Our team rider Neil Wilson grabbed himself a ride on Orange's new downhill bike the 322 at Fort William. Here's his first thoughts on Orange's latest DH weapon!
"When I was out at the European Masters Championships in Slovenia last month, a couple of my regular competitors commented that they were surprised that I wasn’t riding my usual Orange bike... “the British rider should have the British bike” they said which led me to asking a friend who works at Orange whether there was a demo version of their very recently released new downhill bike, the ‘322’, available and if so , was there any chance of me borrowing it.
And so, only a couple of days before I was heading to Fort William for the SDA Scottish Champs, I was collecting a 322 from Alpine Bike’s Innerleithen store. I would never usually try anything for the first time at any race, especially not at the Champs, but after a quick look over the bike , I knew it was race ready and wouldn’t let me down.
Having evolved over the years from the constant tweaking of the 222/223/224, the 322 is Orange’s latest version of their downhill bike. Straight out of the box it had everything I would want on a DH bike - Fox 40 forks, Renthal bars and stem, Hope Tech Evo V2 brakes (with an extra 15% power due to a new lever pivot point!) new MRP chain guide and Hope pro2 hubs on Mavic 721 rims. Even the Orange Strange grips that are fitted are a favourite of mine.
As soon as I jumped on the 322 it just ‘felt right’ and as I set off down the track I was having loads of fun. The only issue I had was that I was having so much fun that I kept ‘setting off down the track’ and I did far too many runs and ended up wrecking my hands to the point where I couldn’t hold on any longer. Anyway, it was all worth it for a great day’s riding. The change in the shock position on the new bike gives a “more progressive spring rate” but from my point of view the important bit is that it “just works” but is still as much fun to ride as its predecessor the 224 was and the Five still is. The bike performed faultlessly and at the end of a hard day didn’t need a thing doing to it. Even washing it was easier and quicker than my other bike.
Unfortunately , on race day I was still struggling to hold on, so my race run didn’t go well but it was another good weekend and as ever it was well organised by the Scottish Downhill Association. The next races in the Scottish series are at Dunkeld in August and Ae in September.
Thanks to Adam and Ben at Orange for arranging the loan of the 322 – I loved it!"
Hopefully we'll get one into our ever expanding demo fleet when the production bikes become available!