Jon surely had one of the world’s most rewarding car-bound commutes, taking the Sea to Sky highway from his home in Squamish towards Vancouver. But imagine the frustration of knowing that those views over Vancouver Island were destined to stay just that: views. Too much work and too little time to ride is an all-too-familiar scenario, but while many of us let it lie, Jon and his colleagues Sam and Chris were adamant they’d break the mold.
Spurred on by the lure of having more time to ride, a home amongst the sickest trails, and running their own business, Jon, Sam, and Chris said farewell to the security of a regular paycheck at Race Face, where the trio had worked for years as engineers, helping to create pivotal pieces in the brand’s collection and developing concepts like the Cinch system. Three years ago they handed in their notice. They had no concrete business plan, and no investor backing. All they had was self-belief, and the confidence that they could develop exciting new products for the industry – after all, that was what they’d spent years doing.
A little luck never hurts
Looking back, the guys couldn’t have wished for a better beginning to their start-up. The timing for the launch of their very first product chimed perfectly with the onset of the worldwide hype for simplicity on bikes – a state prompted by the launch of SRAM’s top-end XX1 groupset, which only a few could actually afford. Their product, a 42-tooth ‘crawler cog’ sprocket that significantly increases the gear range of a regular 10-speed cassette, therefore arrived at exactly the right time to team with 1x drivetrains.
The trio were under no illusions about the longevity of their product’s novelty; it wouldn’t take long before both the red and blue big players would be offering more affordable 1x drivetrains with a bigger gear range to the masses. They reckoned their product would have a six-month shelf life before it would step aside and concede to the two biggest players. But it hung around, flying off the shelves, and getting their business off to an exemplary start. In their own words, they couldn’t have wished for a better scenario – and this earned them precious time to develop new components.
Recognise potential and offer real added value
I was someone who avidly followed the progress of OneUp Components; I thought their additional cassette cog was a brilliant idea, but was curious about how would they step up their game once Shimano and SRAM added logs to the fire. For OneUp, it was simple: they just had to create new innovative products. They had to keep designing products that they’d like on their own bikes. Keep adding decent parts that’ll improve their rides – and yours. They’ve already got twenty-eight different products to their name, from sprockets to an extended derailleur cage, chain guides, and a freehub body, right through to spacers for downhill cassettes and oval chainrings. Each product satisfies the mood on the market, and feeds the demand from riders. Not long ago the Canadian trio also launched a hotly anticipated ‘hack’ for 11-speed drivetrains which makes a massive difference to gear range.
Time is the only thing that money can’t buy: time to hang out, time to spend with your family, time to ride. Notable in its absence, it was the lack of time that prompted the guys to quit their jobs in the first place. When it came to OneUp, they were resolute with their new venture: no more days and weeks spent chained to the desk from dawn to dusk. They decamped and moved to the top of the trailheads, aware that their best ideas happen on the trail. Today they strictly adhere to the brand’s motto: ‘Work less, ride more.’ I got the chance to visit their office, and I saw it in action: forget a designer office with achingly hip stools, glass-fronted meeting rooms, and conceptual art. Instead, it’s more of a well-loved living room with walls emblazoned with signed jerseys and tools for bikes and trail building. There’s a faint hint of chaos and the scent of chain lube.
Get out and get creative!
Its location is the trump card though, and the guys deliberately picked an office directly on the edge of the world’s sickest network of trails, with almost immediate access to famous trails like Angry Midget, Half Nelson and The 19th Hole. At times they are tied to their desks – it’s pretty unavoidable – but their location is ideal for a quick lunchtime loop or a longer ride after work, and they’re able to weasel out that work/ride balance in order to stay true to their motto. We’re advocates of them keeping that balance, and we’re stoked to see what the guys are going to create next!
So what are the guys working on right now? We’ve dropped a hint in the article – find it, work it out, and write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – the lucky winners can look forward to getting hold of the new release during 2017!
PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away an exclusive Trek Slash 2018 in top spec! Click here to take part now!
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer