Originally conceived as a carbon fibre version of On-One’s aluminium Scandal frameset, the Whippet was one of the ﬁrst bikes to bring affordable carbon technology to the masses. It's now available with the option of an eight- or 11-speed Shimano Alﬁne transmission. We’re won over by the combination of price, low weight, carbon comfort and hub gear simplicity, but we’re not entirely convinced that a race bike is the right platform.
Ride & handling: Great value, lightweight speed machine with the simplicity of hub gears
Stretched long and low over the Whippet’s light, stiff frame, there’s no doubting this bike’s intent. The uncompromising ride position won’t suit all riders, but for racers – or converting roadies – it’s immediately identiﬁable as a stance that maximises effort at the pedalling coal face. Put simply, this is a bike that wants to go fast.
That efﬁcient position is given a big boost by the Whippet’s low weight, supremely stiff rear end and, you may be surprised to hear, its sublime comfort. Yes, you read that right – this is a light, stiff, fast race bike that’s almost uncannily comfortable through the rough and tumble of ﬂat-out trails.
Well engineered carbon frames are renowned for their ability to absorb vibration, and the Whippet proves it. Carbon ﬁbre’s great advantage is that it can be laid up in different thicknesses, direction and overlaps to change the strength, weight, ﬂexibility or vibration damping properties of a given area.
As for the hub gears, we’re torn. On the one hand the lack of chain slap and single shifter simplicity meshes well with the Whippet’s single-minded intent. On the other, backing off pedalling to shift on a bike that’s built for speed is rather counterintuitive, even if it is only momentary.
Although the Whippet’s basic geometry numbers aren’t that far removed from the trail riding norm, the narrow bars and low, stretched ride position scream ﬂat-out speed. Although you could ﬁt a higher stem and wider riser bar, trail cruisers might be better looking at On-One's Carbon 456 instead. We’d love to try one with an Alﬁne setup, but that’s not currently an option. How about it, On-One?
Frame: Stiff, light and incredibly comfortable; hub gears add a dose of stealth to match the looks
Although it’s based on the tried-and-tested Scandal geometry, a cursory glance at the Whippet’s ﬂared and bulged plumbing is all you need to tell you that this is a frame designed from the ground up and built from the black stuff. On-One claim a bare frame weight around 1.3kg, or less than 3lb. Given our test bike’s all-up weight of under 11kg (24lb), it’s a claim we can believe.
The Whippet’s bolt-on, adjustable dropouts and twin front mech mounts make it one of the most adaptable hardtail frames out there in terms of gear choice. Whether you want hub, derailleur – in 1, 2 or 3x10 conﬁgurations – or singlespeed, the Whippet has it covered.
Despite a price that puts it level pegging with steel-framed competition, our 11-speed test bike was well equipped. A Middleburn singlespeed-speciﬁc chainset helps set it apart from the crowd, while the RockShox SID RLT fork provides all the adjustability for its 100mm of air sprung travel that any budding speed freak could ask for.
Own-brand ﬁnishing kit looks good and works well, though the ﬂat bar is a culture shock for riders accustomed to the past decade-and-a-half of riser ubiquity. Thoughtfully, On-One have even specced the black version of Shimano's Alﬁne hub to match the bike’s understated looks.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.