Review - On One Codeine 29
Angus has returned from an enforced hiatus and is back with a no punches pulled extended review on the damn right thrashable On One Codeine 29er. Check it out!
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and penned some thought’s on a bike but I’m back, alive and kicking with a run down on the Codiene 29er from On One.
You could say that this review is a slight bit different to some of my other previous reviews you may of read on MoreDirt as the bike in question is actually my own and I shelled out my own hard earned cash to buy it. Consequently, this review probably delves a little deeper thanks to the added time I’ve been able to spend on the bike and time to tinker with both set up and parts.
I feel it’s incredibly important to point out at this point, It’s certainly no more, or less honest than previous reviews. I will not be applying any whipped cream or sprinkles to the turd. I shall speak the truth as I find it. If
Why a Codiene?
I won’t beat around the bush here.,. What pulled me towards the Codeine was first up that infamous video from Steel City Media with of the shinny new On One wagon wheeled trail bike getting thrashed around the peak district like I have never quite seen before. Simply stated, it was Rad!
That awesome video combined with the price point that I could stomach without having to raid my entire rainy day fund made this package into a bit of a winner for me… The Codeine represents market leading value at £2499 and straight from the factory comes with a spec sheet that leaves most drooling from the corner of the mouth.
The only thing that worried me? Shelling out big bucks for a bike that I had never swung my leg over. This is not something that I would recommend doing to anyone as for me sizing of a bike is the most important facet to make sure that you are 100% happy with before taking the plunge. You could be stood in front of the most incredible new bike in the world, but if it doesn’t fit you correctly you aren’t going to be able to ride it to anywhere near it’s full capability!
The best I could do was spend some time comparing the geometry tables of the Codeine to bikes I have ridden, or sat on in the past and when combined with a reasonable understanding of what I wanted, I lay my chips down on the medium size to match my 5 foot 7 and a 1/2” frame despite the online size guide recommending I should be taking a small. As with most things in life, rarely ever simple, I was right on the cusp of a small and a medium!
First impressions were exactly what I was hoping for from the new bike having never actually seen one in the flesh. It was about as long, slack and aggressive as 29ers come and blue. Very, very Blue.
At the time of the bikes arrival with me, I was still currently under strict doctors orders that I shouldn’t be riding bikes. This was heartbreaking. I had my new toy lined up in the garage, raring for action but no one to pilot it. Thankfully this standoff didn’t last long as 2 days later I was given the all clear after a 4 month spell of time away the trails, in and out of hospital confined to just the turbo trainer while I tried to shake off a fungal chest infection that had pretty much put me out for the count.
The bike was ready, my body and lungs were in the best shape of their life and my mind was 24 short hours away from going insane if I wasn’t allowed back out again soon. I got back out on the trails and eased myself in with a proper shakedown ride on my local loop with every single knob and setting I could find turned to neutral as a benchmark to build a picture of what was what.
Straight from the off, I had that feeling I was onto a winner…
The Codiene comes out swinging with A Rockshox Pike RCT3 Solo Air with 140mm travel up front and 130mm of travel in the rear supported by a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air. I feel this combo sets the stall and makes intentions fairly well known from the onset. It’s going to be more than capable when you point the bike south.
This is my first experience of Rockshox critically acclaimed Pike fork and I dived in with an open mind but can’t deny that I was expecting to be left underwhelmed when it didn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of praise it had been receiving from other MTB media vendors.
I was wrong. The Pike more than stands up to billing and has no doubt become the new benchmark for the trail fork market.
Compared to how I faired with Fox’s all singing, all dancing 2014 34 Float w/trail adjust (Also at 140mm on a 29” wheel I hasten to add) fitted to the Transition Covert 29 that I reviewed a while back, The Rockshox offering knocks Fox out of the park.
It’s plusher at the start of the stroke has good support in the middle where you really need it and straight out the box has a suitable volume meaning that even with sag at 25/30% you aren’t going to dive through your travel and bottom out. It’s simple, it works and is no doubt the standard all manufactures should be aiming for.
Now, I’ve been reading and watching the web with great interest and the general murmurings are saying that 2015 Fox is a totally different beast with the launch of the new 36 and some different damper options? I shall only comment on what I’ve ridden myself so for the meantime Rockshox are sitting up front leading the pack and have my attention but if the 36 float from Fox does live up to it’s billing I could see how an extra bit of burliness upfront would go down just nicely however…
The Cane Creek Double Barrel Air. Quite a mouthful but more interestingly, not the latest and most up to date model fitted to the bike thats currently available from Cane Creek with the “Climb Switch”. Being the cynic that I am initially I put this down to a cost save from On One generously offering to use up old stock at a reduced price but I don’t think thats the case. I read an explanation from the designer of the bike on a forum stating in words to this effect…The bike didn’t really have any problems with pedal squat when climbing so why bother with the climb switch shock. Fair point, well made.
