Spring is here, and this year I need to replace my completely trashed TREK 7800 that just has no more life left in it. And I’m broke. And I’m a bit of a masochist (hey, I learned to mountain bike on an aluminum Cannondale with no suspension, so I can suffer in style) — and I love my single speed beater. I’m also 6′ 3″ on a good day, so I’m a primo candidate for the purist’s delight: a 29’er SS. But which one to get?
There’s the Haro Mary SS, the Felt Nine Solo, the Surly Karate Monkey, the Niner One 9 (or the S.I.R. 9). The On-One Inbred 29’er (made in the UK; sold on eBay by a US distributor). Redline has one, too, the Monocoq Flight. Gary Fisher makes the Rig 29’er, and Kona has the Unit — and the Big Unit.
They’re all interesting. The Niner is clearly the classiest, and the priciest (frame alone is around $850). The Haro is steel, mechanical disk brakes, no shock, not much bling. But at under $1K it’s cheap-ish (They also do the Ally SS, which is alu and even cheaper). The Redline is also cheap (there’s an even cheaper version just called the Monocoq — no prices available anywhere, though). The Surly has that special and vaguely arrogant “we started this whole single speed shit, so we know how to do it” air about it (and I find the design oddly ugly), while the Felt is a really nice, well-rounded package w/ some interesting twists (Hayes hydraulic brakes — I’ve ridden with Magura’s hydraulic rim brakes for a decade, and I love ’em). Retail for the Felt is $1700. Other potential downside to the Felt? Aluminum. Steel just feels like the right thing to do for a 29’er SS… I love On-One’s philosophy and approach to bikes, but even with a carbon fork I think running completely rigid is too hard core for an old geezer like me.
Speaking of alu, that’s the drawback to the otherwise very cool Gary Fisher Rig, which at $1400 gets you nice brakes, a wicked fork and Bontrager wheels. Kona’s Unit is also nice for around $1000 (steel, so-so parts, no shock) while its big brotherr, the Big Unit, is completely wicked (scandium frame, light as hell, huge shock, amazing parts) — but runs nearly $2K.Finally, Salsa’s El Mariachi has the eccentric BB to allow you to convert to SS, but not sure it’s worth the trouble (no shock — argh!) with all the off-the-shelf options out there.
Not sure what to get. But something — there’s too much good riding to be had. There are some great threads (also here and here) out there discussing this very important matter (natch!) — it’s old, but it’s useful.
Update: and the winner is… the Felt Nine Solo. Brought to me by the most excellent folks at Paradise Sports Shop in Windsor, VT. The place for all your cool bike needs, offroad and on. Seriously, they know bikes. The question was size: they make a 19.5″ and a 21.5″ and after instinctively going bigger because my current bike was too small, I did some research and found that a) the Felt’s run big, and b) 29’ers run big, and c) my actual measurements (check out competitivecyclist.com or go get fitted for a bike from a pro shop) show that I’m more leg than arm/torso, I really could get away with the 19.5″ frame.