on new bikes- single speeds and 29ers

21Sep03

i’ve decided that it’s finally time for a new bike. the last bike i bought was my lemond zurich when i moved here 4 years ago. (and i’ve ridden it what, 8 times?) so i’ve decided that my next bicycle purchase should be something that i’d ride alot. i know it sounds crazy since i live in san francisco, but i really want a single speed- not a fixed gear, just an SS. i think it would be fun, and simple and i really like the idea. plus i know sf well enough that i can avoid the big hills on my bicycle. or if i can’t i can just take the motorcycle or somethin. anyway, i’ve now become obsessed with the idea of a single speed.

ted, in his infinite wisdom, suggested i get a trail-friendly single speed since many of the fun trails in marin are totally single speed friendly, and since i haven’t had a mtn bike since i moved to sf. so i’ve been researching them online to see whats out there. turns out there’s not much. 2 handfulls of single speeds is about all. add to that the fact that ted has also convinced me that i really want hayes disc brakes (he cannot stop raving about them) and my choices are limited. i have my choice of about 4 26″ bikes, and get this, i’ve also taken a look at 2 29ers. that’s right i’m considering an ultra trendy bike of the moment- a 29er single speed with disc brakes. could i get any more mountain bike action? only if i got some super custom with hyper oversized tubing.

the only problem with all these single speed i’ve found is that i haven’t been able to ride a goddamn one of em. this being san francisco, there aren’t a whole lot of shops that would consider carrying a bike with no gears- especially the shops on haight street or any of the fancy parts of town. i haven’t made my way down to valencia st yet, where there might actually be a few.

however today i DID ride my fist 29er. a fisher mt. tam (size small – 15.5″). and i’ve gotta say i’m torn. i’ve been thinkin about the 29er alot because if i spend most my time on the city streets, 700c wheels make alot of sense. well once i got it out, it rode smooth, real smooth. i was surprised at how comfortable i felt on it considering it was higher up than i’m used to on the abortion. the bigger tires made me feel like i had solid connection to the ground. turning, cornering, stopping, all the normal street riding stuff went fine. but here was the trouble- the front end was too high. all 29ers, even if they’re rigid bikes, have to have a taller front end (duh) the fisher has a taller front end AND a suspension fork. the front end was SO high, and i’m so short, that i couldn’t pull it up. so i could never get the front end up over an obstacle. this may be acceptable if i was going to get a model like the mt. tam with a bomber, but i want to go rigid. tonight or tomorrow i will try ted’s karate monkey to see if the same is true on a rigid fork model. if it is, i’m going with a 26″, if not i’ll still consider the 29er. any input? am i crazy for being all trendy? am i stupid for being all retro grouchy?

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4 Responses to “on new bikes- single speeds and 29ers”

  1. 1 Craig Lima

    Yeah, I’ve really been wanting to relive my childhood and get another single speed BMX bike. I used to have a rad white and red one that I mounted a rack of deer antlers on! Seeing as how I did an endo on my brother’s bike a few months back—I don’t think the antler handlebars are such a good idea though…

  2. 2 Andrew

    Hey give Rod at Martinezcyclery.com a call.. He is a big PPC’er and a admin on ppcp…. tell him i sent you..

  3. 3 matt

    yeah. i have a soulcraft rigid singlespeed 29er with disks on the way. i am excited but nervous. email me if you want a report in a few days.

  4. 4 Bart

    29’ers are a Bad idea for short individuals. Stick with a 26″ SS and learn the love of ascending. You have to earn to burn. As per the wussies in SF who refuse to sell SS rigs, their ignorance is telling. I live in Reno, NV and one can procure SS rigs (we have grades on some of the trails that would make the wusses in SF cry-esp. combined with the elevations one can attain-4,500′ plus…break out the diapers).


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