Eric “The Animal” Hunner was kind enough to let one of our riding buddies try out the Redline Monocog. Dan’s bike was in the shop getting some fork work done. This was Dan’s first experience on single speed and on a 29er. Read his first hand experience with the Redline Monocog.
Let me begin by saying this is my first experience with single speed riding, and if all single speed riding is like this, then I’m hooked. Big thanks to the Animal for lending me the bike for about two weeks. When I went to pick it up, the Animal instructed me not to return it till I had put 100 miles on it. I talked him down to 50 miles, and called it a deal. My normal rig is a 5″ travel, full suspension, geared bike, so I was more than a little leery of going full-rigid and being able to keep up with my normal group of riders with gears. Before I go on, here is the basic info on the bike being reviewed.
Redline Monocog 29er Steel Frame w/ horizontal dropouts
Carbon Cycles Exotic Carbon Fork
Shimano SLX Brakes 6″R/8″F
Shimano LX Cranks
26.5″ Bars w/ Ergon GP series grips.
WTB Exiwolf 2.3 Tires
One of the first things I noticed right off the bat was the improved carrying of momentum I have heard several 29er riders boast about. The start of my first ride began on a gradual decline heading toward the main trail. I noticed immediately that I wasn’t pedaling as much as I normally would in that section and started to take notice of the other riders around me (all on 26″ bikes). They were keeping a nice even cadence about what I would say I normally did, but I was only giving two to three rotations on the cranks then coasting to keep the same pace, i.e. not pedaling as much as I normally would. On the counter side of this, while the 29er did retain momentum well, getting it starting on an good incline was more than a little difficult.
Generally, I am not a good climber, on a good day maybe mediocre, but on the single speed I was able to power through sections that are tough to spin with gears. On my first ride with the Monocog through Aliso Woods Canyon, there are two “extra credit” single-track climbs at the top of the ridge that are typically tough climbs for me, but I felt like I walked up them on the single speed. The efficiency of the single speed platform is undeniable! For the first time ever, I was not dreading the next big climb. The Monocog also did surprisingly well on downhill. With no suspension you obviously can’t blow over and through everything in the same manner as a full-suspension bike. Picking a good line was unequivocally the prime objective. The first extended downhill section I took it on was some bumpy single-track with lots of tight, steep and off-camber turns. I was impressed how well the Monocog held up. I couldn’t rail through the turns in the same way I normally would on the full-suspension, but I wasn’t putting down the hill either.
I like the idea of the added support coming from the Ergon GP grips, but it took me several rides to get them adjusted to a comfortable position. After experiencing them I am not sure I’m sold on the idea yet, and I’m still getting accustomed to them. I believe the grips on the Monocog were the small size, and maybe I would be more comfortable with the large size, especially seeing that I’m running Ergon grips on my other bike which I love and are larges. The bar ends on these grips were great. Standing up on climbs, the bar ends gave me a lot more torque on the bars making climbing even that much easier. The Exiwolf tire from WTB seems to be a great rear tire, but I found myself wanting something a little gnarlier up front that handled cornering better.
This brings me to the only real issue I found with the bike. I don’t know if this was skill level issue or just getting used to how this bike wants to roll, but I had trouble make sharp or quick turns at higher speeds and really railing the corners. The first sharp corner I came to carrying some good speed on I completely washed out. I was unable to really lean into the corners in the same way I do with my regular ride.
Overall, I give this frame a big thumbs up. I loved the single speed platform. It was just plain fun. I think for my riding style I would pay the weight penalty for a front fork, but between the steel frame and the carbon fork, I didn’t get jittered to death by small bumps, and felt very tied to the trail in a good way. Previously to riding the Redline Monocog, I had been researching a 29er hard-tail platform for more XC oriented riding and was considering building a 1×9, but after riding the Monocog I am convinced that SS will be the way to go for me!