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XX3.FØUR/AEIGHTTECHBLOG – ØNE HISTORY PT.3 / AE020 03 23

AE020 03 23 - Crystal’s ØNE - And Part. 3 of the history of the ØNE concept - A single bike designed for all your riding. One bike to rule them all...

“I amar prestar æn. Han maetho ne nen. Han mathon ned cæ. A han noston ned gwilith.”


And so after years of testing bikes in Pt. 1 and 2, we fast forward to the latest customer bike (frame number 20) in 2023. Crystal got in touch via the website last year having previously been a rival of Pip’s in their 12 and 24-hour TT racing. The pair of them had often finished within a few hundred meters of each other after all those hours on the bike, so naturally we’d got to know each other over the years. Having said that, Crystal lives in the South-west so we’ve never spent any time together outside of racing so when she got in touch I was really flattered to have the opportunity to build this frame and bike.

Anyone who knows Crystal, knows that colour is important, and obviously that was the first thing we discussed! My ØNE frames are available in 2 basic layouts, or completely custom paint. The logos always go in the same places but you can choose from a fade, something completely custom, or (the most popular) our classic dispersion geometric camo, which is what we went for this time. We use a gloss black base with a rainbow flake as the bulk of the design - the amount of flake is varied to the clients liking and on this one we went supersize on the sparkles! Once that’s applied we have a geometric three colour camo that goes over the top. Usually this is a white, light grey and then a contrast colour of the customers choice but in this instance we went for a bit more colour - painted sunset logos were complimented by camo in yellow, orange and purple to create a really striking design that has a bit of classic and contemporary mixed together!


But, rewind a bit, we’ve not even gone through the frame design yet! With the important colours chosen we met up for a bikefit to get some precise data. The critical bits are the contact points, especially because Crystal had never spent much time off-road before, so I had to find something that would be comfortable for the rider, whilst helping build confidence away from the tarmac. Luckily the bikefit was relatively simple and I was confident I knew how to make the bike fit - likewise after years of testing the bikes on various terrain, we had that bit nailed too. Back home I drew out a plan and ordered everything we needed for the frame. We also chatted back and forth about various build ideas and eventually settled upon a SUPREMÉ build (GRX Di2, handbuilt wheels, with premium finishing kit) and ordered those bits too.


On with the frame build - first the jig gets set up and I braze the seat tube to a custom BB. The rest of the front triangle gets mitred and then brazed together - each braze is first tacked and checked one at a time before brazing, assuring everything is perfectly straight. At this point a lot of the first finishing gets done on the front triangle, especially at the seattube junction as this will be impossible to reach later on. Then the chainstays get mitred and brazed in, again being tacked and checked for alignment one at a time. The rear end is checked multiple times with a rear wheel and a dummy axle. Once the chainstays are complete I go through the same process with the seatstays. This has to be done with extreme precision because there’s no room for error with a thru-axle. The final stage of brazing is fittings like bottle bosses and hose guides with silver solder. Then everything gets finished with various grades of file and then sandpapers - this is probably the bit that takes the most time and there’s no shortcut to learning the job - it takes a big investment of hours and fingernails!

This makes a big difference to the build as a whole as it means I get to spend more time on doing some nice finishing touches. So you’ll notice loads of nice new features in the photos hopefully! Once the frame was finished I sent it off for the paint that we talked about and concentrated on building the wheels up - for this build, one of the finishing touches I mentioned was custom decals. Sometimes it’s nice to surprise the client and I wasn’t sure before they arrived if I’d fit the decals, so I hadn’t actually told her about the upgrade. When the graphics arrived I was really happy with them and I’ll now be offering this service as an upgrade for all customers on the bespoke wheels. These kind of upgrades are well worth doing as they turn a custom product into a totally bespoke bike, especially in this case when colour is such an important factor. Of course the purple and orange colours on the frame were matched to the brand new Hope Pro5 hubs that I like to build with. I particularly like the galaxy logos on the 650b wheels but we can do more or less anything you like!


Tires are a nice mix across the two wheelsets - a low lugged gravel tyre which is perfectly happy on fireroad, tarmac or dry trails. And a more aggressive 650b which can be used when the rider isn’t sure what’s coming and/or on gnarly moorland bridleways like those on Exmoor! The 650b’s are perfect to give you that little bit more confidence when you need it.

