Well, I’ve done several hundred winter miles on the bike now so I thought I’d better write a review.
After riding my 15 year old hardtail for the past 5 years as a road and commuting bike I thought it was about time to treat myself to a new machine. Although my hardtail was kitted out with narrow slicks it was very harsh, rattly ride and geared way too low – but I had become very attached to the bike over the years.
I’d heard about the Shimano Alfine internal geared hubs and I quite liked the idea of a low maintenance and faff-free bike. The On-One Pompetamine seemed to fit the bill although they weren’t as flexible as I’d hoped for in terms of customising all the components if buying a complete bike. So I decided to source the components from wherever I could and just buy the frame. Unfortunately, the frame size I needed was out of stock and after waiting week after week it became clear that I was going to be lucky to get one. By this time I had all of the bike bits except for the frame, but being an unusual bike I wasn’t going to be able to find an off-the-shelf frame that would accommodate an Alfine 11 hub, 29 inch wheels, a narrow chainline and disc brakes. That’s when I decided I treat myself a bit more and go for a custom made frame. After some research I approached Justin and made some initial enquiries.
I’m so glad I did. The whole experience was great from start to finish. To get the ball rolling I forwarded some geometry details (based on a Pompetamine bike I’d already tried) to Justin and he rapidly returned some drawings. I made a few tweaks to certain dimensions which, in hindsight, I’m particularly glad I did. I had a general idea of what I was trying to achieve but I wanted some reassurance that I was approaching things in the right way. Justin offers some expert advice and can talk you through the pros and cons of your options. Now, I won’t say that I wasn’t really worried that the frame I’d commissioned Justin to create was not going to be compatible with all my components (or me, for that matter) – because I was, after all, correspondence was purely by email or over the phone. However, the frame was ready sooner than I’d anticipated and on receipt I was pretty pleased that everything fitted together perfectly as planned.
The finished bike is everything I’d hoped for; fast, great handling, smooth, shock absorbing, quiet, faff-free, fairly light (I managed to get it down to just under 10kg – which isn’t bad if you’ve ever felt the weight of one of these hubs) and unique. It really is a beautifully crafted and perfectly aligned frame.
There are a couple of downsides; nobody can hear me coming (I might have to get a bell!) and I won’t leave it locked up in public.
The gear range worked out well – pretty much the same as an average road bike with a compact chainset (albeit it with 11 gears instead of 13/14).
From a practical point of view (and after a couple of mid-ride punctures), I think the eccentric bottom bracket works much better than horizontal dropouts.
I can’t wait for Springtime to come along.
Thanks for the excellent frame and customer service Justin.
Hmm, I wonder if I can get another bike past my partner?