Despite being a brand not exactly known for lightweight bikes, Orange has launched the Phase Evo E.P.O. (Electric Powered Orange) – a lightweight electric mountain bike that they say can do it all. Ready to power up the steepest of climbs with natural feeling handling on the way down. The Orange Phase Evo is one of the first bikes to use the new lighter Bosch Performance Line SX drive system, and as you would expect from the legendary Yorkshire MTB brand, it comes built into a sleek-looking Orange suspension chassis with 160mm of travel. So is the Phase Evo that magical combination of power, efficiency and finesse? and what sets it apart from its hardcore best electric mountain bike rivals? We have a look at the details to find out more...
Frame evolution and geometry
The Phase Evo comes as an MX (mullet) wheeled E.P.O. mountain bike with a 29-inch front and 27.5-inch rear wheel and 160mm travel front and rear. Orange says 'Evo' means that the geometry is tuned, and ready to deliver an aggressive ride and give the feeling of a big travel bike in a compact chassis, making the bike fast and stable with a bottomless suspension feel.
The geometry for the Phase Evo is similar to the recently resurrected Orange Patriot, another E.P.O e-MTB that carries the brand's legendary Patriot name. The Phase Evo like its Patriot sibling has a performance-orientated slack 63-degree head angle. A forward-looking 76-degree seat tube angle, that Orange say when combined with the roomy 481mm reach (on a Large), and lengthy chainstays at 448mm, will put the rider front and center, perfectly balanced on the contact points for supreme control, climbing and descending. The E.P.O. Phase Evo's bottom bracket height is 343mm (from the ground), and has 165mm crank arms, for better ground clearance and reduced pedal strikes when climbing technical trails under power.
To help keep that ride super-plush the Phase Evo uses a 205x65 trunnion shock and has a revised lower shock mount. This allows for a bearing eyelet to be used, which has been done to achieve a lower breakaway force, which they say provides incredible sensitivity to the initial part of the shock's stroke, while maintaining the performance and feel of their single-pivot chassis. The Phase Evo has the monocoque frame construction you would expect on the latest Orange frames, with an optimized pivot position and when combined with the asymmetric swingarm it increases the bike's vertical stiffness, while tuning its lateral compliance, producing a bike that they claim feels direct under power but delivers bucketloads of grip.
There's a tapered head tube that also increases stiffness and strength and revised sizing with shorter seat tube lengths that vary from 16 inches to 19 inches across the sizings, which allows for longer dropper posts to be used.
There’s even room on the Phase Evo to include a small S.A.F.E. compartment (Stores Accessories Food & Equipment) meaning riders don't have to strap so much to the outside of the bike, keeping goodies hidden but readily available. It also gives you handy access to the additional power button on the integrated downtube battery should it be required.
Hand-built in Britain
Like the Orange Patriot and also the Orange Msisle E.P.O's, the Phase Evo uses the brand's iconic aircraft-grade aluminum folded monocoque construction. The Evo frames features are the result of what they say is a meticulous analysis and test rider feedback. With state-of-the-art aluminum craftsmanship, they say the frames produced today are the very best they've ever made.
Manufactured from flat sheets of aerospace grade aluminum into individually custom-fabricated tubes, then seam-welded for each specific application, working in harmony with CNC machined components from aluminum billet, all meticulously modeled and analyzed. All are produced, manufactured and tested in the UK at their facility. The final product is strong, durable and, importantly, fully recyclable. Orange also offers a five-year warranty and a limited lifetime crash replacement.
Bosch lightweight power
The Phase Evo is the first E.P.O to use the lightweight Bosch Performance Line SX drive and differs significantly from the power assistance on the other Orange E.P.O. models. This SX drive unit responds more dynamically to a rider's input. Pedal fast and you’ll go faster, and the 55Nm Performance Line SX unit will match your input and deliver more watts. This means that it's extremely effective and feels more powerful than its number suggests, the higher your cadence, the more support it will give you, up to a huge 600 watts. Orange says this is the perfect e-MTB for riders that still want to ‘ride’ and also feel the benefit of a workout while getting the most out of the trail.
The Bosch Performance Line SX motor weighs in at just 2kg, but packs a proper punch of power. It's also quieter, and coupled with the CompactTube 400 integrated battery makes for a lightweight electric mountain bike that rides and feels as close as you could get to an analogue trail bike, with that added 600 watts of superpower.
The Performance Line SX’s energy-saving power use and the overall light bike weight means that the range is similar to a heavy-hitting full-fat e-MTB, and the dynamic Bosch system detects input power and cadence to modulate the assistance to perfectly match the trail. Intelligent mode also has an impressive arsenal of features, standing starts on steep climbs are easy and there shouldn't be any overpowered slip-ups on loose terrain. Extended boost gives that extra kick of power when needed most to get riders up and over roots and stepped rocky sections.
The Bosch system is accessed through the compact yet extensive Purion 200 bar-mounted computer that gives just about everything a rider could need to control the bike’s power, and the new Flow eMTB app offers a staggering number of features along with constant updates and improvements.
The Performance Line SX, like its big CX brother, features four ride modes – Eco, Tour, eMTB and Turbo. These are all customisable through the Flow app. The Orange Phase Evo also has the capability to take on board the Bosch PowerMore 250 range extender. An extra 250 Wh battery to give you more options on big days out.
Pricing, availability and specification
The first model available will be the Orange Phase Evo LE. Priced at $8,700 / £7,900 / €8,900 and comes in Gloss Wasabi Green. Orange also offers a five-year warranty and a limited lifetime crash replacement. All the details on ordering and dealers are available at Orangebikes.com.
Orange Phase Evo LE
- Frame: 6061-T6 Monocoque UK Formed Custom Aluminum
- Motor: Bosch Performance Line SX
- Battery: Bosch Compact Tube 400wh
- Fork: Fox Performance 36 Float 160mm 29
- Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory 205x65
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano SLX 12spd
- Shifters: Shimano SLX 12spd
- Stem: Burgtec Enduro Black 42.5mm
- Bar: Burgtec RideWide Enduro 800mm
- Crankset: Race Face Aeffect R E-MTB 34t 165mm
- Seatpost: Fox Factory Transfer 150/175mm Drop
- Saddle: SDG Strange Bel Air III
- Brakes: Shimano SLX Trail 203/203
- Wheels: Stans Flow Mk4 + Hope Pro 5 (Black) 29 + 27
- Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 3c EXO+ 29 / DHR II 2.4 3c EXO+ 27.5
- Color: Gloss Wasabi Green
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Weight: TBC
- Price: $8,700 / £7,900 / €8,900