Suburban Assault

Street Ready Redline Monocog 29er

with 37 comments

Redline Monocog, Single Speed 29er

Stock 2008 Redline Monocog 29er

I was looking for an off-road bike back in late 2008, and decided to go with a single speed 29er. After reading some great reviews in Mountain Bike Action Magazine, I narrowed my choices down to either a Haro Mary SS or a Redline Monocog 29er – both reasonably priced, good performers. Unfortunately, my local bike shops had trouble keeping them in inventory, so test rides were hard to come by.

I finally stumbled across one in early 2009. Richardson Bike Mart happened to have a 2008 Redline Monocog 29er on clearance and was priced to sell quickly. The frame size was actually large and I’m, borderline, sized to fit most mediums – I took a test ride anyway. Sure enough, it fit in both length and height and I immediately fell in love with the ride. It was mine.

Little did I know that my intent to get back on the trails would dwindle as my love for street riding grew. The fate of my new off-road bike was that it never actually got off-road. I still enjoy riding it around town, and with a few tweaks over the years, I finally turned it to a nice street bike.

Drivetrain
The first thing that I had to change was the gearing. Since it was an off road bike, it was geared for low-end torque to power through rough terrain and rocky climbs. The stock set-up was a 32-tooth chainring paired with a 20-tooth cog. This sucker was slow on the streets with a 1.6 gear ratio. My first thought was to put a 48-tooth chainring on the front to bring it to a 2.4 gear ratio, but my bike shop guy talked me into a much cheaper solution – replacing the cog from the 20 to a 15-tooth. This brought it to the current set up to 32/15, a nicer 2.13 ratio. Still slow, but for the price of $15, I can live with it for a while.

Update: scroll down to the bottom to see the newest update to the chainring.

20 to 15

Handling
The next change was the handlebars. The stock bars on the Monocog are wide – which I guess is standard for mountain bikes ( This is what the stock bars looked like). I prefer a narrow bar to give me quicker, more responsive turns. Instead of buying a new bar, I opted to just take a hacksaw to the stock one. With a little over an inch and a half off of each side and some new Lizard Skin lock grips, my turn was greatly improved.

Update: Scroll down to see how I’ve updated – somewhat reverted –  back to some wider bars.

Riding The New Bike Lane

Mounting
I’ve changed out the pedals several different times. The first switch was from the stock pedals to clipless, Shimano SPD pedals – which are my default choice for mountain biking. Since I never got this bike off-road, I found clicking in and out at every stoplight quite annoying. Not wanting to completely give up on SPD, I tried a hybrid Campus Pedal from Performance, giving me a flat pedal on one side for quick mounts.

I would have been happy staying with those pedals, but I was lucky enough to win a pair of really awesome VP-Components, VP-001s. Read my review on the pedals to see how much I love these things and why they’re my final choice.

VP-001 on the Redline

Gripping the Road
The Monocog still wasn’t completely street smart, so my next big upgrade was the rubber. The Monocog’s stock WTB knobbies, which were designed for some serious off-road traction, did not perform well on the street. Unfortunately, finding fat 29″ street tires in my local bike shops was next to impossible. I eventually found these Serfas Drifter City Tires at my local REI at a nicely discounted price. I was immediately impressed with the improved performance and traction of these tires. Also, their beefy 2.0 width keeps the pavement cracks and potholes from rattling my bones.

Rubber

Street Converted Monocog

That’s it for now. Slowly, I’ve managed to get this off-road beast converted to a slick, suburban assault machine.  If I were to make more upgrades in the future, I might look into a bigger chainring and a fancy saddle.

Street Converted Monocog Goodness

Street Converted Redline Monocog 29er

Click here to see all the pics of my Monocog.

UPDATE:

Through some wheeling and dealing (via sales, coupons and Team Performance points), I was able to obtain a Brooks, B-17 Saddle for quite a bit under suggested retail. Admittedly, at first, I wanted the Brooks because they look pretty cool. But it didn’t seem very practical having one on a utility, street scooter like this – but rather some fancy, expensive, custom built frame. Plus, having never sat on one, I couldn’t imagine anything built without a pad could even be comfortable. However, everybody that owns a Brooks, swears by them. Because of that, plus the incredible amount of heritage and craftsmanship that goes into their products, I had to take advantage of that special price and try one out.

The B-17 is one of the best upgrades that I’ve ever made to any bike. I was wrong to think that such a nice saddle should only be attached to just nice bikes. This saddle looks good, and improves the look of ANY bike – new or old. The styling is classic and timeless. Also to my surprise, the comfort of the B-17 is amazing, and is expected to get better as the saddle wears in over the years. I expect to upgrade all of my bikes – even the ones that I don’t own yet – to a Brooks Saddle, as soon as I can afford them.

Redline Monocog

Monocog With Updated Brooks B-17 Saddle

ANOTHER UPDATE:

Wanting to get more speed, I decided to upgrade my drivetrain again. This time I switched out my chainring from the stock 32T to a 36T. This will bring my gear ratio from the original 1.6 (32 front, 20 back) to a 2.4 (36 front, 15 back). Here is my write up on the not-so-fun experience ordering the part, as well as the unexpected problem installing it.

