While almost every mountain bike company has jumped on the 29er bandwagon over the past few years, one brand has been committed from the outset. Choosing not to concern themselves trying to produce 26″ (or 650B bikes now), Niner is all about the big wheel and has been since 2005. Original founder, Chris Sugai, first rode a 29er in 2004 and realised the massive potential of the smoother-rolling wheels, but with 29ers being a very small niche at the time, finding a high quality one was a challenge. The solution? Chris founded his own bike company, focussing 100% on bikes designed around the 29″ wheel.
Starting out as a frame-only company, Niner have introduced a number of models over the years that have set the bar in their respective categories – the beautiful S.I.R 9, distinctive Air 9 Carbon and genre-bending Rip 9 are names that immediately come to mind. In 2013, the Niner lineup has drastically grown from those small beginnings to now include a gamut of XC hardtails made from alloy, carbon and steel, dual suspension models ranging from 100mm to 150mm of travel, geared frames, singlespeed frames and complete bike options too. Refinement has noticeably stepped up over the past 12 months though, and it’s clear that Niner is on a steady mission to update the existing range with the addition of modern features such as tapered head tubes, rear thru-axles and dropper-post compatibility across the lineup. Tweaking of geometry has been carried out to keep each bike on the curve of modern trends, with chainstays getting shorter, top tubes getting longer, and head angles getting slacker.
For the Presscamp event, Niner Bikes were showing one updated model, and one completely new bike. After getting familiar with each bike over the 5-day long event, here we take a closer look at each one.
“Keep It Steel, Stud. The 4130 Cro-Mo tube set of the ROS 9 is the trusted standard for durability and ride quality. Following the lines and design language of the SIR 9, these tubes have been beefed up to handle the abuse the ROS 9 is designed to shrug off. The super-short chainstays provide a lofty front end feel while the slack HT angle keeps the front end composed at Mach Loony speeds. A neutral BB height can be made low or high to slay YOUR trails by positioning the BioCentric 2 where it will do the most good. Construction details abound – We borrowed the unique dropout design we developed for the SIR 9 to allow 142×12 Maxle use and house the stout alloy derailleur hanger. The dropout designs allow the chain stays and seat stays to be welded at any angle and provide far more surface area for a full weld around the tube’s end. The front derailleur hanger is removable with an alloy cover. Internal dropper post routing is optional, another alloy cover closes the port if you choose not to use it. Externally routed dropper posts utilize mounts under the top tube. Tabs under the bottom bracket shell accept a proprietary MRP XCG bash guard for optional extra protection. Full-housing cable routing for front and rear derailleurs using Niner’s bolt-on double housing clamps along top and down tubes complete the versatility. If you don’t need the guides, take them off and enjoy the clean look of the frame in singlespeed mode.” – Niner Bikes
ROS 9 Features:
- Rowdy steel radness from the 29er-only mountain bike company
- Zero mm of suspension is efficient in every chainring
- 44mm OS headtube is compatible with 120-140mm forks
- Aggressive geo is slack and low with extra-short chainstays
- Biocentric 2 enables perfect singlespeed setup and allows geometry fine-tuning
- Forged frame details and internal dropper post routing
- 142x12mm rear spacing
- Sizing: Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
- Weight: 2700 grams
Rides. Over. Shit. That’s the full name of the new R.O.S 9 hardtail from Niner, and it is unlike anything they’ve made before. Well, it is a hardtail, but that’s about all that it shares with its siblings. In Niner’s own words, the ROS is kind of like the hardtail version of the WFO, and indeed it does appear to be some kind of red-headed stepchild that was born from an unholy lovemaking session between the long-travel WFO duallie, and a SIR 9 steel hardtail. Some of the tubing is actually shared with the SIR, but for the most part it’s all beefed up and massaged with downhill-biased geometry and the ability to take up to 140mm fork travel.
Features like a custom taco bashplate and internal routing for a dropper post hint towards the attitude of the ROS 9, and are all attributes that you’d find on a comparable All Mountain dual suspension bike.
The ROS 9 has modular dropouts that are configured out of the box for a 142x12mm thru-axle. Large cowled cups wrap around each end of the axle and allow for a large surface area for the seat and chain stay tubing to weld onto. A replaceable hanger can be swapped for a neat singlespeed version if that’s your thing. You can also note the significant S-bend shaping going on with the tubes in the above pic.
Like most of the Niner hardtail frames, the ROS 9 gets an eccentric bottom bracket. No, it won’t tell socially awkward jokes and wear brightly coloured clothing in front of its childrens school friends, it simply means it can be used to rotate the crankset to tension the chain when setup in singlespeed mode. For the bike-nerds running a standard geared setup, it allows fine tuning of the chainstay length and bottom bracket height. Note the custom two-bolt bash plate mount underneath the BB.
The ROS 9 will come in a variety of builds, or as a frame-only for those who like to go fully custom. Frame colours include the ‘Rally Blue’ and ‘Forged Grey’ as pictured.
Complete bikes will see a smattering of Niner parts too; singlespeed cogs, handlebars, stems and seatposts for those that aren’t converted to uppy-downy ones.
You’ll find nice detailing across the board on the ROS 9 frame, with a plethora of forged steel components used for key junctions such as the chain stay yoke and seat stay bridge.
