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Thread: Multi-use SS?

  1. #1
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    Multi-use SS?

    I'm not a big singlespeeder, I like the idea of them, but I just don't get the urge to ride one that often. I've owned 3-4 SS mtbs over the years, and ended up selling all of them sooner or later. I've also owned a couple of pavement/dirt road singlespeed/fixies and currently have a pretty nice one that I like to get out once in a while. Lately I've been thinking about building up yet another SSmtb, but I'm not sure that I would ride it OR the road-oriented one often enough to own both So maybe it would make more sense to put together a bike that would work for either sort of ride. My thinking is that I'd go with two wheelsets, either a 27.5+ for trail paired with a set of fat (38-40ish) 700c gravel/pavement tires OR a set of regular 27.5" wheels/tires for trails, paired with a more conventional, fattish (32mm or so) set of road/dirt wheels/tires. I'd probably run a set of dirt-drop style bars or some multi-hand position Alt bars, Jones bars or similar. A rigid, probably carbon, fork would be my first choice, tho if I found myself venturing onto more challenging terrain at some point I might get a suspension fork that I could easily swap in. Disc brakes, naturally. Also, my preference would be for sliding dropouts over an eccentric BB, just because I've had better luck with them. I'm thinking something like a Soma B-side or Juice, or a Vassago Jabberwocky. I'd be open to other frame suggestions. Anyone else tried to do one bike for both uses? The wheel swap versatility a lot of frames feature nowadays would seem to make it a realistic goal.

  2. #2
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    I am considering something like this as well. For me, it would be two frames, and three wheelsets. One frame would be a drop-bar geometry, and the other would be a flat-bar. One wheelset with with 28mm tires for mostly pavement, another with maybe 40mm for loose/rough dirt roads, or light singletrack, and the last wheelset with beefy 2.4s or something. I would probably only swap the middle wheelset between the two frames. Through-Axle both front and rear would be nice because 1) TA is great and 2) less fidgeting with brakes between wheel swaps, and just less fidgeting in general.

    Unfortunately for you, I haven't made it to the drop-bar frame research so I don't have much to help you with. I hesitate throwing drop bars on frames designed for flat bars, just because it changes the geometry so much. What about a Salsa Cutthroat or Fargo?

  3. #3
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    I just built/converted a bike into my first MonsterCross bike or drop-bar 29er if you prefer. I think that's pretty much what your after. A SS MTB frame can accommodate wide tires when needed and swap in skinnies as a second setup. I'd use 40c ish cross/gravel tires.

    Jamis Dragon One (Reynolds 853) frame with sliders
    SS wheelset with White Industries freewheel
    42:20 ratio with 2.1" tires
    Carbon Carver fork
    TRP Spyre mechanical brakes (totally awesome mechanical brakes BTW!!! best mechanicals i've used)
    On One Midge handlebars (Soma Junebug bars are similar)
    SLX cranks

    That's the highlights. Pretty fun bike! For your setup I would want two different gear ratio's for the respective tires being used, which could easily be accomplished. You'll have to use a big stack of spacers and possibly a (much shorter) riser stem to get the handlebars high enough that your comfortable in the drops. Using a frame that's half a size too small may not be a bad idea.

    I love the concept of this genre of bike. It's basically a more capable (offroad), slightly heavier, slightly slower, more comfy (higher volume tires on wide rims), version of my cross bike, which is also super fun and versatile.

    What I would change: I'm 6'3" on a 21" frame. Using a frame with a higher headtube that wasn't so XC oriented would mean less headset spacers. That's really my only gripe. I like the low standover of mtb frames, not that it makes a big difference in my case, but others would likely appreciate it. I may end up putting gears on this one, something simple like 1x8 or 1x10 with a bar end shifter. I may end up wanting to do some long adventures on this one and I need to cover a lot of flat ground to get to the fun stuff.

    Sorry no great pics, this is the day I threw it together. Since then I added a riser stem, bar tape, saddle, and made a few tweaks.

    Multi-use SS?-d2.jpg

    Multi-use SS?-dragon-1.jpg
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the input guys. I hadn't considered the Jamis, looks like a good option, and the cautions about putting drop bars on a flat-bar-optimized bike made me look again and put the Salsa Fargo at the top of my possible frame list...

