There are times in this job when, however many bikes are waiting in the test queue, a fresh one turns up that just has to be ridden. I spent a couple of hours blatting around
So far I’m impressed, and one of our regular testers Gareth has just grabbed it for a gritty session in the woods. Stevo tells us that production models will be subject to a few minor mods, though, and it hasn’t been through the CEN standards testing process yet.
While On-One built their reputation on no-nonsense, low-budget, steel-framed, single-geared bikes, they soon branched out into offering a selection of multi-geared options and a variety of frame materials, including the well liked scandium-alloy-framed Scandal and a very classy titanium version of the 456.
The name refers to the fact that the geometry allows you to run it with 4, 5 or 6in travel forks. From that, you can probably guess that the new carbon composite 456 is no skinny-ribbed racing snake… although On-One tell us they’ll be creating one of those soon. It’s constructed for riders who want to really attack big terrain without carrying any excess metal.
On-One say their target weight for the Carbon 456 frame is 1.6kg (3.5lb). Production versions will have different seatstays with more tyre clearance, different cable routing and slightly different swapout dropouts (you can change the sliding dropouts to accommodate a single gear or derailleurs), but the basic carbon layup and geometry is sorted.
Stevo explains: “We have a lot of experience with carbon on Planet X bikes and wanted to develop a range in carbon for On-One. We have both 26in and 29in cross-country frames coming for spring 2010, as well as the 456.
"Our DN6 Chromoly steel 456 frames are great, but they have a weight penalty. Other manufacturers use alloy for their long-travel hardtails, but this can produce a harsh ride. On-One choose materials that give a good ride feel.
"Carbon is a good frame material for both designers and suppliers, and we can alter the layup to change the ride feel. We're still in the process of this and the production frame will have a carbon/Kevlar mixture on the down tube and chainstays.
"We wanted to create a carbon version to fit within the range and price of the steel and titanium frames, but I’ve added a few features to the carbon one. There’ll be a whippet cross-country version coming soon too; a completely different design.”
Notable design features on the Carbon 456 include a tapered 1.5in to 1.125in headset that will suit Chris King’s taper standard and a few other brands like FSA. This should help to future-proof the frame. The seatpost is 31.6mm, which suits most adjustable height posts, and the down tube profile is shaped to effectively distribute shock impacts.
We’re not going to say much about the ride just yet as we need to put a lot more miles into it on different types of terrain with different riders on board. We’ll be reporting in What Mountain Bike after we’ve taken delivery of the first official production bike.
However, first impressions are excellent. The slack geometry, on paper, would appear to suggest the likelihood of a lazy ride feel. But that’s not the case. With the 6in-travel fork set soft and the ride position well centred, you end up riding rough terrain with a fair bit of weight on the fork, letting the back end just skip through.
A lighter 5in-travel through-axle fork would seem to be the obvious choice for those who consider themselves cross-country riders, but the 6in one is more able to forgive line errors. Feel-wise, the carbon structure is more forgiving and nimbler on rough terrain than an aluminium or steel-framed long-forked hardtail. But we’ll reserve further judgment until we can get a hold of a production model and fit it with a bunch of our favourite kit.