Niner One9 Review, Part 1: The Unveiling

I recently had the good fortune (thanks to 40 Hands and Dirty Biker) to receive a Niner One9 as a demo bike. The point was to write a review, focusing on their new hydroform tubing. The frame is aluminum, and if you had told me a year ago that I’d be stoked to ride an aluminum hardtail, I’d tell you to stop taking shots of Wild Turkey. If you had told me I’d be stoked to  be riding a singlespeed, I’d tell you to pass the bottle on over to me. As it happens, I am stoked to both be riding a singlespeed and to be riding aluminum.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let me introduce you to the Niner.

If you look very closely, you will see a bicycle in this photo. Thanks to Lauren for helping me show off the new Niner One9 with hydroformed tubing.

 

I’m going to do this review in three parts, today being part one.

PART ONE: The Unveiling

PART TWO: The First Few Weeks

PART THREE: The Last Few Weeks

I intend to put the Niner through the ringer and see just how good this bike really is. Early signs are pointing to a solid ride, but I’ve also hit a few hiccups that I will discuss in subsequent posts. For now, here’s a bit more eye candy.

 

In the past, I have generally been of the mind that Manitou forks are limp-dicks on the front of otherwise stout rides. Did this fork change my mind? I'll cover that in Part 2 of the review.

Out of the box, I couldn’t believe how amazing this bike looked. The orange pops for sure. Everyone who sees this bike on the trail can’t help but stop and check it out. Oh, and it’s lighter than a fart, too. Throwing it around is no problem at all—not that I’ve needed to so far. The 29er wheels steamroll over everything.

The deal with the hydroform tubing is this: once the aluminum is extruded (in much the same way all aluminum frames are shaped), the aluminum is then further shaped for rigidity and strength by using hydroform molds. It sounds gimmicky, I know, but whatever Niner did with these tubes, they did it right. The frame so far has been a killer ride. Oh, and I must say: nice touch with the bottle opener on the dropout.

After spinning around the block a few times after building the Niner, I can tell you that the Hayes brakes flat out sucked. In fact, after the first trail ride, I would have told you they sucked harder. I’ve ridden several times on them now and they have broken in a bit, but stopping power is pretty weak and the levers still feel squishy. I don’t have high hopes for these brakes, but I’ll let you know if they surprise me. It was a bit disappointing for me: I used to rock Hayes HFX Mags for a long time and they were solid, but as a friend pointed out to me recently, they may have only felt good because there wasn’t much to compare them to. I ride Avid BB7s and love them; Avid hydraulics are also badass. The industry has certainly brought itself up to speed in the hydraulic realm, and I’m not sure Hayes has kept pace.

 

Well, you see, this here photo is showcasing the, uhh, classy paint job and the, umm, fine contours of the hydroform tubing...okay, it's a gratuitous shot of a hot model. I admit it.

That’s it for the moment. In part 2, probably in a week or so, I’ll give you the rundown of the first several weeks on the bike. I can tell you this: the hydroform aluminum tubing does not ride like aluminum. It’s compliant, which means my aching back is not aching after a few hours in the saddle, but I’m still not losing pedaling power to frame flex. I’m impressed, in other words. But what about those Sun Ringle wheels? The Hayes brakes? The limp-dick Manitou fork?

Stay tuned. I’ve got the complete run-down for you. Some of the components are definite winners…some definitely deserve a spot in a moldy box in the garage.

 

Yeah, you heard what the woman said. Stop reading this slop and #occupybikeseat.

 

Part 2 will cover the specifics…trail photos will be included, too!

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About D2

I am a writer and a photographer. I never killed a man in Reno, but I once rode a bike through a casino in Vegas. Bikes are cool, huevos rancheros are for breakfast, whiskey is for dinner. Denver, Colorado, USA

30 thoughts on “Niner One9 Review, Part 1: The Unveiling

  1. The good thing about this being a singlespeed is that Niner does not have to worry about the cable stops not being welded on.. Like the first batch of geared bikes that came out.. Hopefully the QA position is a full time job now, ‘cuz it seemed like a part time gig with their earlier stuff.

