On-One Carbon Race 29″er Final Review: by M 1 (intro by c_g)
It is done … the platform has served us here at Twenty Nine Inches Europe for over 1/2 a year as a testing platform for the rigid fork shootout (here) and a series of other tests. The technical intros by c_g can be found here to the bike and here to the components. The bike has been a truly great workhorse without being to the least bit diva-like – despite the awesome overall weight of only 18 lbs (~ 8.3 kg) incl pedals. After I had been doing my time on this bike I handed it over to M1 to give it some ride time and put it through its paces. Here is what M1 has to say about the On-One Carbon Race 29er frame and fork:
The On-One Carbon Race 29’er is one of the newest in the crop of bikes from the well-known British brand On-One. On-One is typically known for putting out well-built, interesting bikes and parts for both mountain and road at quite good prices. Their influence has seemingly spread throughout the world. This frame and fork have been eagerly anticipated by On-One fans and others and lucky me, I got to test it for a few weeks.
THE BIKE BUILD –
I received this bike nearly fully built and it was only missing pedals, saddle, tires and grips. After mounting those I set up the bike to fit me which was pretty easy as it only required flipping the stem to drop the front end a bit to get closer to my personal bike set-up. The bike came equipped with On-One seat post binder and 1.125/1.5 headset, carbon 3T stem, 3T Doric Team seat post, 3T Extendo Team bar, Paul shifter pods with SRAM Time Trial shifters, New Ultimate SL Brakes (to be reviewed in a future post), SRAM X.9 rear derailleur, Shimano XT direct mount front derailleur and Shimano XT cranks.
THE LOOK AND FEATURES –
The technical aspects of this frame and fork have been covered in detail by c_g in two previous posts (here and here) so I won’t deal with that. I will give you my opinion of the aesthetics and the ride instead and leave the part reviews to another post.
As you can see from the photos, my test frame and fork were red & flat black instead of the shiny finish on the production frame. Also different on this one, in my understanding, is the way that the rear brake hose routing will be routed and retained. On this frame it was done with hose beds and plastic “C” clips which pretty easily popped out or broke all together. That is supposedly being addressed on the production models. I’ve also been informed that the fork will come with some sort of hose attachment point which the prototype didn’t have.
Other than the fact that there is barely a straight line on the whole frame it’s a pretty traditional double-diamond mountain bike frame. The details are where things get more interesting. You’ll notice that the carbon tubing is highly formed to get exactly the ride and stiffness that On-One wanted and you notice it in the ride. My personal bike is titanium and the contrast between the two is apparent when you are riding. This bike is both laterally and vertically stiff but still very comfortable to ride. Part of that might be the carbon seat post but I think that’s how it was designed.
Shifter cables are run internally which is often a polarizing feature as people either love or hate them. On the other hand, one nice feature is the rear brake is mounted on the left chain stay which cleans up the lines nicely. The bottom bracket junction is well executed and made for a BB92 press fit bottom bracket and it’s definitely stiff and wide. When you step on the pedals all the power goes into the pedals and you just go! I personally, would like it to be a little less wide but for most people, it will be great.
The graphics are well done with On-One stickers on the top tube, inside the chain stays and on the flat bottom face of the down tube. The seat tube sports a red/white “29″er” sticker and a black/red one on the inside of the fork. The contrast between the black and red set off by the red/black/white of the 3T parts and the FRM wheels (previously reviewed here) made it look really sharp. Optically, my one complaint would be at the front tubing intersection. It looks a bit “fat” compared to the rest of the sleek lines but it grows on you after awhile.
One more thing that is noteworthy is the massive tire clearance that allows for any tire you may want to ride this frame with (maybe not a 2.5 Dissent, but that was not really what the frame was designed for.)
THE FORK –
One of the most interesting and oft asked about parts of this bike is the fork. There might be some similarities to another popular carbon fork on the market but there are plenty of differences as well. As you might be able to see it’s profile and cross-section is more or less triangular and has a definite forward curve (as opposed to the “normal” rearward curve). I don’t know the actual reason for the forward curve but it rides well and the lines match the look of the frame really well. Oh, one other change that I’ve heard about has to do with the dropouts as they are vertical on this frame and should have a vertical-rearward angle in production forks.
After riding this bike for quite a few weeks in both training and racing situations I can honestly say that I really enjoyed every minute in the saddle. In one local race I had my personal best time ever for the course. During the race I found that I was more comfortable and more relaxed than even on my personal ride. Interestingly, in spite of sporting a rigid fork I found the ride very comfortable but yet stiff and highly maneuverable. After the race, I was also less fatigued than normal as well.
So, if you’re in the market for a very reasonably priced, superlight (at 1100 g for the frame and 550 g for the fork) carbon frame or frame/fork combo or a previous fan of On-One this might just be your thing. The aesthetics may not appeal to everyone, but in terms of function and ride quality the Carbon Race 29er rivals any highest end frame/fork out there (which often sell for double or triple the price. Not being a Carbon fan myself this bike has changed the way I was thinking about “plastic bikes” for good.
Ps: Note that according to On-One there will be a trickle down version of this exact bike – the “Lurcher” by On-One coming soon, which features the almost identical carbon frame but with the versatile Swap-Out dropout system (good for geared, SS and internally geared setups), a slightly heavier Carbon execution and a drastically reduced price. When available (which On-One claims in about 3 months), it will come in 4 sizes right away (16, 18, 19.5 & 21).