Thursday, March 22

Putting the SS back in "induSStry"

This is my blerhg.  The views expressed within, are like, my opinion, man.

I've been beating the "SS is ded" drum pretty hard and in the most ironic fashion for some time.  Truth be told, I don't think it's ded.  I still enjoy it quite a bit.

But I think some are looking into euthanasia options.

In the past decade or so, we've lost some real pioneer single speeds.  Mainstream bikes from mainstream companies that because they made them (or were just trying to cash in on a fad), they were commonplace. It seemed like everyone was embracing the "sport."  Soon enough tho, eBay was full of said regrettable purchases made by people who didn't really think SS was as cool as the internet made it out to be.

Fewer people buying bikes means fewer bikes get made.  I now mourn the loss of the Salsa El Mariachi, Ibis Tranny, Specialized S Works SS as well as the Carve/Crave, ti Kona Raijin, Trek Superfly... the list goes on and on.

Sure, stock single speeds are still being produced, but they're headed down a slippery Enduro™-graded slope.  We're finally getting some options with shorter chainstays (something I've been waiting for since 2011?), but along with that, we're getting "long low and slacked" to death.

They think we want longer travel fjorks.  They think we want 3.0+ tires front and back.  They think we don't need to hydrate (the one bottle mount in the main triangle thing I already bitched about).

I don't know what it is exactly they all think we want in a nice, higher end single speed frame, but mebbe all that ain't it.

The practical and quite wonderful single speed of ten years ago is getting harder to find.  Slightly steeper head tube angles for agile handling.  By the way, I can't believe I'm referring to 70.5° as "steep."  100mm fork (or rigid) compatibility for the rider who's stupid and masochistic enough to wanna suffer and mebbe have feels.  You know, something we called a "single speeder" back then.

I'm not totally stupid.  I understand a little bit about how the "industry" works.

Make bike, sell bike, not selling enough bike, stop making that kinda bike.  Make something different because... burrito?

I'm bitching about a problem I don't really have.  I like the bikes/frames currently in my possession, and until they stop making parts when I need to replace them, I'm good. 

I'll admit Boost wasn't the best news for me in terms of rigid froks and wheels, but I'll probably be good for awhile.

But what about that discerning single speeder that wants to get into some longer races?  Doesn't need all that travel.  Doesn't want all that tire (like 1.5lbs more tire).  Doesn't wanna be sitting up all erect on an Enduro™ beach cruiser sled.  Doesn't wanna wear a hydration pack or drink out of horse poop-covered water bottles. Doesn't wanna bike that was made to Eagle up all the climbs and autopilot its way back down the mountain.

I know.  It's just me.

Rigid forks with warts because every bike needs to do everything and not putting single speed compatible dropouts on high end hard tails because the only people racing use gears and buy frames based on weight and paint jobs and everything is Enduro™ now anyways so who even cares about "athletes" who wanna pedal their bikes quickly about?

Hats off to the companies that still see... I dunno.  Something.  Something that ain't what everyone else thinks we want.

And by "we," I mean "just me."

Or maybe not.

I can't count the times that I've gotten a phone call, text, private message on MTBR, FaceMessage or an actual face-to-face conversation that was something like, "Hey, I'm looking for a new single speed that fits these certain criteria..."

And then I go on the hunt for a solution, and every time I do, I come up with fewer answers.  Most recently (that I can remember) being back when Watts had his bike stolen and when another friend's garage burned down.  They both wanted to replace bikes that they had sweat the details on long ago, but are now finding out that it's not an easy thing to do.  With fewer companies making what for lack of a better way of saying it, "old(er) school XC single speeds," options are limited.  When you know you want X length top tube, have a preference of sliders over EBB (or vice versa), don't like neon colorways, want two water bottles...

You can't be too picky, I guess.

So big thanks to Pivot, Niner, Vassago, Giant... is that it?  Dunno.  Anyways, thanks for continuing to pump out stock XC-type single speeds that AREN'T heavy, low end steel frames that only a curmudgeon would love or "long low slack" hard tails tryna be full squishers.  Some of you tho, we're gonna have to talk about that stupid 27.2 seat post at some point

If anything, I guess this is great news for the custom builders.  They can go right back to doing the thing that exploded them into all our minds way back in the early to mid 2000s, making custom 29" hard tails.

Thank dog we have them.


Anonymous said...

Rich, keep yelling at makes me feel better about mine own curmudgeon-y ways...

glen said...

dude from the get-go singlespeed has been making something out of nothing. every-time we get something it changes. single speed is adapting what we have to make what we want until we want something else. singlespeed is pink on titanium. its a 74 degree head tube. it is freedom to make it work for you. singlespeed is spinning your nuts off to have a good time. singlespeed is going to a stage race to drink beer and have a good time. singlespeed is crushing the gear riders and coming in dead can the industry that sources there bikes be able to choose what will work for all until we know?

hellbelly said...

"Nice" and single speed in the same sentence never made much sense to me. Personally I'm glad that it's not a "thing" with the industry once again. The vast majority of people I come across on single speeds these days are roadie/XC goons with a chip on their shoulders working on their "off-season" base miles and or KOM's for their Stravasshole onanism. When it began (I first rode them in '99) in the mid to late 90's it was creeps that basically thought Mega9 was dumb (it was) and were extending their middle fingers at the mountain bike industry. Nothing fancy and nothing serious. Hell, I went a step further and shoved a 5" Marzocchi fork on mine back then and at once had the least gears and most travel on most group rides. Party.

Croat said...

"Rigid forks with warts because every bike needs to do everything...." This, so much this! So many nice frames and forks uglied up with pointless rack mounts that are just another thing to rust.

sam said...

i had a trendy bike with gears and squish and the randonuering wheels size once, then i sold it and rode a steel ss like a man.

Anonymous said...

Single speeders are all pussies anyway, who gives a shit?

thekettleblackest said...

I have a medium Vassago VerHauen blingle speed (not the nue boostificated model) for sale if anybody is interested :)

Jimbo said...

You praise Niner, but they killed the old SIR 9. It's back and slack (68deg HTA), like the rest. But they put rack mounts on the back, so there's that.

dicky said...


I was praising them for keeping the ONE9 RDO and the AIR 9. The SIR 9 is an abomination of what it once was. Shoulda named it the WRT 9.

Anonymous said...

Bigger tires are taking some of the blame for muah to think about gears on a mtn bike. Fist time in decades. They are finally putting together the sensible irresistible double though.

Anonymous said...

No second bottle mount, but otherwise, here's your bike.