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OSO Bike: Review

Posted by: | Posted on: December 4, 2008

We talked a lot about the OSO Bike a couple weeks ago…and I illustrated the major features and my likes and dislikes so far of this bicycle.

oso

But, I sort of left you hanging: just how does this bike actually ride?

We’ll get to that shortly — in order to talk about the ride, we need to talk about the frame first. On the Osobike website specs, the frame is described merely as “chromoly high strength steel”. It IS chromoly, of course, but in talking to Osobike founder Shane Stock, I discovered that the main tubes are double-butted. In addition, the main tubes of the frame are teardrop shaped and then everything is TIG-welded together. Here’s a shot of the tube shaping:

teardrop

Shane specified a one-inch headtube with reinforcing rings for this bike. At first, I questioned this spec — one-inch forks and headsets aren’t exactly plentiful, but the more I thought about it and the more I looked at it from an aesthetic perspective, it makes good sense — semi-aero tubing notwithstanding, the frame evokes classic road or track bike lines. Besides, how often does a rider REALLY need to replace an entire headset? If a new one is ever needed, there are several companies making 1″ threadless headsets.

1

Because of the tube shaping, the way all the tubes come together at the bottom bracket shell leaves a very stiff junction. The downtube wraps almost halfway around the BB shell!

bb
(Ignore all the dirt…no fenders, remember?)

Couple that stiff BB junction with some very stout chainstays and you’ve got one s-t-i-f-f frame. In fact, this frame is easily the stiffest steel bike I’ve ever ridden, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve got two handmade steel frames in my personal fleet, one Italian and one Japanese. Neither of them can hold a candle to the OSO in terms of getting pedal power to the rear wheel. To put it bluntly, this bike is really fun to haul ass on — get out of the saddle and start thrashing and this bike responds instantly. I found myself sprinting a lot during my commutes!

Where’s the beef? Oh, here it is:
chainstay

Frame geometry seems to be somewhere in a happy zone between a traditional track bike and a road racer…something perhaps best described as “relaxed track geometry”. The bike exhibits a good bit of “toeverlap” as many track-like bikes do (really a non-issue…this is NOT a design flaw, just the nature of a tight frame). The bike responds to pedaling and steering inputs without any twitchiness, but it isn’t as plush a ride as a more stretched-out road frame. The OSO won’t beat you up with all that stiffness, though…it IS steel, after all.

The handlebars and saddle are both somewhat generic, but servicable. You either love or you hate bullhorns…and I suppose I fall into the latter camp. No big deal — throwing on some road drops is a 2 minute process. I thought I’d like the included saddle…it is shaped like a few of the saddles I’m fond of, but I guess I have to admit to myself that my sit bones are a little wider apart than my narrow ass would suggest. Saddles are such a personal choice that I could never give bad marks to a bike I’m reviewing just because of an uncomfortable saddle. This one’s not that uncomfortable, either…but I wouldn’t want to roll cross-country on it, either.

The bike weighs a bit more than one might expect for such a simple machine, but this isn’t a paperthin frame. Some judicious parts swapping (especially a set of lighter wheels) could easily put the bike in the 16-17 lb. range, if that’s your thing.

If an OSO owner gets bored of laying down hot patches of smoking rubber with that coaster brake, there’s good news…the rear bridge is drilled for a brake:

bridge

Slap a singlespeed wheel in there or go fixed and you’ve got yourself a fun little bike…which sort of brings me to my last thoughts: Just who is this bike best for, anyway? It hasn’t been well-received by the majority of the commuting community, nor has it been met with much enthusiasm by fixed-gear fans. My friends from the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club and I have been pondering the ideal demographic for the OSO, and we’re still scratching our heads a little bit. One of my club members described it as a “fixie girlfriend bike”, which loosely translates into a bike suited for someone not quite ready for the fixed-gear experience but who appreciates the simplicity and aesthetic those bikes bring to the table. Several others have derided the bike as a “poser machine” — intended to emulate everything that’s “cool” with a fixed-gear bike without the steep learning curve. I wouldn’t go that far, though.

So, let me try to pull all my observations and experiences of the OSO together: simple, fun, a blast to ride, really low maintenance. The bike needs some tweaking, to be sure — we’ve discussed that at length already. Still, none of those tweaks are terribly expensive or difficult to do.

Hits:
-Simple and low maintenance
-Fun to ride
-Great frame for the price
-Might be a good choice for an ultralight, fair-weather commuter who doesn’t need a rack or fenders

Misses:
-Some questionable parts spec
-Chainline issues
-May not do enough from a versatility standpoint for a lot of cyclists out there. This isn’t a primary bike for many of us, but might be an ok “fun bike”.
-Front brake should come STANDARD, not as an add-on. Let the owner choose to ride without the safety of a front brake!





