My bike was made in August 1996 and the forks an up-grade to the F14 Alloy forks which were offered at the time.
So he's saying that it conforms to the normal interpretation of the serial number format then, but I have to say it still doesn't mean it's a 1996 model. After being built in Taiwan in August, it had to be freighted half way round the world, be assembled into a bike and be distributed to a shop, which is all going to take a fair while. Orange were a bit more haphazard than bigger brands, but even they used to get the new model year bikes to the shops before Christmas each year, which means that they must have been building the frames for the 97 model year by August of 96 (and for a few months before that as well).
Ben@OrangeBikeUK may be a helpful contact, as I have known previous enquiries result in people being given advice that was plainly wrong. Perhaps it depends on whether the person you get through to has the standing in the company to be able to just go and ask Steve Wade.
I'm guessing the thoughts and processes for dating a bike are very much open to interpretation. there are many variables that seem to sway decisions on the age of an item, who you speak to whether they are an expert or not, groupset, colour, geometry etc etc, the list goes on.
The hard part of the evidence in this case is the Stamp and Serial Number on the frame. The frame may have been transported around the globe, may have sat in some warehouse waiting for dispatch to a local bike shop or supplier, may have even sat in some bike shop for a number of months before seeing light and being ridden home, but the Frame was born into the MTB world on this date.
Maybe it would be better stating its a 96 Orange with 97 Spec equipment? Who knows?.........
Anyway whilst we strive to get out 'Retro' rides looking good, and as close to the rides we once had as kids or dreamed of in most cases, one thing i can say is weather it be 85,95,96,97 we love them and in today's era where old is to easily discarded this has to be a good thing........
I am one happy Orange owner and thats what counts
"Would anyone else rather be doing something other than marching up and down the square????"