When a passion collides with inspiration, an obsession is born. An obsession can be dangerous, destructive, all-consuming. Or it can result in something truly beautiful. The UNNO Dash is the very definition of an obsession, a bike born of one man’s desire to make the world’s finest bike.
We first visited Cesar Rojo, the man behind UNNO bikes back in 2017. With an unquestionable WC downhill background and owning a cutting-edge design company in Barcelona, Cesar was destined to build a bike like the UNNO. We knew Cesar had created something amazing the moment we first laid eyes on the UNNO Dash, a 130 mm 29er trail bike, but we were worried. As we spoke to Cesar in a room filled with expensive prototypes each with an imperceptible refinement, hearing his intense passion and obsession over the evolution of the design, carbon manufacture, even the tiniest rubber moulding for the cable routing; with such a questioning mind would Cesar ever be satisfied enough to say the bike is finished? But the UNNO Dash is here, Cesar Rojo’s vision is finished and finally available for sale.
Made entirely in-house in Barcelona, from the alchemy of the carbon fibre layup to the milling out of the suspension linkages, everything happens under one roof, meticulously crafted by a small but highly skilled team. Reminiscent of a specialist F1 fabricator, expensive test rigs and data-loggers clutter the floor space. UNNOs claims that 500 hours of design, 3500 hours of engineering and 13 prototype frames went into producing the final product, and we believe them, for we have seen the prototypes. The UNNO concept was born of Cesar’s obsession to build a no-compromises bike, a design showcase so to speak, if one carbon resin costs twice as much but gives a 1% improvement, then that is the resin that will be used. UNNO have been transparent with the design process throughout, showing each stage and each decision on their social media channels, whipping engineers and potential customers into excited anticipation.
The UNNO Dash is the ‘trail’ bike of the five bike lineup, spanning from an XC hardtail to a full-bore WC downhill machine, and is offered as a frame only package, with full builds to follow. The bike is available in one size only for now, built for the average height rider of around 1.70 – 1.8 m tall. The frame aesthetic is simply beautiful, striking, contemporary and clearly designed by someone with a deep understanding of balanced proportions. The finish of the carbon weave is exquisite, the T1000 woven-cloth carbon catches the light subtly beneath the silky smooth lacquer coat, visible but not brash. It takes 400 fabric cuts, 14 square meters of material and 150 man-hours to to complete each frame, and every detail is flawless. The cable routing is impeccable, invisible down the length of the frame, terminating at the super clean rear brake mount and dropouts which are the most elegant we have seen.
The UNNO Dash in detail
Fork RockShox Pike RCT3
Shock Öhlins STX22
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 Eagle
Brakes SRAM Guide Ultimate 180 mm/160 mm
Handlebar Renthal Fatbar Carbon 780 mm
Stem Rentahl Apex 40 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 125 mm
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4″
Wheels Enve M635
Weight 12.80 kg
Price € 5,000 (framenset)
The geometry of the UNNO Dash
|Size||One Size Only|
|BB Drop||36 mm|
When it comes to the geometry, having a bike four years in development sets some alarm bells ringing, especially with geometry shifting so rapidly over the last few years. However, with a 455 mm reach, 65.5° head angle, 430mm chainstays, 36 mm BB drop and 76.5 – 75° degree seat angle the UNNO Dash is the very definition of a trail bike. Nothing radical, nothing extreme. This is intentional, Cesar has been instrumental in some of the key geometry innovations over the last decade, and believes that a 130 mm trail 29er should focus on balance, stable but prioritising the ability to flick, whip and be creative on the trail. The only thing that is radical is the slammed stack at only 590 mm with the short 85 mm head tube.
Throughout the build process, Cesar has subjected the frames to rigorous testing, strapping data recorders to test frames and going so far as to construct a cutting-edge testing laboratory. As such, every frame carries a five year guarantee.
