Bike review: Ortre Cinco5


Ortre's a Sydney-based design studio that creates products for 'everyday cyclists'; it's a pretty new name on our shores and it describes the Cinco5 as its "lightweight, urban utility bike".

With the growing visibility of 'box bikes' or Christiania-style bikes, that's what many people now think of as 'cargo bikes', but the Cinco5 comes from the long-established rear load-carrying school, much like the Kona Ute, though nothing like as burly. 

Its frame is a million miles away from a conventional 'double diamond' bike design. The oversized head-tube is as long as the fork legs for added stability and upright riding position; the 'top-tube' is actually a pair of tubes in the style of a women's 'mixte' frame that curve out past the rear axle before meeting the drop-out, adding rigidity for heavy loads; the 'down-tube' is supported by an additional bracing tube to the bottom bracket; and both the chunky seat-stays and chainstays are shaped to allow for very wide tyres. Just behind the bottom bracket there's a welded plate where the double-leg kickstand is attached, plus there's bottle cage mounts should you need them.

That's a whole lot of tubing, so you'd think it must weigh a tonne and handle like a beast, right? Well that's where the Cinco5 is very different – it's not made from heavyweight steel, but from 6000 series aluminium (certified to European Standard compliance). You can comfortably lift it one-handed, which can't be said of most cargo bikes, and on the road it has impressive manners.

It comes in two frame colours (beige or matt black) and two wheel sizes (20in or 24in) – we tested the smaller wheel size which is suitable for riders up to about 180cm tall. The seatpost is long enough to allow plenty of adjustment and there's also a huge 6cm stack of headset spacers so you can tailor the handlebar position. Riding position and comfort is further enhanced by a 640mm riser bar, however we're not fans of the supplied ergonomic grips (though that's a personal preference like saddle choice).

The Tektro V-brakes offer easy adjustment and sufficient stopping power, while the 9-speed drivetrain (48t chainring with guard) is ideal for bombing around town and tackling moderate inclines.

We say 'bombing' as the Cinco5 is far more sprightly and nimble that its look might imply. In fact we'd go as far as to say it was something of a revelation. It doesn't 'feel' or ride like a traditional cargo bike, it accelerates more like a hybrid; with a mid-weight load we were quite happy outpacing racers and fixie riders, it's a dark horse in any commuter leapfrog challenge. Stand on the pedals for a quick burst of speed and things can get a bit squirelly due to the load distribution, but this bike's meant for seated riding and in that position you can happily cruise across town at a decent lick.

We've tried heavy boxes of books and magazines in the alloy basket, and also lighter grocery shopping (you'll need your own bungee cords to secure bags), with little effect on performance or handling. Ortre rate the max load at 15kg, though UK distributor Leftfield Bikes suggests a 10kg limit saying the onus is "on speed and volume rather than weight".

Worth mentioning is the fact that the spec of the bike you can buy will be improved over the one we rode. Not only will you get sealed bearings thoughout to improve service intervals, you'll get semi-slick street tyres, security bolts to replace the wheel skewers and seatpost clamp, plus mudguards as standard.  

At just 13kg – the weight of many low-end hardtail mountain bikes – the Cinco5 is what we'd be tempted to call 'cargo lite'. An interesting addition to a growing niche.

Review: John Kitchiner