Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
WillWorkForTrail
Joined
·
4,989 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have this long story that ends like this: My SS frame is broken, the one I wanted isn't available, and won't be for 5 months. So I'm considering having one built. But if I did that, I'd want to really get it right, know what I mean? So amuse and enlighten me while I contemplate this one.

You have free reign. Design your perfect SS frame. Steep head angle or slack? CS length? Brazons? Cable bosses? Can the bike run a derailleur? What about drop outs? This is my big one, I hate having to fiddle with the rear brake after adjusting the chain - I want the rear brake mount on the sliders. Which means I want sliders. Seat tube size? Head tube size? Straight for a thin classic look, or tapered so you can run whatever you want? I assume steel frames. What kind of tubing, anyone have a preference?

Go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
861 Posts
"Perfect" will come back to what you want in terms of handling.

I am a hobby builder and at least for 2014 don't sell frames. I only ride single speed and often think design in the context of a single speed ride. I can ramble a bit about what I like in a build.

I focus on XC style riding with a nod to endurance events like NUE 100 mile racing. In many ways I think of the bikes I like as performance oriented vs. down hill or jump bikes.

For head tube angle, my experience tells me that 71 (or even steeper) is pretty good for single speed XC. We climb out of the saddle most of the time and steeper headtube angles help for climbing. In the course of a long day you spend a lot of time climbing so I think this is where you want to optimize vs. downhill performance.

Getting a low front end is an issue on 29ers so unless you are super tall I would run a 100mm fork. If you are short you may even want an 80mm fork. Personally I am able to ride a frame designed around 100mm fork with my stem mounted without any spacers.

Bottom bracket height is an area to watch. The height of the BB has a huge impact on how the bike will ride. IMHO you want something in the range of 305mm to 315mm height. If it is too high the bike becomes less friendly and if it is too low you get too many pedal strikes.

Long cockpit so you can stretch out. I have been using 73mm seat tubes angles on my builds but next time will go to a 72mm seat tube angle to help keep weight back. For the length of the bike I think a longer front center and shorter stem works better then using a shorter frame and longer stem. Shoot for a build that fits you well when you are running a 70mm or 80mm stem. Often this will mean using one size larger when looking at stock frames.

I have sliders on my bikes but keep thinking about doing EBB eventually. In some ways I think EBB is the way to go but paragon sliders are the gold standard for creakfree reliability. Eventually I will build myself a frame with EBB but really that is just to save weight and because I think it looks better.

For tubing there are good and bad choices. I think Reynolds 853 with DBZ butting is top shelf. Stay away from anything that is ultra light unless it is a race day build and you are willing to accept that there is a risk that the frame will break. The best tubesets include factory bends in the downtube for clearing the fork crown. These down tube bends also improve the way stresses are distributed in a critical area. Some builds also include bends in seat tubes and top tubes for reasons of fit and having short chainstays.

Chainstays should be short but there is no need to get crazy. Building around 430mm gives you a pretty sweet ride. On a 29er things get tight so good layout is critical to having proper tire clearance.

On a modern bike, do 44mm headtube and PF30 style bottom bracket shell. These are the new standards. The old standards will die out in the next few years.

Cables should be along the bottom of the top tube and down the underside of the seat stay. One set of guides on the top tube. No cable guides should exist for gears (unless you have some inner mental weakness). That said I have guides for gears on some of my bikes but currently my SS is a "pure" build.

The most critical thing IMHO is the actual build quality. Welds should be clean and everything should be setup with proper alignment with dimensions in tight tolerances. Water bottle bosses placement should be in the exact as should the placement of all cable guides. The little details are actually just as important as the big picture.

Good luck with your build.... Make it special and make it reflect what YOU WANT.
 

·
WillWorkForTrail
Joined
·
4,989 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Question:

What, where and how hard do you ride?
I should be more clear. I want to know what YOUR perfect SS frame is. I sort of know what mine is. Sadly, it doesn't exist. Consider this a feeler for whether there is some consensus about what a good SS frame SHOULD be, and a search to see if that consensus frame exists. If it doesn't....well, lets just say I might not wait 5 months for a frame.
 

·
WillWorkForTrail
Joined
·
4,989 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
"Perfect" will come back to what you want in terms of handling.