The build on the demo bike we were sent is well suited to the the bikes intent. ENVE M6 wheels are stiff and direct, a powerful wheelset for any trail bike and SRAM Eagle XX1 is a drivetrain at the very top of its game, snicking between the gears with military precision. If this were a performance car it would be polished every Sunday and only driven in the dry. But under all the striking lines and glossy paintwork is a bike designed to be ridden – hard. We are currently in a age where categories are being blurred, trail bikes are growing heavier to take on enduro terrain, everything is long, low and designed for confidence inspiring stability. The UNNO Dash is different, while everyone else is making hammers, UNNO has built a razorblade.
The feeling of the bike is as unique as the concept, and it starts even before you turn the pedals. As soon as you reach down for the bar you notice something unusual, it’s a lot lower than expected. With a crazy low stack of 590 mm (a Stumpjumper 29 has a stack of 645 mm with the same BB drop) the handlebar sits very low, pulling your body forward over the front wheel, it’s an aggressive and dynamic position that is unfamiliar at first From the first push on the SRAM Eagle crank, the UNNO Dash squirts forwards excitedly, pedal response from the rear suspension is sporting and firm, encouraging you to push harder and sprint. The low stack height results in a climbing position that is intense, low and potent, the front wheel is locked on course, but unfit riders will find it quite cramped.
Rolling into a descent you see why Cesar designed the bike as it is. The precision of the UNNO Dash is incredible. The lightweight frame, crazy standover clearance and aggressive front biased body position means that the steering response is simply electric, you can cut millimetre precise lines down the trails and even the tightest lines can be tightened again. We cannot remember a bike so direct and precise on the trail. The linkage-driven virtual-pivot suspension is designed to complement the air shock with a regressive end of stroke, expertly countering the Ohlins STX22 air shocks ramp up. You can feel it on the trail, smooth and composed over small impacts but delivering full, well damped, travel without spiking should you take a big hit. However, this direct and razor-sharp steering requires full concentration to keep on the boil. If you are looking for a ‘do it all for me’ machine, there are many trail bikes that are far more easy-going. The UNNO Dash is a full-bore assault on the senses, stiff, excitable and volatile, a cask strength slap to the face, the short 1180 wheelbase and low front end place you right in the action, demanding skill while testing your nerve.
The UNNO Dash is an accomplished trail bike for confident riders, a stark contrast to the latest generation of long n’slack plough bikes, but it will demand a lot of you as a rider. With only 50 being made each year and a €5000 price tag for the frame only, the exclusivity and heavy premium will only add to the seduction, especially given the impressive full-build prices. This is not a bike for the people. This is a ‘money no object’ work of design art, built from only the best materials with a level of fastidious attention unheard of in the bike industry. The UNNO Dash is a Breitling in a world of Casios, with a full-build price tag that gives more for less. Customers will buy this bike for the thrill of owning something truly unique; riding the product of Cesar’s vision and obsession. The UNNO dash deserves to be hung on display and never ridden, but that would be a shame.
WLike a stripped out sports car it takes concentration and skill to hold the UNNO Dash at the limit, but when you do the ride is sharp and direct.
Just as we were going to press, UNNO confirmed their ‘full build’ prices, and given the €5000 frame only costs, the prices are simply outstanding. The UNNO Dash Factory model can be bought with a Fox 34 Float Factory 140 mm fork, ENVE M635 wheels, SRAM XX1/XO Eagle drivetrain, Guide RSC brakes and a Fox Transfer performance post for €8,650, undercutting some of the more boutique US brands. An UNNO Dash Elite model is also available with a Fox 34 Float Performance 140 mm fork, e.thirteen TRS wheels, SRAM GX/NX Eagle drivetrain, Guide R brakes and an e.thirteen TRS post for an astonishingly tempting €6,350. While still premium, UNNO have managed to bring Lamborghini design to a Ford Focus RS budget.
The UNNO Dash is an engineering masterpiece, a bike where obsession is evident in every perfectly matched strand of carbon fibre. But underneath the striking lines and lustrous paint job lies a razor-sharp trail bike, offering sublime balance and poise, but for skilled riders only.
Uphill | Downhill | Stability | Agility
| Value For Money If you have to ask…
– Stunning design and looks
– Electric handling
– One size only
– Low stack demands skill
For more info head to: unno.com
This article is from ENDURO issue #034
Words & Photos: Trev Worsey