Built as a burly trail ripper, the new ROS 9 could well be the coolest bike of the season. It’s made from 4130 cromo steel, and comes with raked out geometry that really does makes it kind of like a hardtail-version of the WFO. The complete bike will come with a 130mm travel RockShox Revelation fork that sits the head angle at 67.5-degrees, but the frame is rated for up to 140mm if you want to go bigger and badder. In keep with the current trend to tuck the rear wheel in as close as possible, the Biocentric bottom bracket allows for super short 418mm chainstays, and with the tall-ish front end, manuals come a little too easy. Other cool details include internal cable routing for a Reverb Stealth dropper post, a dedicated 142x12mm thru-axle, a nifty bolt-on front derailleur mount that can be removed when running a single chainring setup, and a chunky forged chain stay yoke that allows you to fit up to a 2.5” wide tyre.
Niner never produced the ROS 9 to become a top seller, they just wanted to make a fun bike. From our initial ride report, we can concur that the ROS is indeed a blast to ride and will be great for riders who are looking for something different to the standard 5” duallies out there. It’s unlikely to win XC races with a 2.7kg frame weight, but it’s capable of some pretty hectic riding and is clearly built to last you a long time. For those that shy away from complex rear suspension designs, or just want a good value trail bike, this is a stoopid-fun bike!
Having debuted the carbon fiber Jet 9 RDO for 2012, the alloy model receives a number of key updates to bring its performance more inline with its lighter plastic sibling. The Jet 9 is Niner’s XC dual suspension bike, and previously came with 80mm of rear travel to be matched to 80-100mm up front. Decked out with the dual-link CVA suspension design that Niner was awarded a patent for last year, it’s made to keep you spinning the pedals over for hours on end in an endless quest for new singletrack.
“Life is complicated enough from nine to five, what you do in your off hours should be simple – it’s time to hit the trail on the new Jet 9. Enter your first mountain bike race, visit that MTB mecca or just crush souls on the after-work ride. It’s the simple action of “doing” that’s important and that is why we created the new Jet 9. Serious good looks, lighter weight, more CVA travel, the Jet 9 has all the technical refinements that define an XC dominator. Carbon wonderbikes are great, but you’ll appreciate the new technologies that we utilize in our alloy frames, too. They are dream bikes within reach – Airformed alloy with as many custom details as our RDO line, something you can log big miles on, day in and out. Sound like a bike that you might want in the garage? Yeah, us too” – Niner Bikes
Niner Jet 9 Features:
- Airformed alloy full suspension from the 29er-only mountain bike company
- 100mm of patented CVA suspension is efficient in every chainring
- Compatible with 100-120mm forks
- Tuned for CVA – RockShox Monarch RT3 HV
- Enduro sealed cartridge bearings
- Forged suspension linkage and unique Niner alloy hardware
- 142x12mm rear spacing
- Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
- Weight: 2860 grams
The updated frame tweaks the geometry, suspension and frame construction to make the new Jet 9 a little lighter, but a whole lot more capable. Suspension travel is bumped up to 100mm out back, which is provided by Niner’s own CVA dual-link suspension platform, and the new frame can be setup with 100-120mm fork travel. This is more inline with what most riders are using 4″ travel 29ers for, and it makes it a much more versatile beast than the original version.
Niner’s engineers have taken advantage of improved alloy construction techniques for the Jet 9, which features more radical air forming to achieve improved strength as well as a reduction in overall weight. Heavy shaping of the alloy seat tube means that the main pivot for the rocker link is now part of the tube, as opposed to being a welded-on addition. Overall the frame only drops 113gm off the previous version, but with the increased travel, 142x12mm thru-axle, tapered head tube, one-piece forged main pivot junction and hollowed dropouts, Niner have been able to create a significantly stronger and more versatile bike.
The Jet 9 alloy frame will come in an ‘Arctic White’ as well as the smokin’ ‘Tomale Red’ seen in the photos. Heartburn included free of charge.
The lower link is tucked right underneath the bottom bracket, which lends itself to a more vertical axle path for the rear dropouts. It also keeps the chain stay yoke and link out of the way of chain rings, leaving fewer headaches for the engineers. Note the Pressfit 30 bottom bracket, which can be adapted for almost any bottom bracket style with Niners own BB cups.
As is being seen across the board, Niner is introducing dropper-post capability as more riders in the XC realm get on board with height-adjustable seatposts. Cable routing in general is tidied up across the board, whilst still being external (thumbs up Niner!)
Forged post mount disc brake tabs fit a 160mm rotor without need for an extra adapter. With the 142x12mm Maxle, it’s all very tidy down at the back end of the Jet 9.
While the carbon RDO is arguably the more exciting of the two Jet 9 bikes, we reckon you’ll be seeing a lot of the new alloy version out on the trails. With its stiffer, lighter and stronger frame combined with improved geometry and more capable suspension, the versatile Jet 9 would make a superb privateer race bike for the more serious folks out there, or just a nicely lightweight mile-muncher for those more interested in climbing technical ascents and smoothing out ugly descents. A lower price compared to its carbon offshoot, and less worry about scratching a pretty carbon frame mean that the Jet 9 alloy is our pick for all-year round singletrack.
And so what about the big news that we promised earlier on?
Well it’s all well and good about these new models and such, but for regular Enduro readers, you’ll likely be asking: “great, but how do I get my hands on one?”. Thankfully, we can finally reveal that Niner Bikes will now be distributed in Australia by Rowney Sports, of Yeti Oz fame! They’ll have a new website launching soon with all the details regarding pricing, availability and build kits, but it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing a lot more Niners in Australia courtesy of the new distributor.
Keep your eyes peeled here for more information as it comes, but in the meantime you can get in touch with Rowney Sports on the below contact details.