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The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 115 - We Are One's CEO Talks Future DH Bike, E-Bikes, & Domestic Manufacturing

Apr 9, 2022
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

There are a lot of different carbon fiber rims on the market these days, but there's only one brand manufacturing their own mountain bike rims in the great white north: We Are One. Their first product, the Agent, was released back in 2017 and they've since added many more to its catalog... as well as a highly-regarded enduro bike that's also made in their Kamloops factory with domestically sourced ingredients.

Brian Park and I sat down with Dustin Adams, We Are One's founder and retired World Cup downhill racer, to talk about the challenges (and advantages) of doing it in Canada, locally sourced parts, knowing when to ask for help, if We Are One has plans to make a downhill bike or e-bike, and many other things.

April 9th, 2022

Dustin is an open book about the challenges (and advantages) of domestic manufacturing.

Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?
Episode 54 - Best and Worst MTB Product Marketing
Episode 55 - Big Dumb Rides & Staying Motivated
Episode 56 - What Were the Most Important Inventions in Mountain Biking?
Episode 57 - What Were the Best (and Worst) Trends in Mountain Biking?
Episode 58 - Debunking Mountain Biking's Biggest Myths
Episode 59 - Value Bike Field Trip Surprises & Spoilers
Episode 60 - What Kind of Mountain Biker Do You Want to Be?
Episode 61 - Athlete Pay, Lycra, Equality and More from the State of the Sport Survey
Episode 62 - Editor Preferences and Why They Matter
Episode 63 - Our Best (And Worst) Bike Buying Advice
Episode 64 - Who's On Your MTB Mount Rushmore?
Episode 65 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 66 - The Best and Worst of Repairing Bikes
Episode 67 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham
Episode 68 - Who Are Mountain Biking's Unsung Heroes?
Episode 69 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 1
Episode 70 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 2
Episode 71 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham - A Pinkbike Podcast Special, Part 2
Episode 72 - Hey Outers!
Episode 73 - The Details That Matter... and Some That Shouldn't
Episode 74 - The Best Trails We've Ridden and What Makes Them So Special
Episode 75 - Things MTB Brands Waste Money On
Episode 76 - MTB Originals and Copycats
Episode 77 - Interview with Outside CEO, Robin Thurston
Episode 78 - Modern Geometry Explained
Episode 79 - What's the Future of eMTBs?
Episode 80 - The Best Vehicles for Mountain Bikers
Episode 81 - You've Got Questions, We've (Maybe) Got Answers
Episode 82 - Behind the Scenes at Field Test
Episode 83 - Does Carbon Fiber Belong On Your Mountain Bike?
Episode 84 - Explaining RockShox's Computer Controlled Suspension
Episode 85 - Is the Red Bull Rampage Too Slopestyle?
Episode 86 - Greg Minnaar on the Honda DH Bike, World Cup Racing, and Staying Fast Forever
Episode 87 - How to Love Riding When it's Cold and Wet
Episode 88 - Mountain Biking on a Budget
Episode 89 - The Derailleur Pickle
Episode 90 - Is Supre the Future of Trouble-Free Drivetrains? (with Cedric Eveleigh of Lal Bikes)
Episode 91 - Riding Every Double Black in the Whistler Bike Park with Christina Chappetta
Episode 92 - Does Bike Weight Really Matter?
Episode 93 - Staying Motivated and Overcoming Burnout
Episode 94 - PBA Contestant Tori Wood on Her First Race and Finding the Right Mindset
Episode 95 - Field Test Down-Country Bike Debrief
Episode 96 - PBA Contestant Israel Carrillo on Riding in Mexico and Why It's Not Always About Speed
Episode 97 - Can We Predict the Future of Mountain Biking?
Episode 98 - Field Test Trail Bike Debrief
Episode 99 - New Year, New You?
Episode 100 - Q&A with the PB Editors
Episode 101 - MTB Tradeshows Explained
Episode 102 - Should MTB Media Be Going to Press Camps?
Episode 103 - Secrets from the World Cup Pits with Henry Quinney
Episode 104 - Lachlan Morton on How to be a Happy Bike Racer and the World's Longest Climb
Episode 105 - The 3 Bike Budget Challenge
Episode 106 - What's Your Ideal Ride Look Like?
Episode 107 - How (And Why) Did You Start Mountain Biking?
Episode 108 - Behind the Scenes at the Value Bike Field Test
Episode 109 - Berm Peak's Seth Alvo on Making Videos 24/7, Soul Rides, and Building a Bike Park
Episode 110 - Trying (and Failing) to Reinvent the Mountain Bike
Episode 111 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #1 - It's All Downhill From Here
Episode 112 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #2 - The Lourdes World Cup Post-Race Wrap-Up
Episode 113 - PB Editors Answer Your Questions (again)
Episode 114 - The Placebo Effect and Your New Mountain Bike

