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On-One Hello Dave reviewed

Is the On-One Hello Dave 'Sick' hardtail just a DH geometry gravity freak or a more versatile aggro all-rounder than expected?

On-One Hello Dave review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Weighs a ton but smoothly damped ride and radical-but-well-balanced geometry makes Hello Dave surprisingly fun on much more than just mental DH/Bike Park runs

For

  • Bomber strong but surprisingly smooth frame
  • DH-bred geometry feels surprisingly balanced
  • Outstanding value with appropriate SRAM/RockShox kit
  • Super grippy, armoured tyres with loads of space
  • Production bikes will be lighter
  • Neat frame detailing

Against

  • Weighs as much as a full-suspension bike
  • Sticky e-bike tyres are very slow and wooden
  • Needs some muscle on climbs, manuals and tight trails
  • 160mm rear rotor only

UK direct-sell brand On-One has always pushed the hardcore hardtail agenda, but the super slack, steel-framed Hello Dave is its most radical bike yet. Is it still fun to ride as a daily driver or is it just a DH-only freak?

Design and geometry

The stand out geometry number here is the downhill bike slack 62-degree head angle, but the rest of the frame algebra is super aggro too. The seat tube sits at 77-degree to push weight towards that distant front wheel on climbs while a 480mm reach on the large keeps it roomy. The ISCG mount equipped bottom bracket hangs 50mm below the axles and the back end is a vast 458mm long. Add sculpted, curved forged and machined sections at the chainstay heads and that leave acres of room around the 29 x 2.6in rear tyre. While the first Hello Dave bikes were actually repainted frames from a Sick Bicycles order that the Taiwanese vendor was never paid for these second-generation frames get an On-One rear end. That reduces rear rotor clearance to 160mm (3rd generation bikes will return to 180mm) and uses neat, fixed Boost dropouts with a replaceable hanger rather than separate bolt on dropout sections.

The front end is still quality triple and double-butted chromoly steel with a large throat gusset and neat welding throughout. Brake and gear lines are external with semi-internal dropper post routing and the seat tube is short enough to make upsizing easy if you want mega reach (XL is 520mm). Hello Dave comes in four colours including a raw, lacquered ‘rat bike’ finish. At £385 for the frame it’s expensive compared to other On-One steel bikes but significantly cheaper than similar spec competitors.

On-One Hello Dave review

The V2 Hello Dave gets an On-One rear end that sue a Boost dropouts with a replaceable hanger  (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Components and build

The complete bike comes in a single spec option based around a RockShox Pike Select 150mm fork and SRAM GX Eagle gears. On-One have cheekily sneaked on a cheaper, heavier 11-50T cassette, but getting a 175mm stroke Reverb hydraulic dropper post with fancy sweep lever is a definite win. While our sample bike came with SRAM Guide R brakes, production bikes will get the super powerful Code calliper Guide RE, making that small rear rotor much less of an issue.

Production bikes will also get Alex tubeless rims and lighter hubs to save around half a kilo on our super heavy (6.5kg including tyres, rotors and cassette) sample set. The heavy-duty e-bike carcass, super sticky Tackee rubber Vee Flow Snap 29 x 2.6in tyres are keepers though. The excellent Truvativ Descendant 40mm stem, 780mm high rise On-One Enduro 6 handlebars and lock-on grips are production pieces too, but like other contact points and tyres they can be swapped in the online bike builder as all On-One bikes are built to order in Yorkshire.

On-One Hello Dave review

Our test bike came with a 40mm stem and 780mm bars although On-One will allow these to be customised at the point of sale (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Ride, handling and performance

At over 15kg, with tyres so sticky that you have to physically peel them off the road with each pedal stroke, Dave does not say Hello to flat or climbing speed easily. It’s still lighter than most suspension bikes of the same price though and the broad armed GX cranks and DUB bottom bracket don’t waste any watts. The long skinny chainstays mean it applies traction to the trail like hot tar too and with the 77-degree seat angle and 50T Eagle dinner plate cog it’ll winch up almost anything if you’re patient.

