Thursday, 13 October 2011

Down and dirty with the Disco

It's been a while since left of field UK manufacturer On -One made a cross bike. The last iteration was a classy titanium affair that was snapped up by those in the know and ridden at elite level and chipper level alike, as well as making a rather nice 3 Peaks bike too:

Fast forward to 2011 and On-One are back, not only with designer Brant Richards on board again, but with a brand new cross frame, a la mode in carbon and sporting discs - unofficially named the 'Dirty Disco'.

Some people's clouds are other people's silver lining - Dave Haygarth's recently broken collarbone and unnervingly long inside leg measurement meant that that the temporarily riderless Dirty Disco has found it's way to me. And so I've been enjoying some early season races and training rides on it, the first time for me on full carbon and on cross discs too.

This is a pre-production version of the Disco so I'm not sure what eventual kit it will end up with, suffice to say On-One's keen pricing and eye for value will mean no doubt that it will be a killer package.

The frame is full carbon, I'm not in possesion of the details as such, suffice to say it is light, very stiff and comfortable to carry. A huge chunky bottom bracket helps the stiff but comfortable ride whilst the chunky forks are particularly reassuring and direct in feel. Overall, the geometry appear race performance oriented but with perfectly adequate clearances for a modern cross frame. A potential mudfest at Brockholes, Windermere will test this properly, but the Disco passed the Horwich Humdinger slopfest test easily, lasting the whole muddy race with barely any buildup of mud, and arguably less than other canti equipped bikes around it.

This Disco is running Avid BB-7s (road) for its discs and they are stunning, even without the hydraulic assistance of other systems. Braking is of course powerful, and progressive, always with more on tap if needed. What really jumps out to this first time disc user is the sheer ease of use - the lack of effort in the execution of a braking manoeuvre.  With the braking taken care of so easily from a physical point of view, you can expend more energy and attention on riding fast. It also has SRAM Rival on it - another first for me but intuitive in its use, and reassuringly chunky in operation. Other kit includes an FSA Gossamer chainset with cross friendly rings on it, and Planet X post and stem. All sound stuff.

The On-One branded hubs, Chris King style and rims (clinchers) are, to my tubular-centric tastes, surprisingly good, with Schwalbe Smart Sam tires. These have been more than adequate for cross training and feel great on the road too. For racing I have been putting on some custom made Strada Handbuilt Major Tom tubular disc wheels with handmade FMB green Michelin tubs. The absolute business when things turn muddy.

Riding the Disco has been surprising. The phrase 'sum of all it's parts' is particularly apt here - no one attribute jumps out, the whole pacakage just gels. That is not to say that the Disco doesn't climb like a rocket - it does. Nor that it doesn't track in corners like it's on rails - it does. Nor even that it is vague and skittish in technical descents - because it is anything but. It just simply comes together in one complete package that lets you get on with the riding, fast or slow, dry or muddy and does not intrude in any way at all.

Racing it, I found I barely even thought about the bike and what it was doing - it just did it, calmy and with poise. At the Humdinger Cross last weekend, it railed slick muddy corners around dead turns, inspired much confidence down the fast descents into more tight corners and climbed its way up on the slop competently. I didn't really notice it in the sense I wasn't thinking about how it should have done this or that. It just got on with it.

Overall, it isn't as flamboyant as a white suited Travolta strutting his stuff - there are other more exotic bikes out there that can do that. It is however, no wallflower to the dance - it's just competant in a non-shouty way and that's probably why I like it. I've never been one for extroverts.... ahem.


simondbarnes said...

Is the ti cross bike pictured there a prototype or a later version? Mine is the Mk1 production version from 2003 and has disc mounts which I used with BB7s for years before ditching them for a lighter canti setup when I started 'racing'

The carbon one is looking good :)

Dave Haygarth said...

Valuable review Alan... I can't think of a better reason for me to want it back! Enjoy it matey... It's a corker

Rick K said...

Great review Al
Pondering over a new crosser for next year and this looks promising
I'd like to chew your ear on this a bit when back over xmas

crossjunkie said...

Simon, I think that was the later production version. Nick Craig was riding it at the Peaks a few years ago. Great frame.

brant@shedfire said...

Price will be £599(UK) or $799(USA).

In stock in limited qtys for end October, with balance to follow end of Nov.

simondbarnes said...

> Price will be £599(UK)

Will you do me a trade in against a 51cm ti cx inbred? :)

Disco said...

I do look good on carbon, almost everything I have been craving in a road bike. Still could use a modern head tube, BB and reputable 650b UST wheelset if Shimano would just build one....