So Simple, So Fun – This Rigid Singlespeed 29er Will Blow You Away
Review and photo by: Scott Schekman
This is a long term review of my first 29er (of hopefully many), the Redline Monocog Flight 29er. This “Mono-cog deluxe” is not to be confused with the straight Redline Monocog. The Flight upgrades the quality of the cromoly frame, adds disc brakes, and sports a better set of wheels than a Plain Jane Monocog.
I bought my Monocog Flight as a complete rigid single speed in early 2008 for only $800. This was the retail price from my LBS, not an internet special. What I got for that price is a 4.75 pound (2.15 KG) Sanko cromoly steel frame and fork, Ritchey Pro riser bar and seat post, Avid BB5 mechanical brakes, a decent (although heavy) set of wheels, a FSA Alphadrive singlespeed crank set, and a pair of Maxxis Ignitor folding bead tires. A pretty fair deal, I thought.
For those still on the fence about the big wheel revolution (or the zealous converted looking for a quick ‘Amen’ line) let me begin with a little history of how I came to drink the 29er Kool-Aid before I get to the bike itself. I was riding pretty regularly with a friend who had been on wagon wheel bikes for some time and he had been telling me I should try one. I was somewhat resistant to the idea of these big wheelers since I had heard all the usual complaints; they handled like trucks, they were plagued by slow acceleration, etc. My friend kept after me, and he finally talked me into trying his wife’s 2007 Redline Flight rigid 29er singlespeed. I tried it out at our local trails on Lynchburg, VA’s Candler’s / Liberty Mountain. There were four of us meeting for that fateful afternoon ride. I was blown away and riding on a rigid at that! At that time I was planning on buying a Fisher Hifi demo bike, but it never happened once I had ridden the Redline. Two weeks after riding that Redline I had one of my own. Then I sold both of my 26ers and also bought a Salsa Mamasita frame, which I built up with gears and a Reba fork to go in the quiver with the Flight SS.
I have found the Redline Monocog Flight 29er to be an extremely versatile bike. I have ridden it configured as a rigid single speed, a geared rigid, and have softened up a bit with a Reba suspension fork. Right now it is back in rigid SS mode. The flexible Flight’s next use will probably be with taller gearing and shoed with cyclocross tires for some paved and gravel roads excursions. A pretty flexible cycle, wouldn’t you agree?
Piloting the Flight on single track, the first thing that I noticed was the accurate steering (with a rigid fork) and the good ride for no suspension. Pedaling responsiveness is good – not as good as the Salsa Mamasita, but the Redline is not advertised as a race bike. I did race it once when it had gears and a Reba and it carried itself quite well. For most of its life my Monocog Flight has been set up as a rigid SS, and that seems to suit it well. I switched to a tubeless wheelset and a fatter front tire so I could run lower air pressures for some cushion, but I am 54 years old and not as flexible as I used to be. The Monocog Flight frame uses sliders on the chain stays instead of an eccentric bottom bracket to tension the chain. They’ve worked well, and I have not had them slip since new.
Tight trail switchbacks? No problem. Fast sweeping turns? The Flight’s got ‘em. Rooty, rocky trails? If you remember this is full rigid and line choice is critical to keeping momentum, the Redline Monocog Flight will back up its BMX heritage in its bombproofness. Every time I rode this bike for the first year I was always smiling because it’s just that fun.
I think for a budget single speed 29er it is a tremendous deal; it does everything it should and does it all well. In the market for a 29er single speed? The Redline Flight deserves a serious look.
© 2010 Big Mountain Riding