A quick glance at California-based Niner Bikes’ website could convince even the most stubborn 29er cynic that this big-wheelers-only brand might have something special going on, and not just with its hardtails either. The Jet 9 is the ﬁrst 29er full-susser that’s won us over. In fact, it's one of the best do-everything trail bikes we’ve tested for a while.
Ride & handling: Comfortable, confident and controlled
Some people claim that the best 29ers are faster than similar 26ers. Our opinion, conﬁrmed by the superbly smooth ride rhythm of the Jet, is that while 29ers carry speed through bumpy sections of trail better, ﬁt and skilled riders don’t go any faster overall on a given circuit.
Big wheels are slower in acceleration but smoother rolling once up to speed, which for these riders seem to cancel each other out. For mortals, the smoother rolling combines with better traction and stability to increase conﬁdence. This can make riding faster in places.
The well controlled suspension emphasises this, making the Jet 9 the most comfortable, conﬁdent short-travel susser we’ve tested. It’s equally at ease on ups, downs and technical singletrack, and with lighter kit could moonlight as a competent race/marathon bike.
Frame: Sturdy chassis with sorted geometry and no obvious bob
Available in Kermit Green, Vana White or Anodised Liquorice, the Jet 9 has just over 3in of virtual pivot, dual rocker suspension travel via Niner’s own CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) design. The ﬂoating-out-front pivot point ensures an active suspension feel without any obvious pedal- or weight-activated bob.
The system’s mechanics sit low on the bike, emphasising the low centre of gravity that characterises 29ers due to the bottom bracket axle being lower than the wheel axles. Geometry is the best we’ve come across on a full-suss 29er, too.
Limited tyre clearance is not an issue as a kinked seat tube and skeletal sub-frame let the mud disperse. Sturdy pivot bearings support lateral loads well and stop ﬂexing, and there are enough tube reinforcements to give you maximum conﬁdence when riding hard.
Equipment: Choose your own kit, or plump for £4k complete bike
UK importers Jungle can supply a Fox F100 forked bike with SRAM X.O/X.9 drivetrain and Avid Juicy 7 brakes for £3,999, but a lot of riders will probably go for a frame alone. Dealers will give you a price on any build kit you like.