Humbled in the wet – Niner Air 9 review

Have you noticed how good a rider you are? Everyone is riding the trails like true mountain bike heros. Don’t you feel proud?  I’m just the same but what happen early this morning? It rained. I’m pretty confident of my technical skills even though I don’t practice them that often so I was up for the challenge. I left early to get some miles on the Niner Air 9. There is some single track not far from my back door that is always treacherous after a light shower. I was prepared even though the tyres were too hard. At the roots there were two lines: safe or direct. With the confidence that this glorious Spring had given me and the fact that I was on a 29er I went Direct. In an instant I was on my back.  I am humbled. Just when we had thought that we were in mountain bike heaven the trails got wet. Lucky for you late risers the sun and the wind have restored them to good health.

I was out on the Niner Air 9 and just as with all the 29ers that I have ridden I have to keep stopping to reduce the tyre pressure. Those bigger wheels can be run with much lower air pressure and the chances are that most 29er owners will be running tubeless so no worries about pinch flats. Once the tyres were sorted I could get into the bike. The frame is made from a Scandium Aluminium alloy. Scandium sits next to Titanium on the periodic table so a frame made of Scandium will be lighter than a Ti frame and usually as comfortable (frame weight 3.1lbs). That means that the ride of the Niner is more or less equivalent to the Scott Scale 29er carbon. Until we do a back to back we can assume that they are close enough to be the same.

Like all 29ers the Air 9 was smooth and fast. It levitated over the fallen log and flew up the side of Cissbury. The Sheep Track was awesome. I’ve been practicing dropping the bike down to get the tyre side knobs to grip and the more I practice the lower I am getting the bike (if you want to try this remember that the aim is to keep your upper body up right otherwise the bike will slide away from you). 29ers are good for this as the tyre foot print is so much bigger than a 26inch (more grip). The Air 9 has a 710mm carbon Niner bar which really helps chucking the bike through the bends. Next up was the climb up the side of Cissbury followed by the East Gate descent. I’ve been riding this a lot recently and am sure that I’m going to come unstuck soon. On the pretty climb up to the top of Tenants Hill the bike took all the roots in its stride and then cruised up the last steep section despite the slippery conditions.  29ers just keep surprising me. What can’t they do?

The Niner Air 9 that we built uses a Manitou Tower Expert fork it is only £299 and is as good as any Fox or Rock Shox fork, has better compression damping with the only negative being a steel steerer. It has Shimano 10speed transmission, Formula RX brakes, custom built (Daz) Hope Pro2 Evo / DT / Stan’s No Tubes Crest wheels with Maxxis Ardent 2.25 tyres. The bike is finished of with 90mm Thomson stem 10 degree upside down, Thompson seat post and seat clamp and a Fi’z:ik Gobi saddle. Let me know how we could improve that?

So that was my ride to work, mostly single track, life could be worse. What will I have to test next? I’ve some ‘top secret’ 29ers on the way.

Tomorrow its back to being a roadie, racing at Goodwood again, and whilst in all likelihood I’ll finish mid pack I’ll be going to bed dreaming that I can win – why else would you enter a race?

Quest Adventure for 29ers in the South East

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kerry says:

    What tyre pressures did you settle on? Nice bike, looking for a large frame if it is and you’re bored with it!

  2. I think that I was running 30psi.
    We have sold the Air 9 but have just built a Niner EMD that still weighs only 26lbs. Details will be on the website as soon as I’ve got a photo.

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