As consumers we have high demands of the bike industry: we constantly want our bikes to do more. We want to ride bumpy gravel and smooth tarmac, we want fat tires on lightweight bikes, we speed and comfort. And thanks to the growing consumer-direct market, we want it all for a wallet-friendly price.

Former pro mountain biker and industry veteran Randall Jacobs is the latest to step up to this challenge with his recently launched brand, Thesis, and the OB1.

Upstart brand Thesis will ship OB1 Gravel Bike straight to your door

Recently announced, the OB1 — which stands for “one bike for every road” —is a high-end, do-it-all carbon fiber bike sold direct to consumers online.

The adventure-oriented frame features endurance road geometry with clearance for wide tires, ample mounting points for racks and extra accessories, and a completely customizable package. The frame itself echoes a number of gravel bikes we’ve seen recently with clearance for 700c x 40mm or 650b x 47mm tires, mounting for 5 bottle cages, a BB386 bottom bracket, internal routing, and a claimed weight of 1145g for a medium frame only.

Upstart brand Thesis will ship OB1 Gravel Bike straight to your door Upstart brand Thesis will ship OB1 Gravel Bike straight to your door

From crank arm and stem length, down to drive train package and wheels, when ordering the OB1, consumers can completely tailor the bike to their preferences.

For wheels, Thesis offers proprietary ultra-wide 650b or aero 700c rim choices. And the variety of handlebars, stems and seat posts (— including a dropper post! —) are Thesis branded as well. The drivetrain options are based around SRAM’s hydraulic Apex 1x or Rival 22 with Thesis’ own aluminum chainrings and hollow-forged cranksets. Even the frame and handlebar tape colors are up to the consumer’s discretion.

Upstart brand Thesis will ship OB1 Gravel Bike straight to your door

The most remarkable thing about the OB1, however, is that the completely package comes with an eyebrow-raising price tag of just $2999 USD.

How? Well, like other consumer-direct models, Thesis cuts out the middle man. They ship the bikes from their factory directly to your doorstep, cutting any labor, retail and name brand componentry costs. As a result you get a high-end custom bicycle for half the price of an equivalent retail-store bought bicycle. However, there is a pretty big catch: the bikes arrive 90 percent unassembled.

This means that you’ll have to drop off the parts at your LBS and factor in assembly costs or get tinkering yourself. However, upon buying a Thesis bike, they do require you to sign a waiver acknowledging that you are either a professional mechanic or bringing your OB1 to a certified and insured shop.

However, that savings comes with a bit of a wait. Thesis is currently waitlisting pre-sales and is anticipating a 16 to 20 week shipping time for each order.

Visit www.thesis.bike for more information.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Looks to me like Thesis is buying open mold frames, hashing together a bunch of carbon open mold components, and making at least $1000 per sale based on my numbers. They wait until you pay to place their order, then import everything to their garage, and then ship out to your house in a pretty box with the complete build kit. Here’s my thesis, go to China and get all your own parts, then put together your own bomber gravel bike with all the colors you want.

    If I’m wrong, I’m sure the guy behind Thesis will notice and kindly correct me.

    • Hey SP – Appreciate you chiming in. There’s a bit more to our model, some of which I’ve shared elsewhere. Here are some more details I hope you’ll find helpful:

      – One pillar of our thesis is that we should invest only in genuine innovation, not differentiation for the sake of marketing. In the case of the OB1 frameset, I evaluated over 50 options and found one (the CFR-505) from a quality vendor (FlyBike) that met our all of my primary criteria. I then worked on-site with their engineering and production teams to implement over 100 changes through several prototype iterations to bring it up to my obsessive standards. These include a full suite of mounting points, reinforcement at every boss and cut-out, direct caliper mounting on the fork (i.e. no adaptor), more chainring clearance, improved cable and hose routing, updated hardware, and a bonded-in steerer tube reinforcement system with integrated star nut we call SteerSafe. All of these are exclusive to the OB1.
      – We consolidate and ship directly from Mainland China and Taiwan and are stocking service parts in the US.
      – There are challenges with going direct as an individual that go beyond warranty, service, and (in some cases) safety. Component curation and compatibility are two major headaches. Safety validation is another, as it requires that components be tested as an assembly and not simply as individual parts. Many parts are available direct only at high volumes (for example, manufacturers generally won’t sell you a single handlebar or stem), and where they are available (frames, wheels), pricing will be much higher on single units even. Then there are the considerable shipping costs incurred when ordering each part separately.
      – Our model is predicated on working directly with the same quality vendors who supply the leading brands, and using the same premium materials and manufacturing techniques, to offer riders a better bicycle, experience, and value. We are also working with several parties to offer local assembly and fit options. We’ll be sharing updates via our mailing list as these programs are finalized.