Once you get gravity at your back or some flat-land speed into the bike the speed sustain is awesome. Running the Vee tyres at teen psi means you’ll feel the rim occasionally but they stay stable in corners and bludgeon through roots and rocks like a rhino. The DebonAir spring and Charger damper of the Pike fork control incoming chunder well before it gets to the bike. They’re stiff and stable enough to track predictably however steep or brake/turn loaded the situation gets. The multi-butted steel tube set also does an excellent job of sucking up bigger impacts and damping down chatter and stutter from ragged roots and baby head rocks. Add the utterly unshakeable 1293mm wheelbase geometry and a muscular line holding feel and Hello Dave will thunder through or over pretty much anything without flinching.

Production bikes will get a short offset fork too, so those front centre and wheelbase dimensions will be even longer and more stable but the steering will have a lighter feel.

Even in the format, we tested with the super heavy wheels and longer offset fork we were surprised how well the bike handled on flatter or rolling trails, too. If you’re coming off an older bike, the super slack head angle will feel like you’re steering a wheelbarrow through the trails at first. You’re going to need some leg and lung power to keep the attack up for long too. 

On-One Hello Dave review

The low standover height combined with a 175mm dropper post  gives scope for sizing up if you prefer even more reach (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The long back end inevitably means some HGV moments in tight spaces and switchbacks and even with the high rise bars, it's noticeably harder to manual and wheelie than a more conventional bike. If you’ve ridden a recent, more progressive bike though then the overall balance is actually really good with a surprisingly little flop at slower speeds. The steep seat angle means less understeering shunt in loose corners too and it tips into corners easily. If you’ve got the grunt to get it going it sustains speed really well on rough trails and while it’s definitely damped not springy there’s still a surprising amount of life in the frame compared to many more expensive steel bikes we’ve ridden.

That’s even more surprising given that we normally find Vee’s big enduro tyres crashingly wooden but switching to lighter wheels and tyres for part of the testing definitely made things a lot livelier and more playful straight away.

Current restrictions mean pushing the limits in a bike park or heading for the Alps where it’s really designed to thrive wasn’t an option. We’ve hit enough of our test gauge trails responsibly fast enough to prove the stout front end and Sick geometry make it an absolute boss that’ll just get better and more into its stride the more your riding goes ballistic.

Verdict

It weighs a ton and certainly won’t suit everyone, but Hello Dave is a seriously impressive gravity/enduro machine for riders who can’t afford/don’t want rear suspension. The geometry is fantastic for the steepest, fastest trails and the steel frame impressively damped and controlled when things get rowdy. Despite the super heavy wheels and wooden tyres on our sample, the overall ride was much more dynamic and enjoyable than we expected on more regular trails, too.

Add an excellent, appropriately aggressive build package for the money, with custom contact point options and it’s a weekend/summer holiday psycho that’s still surprisingly fun as a freaky geometry ‘daily driver’.

Test conditions

  • Temperature: 5-14 degrees
  • Surface: Rooty, rocky woods, boulder spines, drops, sketchy steps and mud, loam
  • and sand
  • Routes: Mixed local woods, man-made trails and local backcountry

Tech spec: On-One Hello Dave

  • Model name: On-One Hello Dave
  • Discipline: Trail/enduro/DH
  • Price: £149.99
  • Head angle: 62-degrees
  • Frame material: DN6 chromo steel multi-butted mainframe
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 15.3kg
  • Wheel size: 29in
  • Suspension (front/rear): RockShox Pike Select 150mm travel, 51mm offset
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed mech, shifter and 30T chainset. SRAM 11-50T cassette
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide R brakes with 200mm front, 160mm rear rotors. Vee
  • Wheelset: Rubber Flow Snap Synthesis E-Bike Tackee compound 29 x 2.6in tyres on 30mm rims with plain gauge spokes and heavy-duty hubs
  • Handlebars: On-One Enduro 6 780x31.8mm bar
  • Stem: Truvativ Descendant 40x31.8mm 
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb 175mm dropper post
  • Saddle: Selle Italia X3 saddle.