I am a hobby builder and at least for 2014 don't sell frames. I only ride single speed and often think design in the context of a single speed ride. I can ramble a bit about what I like in a build.

I focus on XC style riding with a nod to endurance events like NUE 100 mile racing. In many ways I think of the bikes I like as performance oriented vs. down hill or jump bikes.

For head tube angle, my experience tells me that 71 (or even steeper) is pretty good for single speed XC. We climb out of the saddle most of the time and steeper headtube angles help for climbing. In the course of a long day you spend a lot of time climbing so I think this is where you want to optimize vs. downhill performance.

Getting a low front end is an issue on 29ers so unless you are super tall I would run a 100mm fork. If you are short you may even want an 80mm fork. Personally I am able to ride a frame designed around 100mm fork with my stem mounted without any spacers.

Bottom bracket height is an area to watch. The height of the BB has a huge impact on how the bike will ride. IMHO you want something in the range of 305mm to 315mm height. If it is too high the bike becomes less friendly and if it is too low you get too many pedal strikes.

Long cockpit so you can stretch out. I have been using 73mm seat tubes angles on my builds but next time will go to a 72mm seat tube angle to help keep weight back. For the length of the bike I think a longer front center and shorter stem works better then using a shorter frame and longer stem. Shoot for a build that fits you well when you are running a 70mm or 80mm stem. Often this will mean using one size larger when looking at stock frames.

I have sliders on my bikes but keep thinking about doing EBB eventually. In some ways I think EBB is the way to go but paragon sliders are the gold standard for creakfree reliability. Eventually I will build myself a frame with EBB but really that is just to save weight and because I think it looks better.

For tubing there are good and bad choices. I think Reynolds 853 with DBZ butting is top shelf. Stay away from anything that is ultra light unless it is a race day build and you are willing to accept that there is a risk that the frame will break. The best tubesets include factory bends in the downtube for clearing the fork crown. These down tube bends also improve the way stresses are distributed in a critical area. Some builds also include bends in seat tubes and top tubes for reasons of fit and having short chainstays.

Chainstays should be short but there is no need to get crazy. Building around 430mm gives you a pretty sweet ride. On a 29er things get tight so good layout is critical to having proper tire clearance.

On a modern bike, do 44mm headtube and PF30 style bottom bracket shell. These are the new standards. The old standards will die out in the next few years.

Cables should be along the bottom of the top tube and down the underside of the seat stay. One set of guides on the top tube. No cable guides should exist for gears (unless you have some inner mental weakness). That said I have guides for gears on some of my bikes but currently my SS is a "pure" build.

The most critical thing IMHO is the actual build quality. Welds should be clean and everything should be setup with proper alignment with dimensions in tight tolerances. Water bottle bosses placement should be in the exact as should the placement of all cable guides. The little details are actually just as important as the big picture.

Good luck with your build.... Make it special and make it reflect what YOU WANT.
Mark, glad to hear you chime in on this so thoroughly. It's worth noting that I follow your blog with some regularity, and great interest in your builds. Your notion of geometry is pretty much spot on with what I like, I consider myself an "old school east coast XC" guy. If I get desperate for a frame, I'd actually considered asking you if you'd consider building one, in spite of it being a hobby. But there are a couple of people on my list. Regardless, thanks again, and keep up the good work. I enjoy your thoughts on your frame builds, and your experience actually makes me consider wanting to build a frame myself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
861 Posts
....I'd actually considered asking you if you'd consider building one, in spite of it being a hobby. But there are a couple of people on my list.
I did some soul searching a while back. I am not ready to build for others. At least in 2014 there is zero chance. I need to develop the "little" things in my fabrication skills and also want to play with materials some more. There are also plenty of really good builders so I am sure you will find a good builder.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,144 Posts
If I were building a custom single speed right now, it would probably be a titanium 29er+. The geometry would be a blend of the Krampus and the Honzo. Long top tube, slack front, short chainstays, with Paragon sliders. 44mm head tube. 73mm threaded BB. (I disagree with Farnsworth about pressfit BBs becoming the standard and even if that is true, there will be plenty of threaded BBs available for decades to come). No provision for running gears, but definitely two water bottle mounts. Since we're talking fantasy, I'd probably design it around a 120mm Lefty fork.
 