  2. Good one. I’m amazed you could take your foot out of your mouth long enough to post it.

  3. But seriously, I wouldn’t have minded a closer look at the drivetrain. Looks like it has an EBB. Slap a canti steel fork on ‘er and a Tomi nfixed cog in place of the rotor and I’d be all over that thing. If I needed another bike.

  4. Okay, I have a new 29er hardtail and I have two questions: 1) are you allowed to screw a steel bottle bracket to a carbon frame? Or is ANY bottle bracket a faux pas these days? Damn kids and their “hydration systems.” 2) is a bar-tip fork lockout only for wusses? I mean, can’t I just reach down and twist that little blue anodized doohickey on the crown? I just want to blend in with the cool kids before they drop me on the first techy section.

  5. …mikey…ya gotta go with titanium from kingcage.com so you look old school but you’re actually all over the cool kids that way…

    …ron andrews is the man…

    …that fork thing, i dunno…it’s either ‘tines’ for pasta or non-sus carbon for pave or cx…

  6. get the bar thumb lockout. then you’ll use it more often while being a wuss because you got a hardtail anyhow.

  7. @bgw— seen. Dirty told me to get a Ti seatpost and both of yez are quite right.
    @Gnomer— also seen. My apologies if I implied even slightly that I wasn’t a wuss. At least I ride a lot.

    The fabulous new bike made her first beer run to Abdul-el-Convenience and it was so darn cute I nearly choked up.

  8. …jeez, mikey…i almost had tears in my eyes too, but from laughing @ “…abdul-el-convenience…”…props on the new rig…

    …if you do go with kingcages, say ‘hi’ to ron…we had dinner together, along with some other ol’ bicycle/mtb folks in sac-of-excramento recently…great people, stories, beer, food & thus, a truly great time…

    …btw, ron, who i think is both an exceptional & yet a totally ‘down to earth’ guy, knows me by my ‘real’ name, which you also know…

    …@ dirty…where is your boy corey, goddammit…if he lost my “e”, daryl @ form cycles has it…i wanna see the coupla fotos he n’ tom shot…pleez n’ thanx…

  9. D2 – plz find a model worthy of the bike with which she stands. what’s up w/ all the short torso chicks you use? i mean really, dumpster sluts next to ok kind of sucky bikes still sucks.

    step up, man. you are really starting to suck. really. sink or swim, fuckwad.

  10. Ha…never even saw that comment.

    “Short torso chicks” is perhaps the most ridiculous complaint I’ve ever heard leveled at a woman. I’m curious: what is the length of the average female torso at Alpine Pizza?

  11. A woman of a similar height to a man generally has a greater leg length than the man. Or, in other words, a shorter torso. That is why women’s specific bicycles have, among other things, a shorter cockpit length – the distance between the saddle and the handlebars.

    To question the reality of human physiology reveals only ignorance.

    Carry on.

  12. If mutant doesn’t think Lauren is at least cute, he really isn’t human. What is she, 5’2″? That would explain the short torso… Good lord, these mutants sure are a dim witted bunch.

  13. My first love was of similar proportion. It never ocurred to me to complain.

  14. …mutant inc…obviously not the ‘stephen hawking’ of cycle blogging…

    …what a buncha dumb ass, dip shit complaints…

  15. I’m with Judi on this.

    When I hit the AZ this summer, I’ll stop at Alpine Pizza and spend all afternoon talking loudly about how I “owned” all the local trails, that they’re not steep or technical enough, and how the local bitches are slow in getting out of my way when I want to pass them. You know, just to return the sort of vibe those kids are bringing to DC these days. Har! I crack me up.

    Unless Gnomer is there, then the beer’s on me…

  16. Mikey- you better give us fair warning when you get to our fine state! We have some beers to drink and trails to ride…especially in Flagtard

  17. @db— you can bet your bottom dollar on me. Wedding on the wife’s side in the PHXs, and I’ll need some “Mikey time.” Maybe a lot of it. But July? What were they thinking?

    I’ll take my AZs any way I can get them. I have peeps (thus couchage) in Cave Creek, will check that out as well. I’ll bring my road bike too. I’ll be as trained up as I’m likely to get by then, so I’ll try to hang.

    And I’m happy to buy beers for surly Flag bros too. Maybe a nice, sweaty group hug will persuade those Francises to lighten up, metaphorically speaking n’shit.