FORT COLLINS, CO (BRAIN) — Niner Bikes is introducing a new version of its R.I.P. 9 frame using an “air-formed” aluminum frame that brings its weight down to nearly the same as the company’s comparable carbon fiber bike
FORT COLLINS, CO (BRAIN) — Niner Bikes is introducing a new version of its R.I.P. 9 frame using an “air-formed” aluminum frame that brings its weight down to nearly the same as the company’s comparable carbon fiber bike. The R.I.P.
FORT COLLINS, CO (BRAIN) — Niner Bikes has hired Ian Hylands as its full-time photographer and videographer. “Ian’s work speaks for itself — he’s had images in every major U.S
The SIR in the redesigned SIR 9 stands for ‘Steel Is Real’.?“I like the ride of steel frames,” said Chris Sugai, president of Niner. “The ride can’t be replicated with carbon or aluminum.”
But just because Niner like steel, that doesn’t mean they don’t want all the contemporary glamor of today’s bikes – through-axles, tapered head tubes, clean cable routing and Niner’s CYA (Cover Your Ass) bottom bracket system.?
The new SIR 9 pairs these features with a new Reynolds 853 DZB tubeset. The top and down tubes has ‘double zone butting’, a thicker, third butt for the head tube connections. This offers more strength and allows the steel frame to pass the EN Horizontal Fatigue test, which no previous Niner steel frame has done. The test itself was a game-changer for aluminum bikes, and with steel technology progressing it might have the same impact in that sector, making the category safer.
The 44mm head tube, and impressive welding where the top and down tubes meet it
The down tube is also shaped, requiring special tooling from Reynolds. This allows for wider spacing from the top tube, creating a stiffer structure while still allowing fork crown clearance. Now that Reynolds and Niner have figured out how to bend the steel, they’ve pitched it to interested NASCAR teams for use in roll cages; previously it wasn’t an option because 853 couldn’t be manipulated?easily.
The two new 853 DZB top and down tubes are mated to Reynolds 631 head and seat tubes. The latter allows Niner to spec a bulge butt to fit a 27.2mm seat post. The rear end is finished with radically shaped, 4130 chromoly chain and seat stays.?
In addition to the new DZB tubes, the new SIR 9 uses a 44mm ‘can’ style head tube. Depending on headset type, this fits both tapered and straight 1 1/8in steerers.
The CYA bottom bracket shell is a 55mm press-fit unit that accepts all major bottom bracket standards, from Biocentric II to press-fit 30, press-fit 92 and even a standard threaded insert.?
Out back, Niner have forged their own through-axle dropouts, which fit a 12×142mm rear Maxle through-axle. Niner also plan to sell the piece to frame-builders. “We’ll sell them to custom builders as well,” said Sugai. “The molds cost thousands of dollars, and many small builders don’t have the ability to make such a part.”
The 55mm bottom bracket shell accepts a multitude of CYA bottom bracket adaptors from Niner
In addition to the dropouts, Niner have forged custom bridges for the stays. Plus, the rear disc caliper mounts to small threaded bullets that require the chain stays to be mitered before they can be welded on.
The seat and chain stays are very intricate, bending for heel clearance, compliance and around the rear brake caliper. Because of this,?a special mandrel is needed to make them for?each of Niner’s four SIR sizes.
The rear through-axle and bullet-style brake mount
With all the upgrades, and the extra strength required to pass the EN Horizontal test, the SIR 9 gains just 0.1lb over the previous model. It sits at 4.6lb for a medium frame.
The Tamale Red and Arctic White bikes will come with the option of a color-matched, carbon-ridged Niner fork. The Tamale Red model will also have the option of a color-matched RockShox SID.
On 30 June 30?Niner will launch a new website, which will allow US riders to log on and pick colors, sizes and specs for bikes. They can then print out the details and bring them to a local dealer for a 48-hour turnaround sale.?
Custom SIR 9s auctioned for charity
Niner?are auctioning six of their latest 853 steel SIR 9 frames, in Tamale Red and Arctic White. The company are corporate members of the IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) so it’s fitting that all proceeds will go to the trail advocacy organization.?