·
HTFU!
Joined
·
755 Posts
Some good responses. Though I live in CA, I once lived in NC and have ridden with Mark, seen his builds, know his passion and consider him a friend. His advice is always worth listening to when it comes to bikes, geometry etc.. The only advice I won't take from him has to do with nutrition/diet but that is another story/thread. ;)
With that said, I clearly also agree with Thor29. I recently decided to build my ultimate SS but was not going the route of a custom frame. I ended up going with a Carver Gnarvester and could not be more pleased. The frame can hold 3" tires with ease but you can also throw standard tires on there no problem (and shorten your chainstay/wheelbase). The paragon sliders work flawlessly giving you the option of a killer SS but the flexibility of a 1x setup in the future. The bike looks beautiful but also gives you confidence in tackling the roughest terrain. Now of course mine is rigid. But there are susp. forks available for bigger tires. Maybe keep a rigid and susp. fork around to swap out? So many possibilities.
Good Luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,321 Posts
I've done a lot of thinking about this, and it is basically my karate monkey without cable routing and derailleur hanger. Couldn't justify building a custom SS if those are the only differences so abandoned that idea (for now).

One thing I would really like to try if going custom is an uncorrected geometry - feel like this should quicken up the steering a fair bit, especially when paired with the steep head angles I tend to like. But I can't find a bike like this to test out all that easily.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
861 Posts
I ended up going with a Carver Gnarvester and could not be more pleased. The frame can hold 3" tires with ease but you can also throw standard tires on there no problem (and shorten your chainstay/wheelbase). The paragon sliders work flawlessly giving you the option of a killer SS but the flexibility of a 1x setup in the future. The bike looks beautiful but also gives you confidence in tackling the roughest terrain. Now of course mine is rigid. But there are susp. forks available for bigger tires. Maybe keep a rigid and susp. fork around to swap out? So many possibilities.
Good Luck!
I must say the Gnarvester looks really nice!

I think a lot of the bike brands have done a pretty good job with geometry. The bar on build quality is also really high. Bikes are cool and there are tons of great options.

As my friend James points out, big tire clearance is something that is nice to have. Bikes that can run 3" tires are also great with 2.0" tires for a day when you get mud caked and/or break a spoke. There is a weight hit for when you put in the special stays and/or yoke need to support the fat rubber and a potential downside for some pedaling styles in terms of heel and calf clearance but it is something to consider especially for riding rigid. Dang, now that this is in my head I may eventually go 29+ although with the way my calves already get close to the seat stays I may not be a good candidate for fat or even semi fat bikes.

Ti is also really nice stuff. It's pricey and I have never owned a Ti bike but the metal is cool and saves about a pound or two vs. a steel bike.
 

·
On wuss patrol
Joined
·
5,159 Posts
I think Ti is the way to go if I were to have something built. 69-70 degree HA. 16.8" minimum CS. Threaded BB. Paragon sliders cuz I'm not much a fan of EBB. Kinda in the mode of a more trail oriented hard tail.

I also like the off-the-shelf steel frames from Spot, although they are more XC oriented.
 

·
WillWorkForTrail
Joined
·
4,989 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I did some soul searching a while back. I am not ready to build for others. At least in 2014 there is zero chance. I need to develop the "little" things in my fabrication skills and also want to play with materials some more. There are also plenty of really good builders so I am sure you will find a good builder.
Thats cool - I appreciate the honesty and openness. I'm going to keep watching and see what you come up with, regardless.
 

·
WillWorkForTrail
Joined
·
4,989 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Lots of Ti being talked about. Long story short. I talked to an engineer for a fairly well known US based Ti frame builder, and after about 45 minutes face to face, he looked me in the eye and said "If you're as hard on frames as you claim, which at your size seems very feasible, my advice to you is a steel frame." Mind you, I was talking to him to see about having them build me a frame. He was going to make money off me, and basically turned it away, because they don't do steel frames.

I've seriously considered the Krampus actually, mostly because the other frame I was looking at was the KM. But, alas, no 22" frames available for the KM, and the new frames (OPS, MDS) aren't showing availability until September in 22". I'd been looking at the KM for a while, and been in money saving mode for it since I knew the old frame was on it's way out well before it let go. Sadly, having saved enough money for the KM != having saved enough for a Krampus. But if I'm back in saving mode/waiting mode (the new KM frame is significantly more expensive than the old one) then I just as well spin the selection wheel again and see what happens.
 

