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.