The first brand to follow in On-One’s ‘one man and his shed’ footprints, the Soul has a loyal army of lovers.
Designed around 853 maintubes arranged in a radically sloping top tube ‘Ultra Compact’ chassis, the Soul was ready to take 130mm forks long before anything else. The steep seat angle puts you right over the front for nailing traction, while the tight back end whips round immediately when you need it to.
There’s enough stretch in the top tube to be comfy all day with a short stem, though, and with a surprisingly low weight the Soul climbs really well.
As usual for 853 there’s a real purpose to the ‘ping’ of the frame in the rough, rather than slightly sketchy ricocheting off every rock. There’s good power delivery to the cowled dropouts.
Despite its low weight, the Soul is definitely designed for technical trail use with masses of standover clearance plus huge UK-friendly mud room from the bridgeless chainstays and broad, stumpy wishbone seat stays. Little gussets behind the broad bottom bracket and a disc post between the stays increase strength, although Cotic has created the altogether beefier BFE for ‘roughians’.
Various colour and graphic combos are available to help you stand out, and Salsa’s super neat QR seat collar is included as standard. A price tag of more than £400 looks steep, though.