All the reviews of the Jet 9 RDO start off with some cheap innuendo about how sexy the bike looks. I confess that I, too, was rolling Van Halen lyrics around in my head, trying to come up with a clever opening line about my college girlfriend or the neighbor’s wife. But the more time I spent with this sultry carbon looker, the more I realized my lust for the newest Niner is more than skin deep.
Despite all its flash and splash, the Jet 9 is more Boy Scout than supermodel. My time in the Scouts was impressively short, but I still remember the Boy Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful…. OK, I don’t remember it all. But during an amazing ride at Annadel State Park near Santa Rosa, California — three hours of rock gardens, rolling singletrack and whippy-fast doubletrack — the Jet 9 RDO was all of those things. It’s an obedient, point-me-in-the-direction-you-want-me-to-go kind of riding partner that simply will not let you down. Ever.inside niner: big wheels, big payoff Building Sweet Bikes, And a ‘Business of the Future’
The test bike Niner loaned me came loaded with top-shelf components. The Shimano XTR shifters, derailleurs and brakes were spot-on crisp, deftly registering every last-second shift and desperate death-grip squeeze of the levers. If you aren’t running the new Shimano XTR Shadow Plus derailleur technology, you’re missing a treat (and possibly a shift).
The American Classic MTB Race 29 tubeless wheels were wrapped with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires. They rolled true and fast, with the Ralphs hooking up with greater frequency than guys on OKCupid. I’ve been slow to embrace the tubeless phenomenon, but these wheels had me rethinking my clincher allegiance. I put less and less air in the tires with every ride, and the less air I used, the better it rode. I never had a problem, regardless of the size of the rocks I attacked with this beast.
Other highlights of an impressive kit: The WTB Volt saddle admirably filled in for my favorite Specialized Toupe, and all of the bits bearing the Niner name (bars, stem, post, et cetera) were more than up to the job.
The suspension duties were taken care of by an SID XX World Cup up front and a Fox RP23 in the back, tailored to Niner’s patented CVA suspension design. Even as I was out on the trails flogging my Niner, the company launched the Jet 9 RDO V2, ostensibly making my loaner the Jet 9 RDO V1. The update includes a rear thru-axle, moving away from the long-held standard 135mm axle, and a carbon rocker that cuts weight while increasing stiffness. The price goes up, too: This new version of the Jet 9 is going to cost around $2,900 for the frame and carbon rocker.
With 100 millimeters of travel at both ends and a respectable 24 pounds, Niner is positioning this bike as a full-on racer. However, the Jet 9 is far more versatile than that. You can go almost anywhere and do almost anything on this bike.
On my first ride, I ended up on a little piece of trail wondering where my four-plus inches of travel and full-face helmet were. I was seriously wondering if the Niner was up to the monster run ahead. But rather than curse myself for bringing the wrong tool for the job, I put my trust in the Niner. Come on, I was out here to test this beast after all. And of course, she didn’t let me down.As long as I didn’t chicken out, the Niner did exactly what I asked of it.
This happened again and again on subsequent rides as I braved steep descents, rock gardens and tricky uphill pitches. As long as I didn’t chicken out, the Niner did exactly what I asked of it. Before long, I’d stopped trying to pick the perfect line and just pressed ahead, going up, over, down and around things I might have otherwise avoided. I noticed no negative pedaling effect, and the suspension remained predictable and efficacious in all situations.
Yeah, there are bikes that soak up more abuse, so if you’re into big hits and ripping gravity runs, look elsewhere. But my time on the “Orange Stallion” definitely caused my competitive nature to bubble up. It’s the perfect ride for tearing up fast, floaty singletrack, and I attacked plenty of it with my heart rate up and my head down, drool dribbling from my mouth. I even felt the urge to check the NCNVA website to see if there are any upcoming races in the area.
Oh, who am I kidding? My racing days are over. But if I ever feel the urge to hit the start line, I know, like a good Boy Scout, the Jet 9 RDO will be prepared.
WIRED Capable of hypersonic speed. 29ers: all the rage. Searing paint, sexy design. Wheeeee!
TIRED If you’re not interested in going fast, you’re better off with something cozier. Not as light as other race rigs, so weight weenies should give it a pass. Frame shape makes it hard to lean on, so you can’t really play peacock at the coffee shop.
Article by Jim Merithew (c) Product Reviews - Read full story here.