On-One was started by ex-mountain bike journalist Brant Richards as a response to increasingly complex mountain bikes. He designed simple, affordable singlespeed bikes and, pairing with direct-to-market Planet-X, brought them to the forefront of the road singlespeed/fixed gear trend in the late noughties.
With the advent of gravel bikes, On-One has started to push out some classy, cost-effective bikes, initially with the On-One Space Chicken and now this poultry themed Free Ranger.
The frameset is built from high-grade Japanese Toray T700 carbon (Toray is a brand of carbon used by some of the most respected brands in cycling) and the frame is bang up to date with its flat-mount disc compatibility, 12mm thru-axles and dual wheel size compatibility. It’s versatile too, with full-length ’guard and rack mounts.
Aside from the carbon frameset you get SRAM’s premium mechanical Force 1x group with carbon crankset and powerful hydraulic brakes.
The drivetrain mix of a 42-tooth chainring and 11-42 cassette is super off-road with that 42/42 combo giving a 1:1 ratio that’ll see you up the steepest technical gravel climbs with your pedals still turning, rather than you hiking.
At the other end, the 42/11 combination gives a 106-inch gear with the big volume tyres that saw me through fast gravel descents. When descending long, fast tarmac hills you may, as I did, find yourself wishing for another sprocket.
The finishing kit is quality stuff with Selcof’s alloy seatpost and stem. TEC’s Rector saddle is well padded and its elongated and sculpted channel shape is certainly comfortable.
The curiously named On-One ‘Brian’ bar has 32mm of flare at the drops. It’s a more subtle flare so it keeps the SRAM levers in a more vertical position while still allowing plenty of clearance when you’re in the drops.
The Fulcrum’s Racing 900 DB rolling stock is a good solid choice, the alloy rims’ 19mm internal width holds the big-volume 43c tyres well. They are built tough with 28 spokes at either end held in place by proper brass nipples A wider rim is better because big tyres on narrow rims shape badly and have an adverse effect on handling.
The claimed 1,900g all-up weight isn’t going to impress weight weenies and the lack of tubeless compatibility won’t impress the tech-geeks either, but the 900s are a solid wheel and I was really impressed with the Bruce Gordon by Panaracer tyres.
Bruce Gordon (who sadly died last year) revived one of the earliest 29in mountain-bike tyre designs (from legendary mountain-bike designer Joe Murray). This skin-walled tyre combines a compliant, lightweight casing with a tread that blends stepped bars with block pieces.
On dry, dusty trails it’s simply one of the best gravel tyres I’ve tried off-road. Its tenacious bite in the corners and fast roll in a straight line impressed. The super-soft sidewalls and soft durometer rubber of the tread do sap some performance when on tarmac though.
Compared to the skinnier Panaracer GravelKings on the Fuji Jari 1.3 Adventure, which was also on test, I couldn’t hold quite the same pace on tarmac.
It’s certainly at the racy end of gravel with its 72-degree head angle and 73-degree seat. The long 1,052mm wheelbase (on my 58cm test bike) majors on stability while the fork offset combined with the large volume tyres adds up to a trail figure around 64mm, giving the Free Ranger a stable feel to its handling.
The stack of 608mm would be sporty on an endurance bike and the 393mm reach is similarly racy. What all of this adds up to is a rapid, yet confident bike off road and when you combine that feel with its low weight and great gearing it’s simply excellent.
If you want to go long-haul trucking it’s a little racy, but if your idea of gravel riding is sprinting through singletrack in the woods you won’t find a better value option.
On-One Free Ranger SRAM Force 1 geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.5||74||73||73||73|
|Head angle (degrees)||70.5||71||71.5||72||72|
|Seat tube (cm)||49||52||54||56||58|
|Top tube (cm)||52||53.5||55||56.5||58|
|Head tube (cm)||12||14||15||17||19|
|Fork offset (cm)||5||5||5||5||5|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||6.7||6.7||6.7||6.7||6.7|
How we tested
Gravel bikes can open up a whole new world of routes and tracks to explore without slowing you down on the tarmac. But these popular bikes needn’t cost the earth and we put four of the best go-anywhere machines under £2,000 to the test.
Also on test:
|Price||EUR €2178.00GBP £1800.00USD $2556.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Tyres||Bruce Gordon by Panaracer 700 x 43c|
|Stem||Selcof Zeta 6061 alloy|
|Shifter||SRAM Force 1|
|Seatpost||Selcof Zeta V2|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM Force 1|
|Handlebar||On-One Brian alloy|
|Bottom bracket||SRAM GXP XR|
|Frame||Toray T-700 + hi-mod carbon|
|Fork||Toray T-700 carbon|
|Cranks||SRAM Force 1x Carbon 42t chainring|
|Cassette||SRAM PG-1130 (11-42)|
|Brakes||SRAM Force hydraulic disc|
|Wheels||Fulcrum Racing 900 DB|