Review: Redline Mono 9

Redline Mono 9
Redline Mono 9 ready for a morning ride

Who:
Redline Bikes

Product Tested:
Redline Mono 9

Redline Mono 9, Powder Canyon
Riding rigid takes some getting used to

Website’s MSRP:
$ 999.99

Specs:
Frame: Flight Double Butted Sanko Chromoly Tubing with fixed rear droputs.
Fork: Sanko Chromoly Taper Legs
Wheel set: WTB laser Disc Rims, Redline SB QR Hubs, Maxxis Ignitor 29 x 2.1 Tires
Drive: FSA Alpha 32T w Alloy Guard, Isis BB Sram X9 Short Cage Derailluer w X9 Trigger 12-32 9speed, PC 951 Chain.
Brake: Avid BB5 w 160mm Rotor.
Control: Ritchey Pro Bar, Stem, and Seat Post, WTB Rocket V SLT Saddle
Color: Warm Mineral Grey
Sizes: 15,17,19,21
Tested size 19 – Large

Redline Mono 9, Handlebar
Rithcey Pro stem/handlebar + Avid brakes + X-9 shifter. One less shifter cleans up the handlebar

About Me:
6’0? 210lbs, 28 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys rocking the big 29er wheels.

Testing Grounds:
Fullerton Loop, Chino Hills State Park, Powder Canyon, Santiago Oaks, Mt. SAC race… basically lots of So. Cal trails as well as the streets of Placentia, Fullerton and other N. Orange County cities.

First Impression:
A little apprehensive. Rigid? 9 gears? How was I going to make it up 5 miles of climbing in Chino Hills State Park with only 9 gears? How was I going to get through the rocky sections of Santiago Oaks? To say I was a little apprehensive about testing a rigid 9-speed was an understatement.

Once I got it out on my favorite trail though I was hooked. There’s just something about riding with less gears and a rigid bike. The feel is painful yet satisfying. I like it.

Redline Mono9
Mono 9 on her first group ride at Powder Canyon

Strengths:
The first thing about the bike is that it is aesthetically pleasing. The paint job is super nice while the gray decals and graphics against the metallic black are clean. The black background color is especially cool because it is a metallic (it has glitter in it, but not in the girly nail polish way) black. In fact the black metallic is so subtle that RL, someone who has seen the bike a ton of times since we got it in for testing, just noticed the metallic paint last week. Subtle, but really cool.

The Sanko steel frame makes for smaller diameter tubing than aluminum which looks sleek. The steel has a good feel to it that is different than the aluminum bikes I’ve ridden. The steel isn’t quite as harsh as aluminum, but still plenty harsh since it is fully rigid. Speaking of the frame, the frame geometry of the bike fits me very well. I’m 6 foot tall and have pretty average length arms/legs/torso. At my height the 19 inch Large fit perfectly and I haven’t had to change any of the cockpit items.

Redline Mono 9
Metallic black, digging the sparkle

The components group is especially good for this price. The Laserdisc wheelset are of average weight but can take some abuse. These wheels are 32 hole versus the more commonly found 28 hole Laserdisc wheelset. At my size and weight the wheels have held up nicely especially considering some of the technical trails I’ve rode them through.

The cockpit is good with Ritchey Pro parts which is just under Ritchey’s top of the line WCS. The Avid BB5 is a sweet set of mech brakes that happened to be very easy to dial in. The X.9 trigger and derailleur is also one step below SRAM’s top of the line X.0. Only the Redline grips have shown some wear over the months, but after initially taking some getting used to (my previous bike had Ergons), I’ve found them to be comfortable and quite grippy even without gloves.

I’ve been so impressed with the Mono 9 that I decided to race it at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Classic this past weekend. I chose this bike mainly because I felt the geometry to fit me well, the parts were pretty good and it would be a great way to end my testing of the bike. Let me just say that the bike performed up to expectations and then some.

During one part of my race, I blinked and both of my hard contact lenses shifted in my eyes to a place where they were of no use. I have VERY bad eyesight. They’re so bad that without my contacts everything past 6 inches is fuzzy. I stubbornly continued riding for another half mile without my contacts in my eye before I finally relented and asked for some help from a volunteer. What is interesting about this is that during that half mile, I rode a sandy/rutty descent that lots of people washed out in. I was able to negotiate that difficult section without seeing partially because the Mono 9 is so easy to ride. The steering feels just right, not too slow and not too fast while the bike is quite stable for being rigid.

