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What style of bike best suits me? The 'ride guide' explained.

The world of cycling is full of buzz words and marketing propaganda. At Orange we try not to pigeon-hole bikes, we realise people ride as individuals, not according to the disciplines which are 'in' at the time. We created the 'ride guide' simply to show the type of riding the bike was designed for, but also its aptitude in related disciplines.

The marked boxes indicate the design brief of each frame, the stars then indicate how we judge its performance within each category. The Alpine 160 was designed for all-mountain and freeride applications, the stars then show its relative strengths within each discipline. The G3 was designed for XC-trail and adventure riding; the stars again show its relative strengths while the stop signs show any restrictions we place upon its use.

We have chosen the categories based on the most commonly used riding terms, a brief explanation of each is provided below:

Downhill: These bikes are designed for one thing: flat out downhill speed. They are built to take the abuse and provide run after run of big-hit excitement. Downhill bikes are purely performance orientated within a very specific discipline.

Freeride: Freeride bikes are designed for tough, technical, nadgery terrain. Freeriding can cover anything from ploughing through an Alpine rock field to negotiating your way through tricky 'north-shore' style trails in the local woods. They are built for serious terrain, but slightly higher bottom brackets and steeper head-angles generally make them more nimble at slower speeds than a dedicated downhill bike.

All-Mountain: All-mountain bikes do just that, they take you up and down any part of the mountain. They have the poise of a freeride bike on the downs, but air shocks and a lighter component package make them less of a struggle to get back up again. They're the bike for those who want to pedal, but still need a bike to take the hits.

XC Trail: This is the kind of riding most of us do in the UK. It includes everything from trail centre bashing to a full day of riding in the wilds. They're for anyone who rides all day and needs performance on the ups as well as the downs. But don't be fooled, just because it's an XC bike doesn't mean it isn't going to scream for more on the descents too.

Adventure: Adventure covers the more traditional aspects of XC. Big days out with a map and compass, getting lost on your local bridleways, or even finding a piece of singletrack which makes the commute to work the best part of the day.

Touring: Plan a route, pack your panniers and head out into the hills for a week of downtime. In our 'ride guide' this can include touring around country lanes, doing that point to point off-road ride you've been planning for years, or simply riding into work. These bikes can handle off-road riding, but they're designed for efficiency and versatility rather than trail abuse.

The critical reader will notice the overlap between these categories, and this is reflected in the rating system within the 'ride guide'. A freeride bike, for example, is going to have downhill and all-mountain capabilities. Similarly, an adventure oriented bike is going to have similarities with both an xc-trail bike and touring bike? that's our point, none of our bikes just do one thing.

When choosing a bike, be realistic about your capabilities. A longer travel bike does not make you a better rider; technique is learnt, not part of the bike package. If you're riding xc-trails, don't buy a freeride bike and believe it's going to make you a better rider. If you're in any doubt about what is going to suit you best, talk to your local dealer and get their advice. If you are still unsure, arrange a test ride and take the bike on the trails you ride. If you have fun and want to ride it more, it's definitely the bike for you. Riding is about feel, not the buzz word which forms the catalogue header.

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