Adventuring we shall go.

Like many cyclists I have more than one bike. I have a Genesis Vapour cyclocross bike that does time as a road bike; a Ragley Blue Pig for jumping; an On One Scandal sample 29er and an old Raleigh singlespeed for urban commuting. Last year the Scandal became a kind of utility/touring bike, towing a trailer or loaded with panniers full of clothing and camping equipment or shopping depending. As a family we spent our summer holiday riding the Coast and Castles from Edinburgh to Newcastle and I was totally smitten with the experience – it seemed such a pleasant and relaxing way to spend the time on holiday and even though we were never far from home we discovered places we knew nothing about.

Later in the summer, when showing my nephew round Whinlatter, we called into a shop in Keswick where they had a Singular Gryphon on display. It’s described as a 29er mountain bike with drop bars – something you either think is ridiculous or fantastic according to how you view your cycling. I thought it was brilliant.

Already planning potential trips that would ‘need’ a Gryphon I asked Brant whether On One would ever make anything like it. Well, turns out they already have! Designed by shiggy it’s the On One Adventure Bike and a bit of googling brought up a picture of a strange pink framed machine. Apparently two sample frames were made and Brant had one of them sitting in his front room (along with loads of other odds and sods of samples) and it was a much more conservative blue which suits my conservative nature. So suddenly I had a frame and some sample forks and a headset and the boys and I had tried on loads of shades that Brant had brought back from China.

I built the bike in a real hurry. I had to take my Mother-in-law into Newcastle to hospital for the morning and at the same time my car was having some recall work done so I was car-less in Newcastle for a few hours. I’d ordered various bits and spent the night before cobbling it all together – the swapouts (more later) had to be chopped and ground to fit and I didn’t even have time to put matching tyres on! When I came out of the garage it was -4C, when I woke up early to get the M-i-L  it was raining – you can imagine what the roads were like . . . Even getting off the back lane was a challenge, the A69 was a mess of blue lights and cars in ditches and at times getting to the hospital any way rather than via A+E seemed unlikely. Not the best conditions to try out a new bike maybe.

Standing next to the bike it seemed weird – tall and steep – but on it, or rather ‘in’ it was much better. Everything seemed a bit forward but generally you just sort of hang between the contact points. Once I’d sorted out the chain tension (forgetting how critical this is for a SS) we were off, gingerly, along the riverside and towards Tynemouth.

Ugliest bike ever

The frame is designed to use On One’s swapout system of dropouts which allows geared or SS depending which dropouts you bolt on. Some of them allow mounting a disc caliper on the chainstay which is good for the forces generated when braking and keeps the caliper out of the way when mounting a rack. On this frame though there is no option to do that because at the moment drop barred discs have to be cable operated and those calipers are too bulky to be mounted inboard. I could only get hold of SS dropouts and had to chop the caliper mounting off to get them to fit – fortunately the frame also has V-brake mounts so a V on the rear it was.

The ride was pretty good despite the strange looks of the thing. I watched my reflection in the windows of the posh hotels on the quayside to try and assess the riding position and it looked ok. Singlespeed is very appropriate to this type of riding – no need to think about gears, a ratio that makes it easy enough also makes for leisurely progress which in turn is relaxing. The bike seemed to have slightly odd steering, falling into slow bends a bit but this was due to the mismatched tyres. Brant thought the forks would be ‘fluttery’ and certainly they were under light braking, in fact I was so transfixed watching the flutter I had the odd interesting moment on the sheets of ice on the paths. Generally though the drops were good and the bike felt stable and secure even on the dodgy surfaces.

On the way back from Tynemouth I went through the Tyne Tunnel but unfortunately the escalator wasn’t working. No matter, the bike was light enough to carry but it was clear that the steel fork addd a disproportionate amount of weight to the front end. Eventually after about 3 hours of freezing rain I stopped off at The Baltic for a coffee, amused by the meeting of new mums discussing sleeping habits and feeding patterns. Those were the days!

So next I need to try it loaded and go on an Adventure sometime. It is fine with matched tyres but maybe more CX than MTB, more Salsa Vaya than Fargo. Hopefully it will be just as fun and versatile though.


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