On-one Inbred 29er first ride

22nd May 2006

I rode the 29er yesterday in Delamere and thought you might like a review.

I went back to fully rigid last year so when I ordered the On-one I wasn't even tempted by the good prices on springy forks. However, I was very uncertain about the prospect of going singlespeed so considered getting the geared upgrade. In the end the weight-weenie part of me won out and I decided to give it a go with just the one cog. After fitting the pedals but not changing anything else the weight comes in at a respectable 10.5 Kg (23 Lb) on my, admittedly dodgy, bathroom scales. Standard components are really good with nothing that needs changing with any urgency. I'm going to replace the v-brakes with Deore-LX hydraulic discs but only because I've wanted to give discs a go for ages and Chain Reaction were selling them really cheap.

We set off from the car-park on a fire trail to get used to the handling. First impressions were good; not at all ponderous despite the visual size of the bike. The fleegle bars are huge (28" wide) and definitely need trimming a bit to get the best handling, I'll do it when I fit the disc brakes. Mark and I both commented on the way that every time we came to a descent I shot away from him without even trying. I also noticed that I was pedalling through corners that I'd normally have cruised or even dragged the brakes on. Cornering was really the best thing about the bike; it generally felt like it was on rails but even on very loose stuff the break away was gentle and controllable with a touch of opposite lock. I was anxious about climbing on a singlespeed but in the end there was only one climb I couldn't do but I've never managed it on my geared bike either. The standard tyres don't look very suitable for mud so Delamere after 3 days of heavy rain seemed like a real challenge. There was a lot of deep mud and it would normally have been bad enough to force a dab or even a dismount because of loss of traction. However, last night I seemed to float over the mud and keep enough traction to clear every swamp I came to.

In summary, the singlespeed wasn't an issue on the sort of hills you get in Delamere and the 29" wheels gave loads of advantages. The claimed 29er problems of slow acceleration and poor manoeuvrability weren't apparent, in fact on my favourite piece of singletrack Mark was astounded at how quick I did it. The 29er advantages of good grip and trail smoothing were evident on a stretch of off-camber wet roots over a 10 foot drop to a stream which had me scared but the 29er tackled it without any drama. All in all a superb bike.

Update - 28th May: I've fitted the LX discs and knocked three inches off the width of the bars.

The LX discs are really good. Ultimate stopping power is about equal to the Avid SD5 V-brakes that I took off but as the pads burn in they are getting stronger. The real benefit is the wonderful lever feel and easy modulation.

The Fleegle bars were originally 28 inches wide which was good for out-of-the-seat climbing but too wide for comfort on singletrack especially in the trees. It also put my arms too wide for lifting the front wheel over rocks and stuff. I've cut them back to 25 inches which is still two inches more than on my Kona. The position is spot on now and still wide enough for climbing duties. Singletrack is a real pleasure now and tricky descents a real joy.

Singlespeed has turned out to be much more fun than I expected and I'm enjoying the challenge. I'm really surprised at the things that I can still do - I was expecting to walk a lot but I'm climbing pretty much everything I could on the geared Kona. Traction is much better, partly because of the 29 inch wheels and partly from the taller gearing. With more miles on it I'm now even more convinced that the 29er is the right bike for me. I guess the Kona won't get much use now which is a shame because it's still a great bike.
Inbred 29er on Veranda

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