So I sat down and said "what kind of a bike do I want?".

I ride mostly in the city, but I wanted something that I could take out to the trails. I don't do anything crazy... maybe a 2' drop at the most. Since I'm looking at bikes in the 1-1.5k price range, full-sus bikes are absolutely out. It seemed like a hardtail 29er was the way to go.

But then I got to doubting that I needed the front suspension either. Why not save money, weight, and maintenance? All I'm sacrificing is a little bit of off-road capacity.

So I went hunting for a non-sus 29er in the 1-1.5k price range. The only ones I can find are single-speeds. Really? I'm a spinner, and there's no way I'm doing that.

What do I do? (feel free to shoot down the theory that I don't need a front suspension)

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    Find a model with niceish (if you can) componentry and a cheap suspension fork, then sell the fork and use that money plus hopefully some you've saved to buy a nice carbon fork (suspension corrected of course). – Deleted User Jan 16 '15 at 0:53
  • @ChrisinAK I would come at it from the other direction. You don't get much for a used cheap fork and a nice carbon is $300. You can pick up a (nice) used 9 speed cassette, derailure, and shifter for like $150. You can get a decent SS like a Crave SL with carbon fork for $1350 retail and less on sale or used. And now you also have a SS if you want to to slum. – paparazzo Jan 16 '15 at 2:03
  • @Blam, also a way to go. I am biased against single speeds, but if you were doing all your own work that might be fine. Labor for a fork swap is likely cheaper than a drivetrain installation at a shop. – Deleted User Jan 16 '15 at 2:24
  • @ChrisinAK Not arguing but a new Niner carbon fork is $400+ and used is $200+ and a used carbon fork is a risk. I think it is more economical to add drive train (even if you are paying for labor). If you are going to spend $400 on a carbon fork I would say just put $400 more into a nicer hard tail and ride it. In AK I am surprised you don't have A beater SS. – paparazzo Jan 16 '15 at 2:50
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    Have you considered cyclocross bike? From your description of the riding you will do they sound ideal. – mattnz Jan 16 '15 at 3:58

The 29ers without front suspension exist, but they are a bit pricey since they come from niche manufacturers. Many people want SS drivetrains since they want pure simplicity.

Surly ships some of their complete bikes such as the Ogre as rigid 29'ers (the Karate Monkey can also take gears).

There are some other options though. One common option is the Kona Unit which has a derailleur hanger which you can order from Kona as seen here: enter image description here

Or an internal gear hub as seen here: enter image description here

Note that both these options require at a minimum a new rear wheel for the Unit.

Also, note that Surly sells their rigid forks as well as do companies like On-one and what not, so you can get one installed after market.

Finally, yet another option: Get 2 bikes (something cheap and not likely to be stolen for city use, one for trail use).

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  • I did not think about some ss wheels would not be compatible +1 – paparazzo Jan 16 '15 at 17:58

Typicall fixed fork only come with single speed.
So you are stuck with:

  • Replace a suspension for a fixed
  • Add gears to a single speed

Don't do it unless you are going to get a good carbon fork and that is $300+. It is nice for weight and does not wear out but it is not cheaper than low to mid range shock.

I think it is more economical to add gears to a single speed. If you can keep the wheel. SS with an eccentric bb they typically use a standard wheel and free hub. I think the Salsa alternate dropout also take a a standard wheel and free hub. With most ss you can can add gears. You can get some used gears from someone that upgraded for decent price.

Or ride a hard tail until you wear out the shock and then decide.

How about shoot down the theory you need gears?
A single speed is more versatile than you would think.

I would not go single speed to cheap it.
If you do, go with nice carbon fork.
And some nice tubeless wheels.
With a suspension the tubeless gives you a bit more give.
And you can go 2.4 in and still be less weight than a shock.

You get more ground clearance.

And go with clip (e.g. spd) for more hop and two leg pull for when you stall out.

You can change out the rear cog from ride to ride.
Typical gearing is 2:1 (32 16) and I have 18 and 20.
It climbs OK - where you have trouble is if you stall out on like rock or root.
It forces you to be a better rider.
The solid frame and low weight is an efficient climber.

And you can add gears. They typically come with a regular wheel with a conversion kit and a derailleur hanger.

I got one used cheap to learn technique and found I really enjoy it.
This is a bike I picked up used for $850 - I bought it basically for the fork.

Orbea SS conversion

There is some discussion on conversion:

This is multi speed that was converted to SS

This is a mountain bike purchase as a SS
enter image description here

As you can see the wheel hub is the same. The difference is the conversion has the chain tensioner. This designed SS has an eccentric bb to adjust chain tension.

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  • If a stiff fork is gonna cost me more than a suspension one, than I'd rather have the suspension fork, even though it's heavier and requires maintenance. This makes a traditional hardtail 29er the obvious decision for me. U agree? – BSO rider Jan 16 '15 at 21:32
  • Actually, what I want is a semi-capable mountain bike with a full set of gears. All I did was ask if there was a non-sus fork option. You seem to have confirmed that it doesn't exist. – BSO rider Jan 16 '15 at 22:43
  • What? The stated question is "I ride mostly in the city, but I wanted something that I could take out to the trails." That is not even close to "I want is a semi-capable mountain bike with a full set of gears". – paparazzo Jan 17 '15 at 1:57
  • As you can see in my initial reasoning, I find a hardtail 29er with a full set of gears to be right down that alley. I'm sorry that you disagree. – BSO rider Jan 17 '15 at 21:25
  • If you know your answer then why is your question advice on what kind of bike? Did you do it just to not get shut down on product recommendation? – paparazzo Jan 17 '15 at 22:07

The Surly Ogre has the same geometry as one of the original rigid 29ers, the Karate Monkey. The complete version with 3x9 drivetrain is at the top end of your $1000-$1500 price range.

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