You wouldn’t really expect On-One to do big, glitzy product launches, and so it proved to be. Ladybower in the Peak District proved to be a suitably grey, gritty and Northern venue and the format was characteristically laid back – roll up to the rather fine PeakPad apartment, grab bike, ride bike, bring bike back, grab another bike, repeat. So without further ado, here’s some new On-One stuff…
It seems a bit odd to call the Inbred “ubiquitous”. There’s a hell of a lot more, say, Rockhoppers out there. But wherever we go we see people on Inbreds of one sort or another. Must be tightly-focused ubiquity or something. Anyway, the 456 is the latest incarnation. The optimal fork length for the Inbred has gradually drifted up with each iteration, and the 456 is designed to take a fork with anywhere from four to six inches of travel (hence the name). A few things have happened to accommodate that. The front end’s been beefed up, partially to allow for the greater leverage exerted by longer forks but mainly to allow for the sort of mild hooliganism that a 6in fork on a steel frame is likely to encourage. The top tube is now the same as the down tube, apparently making the front end 40% stiffer and 60% stronger.
Geometry’s been fiddled with too, but not in ways that you might expect. Most long-forked hardtails run steep head angles for a given fork length in order to speed the steering up and stop them wandering about on climbs. But that can make them a bit of a handful dropping down techy stuff, as the front gets super-steep as the fork compresses. On-One designer Brant Richards has gone the other way with the 456 – with a typical 5in travel fork the latest Inbred has a 69.5° head angle. But it’s also got a 73° seat angle and a longer-than-average top tube, which is intended to sort the weight distribution out to keep weight over the front without any perching-on-the-nose-of-the-saddle antics, thus making it easier to go in a straight line on steep pitches. Also helping here is the not long, but not super-short back end – at 16.75in the chainstays are a perfectly normal sort of length. Again, it’s slightly counter-intuitive, but it makes sense – a bit less weight on the back wheel means more on the front. And it makes it easier to build in gobs of tyre clearance so you can run a huge great tyre, thus getting back any odd scraps of traction that a 1/4in of chainstay length may have deprived you of. We like the theory, though – there’s no point having a back wheel that never lets go if it means that the bike won’t go up hills in a straight line.
We took a 456 fitted with a 130mm Fox Vanilla fork out for a couple of hours of rocky Peakness and found it most agreeable. It’s clearly no XC race bike up hills, but you don’t have to fight it to keep it on line – just hold the bars and lean forward a bit. On the subject of bars, the demo bike was fitted with On-One’s Mary extreme-sweep riser bars, featuring a 40° sweep. They look mental, but make a lot of sense – lightly clench your fists and hold your arms out in front of you to see. They’re great for climbing and dead comfy. Seemed to work fine downhill too. As did the whole bike – in characteristic Inbred style, it felt pretty much unstoppable, even more so thanks to some extra fork travel. As you’d expect from running in the middle of the fork range, it felt like it’d be differently happy with shorter or longer forks – if you like a flightier, nippier ride go shorter, if you’re mainly interested in straight-lining downhill nastiness, go longer. Set up like this, it’s a great all-rounder. And possibly the only 6in-capable bike with rack mounts on… 456 Inbreds are available now, in a choice of colours (neither of them white), four sizes from 14 to 20in and at £249 frame only.
Full sus thing
On-One’s always been synonymous with steel. OK, and titanium, but titanium’s just lighter steel that doesn’t rust really? And all On-Ones to date have been rigid frames – not a pivot or a spring in sight. All of which makes this device here something of a departure – it’s an aluminium 6in travel full-suspension bike that looks set to appear as an On-One at a very reasonable-looking £799 with a 5th Element coil shock.
There’s quite a lot of funkiness going on here. The hydroformed top tube revives the moulded-in-gusset motif of sister company Planet-X’s fun-but-fugly Armadillo but thankfully without the fake welds. Out the back is an arrangement that’s an intriguing take on the single-pivot, linkage-driven shock design. The swingarm itself is a stout, faintly Bullit-like, item pivoting a little way up the seat tube. But rather than the shock attaching directly to the front of the swingarm, there’s a little cam between the two. A scissor-link attached to the main frame swings the cam as the suspension compresses, giving a more consistent leverage ratio through the travel than a direct shock attachment.
Built up with Fox 36 forks and Conti Diesel 2.5in tyres, it wasn’t too offensively heavy as these things go. The Fox shock fitted was nicked off a completely different bike and was a bit too short, so the bike felt rather sat back and wandery at low speeds, and the fairly high main pivot meant quite a lot of pedal kickback over rock steps in low gears. Once the speed picked up, though, it became a lot of fun – fluid, consistent, stable. We missed having a big ring, that’s for sure. The right length shock would make it less of a handful up hills, and for the money the finished article looks likely to be a steal.
Also lurking in the bike pile was this contraption – a small-wheeled full-suspension road bike that looks like it ought to fold up but doesn’t. All a bit Moulton, really. We’re not sure quite what it’s for, but it contains a few touches that might, perhaps possibly, make their way on to future On-Ones – suspension from flat-plate carbon chainstays, the crossed-tube main frame, filed welds? We’ll just have to wait and see…
More On-One stuff at www.on-one.co.uk