12 September 2012 - 9:37The RDO SingleSpeedwagon
I’ve gotten quite a few quality rides on this machine so far, and I have to say I’m impressed. To some, the idea of a full suspension singlespeed might go against the very concept of simplicity – the single speed way. I suppose it’s true, but like Han Solo once said “hey, it’s me!”. I like to tinker, and why have limits if you don’t have to?
Bikes are supposed to be fun, and if I can’t have any fun on a bike, then why ride it? Rigid singlespeeds are fun, but only under certain conditions. I can’t ride one on super technical terrain very fast, or for very long. Adding a fork definitely helps things out, allowing me to ride longer and more comfortably. Still those longer rides beat me up. I mean, I can still DO THEM, but I feel terribly banged up anymore. Enter the next level of singlespeeding, front AND rear squish. My Niner Jet 9 RDO was hankering for some tinkering.
Having ridden just about any trail I would ever want to ride on my SS locally (there are ones I don’t), I can say that without a doubt, this weird bird flies. And flies well. Having put on a good show a couple of weekends ago over in Sterling Valley, and the Kingdom, I got another ride in on my locals, which basically was the deal sealer. I only had to walk one hill early in the ride, but that was because of lack of fitness and a cranky knee, and it is a steep assed hill. I’m not too proud to walk when I ought to.
So what makes it work? Oddly enough, it’s the rear derailleur. With any full suspension bike, you are going to have to deal with chain growth. Some grow more than others, just the nature of the beast. Niner’s CVA design has minimal chain growth, which makes things a lot easier for me. In a geared scenario, the rear derailleur handles the changing chain length by allowing the pulley cage to pivot as it needs too, which is how your squishy bike works, because the cage changes position relative to what gear you are in. If you take a look, one might bounce up and down on their FS bike, you might notice the cage moves a little bit. Now take away all the rest of the gears. Now you have a lot of extra chain flopping about. Now, as you don’t need all that extra chain, you can take as many links out as you can to stretch that cage out as far as you can while still allowing it to move. Again, the key here is that the Niner has minimal chain growth, so I can get that chain pretty darn tight and still have some movement on the deraiileur. Also important to note, you’ll want to use the shortest cage derailleur as possible to use the shortest amount of chain possible. Road derailleurs work great.
Chainline is pretty crucial too, you don’t want it feeding onto the cogs at a funny angle, or you run the risk of having the chain walk off on you at some inopportune time. That is not fun. I run a shift cable through the barrel adjuster and anchor it right where I want it to keep everything lined up.
And pedaling induced suspension bob? Yeah, you’ll have some of that. But thanks to the miracle of modern rear shock technology, this is greatly minimized. Now, obviously you aren’t going to make a full blown DH bike into a singlespeed. This sort of nonsense is really only applicable to XC rigs, with short to mid travel. I found that the aluminum Jet was an absolutely fantastic choice for this with the Shreddie Van Halen experiment. The CVA suspension design, along with a few others do a pretty good job of isolating pedaling force from bump force, so if you have a smooth out-of-the-saddle pedaling style (like me!), you aren’t going to have much of an issue.
So why would I do this? Because I can, and so should you! Here’s to the next level of singlespeeding!