First look: On-One's new £499 carbon hardtail

We get the lowdown on the latest 456

On-One are famous for selling quality steel, alloy and titanium mountain bike frames at bargain prices – and now they're branching out into carbon fibre.

These are the first glimpses of their new Carbon 456 hardtail – and with the asking price rumoured to be around the £500 mark (the same price as steel frames from many of their competitors), it looks set to be a huge hit.

This is no featherweight cross-country bike, but a long-travel technical trail riding rig.

We'll have a world exclusive first test of the production bike in What Mountain Bike magazine and here on BikeRadar next year. For now, here's the lowdown from On-One head honcho Dave Loughran and new designer Steve Olsen.

BikeRadar: The 456 in Ti and steel is a classic, so why update it in carbon?

SO: We were looking at producing another version of the 456, with the CEN tests coming up, so we thought 'why not carbon?'. It's the ideal 'designer's' material – there are fewer design limitations, so we can put material where it's needed. With Planet-X’s [On-One's sister company] road bikes, we have a lot of contacts and experience with carbon frames.

What carbon will you be using – any flax-tastic-ness?

SO: For the 456 we are looking at carbon, Kevlar and other aramids to make a ballistic-proof long-travel hardtail frame.  

DL: We've been talking to Museeuw Bikes about using their flax technology, but we think the flax is going to be much more relevant to the carbon 29er that we're developing with Richard Ussher [On-One's world champion adventure racer], and that's going to be arriving hot on the heels of the 456. Having said that, we've not ridden any mountain bike made using their flax tecnology so it could be a load of hogwash.

Who's the designer?

DL: It's a combination of three people. The basis of the Carbon 456 is the award-winning 456 frame design and geometry, so that honour still has to go to Brant [Richards], who is no longer with us. The Ti 456 remains the only bike to score 'Torvill and Dean' style across-the-board 10s in What Mountain Bike magazine, so it's a tried and tested design. New On-One designer Steven Olsen has been adding his tweaks to the 456...

SO: The Carbon 456 was a chance to start from a good geometry base and update some features appropriate to carbon. Myself and Rene [Baretta, a Dutch industrial engineer who On-One have brought in to help develop the carbon bike – his CV includes stints at Rond/Magura, PRO and Giant] bounced some ideas around to get the best mix for a long-travel carbon 456.

What’s the tech spec on the new frame? Tapered steerer? BB30? Max tyre size?

SO: We’ve tried to be true to the 456; however, we have oversized some items. The Carbon 456 will get a mixed tapered steerer and a 73mm bottom bracket shell. This is based around Chris King’s component standard. We will have On-One headsets also. Max tyre size will be 2.5in in most treads, although the 456 ideally suits a 2.3in for UK riding. The seatpost will be 31.6mm for strength and the use of 'riser' seatposts. Also, we have included bolt-on 'swap-out' dropouts – both vertical geared and horizontal singlespeed. This will allow the frame to be very versatile in the way customers can set it up.

How about colour options? Fork travel range? Can you use a Maxle or bolt-through axle on the rear end?

SO: The frame is still designed around 100mm (4in), 125mm (5in) and 150mm (6in) forks. There may be an M12 version of the rear 'swap-outs', depending on demand.

DL: Colour options aren't decided yet. The first step is to get the frame samples ridden, tested and signed off – or if they're no good, redesigned and start again. We're always pretty last-minute with graphics, so no idea yet.

When can a punter get one?

DL: We're usually one of the quickest companies to bring products to market as we don't have to worry about dealer and distributors, so it could be spring 2010 if all goes well.

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