How 1×9 got me ready for SS

As many of you know, we recently added the Sette Razzo frame to our lineup of bikes here at mtnbikeriders.com WCH. The Sette Razzo was built up as a SS. I have to admit, I was, and still am, very tentative about riding a single speed. I probably got that way due to all the Moe & RL puke stories. I, like many of you, are not a fan of puking.


SS can be quite a workout, especially if you go rigid

I decided to hit my local test loop, the Fully loop, for my first ride on the Razzo SS. The loop starts off for almost flat with just a twinge of an incline. I immediately felt the desire to shift gears and go faster, so much so that my right thumb twitched. Of course, there was no gear to change into so I ended up spinning really fast here and there. But I wasn’t used to all the spinning and my legs quickly got tired of it. I’m going to have to work on that part of SS riding.

What I was really afraid of were the climbs. None of the loop climbs are particularly long, about the only thing the loop is missing, but some are on the steeper side. The first short quick steep after crossing Euclid was conquered without any issues. Rolling along the street after the climb was a bit annoying because again I couldn’t get my legs to spin up fast enough. But ahead lay the climbs and as much as I was annoyed by all the spinning out I was cognizant that the lower gearing would be greatly beneficial on the climbs.


Redline Mono 9 has 9 gears. This helped get me ready for Single Speed riding

The climb that really got me antsy begins with a mild fireroad ascent. It then rolls along a little before hitting a short rooty section followed by a short steeper section. The end of this is a little past the halfway point of the loop. No puking on this climb. I was close… but I held it down. One more climb which is made difficult with railroad ties was up next and only my pride plus the presence of a couple of hikers stopped me from letting it flow.

What I came to realize over my SS ride was that my body had built up a bit of a familiarity to sustained standing climbs which is really your only other “gear” when you’re riding a SS. The familiarity was achieved when I began riding the Redline Mono 9, a 1×9 geared 29er. Before the 1×9, I would sit and spin my way up but when I rode the 1×9 consistently I realized that if I sat and spun all the hills, I’d quickly run out of gears.

So I adopted a different approach to climbing that included a mixture of spinning for a while then climbing while staying in the same gear. For example, if I was in gear 4 on a seated climb and I felt I wanted to change gears, instead of choosing to shift I’d stand up and climb for a bit. This essentially doubled the number of “gears” I had available to me from 9 to 18 and also eased my transition from 27 gears down to one.

Being comfortable with sustained standing climbs turned out to be a great help when I rode the single speed. I truly believe that if I went straight from 27 gears to just one, I probably would have joined RL & Moe with puke stories of my own.

2 Replies to “How 1×9 got me ready for SS”

  1. The spinning out is definitely a drawback to the SS, but it sure is fun to lap folks on one! ;o) As to the itchy shifting fingers, someone else suggested finger puppets to give ’em something to do!

    Peace!

  2. First time out with my Redline Monocog 29er I had sort of the same feeling too. When I first threw a leg over, there was no suspension sag! And when I started rolling, I looked over my handlebar to see what gear I’m in, a habit I’m sure multi-geared riders do, no shifter!

    I haven’t taken my SS through any real trails but I’m sure I’ll be ralphing too when I do.

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