In the past 18 months I’ve gone from being a 29er rookie to being well-versed after riding several designs from a handful of manufacturers. 29ers are for real and unbelievability I’ve even muttered the words “I could ride a hardtail again” after riding a 29er hardtail earlier this year.

In spite of my rose-colored glasses, I’ve still gone into my 29er experience with my eyes wide open–expecting to find the Achilles heel of the big hoop phenomenon. I thought I’d find floppy-handling, top-heavy feeling and awkward riding in tight terrain, but have found confident, solid, predictable and fun instead. My latest 29er is the Niner Jet 9 and it’s been mine for the taking, but in the end, the Jet took me for a ride that solidified the legitimacy of 29ers and Niner Bikes.

Niner Jet 9 Downtube

About the Niner Jet 9

The Jet 9 was introduced in late 2007 and rolled out of the factory in early 2008. After a few production delays and some challenges with the pivot rockers, everything has been smooth sailing. This steed sports 3.1-inches of rear wheel travel and the ability to roll with either an 80mm or 100mm fork up front.

The CVA Suspension design reminds me of my old Balfa 2-step. At its core, it’s a flavor of virtual pivot, but with Niner’s touch to give it just the right wheelpath and ensure high-quality and efficient travel in all conditions.

This XC machine isn’t just built for the race course, but is intended to be ridden in all conditions. In fact, Niner co-founder Chris Sugai rides the Jet as his personal day-in-day-out bike–even though he could choose from any bike in the line.

Features of the Niner Jet 9:

  • 6061 aluminum frame weighs 5.8 lbs
  • Custom-tuned Fox RP23
  • Tire clearance for even the largest tires
  • Sealed cartridge bearings in all pivots
  • 3.1-inches of rear wheel travel
  • CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension design
  • Sizes: Small, Medium (tested), Large and X-Large – view geometry chart
  • Colors: Kermit Green (tested), Jet Black, Vanna White
  • Weight: 27 lbs (as tested)
  • MSRP: $1749

Niner Jet 9 Bike Review

Niner Jet 9 29er Bike Review

When it comes to building solid 29er bikes, I trust “29er only” manufacturers, like Niner Bikes, more than makers of other flavors of mountain bikes who also make a couple of 29ers for kicks. Having a dedicated 29er engineering and fabrication process ensures that everything is built with 29ers in mind and not merely a modified 26-inch design. Yes, I’ve ridden several great 29er designs from Kona and Ellsworth, but a dedicated 29er outfit just knows their way around the big hoops.

In spite of the nay-sayers out there, Niner is pushing the travel envelope with the 29er platform–not necessarily with the Jet but with the RIP 9 Al trailbike and the new WFO long-travel trailbike. As a result, Niner has the most experience with 29er suspension designs and knows how to make a bike that is both squishy and efficient in a variety of travel options.

As tested, the build-kit was mostly top-shelf parts with the venerable Fox F29 100mm front fork. The overall Jet package was solid with great parts all-around. I was particularly impressed with the complete wheel package from the WTB LaserDisc Lite hubs, Stans ZTR Arch rims and WTB Prowler SL, which was lightweight, laterally stiff and offered dirt-gripping traction in all conditions. I was surprised how well the 2.1 width tires hooked up. I could push them hard enough to let loose, but under normal riding, they were stellar.

Funny story about the wheels. I ran into a few friends on a local trail. One of them commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever said this to a guy before, but those red nipples look awesome.” I just laughed and said, “Uhhh… thanks, I think.” The whole wheel package with the red nipples did tie in the red accents on the pivot bolts nicely.

Climbing on the Jet 9 is efficient and fun. I love the momentum-carrying 29er wheel platform for its ability to power through anything and the Jet 9 can definitely motor up steep and loose terrain with the best of them.