    ...what do folks think of something like the Jones bar in an application like this? I've never used one but I'm alt-bar curious.

  5. #5
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    I think any hardtail mountain bike can be very versatile by just changing the tires. I rode my Soma Juice with knobby 29x2.3-ish tires, a 120mm fork, and 1.6:1 gear ratio (34/21) all over gnarly trails, then put a rigid fork, semi-slick 29x2.0 tires, and a 2.0:1 (34/17)gear ratio and rode two 100k gravel races on it.

    for gravel road terrain, I used shorter handlebars, a longer stem, and bar ends. if a bike fits you with flat bars, it's going to be tricky to make drop bars fit, as adding drops adds 2-3 inches of reach to your bike. you could make that work, but I found that flat bars with bar ends did the same thing for me. I don't see the appeal of putting drop bars on your mountain bike when some multi-position flat bars will do about the same job.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 07-12-2017 at 06:32 PM.

  6. #6
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    I have my rigid single speed set up as a dingle speed (i.e. 34x19 & 36x17), so riding on dirt roads is as simple as moving the chain over to the big gear. I use pretty fast rolling XC tires so there isn't really any advantage to switching to CX tires. Since I mainly use it on trails I have a normal flat bar, but this is fine on dirt roads as well. My SSCX is hardly any faster anyway so I don't think drop bars or skinny CX tires provide much benefit.

    My bike is a 29er, but I would expect fast rolling 27.5 or 27.5+ tires would work just as well on dirt roads.

  7. #7
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    I think it's a bad idea unless you run a dingle speed like Will the Great said. You really need two different gear ratios for road vs trail.

    On the other hand, why not just build up something like an All City Nature Boy Disc or Soma Wolverine with cyclocross tires? Then you can ride it on the road and hit some of the easier trails without worrying about swapping tires or changing ratios. Another thing to consider would be seeing which single speed cyclocross frames can run wider 650B tires like the new WTB Byway 700x47.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    I think it's a bad idea unless you run a dingle speed like Will the Great said. You really need two different gear ratios for road vs trail.

    On the other hand, why not just build up something like an All City Nature Boy Disc or Soma Wolverine with cyclocross tires? Then you can ride it on the road and hit some of the easier trails without worrying about swapping tires or changing ratios. Another thing to consider would be seeing which single speed cyclocross frames can run wider 650B tires like the new WTB Byway 700x47.
    After going through a drop bar conversion on a Soma Juice, I put that bike back to a regular MTB so my oldest son can ride it and ordered a Soma Wolverine to build that as a drop bar bike that can take 29x2.1 tires.
    Bikes, lots'o bikes

  9. #9
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    Why narrow your focus to such narrow tires? All the cool guys these days are starting their gravel bikes at 42mm, and going up from there. If supple, wide tires fit your frame, there's really no downside.
    http://www.bikingtoplay.blogspot.com/
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    ...what do folks think of something like the Jones bar in an application like this? I've never used one but I'm alt-bar curious.
    When I spec'd out such a bike in my mind, my bar choice was an aluminum Jones loop bar. Or the very similar Titec J-bar that's been in my bin forever (great bar but so heavy/stiff/ugly). Multiple hand positions PLUS more confidence off-road or goofing around on asphalt.

  11. #11
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    I tend to agree with what has been said about tire width. I have a steel roadie running 26's, and a gravel bike I recently built up again with 35's. I have hit pavement PR's on the wide tire'd gravel bike... and I don't honestly believe that wider would have much impact on the pavement speeds, other than feel due to weight of the tires. I have gone pretty quick on knobbies as well, however they are definitely slower, but a mildly treaded tire that could work for both would be about as versatile as it gets. My wife tires are Schwalbe G-one's, and they may them at least one size bigger, and the 35's worked fine for me on some singletrack.

    My 2 cents.
    Last edited by garcia; 07-16-2017 at 06:44 AM. Reason: spelling

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    Why narrow your focus to such narrow tires? All the cool guys these days are starting their gravel bikes at 42mm, and going up from there. If supple, wide tires fit your frame, there's really no downside.
    I have two bikes...one with 35c and the other 40c. I'll never run less than a 40c tire on gravel after having and riding both sizes. Comparing the two sizes...IMO, zero down side to running the 40c over the 35c.
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