Are these the world’s best mountain bikes?

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When a gifted rider and designer creates his own mountain bike brand, great things happen. (Photo: Unno)
When a gifted rider and designer creates his own mountain bike brand, great things happen. (Photo: Unno)
  • When a gifted rider and designer creates his own mountain bike brand, great things happen.
  • This Spanish company doesn’t chase trends, it only focusses on technical excellence in carbon-fibre mountain bike design and production.
  • Production numbers are low and prices are high, but the craftsmanship and performance are inarguable.


It is a question that every committed mountain biker occasionally ponders, during that post-ride coffee: “what is the best bike in the world?”

The transparent answer is that no single bike can be the best at everything. Mountain biking has become too diverse in the terrain that it covers, for the existence of a unicorn bike to be true.

Remove cost from the equation and there are a collection of boutique bike brands, that build gorgeous bikes. None more so, than Unno.

The value of a small bike company, especially if directed by a talented engineer or rider, is an unrivalled ability to deliver a specific engineering vision, with very little compromise of consensus. In Unno’s case, its founder is both a brilliant engineer and an exceptional rider.

Unno is headquartered in Rojo’s native Barcelona a
Unno is headquartered in Rojo’s native Barcelona and unlike many other mountain bike brands, it produces everything inhouse. (Photo: Unno)

Purity of purpose – and design

Cesar Rojo proved his ability as a professional World Cup downhill racer but never allowed mountain biking to displace his educational ambitions. A qualified design engineer, Rojo has spent more than a decade and a half consulting to legacy mountain bike brands and motorcycle companies.

Back in 2012, he desired to start an independent mountain bike frame brand, in parallel to his design consultancy. Unno was born and by 2016 the first pre-production frames were built.

The timeline for Unno to evolve from concept to product was four years, which might appear amazingly relaxed in a market where mountain bikers expect product iterations every few months.  But Rojo would not be rushed – he wanted to build carbon-fibre mountain bikes without compromise.

Unno is headquartered in Rojo’s native Barcelona and unlike many other mountain bike brands, it produces everything inhouse, instead of contracting final production to Asia. With his intricate knowledge of how a mountain bike should perform when ridden at the limit, aided by sound engineering literacy, industry expectations for Unno, have been significant.

The Unno range of bikes are gorgeous. Each strand of carbon-fibre is impeccably matched, giving the bikes a striking appearance, and also a clue to their amazing performance.

The Unno range of bikes are gorgeous
The Unno range of bikes are gorgeous. (Photo: Unno)

Making carbon-fibre bikes, better

Cesar Rojo knew a decade ago, that carbon-fibre would become the 21st century design material of destiny. The issue was quality control and optimizing what carbon-fibre can do, instead of using the material as a miracle design solution in mountain biking.

A simple truth is that mass producing carbon-fibre mountain bikes is difficult. The meticulous shaping of different carbon-fibre sections, and then carefully bonding those, requires skilled labour. Any contamination or sloppiness in production will generate voids within the caron-fibre material, weakening it and reducing its ride quality.

The magic of a composite mountain bike frame is how its carbon-fibres can be orientated in different directions to deliver both strength and ride comfort. At Unno, the production numbers are low and Cesar Rojo’s team controls all processes.

From a cutting room to shape the individual carbon-fibre sections, to an autoclave and its own layup moulds, Unno does everything inhouse. That is what makes Unno’s bikes not only look amazing in appearance, but also exceptional to ride.

Within the Unno range of five models, there are extreme downhill options and cross-country racing bikes, perfect for South African riders who ride huge distances off-road.

At R90 000 for only the frame, Unno bikes are not inexpensive, but the exclusivity will appeal to those mountain bikers who value daring design and exclusivity.   

ALSO READ: This Twin-T could be the perfect hipster gravel bike 

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