      Thanks again for your input, as it helps us build a better company. Please feel welcome to contact me directly via https://thesis.bike/pages/contact if you’ve any other questions or ideas. Cheers, – R.

    • sissypants: Thats pretty much how most conventional bike companies operate with the exception of designing the frame mold from scratch. Buying SRAM drivetrain components could be described as buying parts from a vendor in Taiwan. Unless the brand has their own factory with their own employees (Giant, Allied, Campagnolo, etc) and owns their manufacturing IP then they are part of this vendor buying system at some level. Having someone like Thesis go out, buy all the parts for you, and assemble them sure does save a lot of time compared to “go to China and get all your own parts, then put together your own bomber gravel bike with all the colors you want.” There aren’t many people willing to put in that kind of time, thought and effort.

      • Edit/Follow up: I didn’t realize it takes 20 weeks to deliver one of these bikes. Wow. That is incredibly slow. That’s FIVE months. You could get a locally built custom steel frame delivered faster than that. Sissypants perhaps you are right and ordering the stuff yourself is actually a fairly valid option after all…

        • Hey Brad – Thanks for sharing your knowledge here. On lead times, we’re under-promising with the intention of over-delivering. I’ve already initiated production orders for most components. Once everything is in and quality-checked our turn-around and delivery should be on the order of 2 weeks. Our goal is to ship a handful of bikes in AUG, the first 100 by end of SEP, and to be scaling with reduced lead times by OCT/NOV. That said, I will not compromise on quality or testing and want to set reasonable expectations with those who are trusting us with their hard-earned money. This is our first batch and I have a handful of component improvements under development that I want to fully test and validate before we ship.

          We’ll be providing regular updates via our mailing list and blog and hope to bring that initial lead time down by the time sales open later this month. For sure they’ll come down substantially as we progress and have better data available for demand planning. Thanks again, and please feel welcome to contact me with any further questions or feedback. Warmly, – R

    • Hey Silver – Good eye, though I think it fair to add “and then some” to your assessment. Would love to hear your thoughts after reading my responses to other comments, as I went into some detail about the changes we made to create the OB1 frameset and how our business model works. Warmly, – R

  2. “Oh boy, yet another gravel/cx/adventure bike.”

    I clicked around on the site and I will honestly be impressed if the frame is as good as advertised. The geometry (for me) is about exactly what I would want. Very road bike-ish with a reasonable stack. The SRAM Apex stuff works very well and the crank seems really close to a de-badged Apex crank. The only real weight difference between Force and Apex is in the crank and the function between the two is near identical. I love BB386 and one could easily put just about any crank in there they wanted. In theory, it should help with tire clearance as well. The rims look cool and lacing them to a DT350 with brass nipples sounds fantastic. Letting people choose 700 vs. 650 and 1x vs 2x seems cool too. Maybe they will even do both 700 and 650 wheels?

    I came to poke holes, but I think this one could be good if it happens as promised. The price isn’t too far off from a fairly similar Specialized CruX Elite X1 which has very similar parts and geometry….if 1x is your thing. Slightly longer chainstay and higher BB, but otherwise it seems like a good comparison. If those wheels on the Thesis end up being pretty fantastic though, that definitely would push things their way.

    • Hey Patrick – Thank you for the kind words. Here are a few additional details I suspect you’d appreciate:

      – We’ve dropped Apex 1 and are going exclusively with the identical (except for finishes) Rival 22 levers on all models to allow easy addition of a dropper post or front shifting. Given that these levers are also identical to Force with the exception of the ~40g lighter carbon levers, this seemed an obvious choice.
      – We’ve made a number of other improvements to the spec, including a move to DT350 hubs (as you mention), centerlock rotors, and additional drivetrain options. Expect more updates via our mailing list and website as we prepare to open pre-sales later this month.
      – We worked with our friends at Samox (supplier to many OEMs) to customize their premium R5 hollow-forged crankset for the OB1. It’s hollow-forged from super stiff 7075 AL, can accept a 4iiii power meter (optional add-on), and weighs just over 700g with said power meter and a direct-mount chainring. It’s lighter and stiffer than the crank you mention and is not far off many carbon cranks (particularly those with power meters). I suspect you’ll find it more than satisfactory 🙂
      – I would gladly put our wheel packages up against anything in our industry. We’ve been working on-site with a high-end composites manufacturer to nail the spec and layup and to rigorously test in the lab. They are optimized for performance, durability, and serviceability as you see in the “why we chose it” sections of our spec, and I’ve been personally abusing them in the wild to ensure they meet my demanding standards. On that last bit, you can check out https://www.instagram.com/p/BjnvbUDhYK7/?taken-by=thesisbike to see what I mean.

