The SIR in the redesigned SIR 9 stands for ‘Steel Is Real’. “I like the ride of steel frames,” said Chris Sugai, president of Niner. “The ride can’t be replicated with carbon or aluminum.”
But just because Niner like steel, that doesn’t mean they don’t want all the contemporary glamor of today’s bikes – through-axles, tapered head tubes, clean cable routing and Niner’s CYA (Cover Your Ass) bottom bracket system.
The new SIR 9 pairs these features with a new Reynolds 853 DZB tubeset. The top and down tubes has ‘double zone butting’, a thicker, third butt for the head tube connections. This offers more strength and allows the steel frame to pass the EN Horizontal Fatigue test, which no previous Niner steel frame has done. The test itself was a game-changer for aluminum bikes, and with steel technology progressing it might have the same impact in that sector, making the category safer.
The 44mm head tube, and impressive welding where the top and down tubes meet it
The down tube is also shaped, requiring special tooling from Reynolds. This allows for wider spacing from the top tube, creating a stiffer structure while still allowing fork crown clearance. Now that Reynolds and Niner have figured out how to bend the steel, they’ve pitched it to interested NASCAR teams for use in roll cages; previously it wasn’t an option because 853 couldn’t be manipulated easily.
The two new 853 DZB top and down tubes are mated to Reynolds 631 head and seat tubes. The latter allows Niner to spec a bulge butt to fit a 27.2mm seat post. The rear end is finished with radically shaped, 4130 chromoly chain and seat stays.
In addition to the new DZB tubes, the new SIR 9 uses a 44mm ‘can’ style head tube. Depending on headset type, this fits both tapered and straight 1 1/8in steerers.
The CYA bottom bracket shell is a 55mm press-fit unit that accepts all major bottom bracket standards, from Biocentric II to press-fit 30, press-fit 92 and even a standard threaded insert.
Out back, Niner have forged their own through-axle dropouts, which fit a 12x142mm rear Maxle through-axle. Niner also plan to sell the piece to frame-builders. “We’ll sell them to custom builders as well,” said Sugai. “The molds cost thousands of dollars, and many small builders don’t have the ability to make such a part.”
The 55mm bottom bracket shell accepts a multitude of CYA bottom bracket adaptors from Niner
In addition to the dropouts, Niner have forged custom bridges for the stays. Plus, the rear disc caliper mounts to small threaded bullets that require the chain stays to be mitered before they can be welded on.
The seat and chain stays are very intricate, bending for heel clearance, compliance and around the rear brake caliper. Because of this, a special mandrel is needed to make them for each of Niner’s four SIR sizes.
The rear through-axle and bullet-style brake mount
With all the upgrades, and the extra strength required to pass the EN Horizontal test, the SIR 9 gains just 0.1lb over the previous model. It sits at 4.6lb for a medium frame.
The Tamale Red and Arctic White bikes will come with the option of a color-matched, carbon-ridged Niner fork. The Tamale Red model will also have the option of a color-matched RockShox SID.
On 30 June 30 Niner will launch a new website, which will allow US riders to log on and pick colors, sizes and specs for bikes. They can then print out the details and bring them to a local dealer for a 48-hour turnaround sale.
Custom SIR 9s auctioned for charity
Niner are auctioning six of their latest 853 steel SIR 9 frames, in Tamale Red and Arctic White. The company are corporate members of the IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) so it’s fitting that all proceeds will go to the trail advocacy organization.
This is the third time Niner have auctioned bikes for IMBA – last year they offered nine Air 9 carbon bikes to the cause. “The North Fork trails [in Whatcom County, Washington] were lost because of paperwork,” said Carla Hukee, Niner’s brand manager. “IMBA does the paperwork so we’re happy to help support them.”
The bikes up for auction have limited edition IMBA color schemes
New developments: titanium cogs and more
Along with the revamped frame, Niner are offering a new RDO seatpost with an ‘unstiff’ layup. This produces 8.16mm of deflection when loaded with 130lb, compared to the 6.3mm of Niner’s standard carbon post or 4.72mm of the alloy option.
We caught a sneak peek of two 6/4 titanium Cogalicious RDO singlespeed cogs. Niner weren’t answering questions on them but it’s a pretty straightforward product. We saw 17- and 23-tooth options, and expect Niner to match the range they do in alloy, including 18-, 19-, 20-, 21- and 22-tooth options.
Niner’s yet-to-be-talked-about Cogalicious RDO titanium singlespeed cogs
Niner have also promised new products every 60 to 90 days for the rest of the year, so we’ll keep you posted.
Niner’s Carla Hukee and Chris Sugai