Recon1342 HalfDork
1/14/20 9:59 p.m.

I've been mountain biking since the mid '90s. Did some racing in high school, but never too serious. Got bored, and quit the bike for a while. Then one day, I chanced upon a Raleigh XXIX singlespeed in the bike shop, and I was hooked after one test ride. Time and mileage being what they are, it was soon time to think about a new bike... (Also, my oldest totally stole the Raleigh.) 

I soon found myself contemplating a singlespeed bike with plus tires (better traction, etc etc blah blah). So... I bought a Salsa Timberjack. The goal was to build a trail-ripping do-it-all bike suitable for all seasons and terrain types, and I think I succeeded. I took the base level build, and scrapped the drivetrain. Tossed a conversion kit on the hub, specced  new tires, grips, and saddle, and started building- 

Just needed a chain and pedals at this point... 

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/14/20 10:07 p.m.

Added my favorite pedals (crank Bros Candy) and tossed a gold nitride chain on to match the grips and rails, since we all know speed is secondary to how cool you look. 


The current build- Timberjack XL frame, Rockshox Judy fork, Tektro Hydraulic disc brakes, Chromag grips and saddle, Race Face Atlas bars, and Teravail Coronado 27.5x3" tires. Gearing is 30/18, giving a ratio of 1.66:1. 

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/14/20 10:11 p.m.

Action shots from training!

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/14/20 10:23 p.m.

So, ill-prepared, undertrained, and not at all acclimated to high altitudes, I entered a bucket list race- The Galena Grinder. It's a 25 mile race, with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. It's all good, I only need one gear, right?


I'm pretty sure I left a lung on the side of the mountain somewhere... but, despite being DFL in the race, I still managed to place first in the singlespeed category (since I was the only berkeleying crazy shiny happy person to attempt the grinder with one gear).

Eh. First place is first place. The spoils-

A tshirt, a bad-ass multitool, some sunscreen and hydration mix, and my race number. 

I plan to return this year for more punishment. I've never had so much fun being miserable... 

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/14/20 10:24 p.m.

Also, it turns out that 3" tires are entirely decent in the snow... 

ae86andkp61 GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/14/20 10:39 p.m.

Awesome; looks like tons of fun! Nice build. We sell Salsa at my shop, and there is a lot to like about their current crop of MTBs and gravel bikes. I also think the plus-size/mid-fat tire is a smart choice for a great mix of traction, fun, and decent speed off-road.

I enjoyed lots of singlespeeds for a couple decades, and even raced a few (but not at altitude!) so my hat is off to you, especially given that I suspect we can't be too far apart in age (I've been mountain biking since the early 90's) These days I'm fatter and lazier, so I'm not as adventurous as you and I'm usually on a geared bike.

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/15/20 6:45 a.m.

In reply to ae86andkp61 :

I'm 36, and I ride a Warbird on longer stuff, especially double track gravel. The TJ is for fun...

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
1/15/20 6:58 a.m.

I too love SS bikes. Back when I was riding I kind of always wanted to enter a race, but I never did. Big high five to you for actually doing it. 

Mndsm MegaDork
1/15/20 8:12 a.m.

Single speed bikes are awesome. They remind me of bmx bikes- with more forgiving geometry

93EXCivic MegaDork
1/15/20 9:11 a.m.

Nice. A single speed mtb is one of the few bikes I have left that I want.

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/19/20 2:01 p.m.

Very nice. I never got bitten by the single speed bug but I could definitely see the calling in the right scenario. 


Great job on the ride. 

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/19/20 5:09 p.m.

In reply to bmw88rider :

A lot of the terrain here is not what's considered "good" for singlespeed work. Long climbs and brutal steepness. IDC, I ride one anyways. Too steep, I walk. Too long, I take a breather. 
On the back side of the Grinder route, I hit a section after the major climbs where I was able to keep momentum up and brake minimally. I covered 4-5 miles without actively needing to pedal. It was a much-needed rest.

SnowMongoose SuperDork
1/19/20 5:35 p.m.

Reminds me of the first (and last) time I raced CX.  

Steel SS, two-ish sizes too small, flat bar, V-brakes.  

Avoided being DFL only because someone else DNFed.


Nice work!

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/19/20 6:23 p.m.

nice build! I ran a single speed Niner when they first came out. I'd love to get another one when I get back in riding shape. What's the weight on the bike? My niner was just under 20lbs before pedals running their carbon fork. Light is such a good thing with a single.

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/19/20 7:19 p.m.

In reply to ultraclyde :

27 lbs, with 3" wide tractor tires and no race components whatsoever. 

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/30/20 6:05 p.m.

In reply to Recon1342 :

That's a good way to look at it. I just finished my hardtail rebuild on an old DB frame I had. 1x11 with climbing gears since I live in the denver area. Time to start training since the weather is looking great. Can't wait till I can get it out to Moab. 

Recon1342 HalfDork
1/30/20 6:50 p.m.

In reply to bmw88rider :

You should post a thread.

Recon1342 HalfDork
2/1/20 12:16 p.m.

In reply to ultraclyde :

I did add a dropper post last summer. Added a wee bit of weight but made a huge difference in rideability...

golfduke HalfDork
2/19/20 2:16 p.m.

Singlespeeds are the best training tools!  I'm a fair weather mtb'er because I'm a baby and hate being cold and live in New England, but the first two weeks of mud season is on my Salsa Dos Niner that's SS converted.  It's a scandium softtail (1" pivotless rear travel), and it's my favorite bike I'll ever own and will never sell it, ever.  That bike is way more fun than it ever damn well should, being a singlespeed in pretty gnarly up/down terrain. 


2 weeks on a singlespeed and I'm back to pacing with my buddies who ride all year long on fatties.  It never fails me.

Recon1342 HalfDork
2/20/20 7:01 p.m.

In reply to golfduke :

They're awesome for training, aren't they?

They're also really good for making people look at you like you've got two heads...

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