A Visit to Thesis Bike and OB1 First Ride Impressions

A Visit to Thesis Bike and OB1 First Ride Impressions

We recently visited the co-founders of gravel bike startup Thesis in San Francisco, California. Randall Jacobs and Alice Liu invited me to their downtown workshop to check out their new adventure road machine, the OB1, and take it for a test ride. What became very clear early on is how their values, experience and interests have led them to build Thesis, a truly unique kind of bike company.

A few pre-production models inside Thesis HQ

The idea is simple, yet truly innovative and seems to come at just the right time. Thesis works directly with factories to meticulously design, spec and build a killer gravel bike. The overall design looks very good, with an endurance road geometry and minimal branding throughout. Most impressive is perhaps the starting price at $2999, that not only gets you a carbon frame and fork, but their carbon wheelset as well.

Other notable components are the DT Swiss 350 hubs, often considered the strongest, most reliable hubs in the industry. SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes and a 1x drivetrain were selected with durability in mind. The handlebars, stem, seatpost and crank are also directly sourced from the factory, all aluminum with no branding for a very clean look.

For the test ride we decided to give Mount Tamalpais a visit via Old Railroad Grade. I rode a blue OB1 equipped with 650b wheels and 47mm WTB Byways. A 42-tooth chainring and a wide-range 11-46 cassette on the back. The OB1 was quick and stable on road, fun and lively on the dirt. The bike is definitely light, attractive and fit-for-purpose. Designing one bike for many purposes was the goal, and we think Thesis may have nailed it. The overall build was cohesive in performance and design, without any obvious compromises.

The Thesis OB1 is available in 3 colorways, Black Carbon Matte, Warm Red Gloss and Electric Blue Gloss.

A few things we loved:

  • Although direct-to-consumer, local bike shops are still critical to the process

    • Something very intentional was for Thesis to create a new model for how their bike is built and delivered (actually it’s the other way around). By avoiding factory assembly, Thesis passes on those saving to the consumer. Bikes are delivered 20% assembled, allowing you to support your local bike shop and get everything dialed in by your trusted mechanic.

  • Smart dropper post integration

    • A dropper post on a drop bar bike is no gimmick. We loved the ability to get the saddle out of the way for improved control on tricky terrain, and lowering the center of gravity on road descents.

  • Lots of mounting points

    • 2 bottle mounts in the front triangle

    • 1 bottle mount below the downtube

    • 1 bento mount on the top tube

    • 2 bottle/lightweight gear mounts on the fork blades

    • Front and rear fender mounts

    • Rear rack mounts

  • Awesome bike at a great price

    • For $3,000, buyers get a super capable carbon gravel bike, carbon wheels and an overall high-quality, reliable build.

We believe finding a great bicycle should be less overwhelming: fewer choices, no confusing acronyms, only genuine benefits. We think great bikes come from evidence-based thinking, not from marketing budgets. That’s why we created the OB1, a quiver killer for road, gravel, bikepacking, cyclocross, or touring — at a fraction of the traditional cost.
— Thesis Bike

Visit them at thesis.bike


Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on the Thesis OB1.

Do you know of other comparable builds for a similar price point?

What advantages or disadvantages do you see in the Thesis buyer experience model?