21 Comments to OSO Bike: Review

  1. Shane says:

    First of all I would like to thank Jack for doing this thurough reveiw. You all should know that he did all of this free of charge. The only expenses I had were the shipping costs to send the bike to and from Florida.

    A few comments:

    The frame really is a great and stiff frame. When I went to interbike this year, I saw several booths that had frames made by this same company–Maxway Cycles in Taiwan. They are not extremely big, but are well-known for their high quality steel frames . One guy was selling a similar frame to this one, made by the same company for $650–just for the frame and fork. In a previous post Jack had refered to the welds on the frame as “crude”. I have to disagree on that. If you look at the pictures on this review you can see some good close-ups of the welds. In my opinion they are not perfect perfect welds (like robot welds), but they are very nice hand welds.

    Note that the bike, as it comes, weighs less than 20 pounds without the pedals. Several people who have done 5 min. tests of the bike have been surprised that the bike feels so light, even though the frame is steel. Some of this has to do with tubes being thinned out in the middle to reduce weight and thicked at the ends (butted) to give strong welds.

    As far a demographics–the Osobike is great for Students, Commuters and Recreational cyclists. What advantages does a fixed gear have over this bike? I the only things I can think of is that on a fixed gear you can’t coast and you can’t brake, and I would cosider those as disadvantages. It does not make sense to me why poeple would prefer a fixed gear over an Osobike.

    The chain line: I understand that the chain line is slightly off. If I do more Osobikes this will be adjusted. I tried to research what the results of this would be but could find no tests results on the subject. My best guess would be that the chain will wear out in maybe 9000 miles instead of mayby 10,000 miles. Of all the people who have purchased or tested the Osobike to this point nobody has had any chain problems or has noticed anything wrong with the chain that I know of, except Jack. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that he should not have pointed this out, I am just saying that from my perspective this is not a problem. The chain is off such a small amount, that it is hard to see unless you measure it. It is much less than how much the chain goes out of alignment on a geared bike when you change gears.

    The Osobike makes a great Chrismas present, If you call me I may be able to give you $20 off.
    Shane Stock 956 645 5813.
    http://www.osobike.com

  2. Ghost Rider says:

    Shane, if you’re going to quote me, do it properly: “Welds are a little bit crude”. I say this in terms of the other Maxway TIG-welded frames I’ve seen — it’s not quite up to their usual standards, but they are NOT bad welds…merely unrefined. No deal-breaker there, that’s for sure.

    Since you are obviously not getting the chainline issue, let me put it into another perspective: let’s say someone purchases an OSO and chooses not to get the optional front brake. Riding along, that whacked-out chainline causes the chain to get thrown (and this is a strong possibility). What happens now? No chain on a coaster means NO BRAKING ABILITY WHATSOEVER. As a manufacturer, you need to understand that this is a big deal, no matter what you think is a relative non-issue.

    I’ve been building singlespeeds and the occasional fixed-gear bike for personal use for 15 years or more. 2mm of chainline difference is OK — a standard chain can easily handle that kind of side-loading. Nearly 10mm is absolutely unacceptable from a safety perspective if nothing else.

    Comparing chainline between a derailleur-geared bike with front and rear brakes and a singlespeed with only a coaster is like comparing apples and oranges — the only similarity is that they’re both bicycles.

    In any case, this is easily remedied — a shorter BB spindle is all it takes — a $20.00 mod. The condition is a big deal…the fix is not.

  3. Iron Man says:

    “It hasn’t been well-received by the majority of the commuting community, nor has it been met with much enthusiasm by fixed-gear fans.”

    Nothing like a group of fanboys to sap all the fun and joy out of things.

  4. Joshua says:

    The 1″ headtube coupled with the need for a new bottom bracket is a real deal breaker. Also, are 1″ forks and headsets plentiful or scarce? You seem to go right back on your statement within in same paragraph. They are a pain to buy!
    Just build up a rear wheel with a coaster hub for a cheaper conversion. Or buy a 700c coaster brake wheel from somebody on the web. Or better yet get your favorite LBS mechanic to build you one. You can share a 6pack afterwards and lay down some rubber in the parking lot!

  5. Ghost Rider says:

    My point about the headset is yes, they are available in 1″ threadless…just not nearly as many choices. You might have to do a little hunting.

    The same only sort of applies to 1″ forks — while they are available, there aren’t many choices at all and y0u’re gonna spend time looking for them.

  6. tadster says:

    great review. The osobike occupies a strange position in the bike world… analogously, I would have to say it is like a mazda miata (mx-5). Fun, spirited, and dare I say cute, but not entirely practical and not a race-bred performance machine either. But hell, I’ve always wanted a miata, so I’d say there is much hope for the osobike.

