 170.
- Fork: Fox Performance 38 Float 170mm 29.
- Shock: Fox Float X Performance 205×65.
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 12spd.
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RE 200/180.
- Cranks: E13 Helix 32t 170mm.
- Bottom Bracket: E13.
- Headset: FPD 44mm / 56mm zerostack.
- Wheelset: E13 LG1 30mm + Strange Pro 29.
- Handlebars: Burgtec RideWide Enduro 800mm.
- Stem: Burgtec Enduro Black 42.5mm.
- Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4 EXO 29/ DHR II 2.4 EXO 27.5.
- Dropper Post: SDG Tellis 150/170mm.
- Seat: WTB Silverado SL.