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