Author Info:
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Member since Oct 18, 2005
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  • 31 1
 I really appreciate Dustin's approach. Durability over arbitrary weight goals. Way too many people out there are chasing arbitrary weights first, and then features, durability, and performance second. It's a brain tumor inducing trend for me.
  • 1 4
 I definitely appreciate his sentiment. It a bummer they’re not using thermoplastic which is downcycleable, stronger than epoxy composites, and is less energy intensive to produce. Revel wheels, evil, Chris king etc.
  • 27 2
 The more I see and hear from WAO the more I’m in. This company gets mtb.
  • 2 0
 No shit, dude knows his shit & I found myself thinking Im just gonna but these wheels vs pissin around with “affordable” wheels anymore. Kinda seems like seeing the light. Not cheap fluorescent light but, The Light
  • 3 1
 @Mtn-Goat-13: I was an early adopter after a number of conversations with Dustin. Been riding their wheels ever since, with my original Agents still going strong on a friends bike. Nothing but stoked about the product and their crew.
  • 2 0
 BUY not but. BUY these wheels
  • 1 0
 @BiNARYBiKE: How long have you had them and is trueing maybe less an issue than w/ aluminum? And where / what style of riding are you putting them thru?

I seem to nuking wheels pretty fast these days (latest an Ibis S35 which I liked til they died). This is mostly enduro style / pedal up for a 2-3 hrs then down the steepest stuff usually w/ chunk / drops but also park riding (mostly east coast / western NC stuff). Ive been thinking Is shatter carbon so I just havent bothered but given my 1 set a year I seem to be destroying, and after hearing this interview, Im def double thinking

Also curious if u considered or have ridden I9 or other carbon wheels, thots on those?
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: We Are One makes the rims for the I9 wheels. The less expensive option is to buy the We Are One Revolution wheels. Same We Are One rims with the same Hydra hubs. The only difference is you don’t get the fancy anodized I9 spokes. And you save like $800. To be fair to I9, those spokes might make the wheel stronger and worth the price. I had a set of aluminum I9 Enduro 305s, and they were the best wheel I had ridden to that point. I now have the We Are One Revolutions, and they are at least as good. I think the hub is the real advantage here. I’d say it might be worth the savings to go with the We Are One brand wheels.
  • 1 0
 @TheR: Word on all that, my local wheel-guy did mention the I9's (the company is in my town) were from WA1, and there are sets starting around $8 or $900 around here but I'm not sure this lower priced set is gonna last w/ heavy riding (dude is aware of my abusive style) but I can't recall what the hub or spokes are for that set. I'm remembering now I was gonna but that I9 set but it was gonna be 3-4 weeks wait vs. a couple days on the Ibis...had to get rolling.

Anyway - what're the specs on your wheelset & how long have you been on 'em now and are you still on the Hydra (and saying that's pretty much the deal?) ...I appreciate any input.
  • 2 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Hey, I have the We Are One Revolution 29 Wheelset — 29er Union rims front and back, laced with Sapim race spokes and Hydra Hubs. The guy was going to put D-light spokes up front, for slightly more compliance, but goofed the order. Doesn’t sound to me like that’s what you want. So go race front and back.