The auction will run for nine days, and more details can be found on?Niner’s Facebook page?and?eBay.?Those priced out of the auction will have to wait 12 weeks for the bikes to be released for sale.
This is the third time Niner have auctioned bikes for IMBA – last year they offered nine Air 9 carbon bikes to the cause. “The North Fork trails in Whatcom County, Washington were lost because of paperwork,” said Carla Hukee, Niner’s brand manager. “IMBA does the paperwork so we’re happy to help support them.”
The bikes up for auction have limited edition IMBA color schemes
New developments: titanium cogs and more
Along with the revamped frame, Niner are offering a new RDO seatpost with an ‘unstiff’ layup. This produces 8.16mm of deflection when loaded with 130lb, compared to the 6.3mm of Niner’s standard carbon post or 4.72mm of the alloy option.
We caught a sneak peek of two 6/4 titanium Cogalicious RDO singlespeed cogs. Niner weren’t answering questions on them but it’s a pretty straightforward product. We saw 17- and 23-tooth options, and expect Niner to match the range they do in alloy, including 18-, 19-, 20-, 21- and 22-tooth options.
Niner’s yet-to-be-talked-about Cogalicious RDO titanium singlespeed cogs
Niner have also promised new products every 60 to 90 days for the rest of the year, so we’ll keep you posted.
Niner’s Carla Hukee and?Chris Sugai
Niner’s new Air 9 RDO (race day optimized) is a thoroughbred 29er hardtail built for speed and racecourse performance. It follows on the heels of the Jet 9 RDO, Ninerâ€™s competition-focused full-suspension cross-country bike.
With the goal of optimizing the new hardtail for racing, and using the Air 9 Carbon as a blueprint, Niner focused on minimizing frame weight. The result is a chassis that’s said to average just 1,125g (2.48lb) in the medium size (without seat collar or protective down tube tape) â€“ about half a pound less than the original Air 9. To achieve the dramatic weight reduction, Niner reduced diameters and trimmed tube profiles throughout.
Niner’s RDO tube diameters are considerably smaller than the standard Air 9, according to Pro Bike Supply owner Mark Cohen
The new bike has a smaller, all-carbon Pressfit30 bottom bracket shell and utilizes molded bearing races for the tapered head tube, which eliminates the need for metal inserts and their added weight. The rear brake mount is tucked inside the curvy stays; Niner say this distributes twisting forces evenly and permits use of smaller post mounts and decreased wall thicknesses for the molded carbon stays.
Shift cables are routed internally, as they are on the standard Air 9, and a new aluminum head badge allows for full-length runs of housing. Niner cite simplified cable changes and protection from the elements as their motivation for this. The new bike also serves to introduce a new seat collar, which will be offered for retrofitting to existing models through Ninerâ€™s store; it comes in anodized red, blue or black and costs US$20.
The rear brake mount moves to the chainstay on the RDO
The Air 9 RDO shares its geometry with the standard Air 9 and is designed for use with a 80- or 100mm suspension fork. Niner back it with their C5 carbon warranty, which covers the frame for five years. It’ll be available in a complete size run with standard Niner build kits or as a frame only by mid-March.
The first 50 bikes will be offered to North American riders with a special â€˜launch specâ€™ that includes a Shimano XTR transmission and brakes, and a painted-to-match RockShox SID 29 World Cup XX fork. Complete bikes will cost US$6,199 and will be available in Niner Green or Licorice Black, and medium or large sizes only.
Ninerâ€™s color matched RockShox SID 29 World Cup XX fork
â€˜Launch specâ€™ Niner Air 9 RDO:
Newport Beach, California-based Pro Bike Supply already have their hands on the new model and gave us their first impression. â€œOut of the box, with everything except pedals, it weighs 20lb 7oz,â€ owner Mark Cohen told BikeRadar. â€œThe tubes are much skinnier than you think they are, and the placement of the rear brake housing â€“ now running along the down tube â€“ is going to be much better.
