On-One 456 £1199

Trail-blazing hard-hitter

BikeRadar score 3/5

On-One’s mould-breaking 456 was one of the first hardtails to tackle the seemingly impossible task of designing up to 160mm-travel fork compatibility into a frame that could still be ridden cross-country.

The no-frills build was strong enough to pass the stringent new CEN certification with no modification. It isn't the only long-travel steel ride in town any more, but hard-hitting trail riders on a budget – or anyone looking for a versatile winter all-rounder – will still find plenty to like.

Ride & handling: Great handling, time-proven strength and unbeatable value for a long-travel frame

The 456 might be a fairly old design now but it’s still capable of holding its own out on the trail. The very long cockpit combined with plenty of fork travel and a short stem works brilliantly for high-speed rock-dodging shenanigans, delivering precisely the right blend of high-speed stability and instant flickability.

It’s fun to muscle the On-One through choppy sections of trail with a subtle weight-forward bias, letting the fork do the work and allowing the rear to follow through. This sense of invulnerability comes at the expense of ride comfort, though.

The relatively fat top tube and uncompromisingly rigid wishbone rear end leave nowhere for trail vibration to go but the rider’s arms and legs, giving the 456 a harsh ride. Whether it’s braking bumps, roots or baby head boulders, the On-One will leave you in no doubt about what the rear end is up to.

If you like to wrestle your bike up, over and down technical trails you won’t mind sacrificing some subtlety for strength. And there’s no escaping the bare frame’s sheer value, either. But if you’ve got a bit more to spend there are frames that offer just as much strength with added steel zing.

Frame & equipment: Uncompromising strength + cheap build = harsh ride quality in the rough

Simplicity can be a virtue in frame design – and the 456 shows its no-nonsense approach in a number of ways. The top and down tubes are effectively identical, both sporting a 35mm external diameter and 0.9mm thick walls at the ends, tapering to 0.6mm in the middle; On-One claim that using the same tubes in both locations distributes loads more equally.

The 456 is also thoroughly practical with its double open-ended gussets at the head tube junction providing extra strength to cope with hard frontal impacts, while wishbone seatstays and bridgeless chainstays leave ample room for big tyres even in claggy conditions. A single set of bottle boss mounts makes it easy to drop the seatpost right out of the way and full length cable housings keep shift-ruining crud at bay.

In off-the-peg XT guise the 456 is great value, with a full Shimano Deore XT groupset, On-One finishing kit and a RockShox Revelation fork offering 140mm of trail-munching travel. We wouldn’t change a thing.

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