Remember the saga of Sick Bicycle Co and its stillborn Grim Reaper hardtail? Well, the spirit of that punk rock, anti-establishment attitude lives on in the On-One Hello Dave.
On-One’s Hello Dave is a radical hardtail with a wild backstory. With a 62º head angle and stretched 1295mm wheelbase on the size L, it puts the 29in front wheel in the land of DH bikes rather than the more conventional best hardtails on the market. And, if that’s where you choose to ride it, the steel monster truck is easily capable of handling it.
Need to know:
- Slacked-out aggro hardtail from UK online value kings Planet X/On-One
- Three frame sizes in triple butted steel, all with long 458mm chainstays and equally long wheelbases
- RockShox Pike fork has 150mm travel and Select-level Charger damper.
- Top quality kit includes SRAM GX Eagle 1×12-speed drivetrain, G2 brakes and grippy Schwalbe Addix tyres.
Sold in the UK by Planet X – an online retailer with a reputation for unbelievable value – the Hello Dave is supplied as a complete build with a 150mm-travel RockShox Pike fork and SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain for less than £1,700. There’s also a frame only option for £599.99.
A history of sickness
The triple-butted 4130 steel frame has a ‘designed in Yorkshire’ sticker, but was actually first built for another UK brand launched in a blaze of crowdfunding hype and far-out frame designs. Called Sick Bicycle Co., this outfit made plenty of noise about its progressive hardtail ideas and ‘stick-it-to-the-man’ attitude and appealed to a certain demographic before shirking on its promises and becoming terminally ill in 2019.
Sick’s demise wasn’t due to an unwilling customer base, more a failure to deliver its orders. The backlog and social media backlash this led to got so heated there were threats of violence as irate customers lost patience and wished to make the firm’s founders very sick indeed. And with many riders in the lurch and out of pocket, plenty of frames ended up unpaid for and sitting dormant with the frame-builder in Peru. I’m not making this up! Cue On-One and the League of Gentlemen-referencing ‘Hello Dave’ name entering the tale.
So On-One bought that first frame batch cheap and continued the relationship (albeit with a few tweaks like no modular dropouts) to keep prices keen. And, considering Sick charged hundreds more with plenty of willing customers, On-One’s price is even more appealing. It makes for a cool backstory too, but what exactly did Sick dream up in the first place and does it work?
Radical frame and geometry
Hello Dave is essentially a super-strong aggro 29er hardtail that’s pretty extreme in terms of geometry. Designed to be hammered, it’s geared towards the steepest and roughest downhills, rather than making too many concessions to all day rides or climbing. This is reflected not only in the slack head angle mentioned earlier, but in a stabilising chainstay that’s much longer compared to other hardtails. At 458mm, the whopping back end here would be a more common vital statistic on a long travel e-bike.
Another interesting metric is the 50mm BB drop, which equates to a 326mm BB height. That is pretty tall for a 29er hardtail but strangely it doesn’t feel too high, probably because the wheelbase is so long. It does give the bike a different ride character to bikes like Stif’s Squatch and the Whyte 629, where the BB heights are further below the axles. One area of common ground with most new school frames though is the steeper 77º seat tube angle, for a better seated climbing position.
Even with strong, thicker gauge tubing and an emphasis on durability, weight here is (unlike rear stays) thankfully not at e-bike levels. At 14.5kg in size L it is equivalent to plenty of full suspension trail bikes, but good luck finding a full-suspension bike for the same price at a similar weight.
Quality build kit
To help keep the weight low, On-One uses high-quality SRAM kit like the 150mm RockShox Pike Select fork. The same brand’s lightweight 12-speed Eagle drivetrain uses an alloy chainset with the oversized DUB axle for stiffness and an X-Sync II chainring to keep the chain secure. With a 12-speed GX shifter and derailleur the shifting is smooth, solid and secure, even if a few quid is saved (and grams added) with the cheaper 11-50t cassette and SX chain. Sram’s Guide G2 brakes are top quality at this price too, plus there’s a genuine hydraulic 175mm RockShox Reverb dropper post with the smooth-to-push posh handlebar remote.
And it’s not just the frame that’s been updated. The first generation Hello Dave used cheap and cheerful Alex rims and plasticky wire bead Panaracer tyres. The bike now gets wide WTB i30 rims and folding Schwalbe Hans Dampf EVO tyres with grippy Addix Soft rubber that are leagues ahead of the original wheelset in terms of performance and quality. If I’m being picky though, I’d still prefer the pointier Magic Mary tread up front.
How it rides
With so much talk of radical geometry, I half expected Hello Dave to be some kind of crazy niche-specific, DH-only one trick pony. In reality though, it rides like a normal bike. In fact it’s almost head scratching just how intuitive and familiar it handles my local trails, especially after double checking that the brand’s angles were as extreme as advertised (they are).
So, even with the front wheel kicked out well in front of the frame, steering is neutral, with little of the floppiness or lethargy you might reasonably expect. There’s a great riding position for pedalling and accelerating, in or out of the saddle, and (while I suspect it’s not even optimised for it) climbing is very nippy under power with the seat angle placing glutes and quads correctly to apply maximum muscular force through the chainset.
Dave’s bombproof remit doesn’t extend to an overly stiff or solid lump that pummels your feet over rough ground either. The steel frame is noticeably well damped, supple and smooth across smaller bumps and chop. And, in keeping with the theme of my expectations being confounded; the longer chainstays I anticipated putting excessive weight on the front tyre isn’t really a thing, except on the steepest downhills with sizeable steps or drops. Most of the time, Dave comes over as a bit of a relaxed smoothie; stable and easy to control and capable of slinking calmly down anything.
One area where you do sense the length of the chainstays is when trying to slice through tighter turns – it’s hard work, and this may well be more of a limiting factor on the smallest size too, where my guess is the weight distribution might be a bit off with a proportionally shorter front end.
So while the rangy On-One Hello Dave is born from an anarchic, turn-it-up-to-11 attitude, that stops you going out the front door on the steepest trails, it’s also way more versatile than advertised. It’s a well finished frame and combined with the high quality spec it’s a half decent, albeit heavy-duty mile muncher that’s equally up for a bit of thrashing in the woods or some old-school bridleway rides. Best of all, it will keep you safe and composed at high speeds in harsh terrain for a fantastic price.