For 2017, Niner's engineers went back to the drawing board and rebuilt the Jet 9 from the ground up. Similar in name but drastically different in geometry, the Niner Jet 9 RDO SLX Complete Bike goes much further than merely adding travel. It's longer across the top, steeper out back, slacker up front, and better at just about everything that made the original Jet 9 such a standout on the trail. Whether you're grinding up climbs or reveling in fast, flowy singletrack, the Jet 9 RDO lives up to its versatile reputation. This in-house GX Eagle build gets kitted up with a SRAM GX Eagle 1 x 12 drivetrain for a massive range of usable gears, SRAM Guide RS disc brakes with excellent modulation and stopping power, Mercury's stout Enduro alloy wheelset for running wider tires (the Jet 9 now clears 29 x 2.6-inch tires), and Fox's 34 Float fork with 120 millimeters of trail-taming travel.
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 148mm lets Niner chop 21mm 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 2017 Jet 9 comes with 130mm of front travel, it's got the same seat tube angle as the 2016 Jet 9 with a 100mm fork. Adding 30mm 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. In 2016, the Jet 9 was limited to a 71 or 70.5-degree head tube, depending on whether you were running a 100 or 110mm fork. For 2017 (as configured here in 29er form), it drops to 67.5 degrees. This makes it a thoroughly modern trail bike that's stable on descents, yet not overly slacked-out when you're cleaning technical sections and rounding tight switchbacks. When paired with the new iteration's longer reach and shorter stem, that angle means the bike can ride roughshod across all manner of trail obstacles without sacrificing responsive steering. Slack head tubes are fun, but we're occasionally frustrated by their muddy responsiveness. The Jet 9 lives up to Niner's reputation of nimble wagon wheel machines by ensuring that added 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 29in wheels to keep the big-rim platform balanced between taut and supple. Its low compression ratio means there's less need for suspension preload, 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 2.6 inches and 27.5 tires up to 3 inches wide.
- Niner's classic trail bike is more versatile than ever
- 120mm of CVA travel balances efficiency with bump compliance
- Modernized geometry is longer and slacker than previous model
- RDO carbon frame drops weight while maintaining optimal stiffness
- SRAM GX Eagle 1 x 12 drivetrain with massive range of usable gears
- FOX 34 Float 130mm fork smooths out big hits and rocky sections
- Mercury Enduro alloy wheels with stout 30mm internal width
- Boosted rear end clears 29 x 2.6in or 27.5 x 3in tires