On-One Whippet Alfine 11 review

A dose of hub-geared tranquility

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £1,599.00 RRP | USD $2,485.00
On-One Whippet Alfine 11

Our review

We can’t argue with the ride quality of carbon with hub gears, but a race bike isn’t the best platform
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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. 

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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 3×10 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.

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This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Whippet Alfine (12)
Brand On-One

Available Sizes 16" 18" 20" 20"
Shifters Shimano alfine 11
Front Wheel Stan's ZTR Crest rim, On-One hub, black butted spokes
Tyres Schwalbe Rocket Ron, 2.25in
Wheelbase (in) 43.3
Top Tube (in) 23.75
Standover Height (in) 31
Seat Tube (in) 18.25
Chainstays (in) 16.75
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 18.25
Weight (lb) 24
Weight (kg) 10.9
Stem Planet X, 85mm
Seatpost FSa SL-250
Bottom Bracket Token, press-fit
Seat Angle 71.5
Saddle Prologo Kappa
Headset Type On-One
Head Angle 69
Handlebar On-One alu flat, 600mm
Grips/Tape On-One lock-on
Frame Material Carbon composite
Fork RockShox SID RLT, air, 100mm
Cranks Middleburn UnO 32T
Chain KMC CL566R
Cassette Shimano alfine 18T
Brakes Shimano SLX hydraulic discs, 160/160mm rotors
Rear Wheel Stan's ZTR Crest rim, Shimano alfine 11 hub, black spokes