The CCDB air is renowned for it’s vast array of tune-ability. This also means there’s a vast array of settings to cock up and have a bike with a rear end more out of control than your average hen party in Brighton.
My starting point was as always the “Neutral position” or in other words set the sag correctly then just use the middle value of clicks available on every adjustment. I did a few rides like this and to my surprise it wasn’t actually to far off being something I was happy with a few tweaks to slow the rebound and a bit more high speed compression to deal with the big hits.
I retreated back to the computer and with some further online research trawling forums I found the settings published that the On One team riders had been using to race enduro’s and downhill onboard the Codeine. I made a note of my settings and then went for a ride with these new recommended values.
This could be described as groundhog day for the relationship between myself and the Codeine. I discovered the bikes true potential once it was stiffened up with a load more high speed compression and further slowed down in the rebound department, The rear end grip is unrivalled and the composure the bike still had from heavy landings or through brake bumps didn’t feel dis-similar to riding my downhill bike…All this from 130mm of rear wheel travel on a bike with those big wagon wheels. I couldn’t quite believe it.
Straight from the factory without any fancy tuning or valving from a workshop, the CCDB is a class act. Providing you have a basic understanding of suspension terminology, have a reasonable level of knowledge to how things should feel and give it some perseverance and patience, the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air is one hell of a piece of engineering.
Sram X01 is left in charge of the drivetrain on the whole but it has been paired with the cheaper and slightly heavier but no less impressive, non carbon fibre option of the Sram X1 cranks to keep purse strings tight. It’s important to note at this point that even on the Sram X1 cranks you will be able to make use of some of the great aftermarket direct mount chainrings from the likes of Wolftooth Components or Absolute Black further down the line when it comes to needing to replace tired chainrings.
Plenty of battle scars on the end of the crank arms... War wounds like this make me thankful glad my Codeine isn't running carbon X01 crank arms!
The shifting is crisp, accurate and you get a pretty considerable range of gears when you consider it makes use of a 30 tooth front chain ring. The 42x10 11 speed X01 cassette in the rear is a thing of engineering beauty from box fresh painted black but give it 3 rides and the paint will flake off making it look tatty. I still can’t get my head around why Sram chose to do that…
As for the range of gears… I wasn’t sure how I would get on with having such a tiny 30 tooth front sprocket. I still haven’t found a climb steep enough that 30x42 isn’t easy enough to sit in the saddle and just spin the legs up. It genuinely is like flicking the mountain goat switch when combined with the increased rolling performance of the big wheels.
At the other end of the spectrum, unless you are track legend Sir Chris Hoy and can generate a thigh burning cadence of around 200rpm you will run out of metal at about 35mph in the highest 30x10, 11th gear. Ask yourself however, when was the last time you were wishing you could still keep cranking down a trail when you reach those speeds. If you fall into this category and are finding this happening regularly I would recommend that you check your sanity.
As for longevity and performance of the groupset. I’m at a shade under 300 predominantly dry summer miles, It shifts faultlessly and doesn’t jump even in the softer aluminium large cogs that show signs of wear faster when I lay down the power with not a single tweak or tune up. The chain is still at 0% on the ruler and while the cassette may look cosmetically tatty, it’s in good condition structurally. As long as you continue to take good care cleaning and lubing I can’t see this being a real issue.
The potential sting in the tail with running the X01 group set? One stray rock or root takes off your rear mech and before you know it your parked up back in the bike shop staring down the barrel of an eye watering £300 bill for the replacement. When the cassette and chain need inevitably need replacing your once again looking at nearly a £400 bill. The performance of the parts is undeniably fantastic when they are working but I fear things could get very expensive, very fast if lady luck isn’t on your side.
The eternal headache that is a robust 29er wheelset…
The rolling stock consists of Sram X0 hubs laced to Pacenti TL28 tubeless ready rims make for a lightweight and zippy wheel set but have since caused me somewhat of a headache. The hubs have been very impressive with fantastic engagement and pickup, a satisfying but not deafening purr, large flanges for stiff wheel builds and if you take some time to consult the stat sheet they tip the scales at 380grams for the pair, 85grams lighter than the market leading Hope Pro 2. When the first details came from Sram it was declared that these were the first generation of hubs from Sram to “be deserving of the X0 name” and I would be happy to go along with this on my experiences so far.
This is where the plot thicken’s… Building the wheels with a combination of such light gauge spokes and lightweight Pacenti TL28 rims seemed like a strange decision to me from the outset that I don’t think matches the (I hate this phrase with a passion but it’s a direct quote from On One so I shall let it slide this time…) “Trail and Enduro race” aspirations of the Codiene.