    Shane, I totally agree with you that the features of the osobike are way better than a standard fixed gear. But you have to remember that fanboys do not ride fixies because they are safe nor do they appreciate modern bikes for their features (they prefer “simplicity”). Your frustration ought to be clue enough that you won’t be pulling osobike converts from the fixie crowd. Instead, try focusing on recruiting recreational riders… and you might even focus on “older” folks (30+).

    Also, start brainstorming up anti-poser slogans because that accusation could be a killer. Few young people will buy a bike that they feel will have them ridiculed.

    If I might offer some suggestions, your next revision should address (in addition to the aforementioned mechanical issues):
    -the bars (bullhorns *might* be construed as poser, plus they may discourage older riders)
    -the color (offer more colors. if it is only in one color, make it a more conservative color, at least until your company is as affluent as apple)

  7. Ghost Rider says:

    Tadster, you’re not the first person to equate the OSO with a Miata — in fact, one of my “guest testers” from my local bike club said the same exact thing, with the same reasoning. Good work!

  8. Nick says:

    On the Miata analogy:

    I agree, the Miata isnt a race car, but a lot of people turn them into race cars (spec miata). They are good for budget builds because of the platform. I think this bike would make a nice fixed gear… if it was cheaper.

    Maybe offer just the frame set?

  9. Chris says:

    The chainline issue would put me right off, especially when it’s so easy to fix.
    If you have a bike with a coaster brake and the chain comes off, you won’t be able to stop.
    But it looks nice, and if I could have more bikes I’d be proud to have one.

  10. houstonje says:

    I bought an osobike in january and converted it to a fixed gear. Put some riser bars and a brooks saddle on as well. Not it is sweet.

  11. eric says:

    Shane the owner of this company is a totally dipshit. Don’t buy one of these bikes! This guy will try to rip you off left and right.

  12. Ghost Rider says:

    eric,
    do you have any specifics as to how you were “ripped off left and right”, or did you just come over here to talk trash?

  13. Shane Stock says:

    Eric,
    Here is my Cell phone:
    956 645 5813. I would be interested in knowing why you feel that way. You’re quite the man behind your computer monitor, let’s see if you are man enough to call me and talk.

    Everybody else,
    To get feedback from people who actually own Osobikes, go to Ebay and search for Osobike. I usually have an auction going. You can then click on the 35 (or whatever the number changes to) next to my ebay user name which is laredoshane. The 35 stands for the number of people who have given feedback, most of whom have purchased Osobikes. After you click on the 35 you will see a list of feedback comments. You can click on the user names of the people who sent feedback to send them email questions. This way you can get information from people who actually own Osobikes.
    Shane Stock
    Laredo,TX
    Cell: 956 645 5813
    email: stockwoodwork@sbcglobal.net.

  14. Shane Stock says:

    Ebay seller feedback:

    Thank you so much, this bike truly is everything you say it is and more. baseballcardsmatt ( 130) Jun-19-09 19:53

    Awesome thanks a lot Great bike. A+++++ Ebayer… Cant wait to ride THANKS inhalethevile ( 41) Jun-13-09 21:06

    Very fast shipment! This bike is awesome!!! cyclisttim ( 43) May-26-09 20:04

    ++AAA+++Great Fast Service/Very Well Packaged/Great Bike ( You Rock Shane!!)++++ mehourlate ( 115) May-22-09 17:40

    Great bike, great sale , great business redbull8473 ( 8 ) May-18-09 01:10

    Answered all my questions and shipped the item the minute he received my payment ernad2907 ( 2 ) May-08-09 12:38

    awesome!! same as explained!! Good communication also. sethchang ( 1 ) May-05-09 00:29

    Bike is great, great transaction. I would recommend getting the front brake too harv2t3j ( 44) Apr-29-09 14:40

    Great Bike! Great Value! Definitely worth the $. Awesome Seller A++++++++++ bkayd3 ( 1371) Apr-15-09 09:35

    Bike is beyond expectation. and Fast Shipping! Thanks! dookie45 ( 16) Apr-05-09 20:33

    Great communication, super fast shipping & a great bike!! A++ rogue-otaku ( 101) Apr-03-09 19:43

    Awesome Bike!!! Great Seller! Get this bike, you won’t regret it a second! prs92 ( 460) Apr-02-09 17:59

    everything went smooth and fast knave.of.hearts ( 1 ) Mar-22-09 21:37

    Smooth transaction. Great communication and fast shipping! A+++ scarletdivision27 ( 15) Mar-20-09 09:11

    Great seller, superb communication, and very attentive, plus the bike is A+. peart-123 ( 6 ) Feb-22-09 22:34

    Super Ebay Seller! Great communication and excellent product! A++++++ basketcase31 ( 822) Feb-21-09 13:09

    fast danielsunadame ( 11) Feb-07-09 09:08

    Enjoyed this transaction micah.prescott ( 3 ) Feb-03-09 18:45

    Absolutely Great, Fast & Inexpensive. Super bike, too. wc314 ( 30) Jan-24-09 15:25

    gr8 seller, i had to cancel transaction and he was very helpful & understanding. zzak72 ( 3 ) Jan-20-09 16:59

    Great bike and fast shipping! Flawless transaction! Thanks! bushmill ( 396) Jan-18-09 07:08

    Great Product, Great Communiation, Quick responses, Quick Shipping elliott891 ( 52) Jan-06-09 15:27

    Quick delivery, good product, EXCELLENT communication!!! Thanks.

