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Old 05-28-09, 11:20 PM   #1
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1x9 road bike concerns.

I'd like to build a 1x9 light steel-framed road bike.

Currently I ride a 30/42/52 32-11 and I very rarely use the large chainring (I don't ride that fast). I like to go slow up steep hills (for a roadie), but I really prefer just to coast or spin fast going down those hills. Speed scares me. So I'm pretty sure I'd like 1x9 gearing, probably a 36T or 38T chainring with a 34-11 cassette. I know I need to center the chainring and put a chain guard on the outside of the chainring to keep the chain on. I need help on the following issues:

1. Frame. I'd like a light, comfortable steel frame I can use for centuries and light/medium touring. I'm riding 99% of the time on paved roads, and only hard-packed dirt when there's no other way. I have no plans to race. I'm 5' 11" (180 cm) tall and weigh 150 lb (68 kg). Inseam = 32 in. I like caliper-style brakes. I don't care about being able to fit wide tires or fenders. I don't ride in the rain or mud.

So the 58 cm Soma Smoothie ES with the carbon fork looks about right. chainstay length = 430 mm. Any thoughts? Anyone ride a 1x9 Smoothie ES? I find a lot of Surly Cross Check 1x9s on Google and Flickr, but no Somas. Will a 1x9 Smoothie ES work? Any other frame recommendations?

2. Chain. How can I know that the chain won't rub on the outer chainstay? Is the only way to find a normally geared (2x9 or 3x9) Smoothie ES and see how close it is?

3. Derailleur. I've read that a short-cage derailleur is best for a 1x9. I figure I'd get a Deore XT. So now there's a choice between high-normal and low-normal. Any particular advantage for either type on a 1x9 road bike, or is this just personal preference?

4. Hubs. Mountain or road? Any difference here? Again just personal preference?

5. Shifters. Do all types (brifter, rapid-fire, down-tube, bar-end) work with 9-speed mountain rear derailleurs? I'm not sure which type I want yet.

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Old 05-29-09, 12:09 AM   #2
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I'm not sure about the other questions, but here are some responses to your latter two:

Originally Posted by nauboone View Post
4. Hubs. Mountain or road? Any difference here? Again just personal preference?
Generally, for rear hubs the mountain version 135 mm wide, the road is 130 mm wide (for the front they are both the same, 100mm). It's best to buy the hub size that the frame you buy is designed for, although the difference is small so you can normally make either size work if you really want. I believe the main mechanical difference is that the bearing are a bit larger in mountain hubs, and everything is a bit beefier and heavier.

Originally Posted by nauboone View Post
5. Shifters. Do all types (brifter, rapid-fire, down-tube, bar-end) work with 9-speed mountain rear derailleurs? I'm not sure which type I want yet.
Yes, you can get a 9-speed version of any of those types, and all Shimano 9-speed stuff is compatible with each other, you can mix and match mountain derailleurs and road levers without any problem.
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Old 05-29-09, 12:17 AM   #3
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Welcome, Nauboone,

My compliments on the organization of your post. You asked a lot of questions! One of my bikes is a CX'er that has been set up in the past as a 1x9... I can answer some of your queries...

You don't need a special frame to build up a 1x9. The secret lies in maintaining a good chainline, which as you know requires that you center the chainring. Do that and you avoid a few problems. Also, your chain will definitely not encounter the chainstay.

I'd personally suggest that you use the middle ring on your current triple (I ran a 42 on my bike with a 12-27 cassette and thought it was perfect). Just remove the other rings, install a chainwatcher and bash guard and you are set. If your bottom bracket is the one that came with the crank your chainline should already fall on the cassette's middle cog.

There won't be a noticeable difference between short and long cage derailleurs. You can use a short cage because you no longer have the 22-tooth difference between the large and small chainrings to worry about anymore, but you don't need to replace your current one if it's working well.

Hubs and wheels will be dictated by your frame. A road rear wheel takes 130mm spacing; mountain is 135. There are frames that split the difference to accommodate both. There are some sturdy road wheels and some decently light mountain wheels... I'd let geometry and comfort dictate my frame choice, not rear dropout spacing.

If you are really going to ride centuries and tour on this bike my strong personal bias would be to stick with drop bars. You can still use bar ends, brifter or downtube shifters. These all work with mtn derailleurs. I would suggest not mixing manufacturers or speeds unless you know what you are doing, though it is possible.

I hope this helps a bit. A 1x9 is a great, simple way to ride. Keep up the diligent research and you will build up a bike that you'll love.

By the way Paul's has just released a beautiful chainkeeper that might simplify things a bit for you. Here's a link:

Good luck with the build. I know more members will be posting answers for you. Check over in the CX forum. A lot of those guys have experience putting together this type of drivetrain.

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Old 06-01-09, 04:05 PM   #4
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Thanks DWR,

I'll re-post my questions in the CX and road bike forums if no one else replies.
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Old 06-01-09, 05:10 PM   #5
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you don't really need a bash guard or chain keeper with 1x9 road setup.
you can just line up your FD and adjust the limit screws if you're that worried about your chain falling off.

the longer your chainstays, the less extreme the chain angle is. with less chain angle it is very unlikely to jump the teeth on the chainring.
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Old 06-01-09, 08:12 PM   #6
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+1 to AEO's comment.

In my experience, using a rivet chain and a no-ramp/no-pin SS front chainring helped immensely with my previous issues of chainsuck (where the off-line chain is sucked up at the bottom of the crank, and off the chainring---very irritating).

i run a 42t x 11-34, with the center more or less on my #5 gear (in my case, using a 107mm BB and a Sugino single crank, which is actually a double anyway); the drivetrain makes some noise on the #1 and #9 rear gears, but i don't notice any real performance hits (either the incline of the hill is a greater obstacle, or the drag of my body in the wind).

but the best part you probably already know: riding the 1x9 is loads of fun. good luck on yours!
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