12 November 2010 - 9:24Niner Jet 9, as a Singlespeed
Yeah, I really like this. A lot.
I got about an hour on it out on the Town Loops. I was grinning ear to ear the whole time. This whole full suspension single speed is the same sort of awesome as hot tub time machine, or bacon double cheeseburger. It even has the same number of syllables. That’s how you know it’s awesome.
The SF100 was meant to be a no holds barred, ultra lightweight XC racing machine. While it is stiff and light (the frame at a mere 4.7 lbs with rear shock), it isn’t stiff enough for out of the saddle pedal mashing. The full carbon swingarm and suspension linkages do flex a little when you are applying the power, or are jibbing and bonking off of obstacles on the trail. I’ve buzzed the tire on the rear end of the bike several times during the initial test runs.
Also, the BB height was too low for my tastes. I smacked the pedals a fair amount on things I thought were not so big, so that was a big sticking point for me.
The suspension felt really good though, I never felt like I was getting robbed of any power on out of the saddle climbs. I also liked the slacked out feeling that the non-G2 fork gave to the front end. It wasn’t exactly choppered out or anything, but you could feel a difference. It gave the bike a very playful feeling, which was both good and bad. Good in that it encouraged rough housing the bike down the trail, bad because the rear end flex and low BB height brought reality back in an annoying fashion.
Add the constant loosening of the bolts, and I was all done with this toy.
Enter my Jet 9, formerly known as Pale Horsie. That poor bike was built for one thing and one thing only, and that was to race the VT50. Well wouldn’t you know, 3 VT 50s have passed and I have yet to throw my leg over a Jet of any kind to “compete” on. I’m not sure where to assign the FAIL, but it is a fail nonetheless. Pale Horsie did pull through for Joe however. Joe surprised all of us by not only actually showing up, but actually finishing the race on Pale Horsie.
My lightweight wheels, XX drivetrain and 19 gears were stripped from the Jet, the crazy wheels and salvaged Furly parts were stripped from the Superfly, and about 2 hours later, Shredward was born. It took that long because I had a heck of a time getting the Yess tensioner to work on the Jet frame.
You can see that it is a pretty tight fit in there, but it does actually clear the chainstay. Barely. The chain wraps around the Endless rear cog and tensioner so tightly, that if I were to get a flat or tear the rear tire, the entire chain and tensioner would have to be removed to get the rear wheel out of the bike. Certainly not ideal. Plus, the annoying sound of the chain dragging over the top roller pully is still there. While it doesn’t seem to be causing any drag, I still hear it, and if I can hear it, I feel like I’m getting robbed.
But on the trail? WOW! What a difference. Stand on it, and the bike goes. The back end of this bike is much stiffer than the SF100, with most of the stiffness being appreciated in situations where off-camber rooty sections seemed to just disappear. There was some small launches, root ball bonks and some corner railing, and it all added up to seriously big fun.
I left the Pro Pedal off for 99% of the ride. I only turned it on once when I attempted to make a climb up a very steep double track. I ended up walking, but it had everything to do with the motor, not the bike. In fact, I was very impressed at what the bike would actually do with my lack of strength. Some of the very punchy and technical ups we encountered simply vanished. There’s one climb in in particular that is difficult at best, the approach is a low speed, hard left turn over some off camber whales, around a tree, up some rocks, another left over another pile of root covered rocks, followed by a chunky upthrust of shale fins. I climbed it as easily as I would a flight of stairs.
This just proves what I’ve been saying to folks all along, the Jet is by far one of the most pedaling efficient bikes out there. Those that already own a Jet know this. Slapping one gear on it and climbing technical singletrack out of the saddle proves this. It just doesn’t get much better.
The best part of the ride was at the end. Bear’s Run is a little gem of a trail that takes you out the back side of the Loops. A relatively new trail, it’s a fast and flowy bench cut that has a couple of 180° switchbacks that can be met with speed, and very few damp spots. The trail gets flowier that faster you go, and on a full suspension bike it’s as smooth as a stick of butter.
Well here it is. I was on a full suspension bike. And because I had 1 gear, there was no SMACK/SLAP/CAPINK!! of the chain bouncing off my chainstays. That’s right. Silence. It was dreamlike. I’d sort of become accustomed to that sound acting as a gauge for how fast I should be going, lots of slapping -too fast, not enough slapping -go faster. This time, nothing. Silence. I went really fast.
And silence, was golden.