Sure enough, from my first ride out on the home trails even for a shake down I was back at home an hour later with the bike in the stand, the tyre off armed with an adjustable spanner pulling dents out of the rim and tweaking the spoke key pulling the whole thing true again. I persisted for a few more rides but with a nagging doubt in my mind that at any moment I could rip into a turn and emerge with a wheel that resembled a pringle before conceding defeat and dropping the bike in at Hot Pursuit, the local bikeshop for a wheel tune and true up.
The seemingly soft nature of the Pacenti rims has caused yet further head scratching as to protect them from dents and in the long run catastrophic splits and folds, I have to run much more tyre pressure than I would like to in an ideal world. Sadly there’s no factory support wagon handing me out fresh wheelsets at the start of every ride that I can write off at leisure. Strength, longevity and performance of kit is all that matters and if I’m honest the Pacenti TL28’s have come up a bit short so far for me.
The hubs have been flawless, but lets be honest you would expect from any decent hub after such low dry milage but as sure as tick follows tock I will be looking to find something slightly more robust in the rim department than the Pacenti’s in the very near future.
You could argue I’ve taken the rims out of their comfort zone with the style of riding I’ve put them through? I would reply saying that the choosing of such a trail focused rim on a bike with such aggressive aspirations is a bit of a cock up on On One’s part. Looking forward to the future I can see that I will probably end up trying my luck with a pair of the new Hope Tech Enduro rims. They are wide, tough and eyeleted which seem like they may be slightly more appropriate for the use and abuse I seem to put them through!
The bike came supplied with an “El Guapo” cockpit which I guess you could describe as one of On One’s in house brands.
The “Corto" 35mm reach stem ensures steering is direct and responsive when combined with the 760mm wide 20mm rise Ancho bars. They are both stiff and pretty flat. They aren't anything overly glorious to write home about but then I wasn’t expecting them to set the world alight. No frills on show here but thats probably one of the factors that allows the bike to cost only 2500 quid.
I tried my best to persevere with the On One cockpit but the predictable sweep and performance of the Fatbar was just too tempting and has improved comfort immeasurably.
One comment? After a few rides I was starting to suffer with increasingly sore forearms and hands almost as the handlebars were pulling me a little too far forwards on the bike and forcing my elbows to stick out at right angles applying extra pressure to my wrists.
The Ancho bars were swapped out shortly after for a set of trusty 30mm rise and slightly more sweepy Renthal Fatbar’s I had in the garage that cured the elbows and arm problem but created another with the now dizzying height of the front end of the bike… For the mean time I have jiggled stem spacers and made the best of a less than ideal situation until I can get my hands on the super bling new Carbon Fatbar in the 20mm rise variety to finish things off nicely up front.
The rest of the kit…
In the rubber department the Codiene is supplied rolling on an On One Chunky Monkey Tyre upfront and the fast rolling Smorgasbord tyre on the rear. I converted these to tubeless from pretty much day one with the help of a roll of the magical yellow tape and valves from Superstar along with a squirt of Stans sealant.
I wasn’t expecting much from this pairing if I’m honest and had ear marked the tyres as probably one of the first things I would probably be forced into changing but I’m very glad I gave them a fair chance. The rolling resistance has been pretty much perfect for the summer conditions we’ve been experiencing and the ruggedness of the sidewalls have stood up to a few nights of abuse on the notorious dartmoor granite but still been just as happy smashing trail centres or local singletrack.
The Smorgasbord has vastly exceeded my initial expectations as an all round tyre in the dry! That fast rolling centre combined with a reasonable shoulder gives a predictable and dependable performance
Up front I run about 25psi in the Chunky Monkey and am still yet to wash a front end on a huge variety of terrain. In the rear I am forced to run considerably more pressure in the Smorgasbord but as explained previously thats more about trying to save the French Brie soft rims from further damage than a performance choice.
The rear tyre is pretty much annihilated now from dry milage on tough terrain and the bike will no doubt be due a fresh set of boots for the rear when I can finally decide what will replace it on the rear… (Answers on a post card/comments section please…)
The seating arrangement is handled by a Planet X team issue saddle mounted to a Rockshox Reverb. If I’m really starting to split hairs here it would of been nice to see the the frame with the capability to handle the far tidier stealth routing for the seat post, but it is a nice touch to see the matchmaker clamps in action for the remote when paired with the Avid Trail X0 brakes. It just keeps your cockpit tidy and enables simple adjustment with just one screw.
Sram X0 Trail brakes combined with the matchmaker clamps for the reverb keeps the cockpit uncluttered.
That rather neatly Segway’s into the final piece of the puzzle… The Avid X0 Trail brakes that were selected for the build by On One. They have been flawless so far and have stood up to some long moorland descents with the same poise and composure as nipping 5 minutes up the road to the shops. As with all the Avid brakes, as long as you keep on top of how much brake pad you have remaining and don’t run them down to the metal they shouldn’t cause too many problems and won’t lose their bite!