These were around $1700. I was going to go with the I9 aluminum wheels (Enduro 305) for about the same price, but they were talking at least a 12 week wait. The I9 carbon wheels would have been around $2400-2600, I think. Too rich for my blood. So I went with the carbon We Are Ones

The more affordable wheels (around $900) most likely have the I9 1/1 hubs. The difference is the points of engagement. Fewer points of engagement compared to the Hydras, but still a lot more than most hubs out there. Also only come in black, which is obviously no big deal. And maybe some insignificant amount heavier. The front hub should basically be the same.

Anyway, I am 165 pounds, maybe 175 with my riding gear. I’m riding a Kona Process 153, so longer travel. I ride a lot of technical stuff — rough, rocks. They hold true like a mother, and I haven’t cracked anything, but I can’t vouch for your riding style. Sounds like you put wheels to the test. I like the responsive hubs and the stiff rims — makes the bike feel alive and poppy compared to the wheels I replaced. I’m pretty satisfied.
  • 2 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: I can’t remember when WAO first started selling agents but that’s when I got them. Years ago. Had them on a couple different Sentinels for a few years in Phoenix and then Oregon. Lots of DH and freeride biased riding, jumps and drops, etc. I ride hard and fast and I always felt confident to just plow through stuff on those wheels. I had plenty of strikes that I thought for sure would’ve cracked the wheel but it never happened. I never trued them once (because the stayed true). Last year I broke a spoke for the first time while shuttling and went on to descend another 10 or 12 thousand feet with that spoke missing. Fixed the spoke and sold the wheels to a friend and now I have their newer wheels on my Spire. Carbon wheels are expensive but in my experience they were a huge increase in durability and ease of maintenance. I was ruining an alloy rim per year in Phoenix. Yes they are cheap and easy to replace but I hate rebuilding wheels and remounting tires and all that. Since going to carbon I haven’t had a wheel problem mess up a ride since. Plenty of good wheels out there but I like We Are One as a brand, the wheels have been awesome, and the price is competitive.
  • 1 1
 @TheR: different lay up
  • 13 3
 Gotta say: PB delivering w/ the casts this week...makes up for the weeks when there are none. I'm a fan of say 3-5 casts per week, can we do that? SWEET thanks... its truly the pod highlight of my week
  • 18 0
 Should be another with Kaz and Alicia from Sea Otter tomorrow as well.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: good times - this makes me happy. Make a festival of casts. Hell, you could just walk around chattering yr thoughts into a mike, wrap it, & Id be stoked
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: the more I hear from Kaz the more I appreciate his honest and pragmatic style! Also can you please tell Henry to talk into the mic? He’s already so hard to understand.
  • 2 0
 @maxlombardy: Gotta say I'm a huge fan of both Levy's irreverant troublemaker & Kaz's responsible parent styles... Levy's putting tacks in everyone's chairs and Kaz is sending him to his room for a nap. Good stuff. Maybe my ears are just ASMR ready but I don't ever have any prob hearing Henry...it does seem he can fade out more as his voice is lower but this does seem to be a common comment.
  • 12 0
 Make Canadian made the new standard
  • 7 0
 Just listening to the pod now, and regarding him talking about the precision of molds: I've got an Arrival, and currently have it apart to wrap it. The perfection of the fits on this frame is absolutely insane. The recesses for the shock bolt, the teardrop shaped axle nut, the way the hardware sits the countersinks, everything is amazing.

For reference, I've been a machinist for 16 years. These guys have their shit absolutely dialed. Great work Dustin and crew. And their customer service is top notch. Special shout out to Josh and Tyler.

Yes, it's expensive, but everything Dustin places priority on has a price in dollars, but a far greater value in the long run. Thanks for being awesome and doing what you're doing. Keep it up
  • 5 0
 Their wheels are works of art, ride flawlessly, and the company is immediately helpful when approached.

His comment regarding E-Mtb is spot on. I don’t see value in it either.
  • 6 0
 Did anyone else catch Brian said Danny Hart not Danny MaCaskill…? Definitely had the wrong Danny…
  • 2 0
 Yep. Both have balls that big though so...
  • 3 0
 Agreed: his point about making products durable for years & years vs “recyclable” kinda blee me away. Not that they shouldn't be, but damn: make em last
  • 1 0
 I’m really curious to see how pinkbike community views these guys ascendency into just another huge bike company. 100+ employees, multiple brands, bunch of non value added hires (CFO, COO, CEO), Marketing mumbo jumbo about sustainability. Just like all the big guys do.

