When you manufacture your own carbon rims and handlebars, holding variables constant, such as the frame, are critical to learning how they ride on the trail, and not just in the lab. We Are One built this prototype downhill bike to serve as a baseline for developing future components that meet their expectations. This frame isn’t slated for production, but I couldn’t pass up riding such a unique bike when offered the opportunity.
Earlier in the week, we covered the a First Look
of the prototype and caught a glimpse of their latest downhill product: a direct mount stem where the individual arms can be rearranged to achieve two levels of steering stiffness. You can check out more detailed photos of the frame and stem here
We Are One Prototype DH Details
• Made in Kamloops, CAN
• Carbon front and rear triangles
• Dual link suspension design
• 29er or mixed wheeled configurations
• Travel: 215mm rear / 200mm front
• Head angle: 62.8°
• Reach: 480mm
• Chainstay: 455mm
• Weight: N/A
We Are One hadn’t weighed the bike but I can say that after a rudimentary arm curl test, I can confidently say that it's not heavy. Of course, the build consisted of their own bar, stem, and rims. The rims used their Convergence-style asymmetrical shape in a new carbon layup to meet the resist the impacts of downhill racing. SRAM and Maxxis rounded out the rest of the component, including the new Boxxer Ultimate and a Super Deluxe Coil that was specifically tuned for the leverage ratio.Ride Impressions
Before setting off, a 450 lb/in spring was installed on the rear shock and the fork pressure was set to 155 psi, as recommended. The reach on the prototype frame is fixed at 480mm, which is on the larger side in my preference for downhill bikes. With a soft fork and firm spring, I found that my weigh distribution was too far forward, making the bike feel even longer as the fork sunk in the travel. A few turns and bounces in the parking lot led me to insist on firming up the fork to 170 psi. That relaxed the position and set my stance further behind the front wheel.
Off the hop, I noticed how the bike didn’t sink deep in the travel, yet still felt settled and balanced. If you’ve ever ridden an enduro bike in a bike park, you know the benefit of the reduced travel and snappier feel it has over a pure downhill bike. This proto had elements of that “alive” ride, much like the Arrival platform. It could dance through slow-speed tech and generate speed by pumping over rollers, yet there’s still serious muscle when you open it up through G-outs and across rocky chunder.
A "poppy" and "plow-like" bike? Those terms get thrown too often and can larger be dictated by suspension setup. We Are One's prototype was both light on its toes and composed in those moments that require a tighter grip on the bars.
To give you an idea of how the suspension reacts, you could almost separate into two stages - small bumps and big compressions, similar to what I found on the Atherton AM.200M.1
. First, the leverage ratio on this We Are One proto drops rapidly into the first third of the travel to absorb slippery roots and loose marbles. As the leverage curve flattens out through the rest of the travel, this allows the rider to predict and trust that the bike won’t kick back aggressively on heavy compressions from an overly enthusiastic progression curve.
Another theory We Are One shared was how they aimed to keep the balance between the front and rear centers from changing drastically as the suspension compresses. Compared to a high pivot design, this keeps the rider’s weight centered between the axles. Not all riders get along with those high pivot bikes and their rearward axle paths as their center of mass can be pushed forward as the suspension compresses.
Even through the roughest braking bumps and nasty rocks in Whistler’s Garbanzo zone, the only sound that you hear comes from the tires. Under braking, your weight doesn’t pitch forward, yet the suspension keeps the wheels on the ground. There’s zero cable noises or chain feedback - I could almost be fooled into thinking there wasn’t a chain on this carbon test sled.
The whole ride is extremely neutral, silent, and supple. From the first few turns I understood the balance of the bike and kept gaining confidence. Too bad it’s just a proto at this point because I’d love to spend more time aboard this carbon machine.