Mark Johnstone has just got his eighth on-one bike. He's written a blog about how and why...
Originally posted here - http://on-ones.blogspot.com/2012/03/stoners-fleet-of-on-ones-it-started.html
My first On-One was my second MTB and my epiphany.
In 2002 I bought my Inbred second hand off the Singletrackworld classifieds for, I think, about £125. It was to replace the frame on which I had begun my mountain bike riding, an aluminium Trek 4300.
Despite the obvious similarity to a newbie of 8 or 9 tubes stuck together the ride differences between the two could not have been more astounding. It changed how I rode, how I thought about riding and how I built up my bike. Over the last 10 years or so that inbred has been to distant countries with me, been through countless incarnations, hung on the study wall for longer than was fair to it, and most importantly is still with me, and ridden surprisingly often.
Ive crashed it, carried it, loaned it and even resprayed it. It is worth more to me than any reasonable price and one day it may even be my son's bike.
As my only bike for a few years it had to respond to any calling. In 2005 shod in skinny Vreidstein 1" slicks it took me down the most beautiful roads and across calm waters, island hopping from Turku in Finland to Sweden via the Aaland archipelago.
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Off road touring in mid Wales - stubborn weather, but a stubborn frame. Loaded up, but not treated with much sympathy, ridden through nutsack deep fords and pushed over bleak hill tops where there had probably never been a sign of a path in all their long history, and it certainly wasn't going to appear to us then.
A well deserved respray in 2006 in Financial Times pink and new decals. And still my main ride.
Around this time I also had a Tomac Eli, 5" rear suspension FS. A wonderful frame, skill compensator, rock rider: an out and out flatterer. But sadly in 2007 it was destined to perish at the hands of shoddy welding like most of it's factory comrades. In the quest to replace it came an utterly uninspiring Mountain Cycle Zen that was kept for less than 50 dull miles.
And then came the 29ers.
But then came On-One's first 29ers.
The original scandium alloy, Scandal 29er. Still with gears, my comfort with SS still not developed. A bargain to put together from the spare parts box and some new, monstrously large wheels from the classifieds.
My second epiphany: The 29er.
At 6'4" and with 36" legs, even on my 20" Inbred with lots of post, I'd felt perched on top, never organically "in" my bike. That all changed with the 21" Scandal. I could climb like Id never done before - feeling like having an extra spare gear or two and shove in your back, which around the Malverns where I live is more than welcome. My arse was no longer hanging out beyond the rear hub, but now was forward enough to not have me wheelie up the steeper hills. And the ride was wonderful, lurching forward and rolling on and over anything without stopping for the chatter.
It was also time for Mrs Stoner to update her old Trek too. And the stock 456 from On-One was a killer deal. Revs and a decent drivetrain for just £700ish. And it's lasted. Not much has changed to it since then, although admittedly, Mrs S being more the blacktop kind of girl, it's the least ridden bike in the shed, but it's reliable, always there, and with great standover fits her well.
When I first heard that Brant had been talking to Mark Lynskey about an On-One Ti29er, I nearly dropped my bacon sandwich. I wanted the first one. I had to have it. From the first mooting to the delivery took over a year as I recall. And all the while being teased by Brant with emails of pdf designs and updates along the way. My frame (one of the first, but not No. 1) landed a few weeks after my birthday in 2008. Brant and I had got to know each other a little by this time and his advice to me was to go for the 19.5" frame as opposed to anything larger. I had to agree, nadger clearance on the towering 21" Scandal was limited even for me. On it's smaller, more exotic cousin though, it was far better. And just as well. Before long the Ti29er was my do-it-all bike. From local bimbles to Pyrenean thrashing holidays, they were all covered well by the Ti29er.
Too well in fact, and the Scandal and the Inbred were now consigned to the study wall. There seemed little point maintaining three thoroughbreds when one would do.
But On-Ones dont die. They just reinvent themselves. A bit like Jarvis Cocker.
Now, the Scandal is back with a saddle on it. It's now my big days away or lazy geared ride. Having toyed with a Rohloff in various builds on the Ti29er I never imagined it would work as well in the Scandal, but so it does. 100mm of 20mm maxle Reba at the front, the Rohloff in the back and the two of us can go for miles together. As much as I love rigid SS now, there's always a call for a suspended and geared bike a few times a year. When you or your mates want to hit the mid Welsh valleys or the rocky ridges of Cain & Abel at Coed y Brenin, or even guided trips in the big continental stuff.
And what of the Ti29er? It's now my most ridden bike of all. Local short evening rides is where I get my kicks. The Malverns hills are no place for ragging around in daylight hours at the weekend. Not if you live here anyway - leave the red-sock-dodging and dog-lead-lassoing to the out-of-towners. And really, weekends are now family time. But night-time blasting through the holes in the dark cut by the latest awesome lighting technology is this local's choice.
The Ti29er will probably stay in this build for a long time now - it handles so beautifully. A bit unorthodox riding with the Jeff Jones truss forks down at about 455mm A-C when really the frame is designed to lift a little higher at about 470mm. But the extra offset makes for a wonderfully direct and zingy ride. This bike lances forward - you can poke it's nose into the turns but it never feels twitchy. It's a little trickier to un-weight the front, but it climbs like a smacked gibbon. And for the short, sharp climbs that are my local Malvern blasts it's a hoot.
Where is the Inbred now?
The Inbred has come off the study wall, and is now turned into the bike equivalent of the Renault Espace for this family. With an Xtracycle frame stuffed in the rear dropouts and a Croozer trailer for hauling the littlest member of the family around, it's quite the land train. But it means summer rides on quiet lanes to pub lunches can be done as a family, the school run isnt car-dependant, and it's great for fooling around with drunk mates on.
Cycling has been one of the things that defines us as a family. It's what we do a great deal of. And Im not ashamed to admit that On-One bikes have been a massive part of that over the last 10 years.
I dont think I evangelise about On-Ones or Planet Xs, I'll never claim they're better than an other bike, but they do produce the most versatile range of frames and bikes for an astoundingly good price.
12 March 2012