This isn’t just some guys in a small workshop making a small number of core products anymore - it’s on track to be a big player.

Doesn’t bother me one bit, more power too em but we’ll see if the cynicism gets turned on them or not.
  • 2 0
 right now they make high quality parts at a a great price point (added bonus of North American manufacturing). As long as that remains true I hope they can grow as big as they want
  • 4 0
 I am not quote sure how CFO, COO, and CEO are non-value add hires?

As a company grows, so to does it's logistical, financial, and regulatory obligations. These are NEEDS, so that a company can grow and not get disjointed, inefficient and ineffective. A company of 100+ people need structure, organization, and direction. ESPECIALLY if they are expected to make consistently good product.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wheels: They don't add value to the product. They may add value to the organization but that's not reflected in what the customer actually receives.

Personally I couldn't care less but I feel like pinkbike community holds WAO as one these core, small, local brands who can do no wrong when in reality they're ascending to become another medium sized brand bike maker s/t evil, transition, pivot etc.
  • 2 0
 @loudv8noises: I guess that is debatable. Turn 100 people loose in a facility and give them free reign to do what they wish without coordination and organization, and you can't be guaranteed a great product or even a consistent product. Much less one with controllable costs. That organization aspect helps bring value to the product in that sense - it allows the company to scale up while maintaining, well, organization! And ensures that the company maintains it's ability to continue being a going concern.

I'm not sure what other way there is around it. Due to popularity alone they have to scale up - that or customers will wait years for rims because they would be capacity constrained. That or they would have to jack prices up to ENVE levels to curb demand, and still ENVE has had to scale up and ass similar roles so does that even work?

I get that the relationships between CFO, COO, and CEO (Dustin) is indirect - none of them are touching the rims on a day to day basis. But the all ultimately the DO, indirectly add value, I think. Especially as the company grows. They ensure product consistency, availability, and cost control.

To expect them to maintain at half a dozen employees is unrealistic. And there is something VERY good about bringing this production to Canada, creating jobs for cyclists in BC. If that's what it means to become a medium sized bike brand then what is wrong with that? Especially if they are making a good product people want. I don't see how people can fault them really.
  • 1 0
 I found myself agreeing with the guy way too much.

Too much because I have no desire to buy a new bike for the foreseeable future. Keeping my bike on the trails as long as possible, and I suspect that means I can't buy a WAO frame for a LONG time. Maybe wheels, but I am hoping my current fancy carbons hold up for a while (also not light weight).
  • 2 0
 That’s a great listening experience. I knew that WAO is a great company but Dustin’s interview take it to another level. I’m sold Smile
  • 1 0
 I got my first set of Unions at the end of 2019 when they switched from the Agents to Unions. First thing I did when I received them, was remove the stickers. The quality is just too good to cover with stickers.
  • 3 0
 I appreciate the "no graphics" look. You have my vote for no headbadges
  • 2 0
 More i learn about Dustin and the vision more i want to send my dollars his way.
  • 1 0
 This was a great listen, I'm looking forward to WAO increasing their production space so I can actually get my hands one an Arrival!
  • 2 0
 I think I’ve listened to every episode and this is one of, if not the top one. Excellent job. Keep up the good work.
  • 1 0
 sounds like a great guy and I like his general attitude to bikes etc
  • 2 5
 Really good podcast. I recently bought a new set of carbon wheels this week for the new bike and it was a choice between New are One and Nobl as I wanted to support a Canadian company. Got a set of Nobl 41's with some Onyx hubs because I liked them stickers better the WAO owner hates. I do like some color on my wheels!
  • 11 0
 you bought wheels because of the stickers? this is the problem folks.
  • 5 0
 Yeah pretty dumb decision to choose a canadian made rim over an oversea made rim just because of stickers? Stickers can be ordered if you want. I'll keep that to myself if I were you
  • 1 0
 Why didn't you ask what the 2nd bike they have in the works is!?!?
  • 1 0
 I'm hoping it is something with around the 130 travel mark.
  • 1 0
 I wonder who is WeAreOne white labeling for?

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