Street Ready 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to see all the pics of my Monocog.
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.
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.
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.
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.