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I have raced my first season on "Stompy", a 13- or 14-year-old Kona Fire Mountain that was converted to singlespeed. I rode short-track XC and 'cross on this bike, and while I really love riding singlespeed, I wonder if I can't do better with a slightly newer/nicer bike in the future.
"Stompy" is fun to ride but feels a tad small for me and is rather heavy to drag over barriers.

I have a possibility of buying a brand-new 2008 Redline Mono Cog for less than 300 bucks. Does anyone know about this bike, or can they suggest another alternativ I should look at? I want a bike I can use for both short-track AND singlespeed cross, that will easily take parts upgrades (I'd swap over my Truvativ cranks and GXP bottom bracket, and my Misfit handlebars). I am 5' 7" with a 32" inseam and 22" sleeve length (in mens' button-down shirts), so something that can accommodate very long limbs and a short waist is ideal. I'd also prefer to stick with Cr-mo if possible but I'm sure there HAS to be a lighter frame out there. And I'd prefer to stay with 26" wheels.

Suggestions welcome, prefer to keep it under 600 bucks if I can. Thanks --Beth

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I am fairly biased in this sort of situation and generally suggest finding a custom builder to do stuff like this. When you want to use a material that few main stream manufacturers are taking seriously and do something that is uniquely suited to your individual racing demands then custom is definitely the way to go as far as I can tell. Someone that can TIG you a nice steel frame at a good price is what you are lookig for - off hand that makes me think of Form, Ionic, Primus Mootry, and Gunnar but there are scores more out there and a quick bit of investigating should allow you to pick the perfect partner for something like this.

Currently I have one of last year's Raleigh Rainiers that I use for SS cross and can change out the bars to have basically a fully-rigid 29er if I decide to do short track this year. Though as I just recomended, I'm thinking about doing somethig silly in steel with a custom builder this year and ditching the aluminum because I feel the ride of a steel bike is just better and it's not like the extra 100g is going to bother me...
Going custom is a great idea. However, custom framebuilders in my area (PDX) are booked at least 18 to 24 months out and so far the lowest quote I've gotten from any of them is around $1800 for frame and fork. That's why I've decided to look at an off-the-shelf model.
Brazing a bike will cost more than TIGing it which is probably what most of the Portland builders were quoting. You should also be able to get a production fork a lot cheaper than a custom steel one. Both of these things could bring the cost down to less than half - but that is still a little more than your budget if what you can spend is fairly fixed.
Actually, it's around $1100-1200 for a tig'd frameset from a Portland-based custom builder (who's willing to do it -- a few won't do anything without lugs). Portland craft framebuilding has skyrocketed in popularity and fame and many builders are now backed up enough that they know they can ask for higher prices.

The cost of living in a cool place, I suppose.

I am looking at ways to upgrade my existing bike (it's due for new wheels next summer anyway) and may just ride it for another year before changing bikes entirely. I'm waiting for a spc sheet on the Monocog before I decide.
My custom Aluminum cross bike from http://www.tsunamibikes.com/, a small builder in Phoenix , is the kitty's meow, with a wait period of a few weeks and a price equivalent to mid-range off-the-shelf for a no-nonsense racing frame that fits just the way you want it. Builders do exist outside Portland, and some of them don't wear hemp clothing, look puzzled when you mention "colorways" and are actually very good!
I've heard lovely things about a number of builders who work in aluminum.
It's just that my wrists can't take the beating and I really want to go fully rigid, so steel's really the way to go for me.
The redline is a solid bike. It is on my "maybe someday" list of bikes and for the price you can't beat it! I was looking around on the web for some ideas but there is sooo much stuff for ss'ers. If you can get the mono cog, it feels lighter AND it fits you, I would seriously consider it.
I'm fairly biased here since I used to ride for the Van Dessel factory team, but the Country Road Bob is a super versatile bike for SS 'cross racing. Today at the Staten Island Cross Race they had one set up with 29er tubeless wheels, disc brakes and Ultegra 6700 grouppo for a shifting bike. Its pretty rad and might fit into your price range if you're saying that $600 for frame and fork is your preferred price. Sounds like you can roll the 52, but give them a call and chat them up. Tell them I sent you.
So here's what I've found out so far:

1. Custom is out of my budget. I cannot afford it.

2. Still pondering the Redline MonoCog as a possible upgrade, as I've gotten nothing but good comments from folks about it. At 24 lbs for a singlespeed bike, I would be looking to do some parts upgrades (like swapping in an external BB and -- if I can still find them -- some 170 length Stylo cranks) to lighten it a little.

3. I was looking at the Soma 4one5 but the size I need is no longer available; not clear if Soma will still offer a singlespeed frame for 26" wheels.

Thanks to all for your suggestions, but I simply cannot afford or justify custom right now, especially when the MonoCog in question can be mine as a whole bike for less than 300 bucks. Cheers--BH
So I've decided: I'm going to go for the Redline MonoCog. It's such a great price (a whole bike for less than 300 bucks through my shop), the geometry is really good for the kinds of riding I do, and after I swap over my bottom bracket, cranks, stem and bars, the bike will weigh noticeably less than the advertised 24 lbs. I will likely rebuild the Kona as a geared bike and sell it, since I don't have room to store more than a couple of bikes total. Thanks for all your opinions.
Get a motobecane fantom uno and with the money you save get some TRP euro-x brakes, stem to get your fit and other general upgrades.
I saw one of those at the races this fall. Nice bike, but totally not my style. (I don't race with drop bars. Coming at this from BMX and mountain biking I generally prefer ATB bars, and have found the perfect bar in Misfit's FU-2 Bar. Plus, I really like the ride of 26" wheels. So it's the MonoCog for me. Happy riding!

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