Berg: I'll be honest, I'm totally baffled by the whole minimalist thing. The "freedom" of making things a million times harder on myself and keeping me from being able to do the riding I like to do is beyond me. Unless you are just a monster rider (I'm not) then big hill climbs, difficult technical sections and short technical climbs are out. I like bashing my way through technical stuff and lack of gears or suspension makes that something that would brutalize my body. Buff rolling singletrack is fun on occasion, but it's not my cup of tea on a regular basis. I'm also a guy who carries a bag full of tools on a ride and is seldom without a camera.
|Note: Not Jon's bike- just a handy image of what I consider techno overkill.|
Off the bike I love my smartphone with Bluetooth headset and I want an iPad. I'm a tech guy at heart and enjoy the ease of things that I love that tech brings into my life. If there are minimalists I guess I'd have to be a maximalist.
|My actual bike.|
The "freedom" comes from leaving behind your worries about all those things that make it easier on yourself. Keeping you from doing the riding you like to do? If you follow that logic to its conclusion, you might as well get a motorcycle.
I think a big difference between us regards the technical riding aspect. I hate those short technical climbs. I don't do well with the anaerobic slow-speed power climbs. I like rock GARDENS, but sometimes it seems that our trails aren't just sections of rock, but more like riding down the center of a railroad track- endless bumps. Now, partly, of course, that's mountain biking- but if I could have buff singletrack on a regular basis, I'd love it. Just an aside.
For me, the freedom of rigid singlespeed comes from the fact that the options are taken away. Should I take the climb spinning in a low gear? Jamming a high gear? I never seemed to be in the right gear. But suspension is the greater freedom. I had full suspension at one time. Still have the frame and fork, matter of fact. For me, it dumbed the trail down too much. And then to make it exciting like I wanted, I was/ would have to attempt things far more technical than I had the skill/desire for. I put the fork on an old hardtail frame. I liked that. I put thumbshifters on. I liked the direct control and simplicity of the shifting (vs. Shimano's tiny parts, etc. & SRAM's gripshift- the grips shifted alright- just when I needed a stable grip!)
When my Marzocchis started leaking, that was the end for me- I wasn't going to be paying to fix a component I didn't even really want.
As for singlespeed, I was one of those who said 'Just don't shift if you want a single', but somehow, it's more than that.