The Obligatory Backgrounder
On-One is a bike company based in Yorkshire, England. The bikes they build are designed for the muddy UK riding conditions, and their preferred material is chromoly steel. Riders who are into singlespeed bikes should be very familiar with this company, as they also produce singlespeed bikes and aftermarket singlespeed conversion components. However, the bike on review today is an even rarer beast, an inbred with 29 inch wheels!
29er Bike Specs
The bike is looks similiar to a normal 26inch wheel inbred, but the bike geometry has been specially adjusted to cater to better serve the nuances of 29inch life. The frame is constructed from DN6 chromoly tubing, but that doesn’t mean it’s simply a boring hardtail frame. There are many interesting design details in this frame to warrant a closer look.
The top tube and downtube are gussetted for better strength, and there’s a 5 piece welded wishbone seatstays that provides amazing mud clearance and a compliant ride. The generous mud clearance is also present on the chainstays, as UK must be a very muddy place to ride indeed. The weatherproofing of the bike is further enhanced by the 100% cable housing routing, with extremely neat routing method over the top tube and both seatstays.
The frame also features removeable V-brake studs should you prefer to run discs. The rear dropouts are adjustable, allowing you to run singlespeed or slightly change your wheelbase to your preference. As the bike is built up for a typical trail/ agressive XC riding style, a combination of XT/XTR handles the braking/shifting duties. A Reba race with 100mm of travel handles the bumps admireably, while the wheelset consists of Alex TD17 rims, White Industries hubs and WTB Motoraptors 2.1 tires. The On One saddle features a smooth synthetic top adorned with a skull logo and white flames, with kelvar sides to protect it against the rough and tumble life of mountainbiking.
The first thing you noticed about the bike is that it feels difficult to get up to speed. With standard mountain bike gear ratios, the 29 inch wheels increase the gear range by about 10 percent over 26 inch wheels. Compounding the effect are the increased weight of 29 inch rims and tires. However, once the bike is up to cruising speed, it’s far easier to maintain moumentum as compared to the 26inch bikes. Offroading becomes alot easier because the bike is extremely stable and the big wheels rolls over ruts and roots which can normally stall 26inch wheels. All the rider has to do is to keep his/her weight centred over the bike, simply unweighing the front to go over an obstacle.
With a steeper 72 degree head angle (16inch frames come with 71 degree), turning circle is only slightly wider compared to a similiarly sized 26inch bike, and the chromoly frame gives the bike a very lively ride. The high headtube and wide riserbar also assisted with the cornering attitude of this bike. Because of the taller headtube to accomodate a 29 inch wheel/fork, climbing on the bike requires the rider to weigh the front down, but the increased traction of the bigger tires also allow the rider to attack out of the saddle in situations where a 26inch bike rider might need to keep seated.
The bike is also very stable and comfortable downhill. The chromoly frame and big wheels makes the bike feel like a softtail, with less bucking that you get on 26 inch hardtails. Mud clearance on the bike are one of the biggest I’ve seen, and together with continuous brake/shifter cable housings make it the best foul weather trail/ agressive XC bike I’ve ever ridden. The only concern is the chromoly frame itself, which can rust if not taken care off.
Traction from the WTB Motoraptors are impressive, partially due to the bigger contact patch of the 29inch wheels. It can claw up wet slick rocks and slimey roots. However, the wheel/tire combination has too much traction in sticky clay and mud conditions, often bogging the bike down. The tires also helped in the braking department, with a bigger contact patch helping the bike to stop more confidently.
The 29 inch Reba performed admirably in the trail, absorbing big and small hits equally well. It is also easy to set up, with the air pressure chart on the fork leg itself. However, the fork did not come with a remote pop-loc feature, and the compression knob can accidentally be closed from offroading.
Although 29inchers are quite rare on the market, there are several advantages (and disdvantages) to such a wheel size. 29 inchers have better obstacle clearing ability, better rolling characteristics, better traction, more stable and comfortable offroads when compared to their 26inch brethens.
It’s not all peachy though, as 29 inchers are a slug to accelerate up to speed, and aftermarket support for 29 inch specific parts and spares are still quite poor. The test bike was fitted with a 11-32 cassette, a 12-34 cassette would be welcome to bring the gearing abit lower.Als, it’s not really suitable for smaller sized riders below 1.6m tall, as the design might cause the huge front wheel to overlap with the feet. However, it’s a great all-purpose bike as you can slap on a pair of 700c touring tires and use the bike as an urban runabout, changing back knobbies for an offroad romp in the weekends.
If chromoly isn’t your metal of choice, On One will will be introducing a scandium version called the Scandal. The 29er is available as a frame only for $900, complete bike setup will depends on component specs. A special thanks to Aaron for the kind loan of his bike for this test.