On-One Carbon 29er Race review£1,600.00

All-day technical trail ride

BikeRadar score4/5

On-One might be new to the black stuff, but sister road brand Planet X are experienced carbon fibre construction designers and users. Their skill at creating the ultimate cost effective performance bikes is obvious here, where their roadie fibre know-how meets On-One’s honed handling package.

A lightweight frame and super-value kit selection combine to produce a smooth yet featherweight trail hardtail at a gobsmacking price. It’s not the stiffest or sharpest feeling but if you want all-day comfort and easy riding confidence you’ll love the 29er Race.

Ride & handling: All-day technical trail ride with a slightly soft feel under power

The Carbon 29er Race’s lightweight frame (1,100g) and components help ease it up extended climbs and take a lot of the trudge out of acceleration. The carbon chassis gives a smooth, impact- and trail chatter-soaking ride that glides across bumps for outstanding all-day comfort. Slight vertical flex in the long back end also gives traction for grunting up the sketchiest technical sections with ease.

On-One were among the first manufacturers to get 29er handling dialled and the Carbon 29er Race feels natural and non-threatening. There’s a bit of twist in the quick-release axled, skinny steerer fork and the back end, but the steering is well weighted for carving across roots, rocks and off-camber sections. The short stem means obedient, tuck-free turns into tighter corners or easy catch of any mid-corner slides.

The long rear triangle means you need to swing the bike wide and wait for the back end to come through, but high speed stability is solid. The tall Maxxis CrossMark tyres add an extra element of cushioning, letting you straightline rough sections more aggressively than most short-travel full-suspension bikes.

While its smoothness and low weight gives the On-One an edge over similarly priced aluminium bikes in terms of speed, it's softer through the pedals. Some of this comes from the flexy FRM crankset, but even when we switched to a Shimano XT chainset for a fairer comparison there was still a sense of power loss when stamping hard.

Frame: Smooth, future proof and practical carbon chassis

The Carbon 29er Race's frame is a full carbon composite and it's comparable in weight with all but the lightest carbon framesets from Scott and Specialized at less than half the price. It’s fully CEN tested for strength and it’s state-of-the-art in terms of fixtures too, with the tapered head tube getting an extended headbox behind it. A massive hexagonal section down tube S curves down to a huge full-width bottom bracket shell with press-fit bottom bracket.

Deep carbon chainstays curve back to tucked in alloy dropout plates with a post mounted rear brake inside the chainstay angle for easy set-up and crash protection. Tapering flat rectangle top tube and seatstays form a curve between head and tail, with loads of mud clearance around the 2.1in tyres. The curved and tapered seat tube has built in mounts for both top- and bottom-swing front mech designs, with full internal gear runs too.

A potential issue is running a Crud Catcher with a bigger front tyre as there’s little clearance between down tube and the low tread 2.1in tyre at full fork compression. While our final proto sample had a stealth superbike, naked carbon appeal, production frames will get a bright red inside edge graphics kit.

Equipment: Super value pick-and-mix componentry selection

The fact the frame will come in under £800 is impressive, but On-One also do great deals on full bikes. On our sample that meant a nine-speed XT stop-and-go set, with a light, small-ring double chainset from FRM. Seat collar, machined stem and wide flat bar are FRM too, while the seatpost and saddle are proven On-One items.

Lightweight On-One wheels use a scandium alloy rim built up onto big body Chris King-style ‘Rattlesnake’ hubs with instant engagement freewheel. Unfortunately, On-One only had a thin neck quick-release version of the RockShox Reba fork rather than a tapered steerer Maxle version. We got cracks and bangs from the rear wheel and crank under maximum power, and the oversize alloy seat collar bolt needed extreme TLC when tightening.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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