The Once is a flat bar bike, just like the Chance, and it has a similar MSRP, coming in at $1450 in Canada. It has a shaped Al tubing frame, and a steel fork and metal seatpost. I imagine that this means that it would weigh a little more than the Chance, but my preference would be for the metal fork and seatpost. The biggest functional difference between the two bikes is that the Once uses an eccentric BB to tension the chain.
Here is the rear hub. The EBB allows the use of a much simpler vertical dropout. On the plus side, the disk brake is mounted inside the rear triangle, which simplifies rack mounting. On the downside, there is only one eyelet for rack and fenders.
The fork crown also has a lot of clearance. Here you can see the colour coordination on the bike. Metallic bronze inserts on the grips are coordinated with the colour of the rims and the paint panels on the frame. In my opinion, this is a sharper looking bike than the Chance, which looks very utilitarian in comparison. Whether you think that this would be more of a theft magnet is up to you.
Here is a picture of the BB from below. I was told that there is no room to mount a kickstand. Also, although you can’t see it in the photo, on the front of the bottom of the BB shell, there are two screws that lock the position of the EBB.
In terms of how the bike felt, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between the two bikes on brief test rides, especially considering the different road environments in the two cases. The Once felt a little less harsh, but again, this might just be because the roads were bumpier where I was riding the Once, and it might be my bias towards the steel fork.
I find it interesting that the two lowest priced production bikes with Alfine 11 that I’ve been able to find in North America are mostly available in Canada. At least Brodie has some distribution in the US, but since they are mostly known for their mountain bikes, I don’t imagine that many dealers would stock the Once.
Interestingly enough, this particular dealer has their own line of bikes, under the name REK-TEK.
I was told that I could get a Tange tubed TIG welded built up equivalently to the Once for about $300 more. The main advantage of doing this would be to get a higher quality EBB, a Bushnell, rather than the generic unit used in the Once. I’d be interested in knowing if anyone with a Brodie Ocho (which is the Alfine 8 version of the same bike that has been out for a couple of years) has had issues with the EBB, in terms of reliability or creaking, etc. I do realize that pre 2011 Ochos have a different frame, but I would hazard a guess that the EBB insert is the same.
Note that the $1750 price quoted for the Rek Tek is for a stock frame with EBB off the rack. Custom would be more, and takes longer. The picture that I was shown was a black frame with a sloped top tube. Tempting, but I’ve already bought a black bike this trip 😉
Update: there is an interesting thread about the Alfine 11, EBBs and other issues here.