32 to 36

New Chainring

36T

ANOTHER UPDATE:

I was able to pick up another pair of the VP Components, VP-001 pedals – this set in black. Now, Monica is looking like a slick ninja. The old pair of VP-001 pedals went to my other bike.

Redline VP

Ninja Monica

ANOTHER UPDATE:

During last year’s work commute, I noticed that my hands were getting numb because of extended periods of time keeping them in the same position. I added some old bar ends back to my other bike, and having multiple places for different had positions seemed to help. Unfortunately, when I ‘trimmed’ the bars on THIS bike, I made them too narrow to add bar ends. I had to get a new handlebar.

I ended up getting a cheap Ritchey Comp riser bar. In spite of the instructions that came with it (see pic below), it was quite easy to install. I’m keeping the really wide stock width for now, but I may end up trimming them a little bit down the road. The new bars, along with some cheap bar ends, definitely gives me more hand position options.

Installation Instructions

Check out the installation instructions that came with these. Wow!

Wide Stance

Put The Old Bar Ends Back On

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37 Responses

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  1. Awesome post! Good looking bike and I like the photos! I’m looking to get something a little bigger than the Redline BMX I’ve had since high school – this would fit the bill nicely, will have to look into them.

    David Wilson

    April 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    • That’s exactly the reason it was love at first ride for me. It reminded me of a large BMX bike.

      dickdavid

      April 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  2. It sounds like it is shaping up very nicely. Is there a way to mount a rear rack to the bike? I’d like to see a head-to-head between your pedals and my Shimano PD-A530.

    Steve A

    April 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    • Unfortunately, no on the rack mounts. I’d have to use attachment hardware.

      I’ll have to check out those Shimanos.

      dickdavid

      April 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

  3. Well done, and nicely documented. Those monocogs keep calling me.

    pondero

    April 23, 2011 at 5:23 am

  4. Nice Cog, got one myself but went the dirt mod on mine but I am a fan of the bike no matter which direction the owner decides to take it. Inexpensive, modifiable, durable and simple; whats not to love.

    Rob

    April 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm

  5. Nice post! We love it.
    As for the rear rack – we’d suggest a post-mounted rack; like the XLC or Topeak “Beam”.

    Redliine Bicycles

    April 25, 2011 at 8:40 am

    • Thanks for the rack suggestion, Redline.

      I’m still a fan of the simplicity of this ride – much like your Urbis – so I’ll probably hold off with weighing it down for utility just yet.

      dickdavid

      April 25, 2011 at 9:36 am

  6. […] back in early 2009, with the intention of taking it off road but never have (read more about it here). Because it is one of my favorite bikes, I have a Conquest Sport high on my wish […]

  7. […] been documenting the conversion of my Redline Monocog, single-speed mountain bike, to a street-ready, Suburban […]

  8. Nice Brooks!

    Jenny R.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm

  9. im running a 42t front chainring and a 16t rear cog on mine but i think the 2010 bb width is a bit wider than yours… look into upgrading the crankset. ive ordered shimano slx double 2×9 cranks and going to run it single speed. great reviews on those cranks and they are cheap and super durable. also bb7s would be a good upgrade also… i went with schwalbe big apples but your tires look very nice… i like the amount of tread they give you vs the big apples but we will see how long they last… i also cut down my bars about an inch and a quarter on each side… made such a difference…
    keep it up!

    Joseph

    September 1, 2011 at 12:02 am

    • Sounds like an awesome set up. I’d love to see some pics.

      dickdavid

      September 1, 2011 at 4:46 am

      • Heres a couple of my soon to be before images:

        Some of the parts have arrived but im still waiting on the grips and brake cables and housing then off to the powder coater…

        Joseph

        September 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

        • Looks nice. I just recently ran across this guy’s conversion as well:

          http://nilsbuch.com/personal/monocogbuildinfo.htm

          That’s probably a little too much for me.

          dickdavid

          September 3, 2011 at 5:54 am

          • ya ive seen that guys bike…
            check out this guys ride… i swear im gonna copy his choice of color… i have a couple days to decide…

            joseph

            September 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

            • That guys bike you showed me is the same year as yours isnt it? if it is then you can use a bigger chainring also. i run 42 – 16 but if i can get a 44t to fit after installing my new crankset i will. im not sure about the chainline and how much it will be off if i mount on the outside of the crankarm. im still stuck waiting on parts to show up before i will know for sure…
              thing is with a larger front ring it is much more difficult to climb hills. luckily my commute is almost all downhill and i jump on a bus to get home. riding a single speed sort of limits the riding you can do but if you live in a relatively flat area then they are awesome… im thinking about in the future to get an internal geared rear hub but not for a while…
              hey if you can scrape the money together you should get 2010 avid bb7s on that thing. i have not used them yet but based on what ive read they are excellent mechanical disc brakes. i paid like 46bucks each for the front and rear calipers and disks… all the adapters come with the kit so you can install them on just about every bike in the world… im hoping they are going to be a great upgrade over the stock v brakes…

              Joseph

              September 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm

            • Looks like it is. Perhaps I’ll get a bigger chainring later – when I’m stronger. For now, I don’t mind the subtle 36. It’s still slow, but good for hills.