The groupset is a tried and tested Shimano GRX Di2. Strong, dependable and relatively light, the GRX is a great choice. Its solid brake lever (rather than the standard inwards shifter type) means there's no issue fitting bar bags and hydraulic brakes are an absolute must with this kind of bike. I also like how easy it is to shift with gloves/cold hands/wet hands/sweaty hands using Di2 and the buttons can be set up to do multiple jobs. The gearing as discussed in the second part of this blog is my standard, do-anything, 40 with a 11-40 cassette and of course we used the same rotors so that everything lines up.


One of the most significant things which is fast becoming a standard fitment is the Redshift Shockstop Stem. I’ve ridden the Specialized Futureshock and Futureshock 2 which I actually quite like, and also the Lauf suspension forks which I love. The obvious downsides are the Specialized system only really works in a Specialized frame and the Lauf is astronomically expensive now. When I first tried the Redshift I thought it might be a cheap version which I could include with some of the cheaper bikes, but to my surprise I absolutely fell in love with it. Personally I feel it trumps both systems and the fact that it’s fully customisable by the client or mechanic is a major feather in its cap. I now fit these stems as standard with all ØNE framesets.

With the bike built I wrapped it up in a million bedsheets and Pip and I delivered it. Crystal met us half way on the Salisbury Plain where we could spend a brilliant day getting used to the bike. It was even sunny! Pip built a nice loop with a bit of everything on it and Crystal put the new bike through its paces. Despite some proper muddy sections which are totally alien to a road rider (even an experienced one) I was relieved to see that the geometry and the setup was helping give her the confidence she needed to begin with - as the ride went on she got used to it and was flying. The pace naturally came up as we rode on and it was a really brilliant to see the latest frame out in the wild doing what it was designed to do. Since then all the updates and pictures have been promising and I think we’ve converted another roadie to the darkside!

When I think back to the original blueprint we talked about in the first part of the blog I reckon we’ve got to a point where I’ve just about hit the nail on the head. It’s been a 20 year journey and until recently technology has got in the way a lot of the time. We now have more choice than ever and components which are able to deliver what I wanted all that time ago. We won’t stop evolving of course but I’m genuinely proud of where we’ve got to, especially when the machine which we’ve built helps people like Crystal, who are already great athletes in one area, go that bit further in terms of enjoying both their riding and racing in a new part of the sport.


If you’re interested in building your own bike for off-road or road please get in touch via the contact form or the contact details on the website (www.aeightbikeco.com).

Photos and words by Glen Whittington

Full Gallery Here; https://www.flickr.com/photos/aeightbikeco/albums/72177720308130319 GLENWHITTINGTON #aeightracer – Glen’s an ex-racer who still finds time to ride bikes for #SDWRacing. He started racing in 1998, initially specialising in XCO and Solo 24-Hour Mountain Bike. He became a mechanic in 2002, working in shops and also for professional race teams. During this time he spent more time racing ‘Cross and Road, and then also TT. In 2013 he built his first bespoke steel frame and then spent several years at Roberts learning the art. Since then he’s designed and tested, alongside our CØLLECTIVE, his ØNE, ÄXE, HMŔ and GÅR platforms which he now offers to the public as part of his ÆIGHT brand. #aeightracer #borninracing #madeinsweetsussex www.aeightbikeco.com GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO RACE WITH US? We’re always looking for riders to be part of our ÆIGHT CØLLECTIVE. The #aeightbikeco is about doing things a little differently - Rather than a jersey being the common theme, we kit our riders out with bespoke steel bikes and handbuilt wheels made in our Sussex workshops, the ÆIGHT WHEELWØRKS and the ÆIGHT MANUFACTØRY. We then support each other at events and races regionally, nationally and internationally - whether that’s for mountain bike, ‘cross, gravel, crit, road or TT - it’s what we call, the #protectedriderprogram

The best part is that we’re not asking you to leave your team or club - that includes racing in your club/team kit. We’ve got certain brands that we work with, mostly so we can standardise shared equipment, but your own sponsors and clubs are almost always welcome. We have some strict qualifying criteria but don’t be put off by this – if you’re interested in being part of the #aeightbikeco then please get in touch by emailing your racing CV to eightbikeco@gmail.com

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