“A lot of people used to complain, when it was on the top tube, that youâ€™d catch your hand or leg on the cut zip-ties. With the internal cable routing, thereâ€™s still quite a bend for the front derailleur, because it has to go around the bottom bracket, but I think shifting should be greatly improved.â€
At Pro Bike Supply the medium complete bike weighed in at 20lb 7oz (9.27kg)
Pro Bike Supply have already modified the spec of their Air 9 RDO to drop another half pound off the complete bike. â€œWe swapped the saddle for the Fiâ€™zi:k Tundra 00, we replaced the seat collar with the KCNC mountain collar,â€ said Cohen. â€œWe got rid of the XT six-bolt rotors and swapped to the KCNC Razor rotors, and then we took the grips and swapped to the ESI Chunky in green.
“Finally, for a little bit of flash and weight savings, we traded the American Classic skewers for Tune ones. This brought the weight down a half-pound to 19lb 15oz. I’d say it’ll be very easy to bring this bike under 19lb with pedals and a cage â€“ swapping out to the NoTubes.com Race Gold wheels will get us there.â€
Pro Bike Supply, based in Southern California, provided these images of Ninerâ€™s Air 9 RDO. The shop specializes in custom road and mountain bike builds. Customers are encourage to start with a frame and work with Pro Bike Supply’s staff â€“ who include mechanics with 15 years of experience and pro riders â€“ to build a bike to fit their riding style and budget.
There arenâ€™t many 29er-only manufacturers out there but Niner are a big part of the vanguard, promoting big wheels with almost evangelical zeal. The Air 9 Carbon is their ï¬‚agship hardtail, incorporating the geometry that the company have been reï¬ning since they started but rendered in ultra light carbon ï¬bre.
Ride & handling: Light, stiff and comfy all at once, and spectacularly fast at all times
In common with many 29ers, Ninerâ€™s sizing isnâ€™t quite what youâ€™d expect if youâ€™re used to 26in wheels. Our test model was a medium but had a top tube length that you might expect from a large and a seat tube that would be at home on a small. But with a 400mm seatpost it was a good ï¬t for 6ft tall testers, with height to spare. The cockpit setup was well thought out, with a ï¬‚at but wide bar keeping the grips below the seat and delivering suitable weight distribution.
As 29ers go, the Niner is fairly low and steep at the front, and short at the back. Combined with its light weight, this gives the Air 9 Carbon a real edge out on the trail. This is a blisteringly and addictively fast bike. Pedal and it goes â€“ instant gratiï¬cation on two wheels. Cornering responses are equally lively, to the extent that the bike can feel a little bit nervous at speed.
But have conï¬dence and take control and it will see you through â€“ the big wheels and sure-tracking chassis will work in your favour. As well as being fast in every sense, the Niner somehow manages to be comfortable too. Looking at the huge tubes and fat seatpost you might expect it to be bumpier but a combination of big tyres and clever carbon layup makes it a ï¬ne place to be on long rides.
The Air 9 Carbon is race light but trail capable, stiff and comfy at the same time. It’s also fast as you like and one of the best-looking bikes made by anyone, anywhere, ever. Yes, it costs all the money in the world but it’s properly ace. We’re off to look for things to sell…
Frame: State-of-the-art chassis with amazing looks; big tubes amplify clonks and bangs
Niner managed to cause quite a stir when they debuted the Air 9 Carbon at the trade shows a couple of years back. And trying it out now itâ€™s not hard to see why. First up, this is a ï¬ne-looking mountain bike â€“ weâ€™ve found that even people who go out of their way to dislike 29ers tend to like the look of it. From the tapered head tube to the carbon post mount back end itâ€™s a state-of-the-art frame.
Itâ€™s also extremely low-slung but packs huge tubes. Thereâ€™s not much point mounting a Crud Catcher to the Ninerâ€™s hexagonal down tube, for example, since the tube itself is as much mudguard as youâ€™ll be likely to need this winter. Despite the girthsome tubes, the frame comes in at well under 3lb â€“ pretty good for a big-wheeler. The tube merges seamlessly into the bottom bracket, where youâ€™ll ï¬nd Ninerâ€™s CYA bottom bracket system.