·
Clyde on a mission!
Joined
·
719 Posts
I've done a lot of thinking about this, and it is basically my karate monkey without cable routing and derailleur hanger. Couldn't justify building a custom SS if those are the only differences so abandoned that idea (for now).
I'm always a bit puzzled on how people pick the geometry of a custom frame.

I know the idea of a custom frame is that you can have it tailored exactly to your liking, but unless you're willing to go through a lot of trial and error there is no real way to know what works for you - unless you copy an existing geometry that you've already ridden and found to your liking.

Your idea of a karate monkey without cable routing and hanger is exactly how I would order a custom build. A geometry I already know and like, shave off the stuff that I don't need or like, and finally shed some weight by building in a lighter material.

One thing I would really like to try if going custom is an uncorrected geometry - feel like this should quicken up the steering a fair bit, especially when paired with the steep head angles I tend to like. But I can't find a bike like this to test out all that easily.
Could work perfect for you - or you might just end up having blow a big pile of cash on a frame that doesn't ride nice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,321 Posts
Could work perfect for you - or you might just end up having blow a big pile of cash on a frame that doesn't ride nice.
And thats why I have a custom SS-able cross bike now, and not a custom SS-only 29er :) Still have a lugged SS-only KM clone on my wishlist though.

Cotharyus - I was thinking about your "predicament" on my way into work today and have some other thoughts.

tubing: If you do go custom, we ended up using true temper verus HT on my cross frame (same stuff my waltworks fork is made out of). It seems like the OX platinum might have been a bit too flexy at my advanced weight (normally around 220-225). Only place we couldn't use it was the chainstays, because we needed a wider-spaced 68mm BB shell to accomodate my tires - probably not a concern with a mountain bottom bracket, but I do appreciate the extra stiffness the straight-gauge chainstays provide in the rear. I assume this stuff is a good bit lighter than normal cromoly, been satisfied with it so far.

headtube: If you are going to be running suspension its probably worth doing a 44mm headtube but I like the look of thinner tubes (its a sickness - my cross bike has a 1" steerer).

sliders: Never used em with disk brakes but the paragon stuff feels really well made and I wouldn't hesitate to build with them again.

Whatever you end up doing, post back with pictures :)
 

·
Space Ghost
Joined
·
962 Posts
I just ordered a ROS9. I owned a gen 1 CB N9. Perfect to me would be a Ti420 SS specific with a 120 fork. Possibly a LES29 SS, but with 142x12 rr. My problem is I want an AM capable bike with the weight and handling of a XC bike. Light, cheap, strong, pick two. For me the ROS should have most of the ability I want, and with a 120 (instead of a 140), it should be better in the tight twisties and longer XC hauls. It will be heavy though. By the way, I can't afford the LES or the Carver. Best of luck to you though.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,320 Posts
Reading with interest, as I too seek the holy grail of SS frames. Been giving much thought to the 29+ platform although tire choice is non-existent, it does provide some future in fat(ter) tires. What I don't get is mfg's continuing to build SS 29ers with long-ish 17"+ stays that lack room for a 2.4 tire.
My list of wants are; sliders, sub 17" stays, 70-71 HA, 73mm threaded BB,
Agree with much of febikes post, but am vehemently against press fit BB's. If $ weren't an issue the "44" bike that Vic had built hits all the buttons. Like the Gnarvester idea, and as a Clyde, I too wonder about Ti durability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
887 Posts
My "perfect" is always changing. One day it's my SS Pug, the next it's some imaginary SS cross-ish bike that can take fatter tires. Dunno if a perfect bike exists, but this and other McClungs are right up there near perfect to my eyes and ideas of bikes. When I see these bikes I think, "that's how a bike should look".

 

·
No Clue Crew
Joined
·
7,704 Posts
Interesting thread.

Mine:

I'd pick Ti, but based on the OP's statements, whatever steel tubing your builder recommends. 68-69-ish HA, relatively long TT, 44 head tube, built to run 100 or 120 fork, 17-ish chain stays with Paragon sliders, threaded BB, I'd probably go for a 30.9 seat tube, no accommodations at all for cable stops, derailleurs, etc.
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top