              I’m on the fence about disc brakes. The ol’ school part of me (the same part that likes CroMo over other frame materials) likes the low tech, easy to maintain v brakes. However, I’m curious to tinker with some disc brakes as well.

              dickdavid

              September 5, 2011 at 6:24 am

  10. I upgraded to the BB7s about a year ago on my 2010 Monocog and other than the initial setup pains that go with disc brakes I love them. Much better stopping power than V brakes, especially in wet conditions. If you have the means however I’d spend the extra money for the Avid Juicy. I run those on my GF HKEK and the self adjustment feature on them is worth the extra money.

    Rob

    September 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm

  11. Everyone i speak to swears by hydraulic brakes but im still not ready to commit to approximately 400 bucks for brakes. I was checking out the formula rx and had them in my shopping cart at pricepoint in think and changed my mind. i would rather spend the 400 on better wheels or something… just not ready for hydro yet as i use my 2010 as a commuter atm. if and when i convert the cog back to offroad i will probably bite the bullet and buy hydros. from what i have learned so far you just cant go wrong with bb7s…

    Joseph

    September 5, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    • look at this guys ride…

      Joseph

      September 7, 2011 at 12:46 am

      • Heres the after shots of my monocog facelift…



        I was able to install my old 42t chainring on the inside of the crankarm!!! it barely fits but it does fit… my chainline is spot on and the disk brakes are leaps and bounds better than the old v brakes… All the upgrades are obvious while riding and thats the cats a$$…

        joseph

        September 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

        • NICE! Looks like you’re cutting pretty close to your frame.

          dickdavid

          September 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm

          • ya it is close… but there is a slight gap there. if my bb bearings go out and the chainring strikes the frame… ehhhh ok no biggy but as it sits and even under load it will not hit the frame… the difference in my old cranks and these shimanos is so huge… there is no flex in the crankarms and it feels so much more solid. hey you need to get these cranks. they were 115 plus shipping. you will be amazed at just how much better they are than the internal square taper design.
            check out these reviews…
            http://www.mtbr.com/cat/drivetrain/crankset/shimano/slx-fc-m665/prd_419436_115crx.aspx

            joseph

            September 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

  12. I just bought a used monocog that had been sitting in someone’s storage for the last couple of years. I wanted a commuter bike that could stand up to east coast winters after my other mountain bike bit the dust from the salt and snow. First thing I did was change to street tires and the cog since I was spinning like a crazy person. I’m thinking of also cutting the handle bars down as well. They seem ridiculously wide but I’m nervous to make such a drastic change. An inch and a half on both sides wasn’t too much?

    Mindy

    September 17, 2011 at 10:35 am

    • In retrospect, it probably was too much. I wish it was only 1″.

      dickdavid

      September 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

  13. 1″ 1/4 is perfect…

    Joseph

    September 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

  14. any updates on the cog? I just placed an order for a brooks b17 standard saddle in honey for 90 bucks. From what i hear it is the most comfortable seat you can buy for a commuter/trail bike… cant wait to try it out.
    hey double check your hubs for excessive play. Im guessing your still using the stock wheels and what i found on mine is over time there starts to get a bit of play in the hub. All you need to do is tighten em down with a couple crescents and your good to go.
    If your still not sure about bb7s… they are really great brakes for the money…
    now if i can just find those pedals you got ill be set…
    J

    Joseph

    January 30, 2012 at 1:16 am

    • Not lately. My wife has put a hold on that for a while 😉 (Plus, I’ve been trying to give my old Diamondback some much needed TLC).

      Thanks for the tip on the hubs. I’ll be sure to check them out.

      dickdavid

      January 30, 2012 at 6:11 am

  15. […] I was able to get them within the range of my budget. I opted for a pair in black to go with my street ready Redline Monocog. As with my other pair, I am extremely impressed with the performance of the new VP-001 pedals. […]

  16. Awesome post! I just scooped a 26 inch version of this bike off craigslist intending to do exactly the things you did…now i know what’s ahead

    Alex

    August 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm

  17. Really dig what youve done. Hope there is more mods coming in the future…

    Joseph

    December 2, 2012 at 3:45 pm

  18. […] of the fall, but rather from pure fatigue. I was wheezing and gasping for air as the crank on my single speed was nearly impossible to turn. My legs and core were toast. All I kept thinking was, I hope nature […]

  19. Looks like I’m a little late to the party here, but I’ve really enjoyed reading this, and the comments as well. I am heading out this week to test ride a few SS’s and the Cog is at the top of my list.

    hockeyhippie

    May 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm


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