Yorkshire-based On-One have built a reputation for good value, and occasionally quirky, frames and bikes. They’ve made their name with frames like the Inbred, which majored on low price and entertaining handling, with low weight being a little further down the list of priorities.
The Scandal was conceived as a lightweight race frame and is available in versions for 26in or 29in wheels. The original frame was built from a combination of scandium and aluminium tubing (hence the name), but the current version is 7046 aluminium. You can get a Scandal as a frame only, but the Pro XT is one of two complete bikes – there’s also a Scandal Trail with mostly Shimano Deore components at £999.
Ride & handling: Pin-sharp accuracy and surprisingly comfortable for a rigid bike
The Scandal laughs at the idea that 29ers are heavy or sluggish. The full bike weighs under 24lb – light by almost anyone’s standards. The sub-1kg rigid fork helps, but you could plonk a decent suspension unit on there and still have an agreeably light bike.
As for sluggish, well, if you’re getting off a contemporary long-forked hardtail or middling-travel full-suspension bike, prepare yourself for a shock. The Scandal is a razor, with instant responses and remarkable agility.
The low weight helps, of course, but it’s worth noting that the Scandal has a shorter wheelbase than a typical 26in-wheeled, 120mm-travel (4.7in) trail bike. And you don’t hear many people complaining that those are unwieldy.
On-One’s steeper-than-normal head angle and longer-than-normal fork offset make for quick handling. Sometimes too quick – until we got used to it we oversteered a couple of times. The Scandal despatches low-speed switchbacks with aplomb.
As speeds rise, things can get a little hairy, but you learn to work with it – that agile geometry means that you’ll be able to haul the Scandal back on track as long as you’re ready. We’d actually be a little wary of fitting a suspension fork to it.
The current crop of 29er suspension forks have similar offset to On-One’s rigid fork, and at 470mm the rigid is the same length as a static 100mm-travel fork. Dial in some sag and you’re potentially looking at something of a handful.
Frame: Classic-looking chassis with some neat touches
With the world of mountain bikes dominated by shaped, formed, and curved tubing, it’s refreshing to encounter a frame like the Scandal that plays it straight. That’s not to say it’s bereft of neat design touches – it’s just that they’re subtle rather than in-your-face.
A good example is the pair of tiny gussets behind the bottom bracket, one on each chainstay. Each one is barely a postage stamp’s worth of material, but between them they add enough strength to the rear of the frame to let On-One do without a chainstay bridge, and therefore gain a big space for mud to drop through.
The angular welded wishbone at the top of the seatstays is something of an On-One trademark (and yes, we know Dekerf did it first). It’s a tidy arrangement, giving ample tyre clearance and a distinctive look. The seat tube has a forward-facing clamping slot and is slimmed down at the top to take a 27.2mm seatpost – thinner tubes flex more, and sticking a long, thin seatpost in a frame is an easy way to add comfort.
Equipment: XT groupset is impressive for the money
Propping up the front of the frame is On-One’s own carbon fibre rigid fork. Few mountain bikes come with rigid forks these days, but those big wheels deal with a whole range of bumps, so you can make a case for saving some weight with a rigid fork. The On-One fork weighs just under 1kg, which isn’t the lightest out there, but it’s built mainly for accuracy and durability.
With the exception of the SRAM cassette, On-One have managed to spec the Scandal with a whole Shimano XT groupset, including chainset. And not just transmission and brakes – you also get Shimano’s MT75 XT-level 29er wheels. They’re shod with 29in versions of the large-volume, fast-rolling Continental 2.2 Race King tyres.
Pretty much everything else is On-One’s own gear, which gives little cause for complaint. The Fleegle handlebar is intriguing, with a huge 15-degree sweep that actually falls quite naturally to hand. Because the sweep moves your hands back, the Fleegle sweeps forwards from the stem to compensate – it works, but looks a little wacky.