Redline Mono 9
Speeding down the last hill at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Classic on the Mono 9

Weaknesses:
Low bottom bracket height. My current steed is a Gary Fisher X-Caliber and its bottom bracket height is a decent 12.4 inches. The Mono 9 has a 11.8 inch bottom bracket height. This half inch difference did take a couple of rides before I got used to it. The first couple of times I had some pedal strike when I went over rocks or logs but I quickly adjusted to this and I haven’t had any problems since. Also, because I mainly ride XC, I didn’t run into this problem very often.

I threw my chain 3 times in 3 months of riding (not bad, in my opinion) but I threw the chain 4 times during the Mt. SAC race. This was extremely frustrating. But thankfully, Redline has heard this complaint and for year 2008 it looks like they’ve added a clear bashguard to prevent throwing the chain.

Summary:
Redline has a strong following with mountain bikers purchasing their very good singlespeed Monocog and Monocog Flight. Branching out to make a geared bike was just a natural progression for Redline and, not surprisingly, the Mono 9 is another hit on Redline’s hands. For those of you who ride 3×9 and want less clutter and less maintenance but can’t fathom jumping to a SS, then the Mono 9’s 9 gears and rigid frame is the perfect setup for you.

For more info about the Redline Mono 9, click here.

Recent Changes:
Redline recently tweaked the Mono 9 for 2008 year. The first change you’ll notice when you jump to the website is that the Mono 9’s name has changed to the D460 29er. They’ve also changed the shifters and rear derailleur to X-7. Lastly, from the details on the website, the new D460 has a very cool looking clear bash guard.

Click here for a photo gallery of the Redline Mono 9 during the review period.

3 Replies to “Review: Redline Mono 9”

  1. I got a d460 last month and this review was part of what gave me the courage to go ahead and get a rigid 1×9 29er (coming from a FS 26er). I have to say that it is the best money I ever spent. I love my bike so much I can’t believe it. I rode it rigid for a few weeks and really enjoyed that but got thrown around a lot on deeper rutted stuff. Just put a front suspension fork on it and my love is deep like ocean. So deep. And the bash gard is genius. Chain stays where it should.

    Plus, this bike is a beauty. Not just for an inexpensive bike. But for any bike. I sneak out to the garage sometimes just to look at it.

    Thanks guys and keep up the good work.

  2. I got this bike about two months ago. I love it. I work harder but go farther. This review among a few others helped but really nothing could match experiencing this bike. What I love so much is its light weight. It doesn’t have the mess of the 3×9. No cludder, no decisions, and I am rocking hills and keeping up with my more advancedriding partners. I roll over rocks and logs with ease. This bike is just a problem solver. Don’t know what you want, what you can handle, want a beginner with an advanced edge, problem solved, get the redline. One problem; be good to your wheels and rims. Tighten the spokes, my LBS did not tighten the spokes well enough and i bent a wheel easy. Brakes work great still. Problem solved. Thanks to the new REI in the area I wont have a problem with faulty equipment again. Redline Mono 9. Love it. Love to look at it. Love to ride it.

  3. I bought this bike from Hutch’s Bikes in Bend, OR in early february of 2010, with my tax return. it is a 2009 model, which made it 20% off, which really sealed the deal. I was looking hard at a Specialized 29er Comp, but it was about $700 more than the Reddie…since buying this bike, I LOVE IT. I commute to work on it every single day, and usually sidetrack on the way home to hit some little neighborhood trails on the way home. The plastic pedals that come on it kinda suck, I cracked one pretty good within a week of having it (lava rock), but I bought the Shimano Deore XT’s to pop on for serious trail riding, and am getting some BMX-style stompers for just riding around town. All in all, I think this is a ton of bike for the money, and since my last ride was a (Redline) Monocog 26er, the addition of 7 more gears and HUGE (to me) wheels have really made this one of the best purchases of my life…cars, boats, whatever, this was the best money I’ve spent in a while. LOVE IT!

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