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It started with an Inbred...

Mark Johnstone has just got his eighth on-one bike. He's written a blog about how and why...

Originally posted here -

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.

Two Pompinos

In 2006 when Mrs S and I left London to return to my home county, we decided to take a 3 month intermission and explore Spain and France by bike. Naturally we turned to On-One to pick the least appropriate bike for this, and with Pomps on for a ridiculous £400ish it seemed the choice had been made.

We kept a blog,

and took some photos, but it's never been easy to explain to anyone how much we fell in love with the Pompinos on that trip. Even now I can throw my leg over my pomp (despite it being quite a different bike now) and settle into the familiar comfort that we enjoyed for those 3,000 miles of the simplest of riding.
Mrs S users her Pompino every week (in fact I think she's gone out on it now as I type this). It's her winter training hack (for triathlon) and her pub bike. And apart from some new tyres, a new chain or two and a White Industries freewheel, it's exactly the same bike that covered those European miles. It must have added at least another 1,000 miles to it's tally by now too.
Mine on the other hand is much mucked about with. At one point I even bodged a Sturmey Archer 3-speed in the back of it for a while with the shifter attached to the rack mounts under the saddle.
A wheel-building phase lead to a new pair of Open Sports on On-One track hubs, a disdain for outboard bearing cranksets means it now has a On-One square taper 48T track crank and an 18T Shimano freewheel. And as it's my only road bike, I decided to swap the forks for some carbon Planet X ones and swap the Midge's too for some more orthodox road bars. The pomp is the easy bike to grab whether for a 15 mile time trial if I have the opportunity to grab a spare 45 minutes or to nip to the pub. And every time I jump on, I can reminisce about those three months touring on it.

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.

What next?
Last year I was mucking around with the Scandal frame and came up with a "Monstercross" - drop-barred, 700c with fat tyres. Or drop-barred 29er if you like.

It was a hoot to ride and very adept at climbing, but goppingly ugly. It stayed for a few months and then transmogrified into the geared HT above. But I still fancied a singlespeed, drop-barred bike for riding the less nadgery trails around the Malverns. 

The Pompetamine was just the base I wanted for it. The original pomp geometry finessed into the modern age with disk mounts. The container landed at castle On-One a few weeks ago and I've treated myself to one of the 2012 Pompetamine frames.
With a bit of help from Brant, Matt & Tom at Planet X and my trusty spares box, Ive just finished this, the seventh (eighth if you count Mrs S's Planet X Carbon Pro SL triathlon bike) On-One bike in the fleet.
It will be not only for local rides, but with the slightly shorter gearing than my road pomp, but longer gearing than my 29er (36:18 vs 48:18 or 36:20) it will be ideal as a do-it-all bike for family holidays - capable of towing the trailer on the roads, and allowing me to go it alone off-road when I have the chance.
It almost certainly wont end there. Although I'm pretty confident I wont ever need a Fat Bike, no matter what Brant comes up with in Taipei. But as long as I've got garage space, the collection will get added to, and if I'm not giving a particular frame all the love and attention it deserves right now, I will do again one day.
You're an Inbred too, son. 

12 March 2012


  • singlespeedsteve

    Yes running carbon rigids, it's not a massive difference just a bit more stable might swap back to standard headset as my Rebas won't fit without a bit of filing of the headset cups. Had to do the same on my Intense 69er which has a Saar 1.5degree angleset and it made a massive improvement to that, but then that always was a bit nervous...(O-O has a works comp 1 degree)

  • MarkJ

    jammy get, steve! And how's that slackset working out for you? Still with the 470mm O-O carbon rigids?

  • singlespeedsteve

    "I wanted the first one" This is the first one: Currently 1x9 with a slackset, amazing bike.

  • MarkJ

    Cheers southpole - great to hear my stuff has been of use, but Im afraid I cant take all the credit for the pomp trip idea - there's a Dane I think, with the nickname "Boesgaard" who had put some Carradice Barleys on the back of his and his girlfriends Pomps about 6 years ago and done a few weeks credit card touring in france, including Ventoux, and it was his photos that inspired me. Nothing's new in the world :)

  • Southpole

    ha, its you again! great minds think alike: almost every setup you tried has made it also onto my to-do list. your Pompino 3000 mile epic roadtrip blog has been a great inspiration ever since you posted it. loved your rackless lightweight gear choices, replicated much of it, even though i never managed to get even close to doing an equally epic voyage myself (missing one crucial piece of equipment at the moment and its not the bike). all the best and thanks for sharing all that information!

  • GrahamS

    Really great read - can't get better than a multi On-oner