This essentially involves having a bigger hole in the frame than any bottom bracket/crank setup needs and then using adaptor cups to step it down to the required size. You can ï¬t pretty much any kind of crank in there with the right cups. Or the CYA system will accept Ninerâ€™s own eccentric bottom bracket system so you can tension the chain on a singlespeed setup. If youâ€™re doing that you can also swap the drive side dropout insert for one without a derailleur hanger for a clean look.
Niner clearly realise that scraping your new, extremely expensive carbon frame would be a painful experience. So the Air 9 Carbon comes with a hefty strip of helicopter tape along the underside of the down tube, plus titanium plates by the bottom bracket and on the chainstay to ward off damage from a dropped or sucked chain. Gear cables are routed internally, with the housings entering via holes in the head badge, which is a rather neat touch.
In common with most high-end models, the Air 9 Carbon is supplied as a bare frame â€“ all you need to do is add parts to taste. Itâ€™s designed for an 80 or 100mm travel (3.1 or 3.9in) suspension fork or Ninerâ€™s own super-light carbon rigid fork. Our test bike arrived with a 100mm Fox F29 RLC up front, with a QR15 axle to add extra steering authority.
We were pleased to see a ï¬‚at Syntace bar up front, compensating for the inevitably high front end that a 29in wheel and 100mm of fork travel dictate. Transmission and brakes were all from SRAMâ€™s new X0 group and worked without complaint, though the acoustic properties of the carbon frame made the shifts seem clankier than weâ€™re used to. SRAMâ€™s always a bit clickier than Shimano anyway, but once the sound has echoed around the big hollow frame it sounds louder.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.
The 29er cross-country suspension fork conflict is about to kick off, with Fox lining up their new long-legged weapon of wagon-wheeled war â€“ the 32 series F29 models â€“ to face off against the about-to-be-released RockShox SID 29. We grabbed this 1,880g F29 RLC QR15 with 100mm of travel (adjustable internally to 80mm) for a full shakedown.
For non-Fox users R stands for rebound, L for lockout and C for compression â€“ the three external adjustments this flagship tapered-steerer fork can boast. A non-taper version will save you Â£20. Terralogic versions are Â£839, and Â£869 for the taper steerer version. The build of the fork is standard Fox technology, that’s to say, pretty special. A very stiff set of magnesium lowers uses the integrated through-axle QR15 axle system to add chassis stiffness over the traditional open dropout 9mm version for only a few grams’ weight penalty.
Fox have aimed to trim and massage the 2012 F29â€™s tech in all areas to improve the overall ride rather than find one single element to â€˜fixâ€™. The spec list includes improved Kashima coating on the upper legs for a smoother action, a reworked FIT damper unit with lower oil volume (saving around 70g over a 2011 model) and improved small bump compliance, as well as tweaking the air spring curves for more usable travel and lower compression ratios. The fork felt more supple in the mid stroke â€“ more like the RockShox Reba 29 than last yearâ€™s F29. Outwardly, apart from the darker Kashima stanchion coating and some matching gold decals, itâ€™s essentially unchanged.
We put the fork on our Niner Air 9 carbon and raced it at the Mountain Mayhem event and with five minutes of pressure setting and knob fiddling to dial in our preferred ride we were off chasing down other riders. We immediately felt the bike gain a level of stability that allowed us to make even more daring passing attempts. Itâ€™s amazing how little trail you really need to pass another rider if you know the bike is going to track the wafer thin line youâ€™ve spotted. The F29 never put a foot wrong, even if we managed to a few times. Technically, the fork leaves us with nothing to criticise other than the fact that itâ€™ll not be as light as the top end SID 29ers. Yes itâ€™s expensive, but itâ€™s currently the state of the art, and the rule is, if you want the best youâ€™ll have to dig deep.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.