Are you looking for a simple bike, but a single speed is just a little too simple? A 1×9 may be for you. 1×9 refers to 1 chain ring up front, and a 9 speed cassette in the back.
I was going to interview Scott R and have him talk about the 1×9 that he built, but he got tired of waiting for me and interviewed himself. I’ll pretend that it was me asking him the questions…
Bike Carson: So what made you go 1×9?
Scott: Originally the bike was a 27 speed. When I moved back to Maryland, there was a nice place for single speeds, so I converted the bike so I could keep up with my riding buddies. The bike is light. When I moved back to Nevada I couldn’t deal with the terrain of just climbing and descending on a single speed. I tried it maybe 3 times, and got the idea that if I had only a few more gears it would be fun.
Bike Carson: How did you do it?
Scott: I always have parts around, so I just threw on a 34 tooth cassette, bought a new chain, left the front derailleur on, and took the left shifter off. I’m sure there are devices to use other than leaving the derailleur on that would work, but it rarely drops the chain…usually when I’m stopping or something and not actually pedaling.
Bike Carson: So whats the big deal?
Scott: There is no big deal really, but it’s nice having less parts and only what you need. That’s what appeals to single speeders, and since I needed a few more gears, it seemed to fit the bill. There are very few areas on our lunch rides where I need more gears. 9 is plenty. There is gear overlap in a 27 speed setup, so there are only so many unique gears anyway.
There is something that’s hard to explain about having something simple that serves all your needs. You know…not overkill. I love technology and adjustable travel and such, but this 1 x 9 experiment has really been an eye opener. So much so, that I threw a rigid fork on and adjusted to that as well. I wouldn’t want to ride it in anything rough though. Lunch terrain is basically butter.