    A++++++++++++++ patfl1 ( 98) Dec-26-08 14:56

    Shane was very helpful throughout the whole process. I am very satisfied. yopokey ( 2 ) Oct-25-08 06:25

    Fabulous bike thank you!

  15. Ghost Rider says:

    Glad to see you’re selling the bikes, Shane.

  16. Beth says:

    You wrote: “One of my club members described it as a ‘fixie girlfriend bike,’ which loosely translates into a bike suited for someone not quite ready for the fixed-gear experience”

    Sexist much?

  17. Darias says:

    Shane, you are completely unprofessional. You, the business owner, should not be posting on a site reviewing your product. If you were confident in your product and its quality you would not need post here. You are making yourself look bad by arguing with reviewers. I don’t see the owner of TREK writing on posts reviewing his bikes.

  18. Randy says:

    Shane, doesn’t it just make sense to do the 20 dollar fix on the chain before you ship it out? Every manufacturer has issues even apple with their new iPad. The key is those who fix the issues and keep the community out their aware that you care. I want one of your bikes but it concerns me with the chain. I don’t like the sound of a ,ratchety” non smooth chain alignment problem.

  19. kbobb says:

    He sold out.
    Shane states if he does it again he will correct a few things.
    A lot of people really like the bike.
    Is it the ultimate? No, Is it a good value and shipped to your door with 40 minutes to get it set up, its just what a lot of cyclists want.

    The only major fix is a brake in case the chain jumps.

    Has anyone had this happen?

    Sounds like a success story and if Shane corrects the minor issues and buys the lot of last years upgraded parts bins, maybe he should do it again.

    I have a 5300.00 Colnago that hangs while I ride the 400.00 bla bike around town and get my thrills sucking wheels of the bikes like mine hanging in the garage.

  20. damon fort worth,tx says:

    im adhd and an artist. in short im the girlfriend without much coordination for a fixie. i put a blue vintage glitter style saddle on mine with blue tape. it keeps me fromw tweeking out on the never ending quest for the perfect cable adjustments. strapless toe clips are a must for wet breaking. ive hauled 25ft ladders a sofa and countless lbs in my 2 trailers with. this bike. just have to keep the front wheel on the ground. 2 bad wrecks in 3 years the frame still holds. so thank your stars you will not ever see my clumsey a** on a fixie. not a wannabe but you will also never see me pumping mtb peddles in downtown areas. no more then i will take my oso to ride in a creekbed. 5mi daily 39yo both me and the bike are sturdy and we take a beating. hope shane is still in buissness 9/25/11

  21. Wayne says:

    I have been an Osobike owner for the past 3 years. I enjoy cycling, but I was looking for a relatively inexpensive way to get back into it and this seemed like the way to go. I have been reading these posts for a while and I just wanted to chime in on a few things.

    –My chain popped once about a month after I got it. I have a front brake btw but I was also hauling ass up cat hill in Central Park NYC (when I have time, you can catch me riding the park-say hi!) . I had no tools with me at the time so I took it to the closest bike shop just to get it home. I have not had any problems with the chain popping since.

    -I am a big guy and I ride to get some fun and exercise in. I don’t consider myself a hardcore biker, but I do find that I ride harder and faster than some folks in the city with much more “respectable” bikes.

    -Over the years, I have put in some more serious rides and I just completed my first Century ride on this bike.

    -I always get compliments on this bike (3 years into the game). I kind of have to explain it a bit , and some folks have tried to convince me to convert it to fixed gear (I am considering it but I am still not ready).

    – I really like my Osobike. My wife has a lovely Raleigh commuter that we take out from time to time, my oso keeps up, and I feel like it has served me well and it was worth the money I spent.

    -This bike is simple and easy to maintain. I have a lot of fun with it and the coaster brakes help riding in the city (traffic, pedestrians, idiots) . At the end of the day, I wanted to get back on a bike and I was in no position to invest in a bike I had to build. I got some nicer tires on it, but I also discovered that I like bullhorn handles (I like to grip and climb).

    – I am the only person I know with this bike and I kinda think that is cool and not poser(ish)

    -Well that is my two cents.

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