      Thanks again for your comments and feedback. Please keep both coming. Warmly, – R

      • Where can I get super stiff 7075 AL? Last time I looked up those things, the young’s modulus of pretty much any aluminum alloy was at around 69-70 GPa.

      • Randall,

        Thanks for the reply. I figured you would need to use the 22 levers for dropper territory, so that makes much more sense. Truly, it looks like a bike I would design for myself and I wish you the best.

  3. The frame is the Carbonda CFR-505. Great frame and great geometry. I bought a frame direct from Carbonda and built it up with Shimano R8070 as my endurance/gravel bike, and it has become my go-to bike.

    • Hey Jeremy – Thanks for chiming in. Our OB1 chassis is indeed based on the much-loved Carbonda CFR-505. I personally worked on site with their engineering and production teams to implement over 100 changes and improvements, and we’ve gone through several iterations to get it right. Would love to hear more about your experience and build, so please feel welcome to drop me a direct note via https://thesis.bike/pages/contact. Cheers! – R

  4. a great idea that anybody can leverage themselves, if they care to take a little time. I did the same thing and put together a really nice gravel bike with carbon wheels on DT350 hubs for a little under $2K, using my own bar, stem, saddle and seatpost.

  5. Thank you for the post Anne. Here are some additional details about the OB1 that I thought your readers would appreciate:

    – We believe strongly that assembly and fit by a local professional is the single best investment a rider can make in their cycling experience. We are working with several parties to offer this as a turn-key option at checkout and encourage mechanics, fitters, and shops to contact us directly for more info.
    – We also believe strongly in the value co-creating our products and vision with the cycling community. If anyone has questions or feedback on what we’re building, I’d love to hear from you.
    – Pre-sales will open to the public later this month. If you’re interested in being first in line, please sign up at https://thesis.bike/pages/mailing-list.

    Warmly,

    Randall | THESIS

    • The one thing I didn’t like was that, unless I am mistaken, the A2C on the fork was 385mm where the ‘standard’ seems to be 395.

  6. Cool concept and the bike looks really good. Any close up photos of the direct mount brake and the SteerSafe fork? Best of luck to you guys!

  7. I applaud this different approach and hope it works. But why not partially assemble it? I get that it will increase the cost, but probably less than the amount I would pay my LBS for it’s “pro build” service. And then I don’t have to insult them by asking them to build up the frame and components that I bought elsewhere.

    • If your LBS makes you feel bad by bringing them in labor dollars I would find a new LBS. I will take labor $$ all day long and never even question where someone bought their parts. Honestly I would rather they bring them in vs. trying to price match Shimano (and losing money). I agree though, partial assembly would be nice but that throws in much more cost for the end user and not to mention the difficulty of finding an assembly factory that will deal with very small production runs. With the right partners, maybe even mobile shops, this model is not a bad way to go.

    • Hey Robo & DirtyTires – Thanks for your comments here. Partial assembly would add not just the assembly costs, but also international trans-shipping, repackaging and other costs that would ultimately increase our cost to you by an amount greater than that of a local professional build and fit. Given that the latter is also the dollar-for-dollar single best investment you can make in your riding experience, we believe this model to be best for our riders. As for bicycle shops, our industry’s traditional model is broken and most shops don’t make money on the sale of new bicycles. Instead, they make it on parts, accessories, and service. By delivering unassembled bicycles, we are also delivering shops an opportunity not just to make more on assembly, fit, and ongoing maintenance, but also on helmets, shoes, and other needed accessories. Not all shops are in a position to embrace this new model, but we’ve been overwhelmed with the response we’ve received from those looking to break the cycle.

      We’re working with a variety of parties to develop and pilot a new service model, and we’ll be sharing details via our mailing list and blog as we progress. In the meantime, here’s an article about bike shop profitability that you may find helpful: http://www.bicycleretailer.com/retail-news/2014/07/29/fred-clements-are-bikes-black-hole-ibd-profitability#.WxrVcFMvyRd. Warmly, – R

  8. Hey thesis,

    Looks well thought out, would ride.

    Being a bike junkie and industry rat, I also have boatloads of parts….
    frame only or rolling chassis option please? Also, will parts be available separately?

    • Hey dontcoast – Appreciate your vote of confidence. Given the number of people who’ve signed up to our waitlist for the complete bike, we’re unlikely to offer just the frameset in the near term. That may change as we ramp up, and for sure we’ll be offering the wheel packages as stand-alone items. As for the rest of the parts, we’re thinking of allowing our riders to purchase extra stems, chainrings and the like along with the bike to ensure fit (as stem length is the hardest thing to nail in advance) and many have expressed having extra gearing options or wear items. Would love to hear your ideas about what we should offer stand-alone, so please feel welcome to contact me directly via the info on our website. – R

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.