So Black Friday is coming up. I am led to believe it is an American idea. The Friday after Thanksgiving Day and the traditional start of Christmas shopping. Me being Scotish it meant I bought a Polish bike last week. Last week I was missing riding, I literally have not been on a bike since the summer, and it was time to sort that out. I had a rake through options. Talked to friends in the trade. Then I accidentally stumbled across a bike that I did not know even existed. It had what I wanted threaded bottom bracket, steel, single speed, vast tyre clearance, disc brakes, and more mounts than I knew what to do with.
I had found the Octane One Kode.
The Octane One Kode
Octane One is a small company from Gdansk in Poland, a sister company to NS Bikes. I have ridden a few NS Bikes in my time. All though of the jump variety but this time I was feeling the need for miles.
A project I was involved in also allowed kids from a poverty-stricken area of Scotland to ride quality NS Bikes and BMXs.
So I have never had a problem with NS Bikes, and by default Octane One, I felt then that I should give the bike a try. A quick search told me the Chain Reaction Cycles/Wiggle was where I had to go. Now I don’t want to get into the LBS argument, I went over it here before if you want to read it.
So I typed in Kode at CRC. Now not just the frame popped up but so did a complete version.
So look at that price. There was no way I could spec a build at that price. Sure there are things I will change on the bike but this way I will be in no rush to so. I also thought it might be nice to see how the CRC/Wiggle conglomerate sends out bikes.
The Chain Reaction experience
I guess what you are all hoping is that I’m going to slag CRC? You better just read on. So I ordered the bike at midnight on a Friday, that is how I roll. No clubs or pubs for me, just ordering bike parts online. Ladies form a queue.
My bike was dispatched on the Tuesday night/Wednesday morning kind of time according to my emails. I was pretty impressed with that speed. I have met a few quiet LBS stores that would not be able to get that turnaround. It was entrusted into the hands of Parcel Farce, sorry Parcel Force.
On Thursday the tracking showed the bike being out for a sightseeing tour of Stirling. Friday was better. I got an email saying the driver could not enter the impregnatable fortress of my house but had magically left a card. The bit I quite liked about this was that at the exact same time as he could not get to my door, I was signing for a parcel from Yodel. Yeah, Yodel, they had actually not abandoned my parcel or thrown it on a roof but had delivered it.
A quick phone call to Parcel Force.
“How could the driver not deliver it?”
“There was no one in.”
“I signed for a package from Yodel at 13:37. How did I do that if I was not in? You should check the time your driver said he was here.”
“That is not possible. Can you send the Yodel proof.”
“Yip, can you give me your email?”
“Ah, it looks like our driver was sucked into an alternate dimension. When he tried to get to your house, it was guarded by Cerberus, and he could not get passed the hound. He will be along with it shortly.”
It so transpired that this time he could magically get to my house.
The nuts and bolts
So anyway I now have an oversized comedy box. I was going to take photos of the unboxing, but my daughter managed to unbox it super fast. I think she thought there was a giant LOL Doll in it.
So out of the box, all I had to fit was the handlebars and pedals. The bike came with Odyssey flats and straps. The pedals will just go on my daughter’s BMX as I fitted my own Look S-Track pedals.
The stem bolts had grease on them, which was great. All the mounting bolts had grease on them. The wheels were straight and true. The brakes worked, the left hand being a little weaker than the right. The seatpost was greased. Bottom bracket felt tight. In all the bike seemed well put together.
Now admitedly it is a single speed but all the basics seem to have been covered. So I was a happy chappy.
The first ride
So as you can see I fitted a few accessories and changed the tyres. I went with Panaracer GravelKing SK tyres. I have run them before on both a Cannondale Slate and a GT Grade, both bikes at a higher pay grade than the Octane One and I wanted to see how they felt on the Kode. There will be a little review soon, especially to make up for the fact I went down a lane that had recently had its hedges trimmed.
The ride I took the bike on had a mix of terrain, the worst bits were probably what Stirling Council feels passes for roads down in Riverside. It was honestly worse than the dirt tracks I went down. I have the ride on Strava if you want to see the map.
While I talk about Strava. I had an alarming feeling when I looked at Strava. I was seemingly on 4th in a segment. This surprised me more than it probably surprises anyone else.
The reason for this as it was one of those places a Strava segment should not exist. I have complained about this before. If you can not get a KOM do not create one on a shared access cycle path. Even better this one was through a nature reserve. I went through it looking for otters. If you can not manage a KOM on fast roads, do not be an arsehole and speed through areas where families might be walking. You are only adding to the negative image people have of cyclists.
It is not like it is not plainly noted anywhere on the trail that you are riding through a nature reserve with paths made for families. Which brings me to one that I think is worse.
In this segment, I am not complaining that I am so far down. This part is a cycle path and shared access path. It is a few feet wide. When I went down here twice today both times, it was full of walkers, dogs, people with pushchairs, a school outing, and other cyclists.
You know that feeling you get when a car close passes you at speed. That “Oh shit” moment, well this is what you are doing on this path. You are making people think all cyclists are scum and don’t think about more vulnerable road users. Why be that person? See on the map there is a perfectly serviceable road that you could be on.
You can even read advice from Sustrans and then try and not be an arse. It is also worth noting that you are probably breaking Section 28 and 29 of the Scottish Road
Traffic Act 1988. I’m sure the Daily Mail would love that. I am also sure some people will think I’m victim blaming but if you want the public to support cycling don’t be an arse where they may be having an easy walk.
Back to the bike
How did the bike ride? Honestly, I didn’t really have any expectations. It is a single steel speed so it may be “heavy” and not fun. I found it fun on the muddy singletrack, the steering coping well as I pretended to be a cross racer. It cancelled out vibration from the road, at times I could hear my bottles rattling but I felt composed, that was slightly disconcerting.
The freewheel, like most cheap freewheels, was a bit meh. I’ll probably change it to a Halo freewheel at some point. I think I have been spoiled by better cassettes and now the lag on freewheels doesn’t work for me. It may feel completely natural to you, but to me, I wasn’t a fan.
The geometry felt nice on the road, I had a fairly upright position and could get into the drops easily, on the one time I bothered to. The brake hoods felt like such a nice comfy perch for my hands I hardly moved them from there.
So my first ride was pretty happy and I will see how things bed in.