One of the most stalwart of British off-road brands was polishing a new limited-edition carbon-fibre road bike last night in preparation for the opening the Eurobike trade show in southern Germany today.
The carbO is a short run of sixty race bikes being built by Yorkshire mountain bike specialist Orange to test the water for a later commitment to the road based on demand from its dealers. Bearing in mind there are over seventy UK Orange stockists, it's reasonable to assume these will be snapped up. According to Dave Flynn and Michael Bonney who showed road.cc the new model, over half the production run is already spoken for.
Priced at £1,900, Flynn says, "We know we're probably pitched £100-£150 more than other bikes with good carbon frames and Shimano 105 components but our customers being mountain bikers are used to looking at the hidden details like bottom brackets and hubs." Sure enough, the groupset is a complete one, being one of the very few 2012 bikes we've seen with a chainset and brakes to match the 105 transmission.
Very respectable cockpit parts and wheels from Easton will also be recognised by mountain bikers who tend to be experienced consumers and, according to Flynn, "We've also kept it simple on things like a BB30 bottom bracket," - there isn't one - although there is a tapered headtube and an overall look of up-to-the-minuteness that shouldn't really be surprising considering Orange's reputation.
Orange has made road bikes in the past, reminding road.cc that when it made Tange Prestige steel race frames back in the 1990s they had mountain bike style sloping top tubes well ahead of the contemporary trend and recently there have been road-going Urban additions to the range. In fact, two prototypes for models Cycle To Work Scheme budget-busting models called ExpressO and SolO are on discreet display at Eurobike featuring quite the most interesting combination of hydroformed alloy seatstays and forks that we've seen all season.
An interesting hint from Michael Bonney was that Orange is even contemplating a tourer; shocking on some levels but not so much when he explains that many of the customers of the new larger-wheeled 29er mountain bikes are fitting carrier racks, either for commuting or more pleasurable weekend jaunts, or both.