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Niner AIR 9 RDO Singlespeed Build for Psychos

Posted in: Blog
By Andy Brown
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Niner AIR 9 RDO Singlespeed Build for Psychos

Words and Photos by: Patrick Durkin

I’m not a certified; well I’m not certified to do anything really, I guess that’s beside the point. What I’m trying to say is, I’m not a bike mechanic or a frame builder or an expert of any kind. I love bikes, solving puzzles, getting dirty and making things. Sometimes, because a bug from each of these areas of interest starts to nibble at me, I decide to build a bike and hope I don’t end up breaking it.

Niner AIR 9 RDO

Why do we always hurt the ones we love…?

To my knowledge, there aren’t many psychotic, drooling, hill crushing single speeders out there that tip the scales around 225lbs. If there are, I’m most certainly the president of this tiny club of deranged cyclists. If you’re reading this and you happen to fit these parameters, please call me, I need friends.

Every bike I’ve ever built is an experiment. Yes, all of my experiments have failed. Thanks for pointing that out. Anyway, I learn something from every failure. That holds true in both bikes and life. Don’t worry, I won’t get all philosophical on you, but I’m going to relate this to another aspect of my life. Fighting people. Yep, you guessed it; the gigantic singlespeeding lunatic fights people in a cage in his spare time. Wow, who would have guessed?

I fight in the UFC against some of the best fighters in the world and I’ve lost more times than I care to admit. After the smoke clears and you stop beating yourself up over getting beat up (on TV, in front of millions of people, in your underwear) you figure out where you went wrong and you learn from it. This is called experience. People who work in an office or at the drive-thru or at the bank make mistakes and send a package to the wrong person, forget to hold the mayo or give someone the wrong change a few times. Eventually, they make fewer and fewer mistakes, get promoted and become experts in their fields. We’re all basically following the same format, however, some people choose a more extreme work environment than others. If that weren’t bad enough, on top of that they choose extreme hobbies as well.

AIR 9 RDO Patrick Durkins

This equation, one that holds true in most aspects of life, I’m using for Clydesdale bike building and I think I’m getting somewhere. If not, I’m riding a pretty sweet bicycle for a while, paying my respects, gaining knowledge and applying that to the next project. Since we started this discussion there’s been a lot of bicycle abuse talk. I think it’s about time I explain “breaking”. Let it be known to all, including the bike gods, I’m not a bike abuser or hucker and I never will be. I love bikes. I’m a cross-country rider. I love to climb (very aggressively). It’s a perfect low impact cross-training conditioning workout and like most hardtail or rigid riders, I enjoy picking my way through downhills and technical areas to avoid injuring myself and my bike. I like to save my injuries for the fight.

It’s hard to say for sure, but I’m pretty convinced that every bike that has met its end at the “hands” of my legs has happened while climbing. Seven bicycle frames of all materials and brands have met their maker while I’ve been in the saddle. Curiously, they’ve all broken in the same location, the rear triangle, and five out of the seven broken bicycles suffered from snapped driveside chainstays. Along with the frames, many parts have incurred mortal injuries as well; mostly expensive hubs and bottom brackets.

Enough of the backstory already, let’s get to the build. A build that is the sum of experience from breaking so many other frames. It is my hope that this build can withstand the pressures of a climbing Clydesdale. Sure suspension and gears might make a difference, but as I've stated before, I've got other priorities. As the title of this blog indicates, my frame of choice is the Niner AIR 9 RDO mountain bike. I chose carbon because it’s light, I currently have a steel singlespeed and an aluminum one, plus carbon dampens vibrations and provides a pretty fun hardtail ride. Niner’s RDO carbon “Race Day Optimized” is pretty unique. They use both internal and external frame molds so the carbon is tightly compacted for strength. They also torture test their frames so they can handle just about anything that’s thrown their way. Finally… a job I’m qualified for!! Sign me up guys.

I’m a big fan of the Biocentric 30 bottom bracket that Niner includes with this frame. It’s a simple and reliable way to keep your chain tension just right. Up front, when I decide that I want a little cushion, I go with Fox, in this case, the Fox Float 32 does the squishy trick. The lighter choice of fork would be to go with a RockShox SID, but those are for the dainty lads and ladies of mountain biking who weigh under two bills. 

Another area of mass destruction is the rear wheel. My wheel of choice that’s carrying almost all of my weight and is the epicenter of torque is a Niner carbon hoop laced to Chris King EVO hub. I’ve destroyed a few high-end hubs in my pedal mashing career and I’ve always heard that Chris King hubs are indestructible. I suppose I’ll be finding out. For science!

On just about every bike I’ve had in the most recent years I run Shimano XT hydro brakes with a 180mm rotor up front. I’ve found that they stop my huge ass better than everything I’ve ever tried. They’re pretty easy to bleed yourself, so I can save paying a hundo at the LBS to keep myself from dying while bombing a downhill. The drivetrain doesn’t often deviate from the Shimano team on my builds. When I want to shift, I like the sturdy ping of a Shimano XT shifter and derailleur. I’m not big on the XD driver hubs. Shimano keeps it simple, as a single speeder, I can appreciate that.

California AIR 9 RDO Niner Bikes

Lately, my oversized rump has been more than comfortable on a Fabric scoop saddle. They also have some pretty fun colors. A little flair never hurt anybody, hence the anodized blue Chromag handlebars. Since we're talking cockpits, I guess it’s time to tackle the ever-popular seatpost debate. Everyone loves to ask me why I don’t use a dropper post. As a simple singlespeed kinda guy, my philosophy is, mo moving parts, mo problems. The fact that I’m riding carbon aka plastic is really out of my comfort zone, so give me a little leeway here. I like to refer to dual suspension bikes as robots, and now that SRAM has just launched wireless shifting, robot seems appropriate. Don’t even get me started on e-bikes. It might be a bit of a stretch, but I’ve lumped the dropper post into the robot category as well. There’s something both nostalgic and exhilarating about sliding through a steep technical descent with your crotch behind the saddle. Like I’ve said countless times before, I’m a psycho.

Well there you have it, kids, my failure-ridden bike building past that’s littered with half a dozen frames, hubs, bottom brackets, cassettes, cogs, chainrings and crank arms has brought me here with high hopes and empty pockets. In the unlikely event that my experience lets me down, yet again, you’ll be asked to generously donate to a gofundme account that will benefit the intensely scientific research behind the supremely momentous field of Clydesdale Singlespeed Psychosis.

Thanks in advance,

Durkin

 

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