After a brief intermission, we are back. With the arrival of Spring Break in Spokane, we didn't actually have much in the way of spring weather, but we did get a couple of clear days for riding our new single speed bikes around Riverside State Park. We have followed up with a couple of rides along the High Drive bluff trails, which my younger son has astutely pointed out either involve going up or going down, but not much else.
This is not the ideal terrain for single speed riders of modest abilities and I have questioned my own sanity in not only getting this bike for myself, but even more so for setting up my kids with these. So this begs the question, why?
Well, let me tell you. I personally am at a place where I like to have specialized bikes, not, mind you Specialized bikes, as I have issues with that brand from some prior experience, but rather bikes for particular purposes. I have a commuter bike and a race bike and a bike in-between. Similarly, I have a hard-tail, geared mountain bike, but was really attracted to the single speed ethos. My kids, on the other hand, are bike-deprived from my standpoint. They were on the verge of completely outgrowing their "kid" mountain bikes and said kid mountain bikes were of the 30-40 lb steel and bomb-proof variety. There really aren't many other choices for kids, but I think it is a bit insane that 50 lb kids ride 40 lb bikes. I mean, I would hate to ride a 250 lb bike and I'm reasonably sure that I would have a hard time getting it up a hill. It seems cruel to do that to kids, but that is what we do.
So, since the boys dig mountain biking more than road riding, and it is better suited for us as a family activity, I wanted to get the kids new mountain bikes. I also wanted to buy frames that were suitable for the next decade of riding for the boys. The next ten years will cross high school, college and graduate school or jobs or both. They may find themselves doing one or more of these activities: mountain biking, mtb racing, back-country or bike camping, commuting to school and/or work, and/or any variety of other biking-related acts.
The beauty of the Niner S.I.R. 9 frame is that it is suitable for any of these activities. It wouldn't be top-of-the-podium lightweight cross-country racing frame, but to paraphrase my friend A.M., this equipment won't be holding them back until they are a long way into racing. These frames are built up as single speeds, which the S.I.R. 9 accommodates with an eccentric bottom bracket, a removable derailleur hanger and appropriate drop-outs. These S.I.R. 9's have fixed forks, in order to reduce the overall weight and to reduce the impact on dad's pocket book slightly. The S.I.R. 9's can, however, take a shock fork to bump up the XC capability. The derailleur hanger can be added back and a rear derailleur can be hung on it. Which brings up the idea of a 1 x 10 bike, which is the latest and greatest development on the scene. Drop the front derailleur, the double or triple crank up front and add a SRAM 10-speed cassette and derailleur from their XX group. The S.I.R. 9 will also gladly take a front derailleur, however, if there is a need or desire to add that too. They can also go from big knobby Continental Mtn Kings to a slick tire and trade in the dirt trails for asphalt ones. They could even follow in their uncle's footsteps and set up more of a monster-cross bike and change out the flat bar for a drop set or some other shape or style. In other words, this bike isn't a specialist, it is a highly competent all-arounder. It won't be the ultimate bike in any category, but it will fit well into about six categories. Combine that with a size that was a skosh big 6 months ago, but now that kid one is 6' tall in his mtb shoes and the other one is wearing a size 12 mtb shoe, these bikes will get these guys through many happy years of their bike development.
Niner bikes calls this bike S.I.R. 9, which stands for Steel Is Real. These bikes are the real deal in lots of ways and were a great fit for the guys. So when I am questioning my plan to get these guys on single speeds, it is easy to go back and remember all of the good reasons we got on this path.