Iconic trail bike, now with refreshed aesthetics.
Seeing the previous JET 9 RDO 29er was a resoundingly successful trail bike that pleased riders with its balanced handling traits and confidence-inspiring feel over technical stretches of singletrack, the newest version of this bike remains practically the same, as to retain this trail-pleasing formula. You'll find the only changes for the 2018 JET 9 RDO 29 3-Star Complete Mountain Bike is a refreshed color scheme that's available in a stunningly bright Slate/Orange or stealthy Licorice colorway, as well as internal guide tubes that make cable installation and maintenance easier than before. Other than that, it's entirely the same as the previous 2017 JET 9 RDO, which is a good thing if you're seeking a do-it-all trail bike with 29-inch wheels for steamrolling rocks and roots standing in your way.
As with most bikes in the current trail generation, the key element underwriting the new Jet 9's versatile geometry is its Boost rear axle. Bumping the spacing up to 148 millimeters lets Niner chop 21 millimeters off of chainstays by slamming the rear wheel up into the seat tube. The seat tube contributes to that versatility, too. Despite the fact that the 2019 JET 9 RDO comes with 130 millimeters of front travel, it's got the same seat tube angle as the previous generation 2016 JET 9 with only a 100-millimeter fork. Adding 30 millimeters up front would typically force you out of the bike's center; however, the new Jet 9's geometry keeps you on top of the pedals while the included dropper post allows you to clear out some cockpit space so you can throw the bike around on descents.
The bike's updates shine at the front end, too. The previous generation JET 9 was limited to a 71 or 70.5-degree head tube, depending on whether you were running a 100 or 110-millimeter fork. For 2018 (as configured here), it drops to 67.5 degrees. This gives the JET 9 greater stability at high speeds and enduro-esque confidence on steep descents. When paired with the latest generation's longer reach and shorter stem, that head tube angle means the bike can ride roughshod across all manner of trail impediments without sacrificing its responsive steering. Slack head tubes are fun, but we're occasionally frustrated by their slow responsiveness and wandering front end. The Jet 9 lives up to Niner's reputation of nimble wagon wheel machines by ensuring that trail aggression doesn't come at the cost of control.
Despite the above changes, Niner's Race Day Optimized (RDO) construction process remains relatively unchanged. This is a good thing, as Niner's compaction method presses out any excess resin and compacts the carbon down to a uniform wall thickness. This gives Niner precise control over where material is and where it isn't, letting the engineers actually engineer the frame by reducing weight where it's not needed while ensuring stiffness and durability at key areas of power transfer and abuse.
The CVA suspension model is also virtually unchanged. CVA is designed specifically around 29-inch wheels to keep the big-wheel platform balanced between taut under power and supple while rallying over rocks and roots. Its low compression ratio means there's less need for suspension pre-load, so the mechanism can float more freely and react more readily to the terrain without being loose or sloppy. CVA's lower linkage placement beneath the bottom bracket isolates pedal input from suspension action to prevent the system from bobbing or back-kicking, resulting in a smooth but efficient bike that's responsive to both your power and the trail's trickery.
The frame's finishing details are everything you'd expect from the obsessive developers at Niner, and our favorite new addition is the inclusion of a BSA threaded bottom bracket. PressFit shells may be lighter and more convenient, but the exact tolerances of a CNC-machined thread are virtually unsurpassable by today's composite technology. The threading means bearing cups install perfectly, reducing wear over time and reducing the creaks, groans, and pops that so often accompany PressFit models. Vulnerable bits are girded with titanium protection plates. The frame also includes integrated battery storage in case you get the urge for electro shifting, and the revised axle spacing and geometry dimensions accommodate 29er tires up to 2.4 inches and 27.5+ tires up to 3 inches in width.
- Niner's iconic trail bike gets a mid-cycle color refreshment
- New internal tubes for easier cable routing and maintenance
- 120mm of CVA travel is efficient, yet supple over rough trails
- Updated trail geometry powers up climbs and rips down descents
- SRAM GX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain offers a massive range of gears
- Boost 148mm rear spacing clears 29 x 2.5 and 27.5 x 3in tires
- Stan's Arch MK3 Wheels with 26mm width for optimal tire support