The Codiene is a bike that really likes it when you really push to that ragged edge. Its totally changed the way I look to ride loose and rocky trails knowing that I can get away with what most riders would class as murder simply because the bike doesn’t get held up in the rough stuff. With this new found confidence in how the bike consistantly performs, I would say it has increased the level of fun that I am having on the bike and in turn the speed that I feel happy attacking trails is on a whole new level to what it has been previosusly.
You find yourself looking for gaps out on the trail between roots. You become happy to hit turns death gripped and not even considering braking. Before you know it you will have time to grab a drink and a fruit pastille at the end of a trail as you wait for your riding buddies to catch up and finish choking on your dust cloud.
The bike is sensationally fast and composed when things get wild but its equally as home just smashing through singletrack and ticking off the miles. It’s part list is burly and can take a beating but it’s certainly no heavyweight with mine coming in at just a whisker over 30lbs running a tubeless set up and on the whole stock parts. As I have previously covered only having 140mm of suspension up front and 130 in the rear that never seems to suffer from pedal bob probably goes some of the way to explaining it’s uncanny ability to set fire to your local blue graded loop at the trail centre but there's enough of a safety net so that it doesn't bite you if you venture into the path lesser trodden and find something gnarly.
I found that the seat tube angle provides a very capable, efficient and comfortable climbing position and once I settled on a sensible bar height, my initial problems with keeping the front end down on those super steep punchy climbs became a thing of the past. She really does “Winch and Plummet” as per the sticker on the back!
29 inch wheels have been on the scene long enough now for bike designers to have finally come up with a working blueprint. We know that the steering can feel a bit slow and sluggish with the increased turning circle so the obvious thing to do is counteract this by providing geometry and controls that speed this up. That’s exactly what’s gone on with the Codiene. The steering is pretty nimble for a big bike and when combined with the level of grip from the drastically increased area of rubber in contact with the ground compared to smaller wheels on occasions defies belief. You can brake later and substantially less before turns, lean her over and wait for the giant grin to appear.
I found myself being able to carry so much more speed through turns I was actually starting to get myself into trouble tackling the next feature on the trail with the huge amount of extra speed. This wasn’t a characteristic I found you could turn on or off either. Unless you consciously made an effort to take it easy for the entire duration of a ride you slowly found yourself building up to a 2 wheel drift crescendo around a flat turn and probably thinking on more than one occasion before returning to the carpark “How the hell did I just get away with that!”
The bike feels incredibly stable and confident in the air which is no mean feat for a wagon wheeler. The low stand over height on the top tube gives a feeling like theres less bike under you than there really is which I have found to be a marvellous characteristic.The increased space to move around on top of the bike, allowing you to stay loose on the bike does a good job of keeping things smooth and composed on landing.
Are there any problems?
There have been times where if I’m honest the gargantuan overall length of the bike has made me wish for something a little more nimble when things get really tight. The one characteristic that makes this bike so confidence inspiring and sensational when your blasting down open moorland at 30mph sending it off granite slabs is the same characteristic that has you cursing as you get tangled in the front wheel nearly sending you out the front door in every tight rooty switchback.
To get the most out of the bike, you aren’t going to get what I would describe as a comfy ride out of the suspension. It needs to be more of a stiff platform to work from than a wallowing small chatter bump eater. This won’t be a problem for everyone but I definitely think it’s something to bare in mind if your expecting the Codeiene to act as a magic carpet to just carry you round the trails.
Yet more war wounds... I have sadly had to come to terms with reaching the end of a ride just to find another gruesome set of dings and dents in the rims!
Finally, it comes back to some of the problems I outlined in the rather in depth component breakdown. The overall strength of a 29er wheel set that doesn’t end up costing the earth will almost certainly need to be considered, as is the upkeep and required maintenance of the fantastic yet eye wateringly priced list of drivetrain that comes specced as standard on the bike.
I think its safe to say this kind of bike isn’t going to be for everyone. A large proportion of guys and girls will of been put off purely from the fact that it rolls on 29 inch wheels and realistically if your much shorter than 5 foot 6, regardless of frame size I don’t think big wheels are the way to go. You will be swamped by bike and could be better off going for a 26 or 27.5 wheeled weapon.
If you now that you are after a bike with big wheels that just keeps giving the faster, further or harder you smash through a section I would say the Codeine is for you. It’s an aggressive riders trail bike.
Rail turns faster, jump further than before and ride through rocks so fast you’ll need a standing weekly appointment with your local dentist before pressing the plunger on the reverb to pedal smoothly back up the other side and do it all again… That’s what owning a Codeine is all about.
Is the On One Codiene gonna be everyones cup of tea? Probably not. It’s certainly my cup of tea however and I can’t get enough of it. Stick the kettle on for a brew, I need a refill before getting back on the trails!
You can find out more details on the bike over at On One's website here...