Niner Jet 9 Bike Review

With the long Fall we had here in Utah, I was able to ride on some my favorite trails and climb with mid-season efficiency though my body wasn’t quite in mid-season form. I was able to spin up my local time trail climb in my typical time–had I ridden the Jet during the summer, I’m sure I would have beat my personal best.

Both standing and seated climbs are met with a solid platform and excellent traction.

I was a little weary of the mere 3.1-inches of travel, but in the back of my mind I was confident in Niner’s ride quality. When I did point the Jet downhill, I was met with calm and collected handling with the ability to ride through much more than your typical 3-inch XC bike could even dream of. The more I rode the Jet the more I liked it and the more confident I became.

This bike truly rides beyond it’s travel on the downhill and remains very efficient on the up.

In Kermit Green, this bike looks awesome, but both the ride quality and build quality are proof that this love at first sight will also be a long-time companion.

Good Jet 9

  • XC efficiency with trailbike manners
  • Exceptional build quality
  • CVA suspension platform is smooth and keeps the center-of-gravity low
  • “No Wander” climber keeps things tracking straight
  • Precision handling inspires confidence
  • Frame just looks sexy

Bad Jet 9

  • Small bump sensitivity and chatter bumps can be a tad rough
  • Water bottle location is tight
  • You’re unlikely to find one for a test ride

Niner Jet 9 - CVA Suspension

Bottom Line: Niner Jet 9

With XC roots and trailbike manners, the Niner Jet 9 is fast on the way up and capable on the way down. Handling is superb and build quality is top-notch. There’s no question that the Jet is a Niner. While it is an XC bike, this bike is extremely versatile and could easily be that one bike to rule them all.

Buy Now: Build the Latest Niner Jet 9 at CompetitiveCyclist.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

6 Comments

    • Hey Gilbert…

      I just got word from the folks at Niner. That particular bike weighs in at just under 27 lbs. I rounded it up on the above specs now. My guesstimate was off by a pound.

  1. I just got an email from Niner and they have recalled a fair amount of Jet 9’s once more. Pretty painful after the rocker arm recall last year.

    Here’s a portion of that email from Niner:

    We would like to apologize to Niner owners who have been patiently waiting for us to address the problems you have been experiencing with the Jet 9. Please understand it has nothing to do with Niner ignoring or not caring about our customers.

    The fact is we have been very hard at work analyzing the issues with the Jet 9 so that we could fully understand the warranty cases we received and provide a definitive solution. This analysis included destructive testing, metallurgical study and FEA computer modeling. Using these methods we examined the quality of the base metal, filler material, heat affected zone of the weld, structural design and finish quality of the frames. We built over 20 new prototypes and tested them in every way imaginable.

    In light of test results and after many hours of discussion on how best to serve our loyal customers, we decided to voluntarily recall Jet 9 frames with serial numbers from P8071682 to P8400454. These frames risk welding defects in the front and rear triangles that may lead to a premature failure of the frame. Unfortunately, there is no way to visually check for these weld defects. We must require that you stop riding the frame immediately because a failure could occur at any time.

    We cannot overstate our concern in regards to these issues, and are investing significant portion of company resources into correcting the issue in the most expedited manner. Niner puts a lot of care into producing bikes that we are proud to put our name on. Our goal is to provide excellent customer service and we realize that ths recall is a huge inconvenience. The amount of time we have put into this testing process has caused production delays, leaving orders unfilled. We know that customers spent hard earned money on a Niner and now we are asking that you to send the frame back for replacement. For some people this is a second time. We cannot begin to explain how sorry we feel about this, but we promise we will make things right and thank you for your purchase, understanding and support.

    If you have an affected Jet 9, you will have a few options: Purchase another frame at a serious discount while you wait for a free replacement Jet to be shipped in early 2010, opt for a free RIP 9 right now in lieu of a replacement Jet or wait for your replacement Jet in early 2010 and get $150 in free Niner gear.

    Visit NinerBikes.com or download this PDF for details.

  2. Pingback: Put a 29er Under the Christmas Tree - FeedTheHabit.com

  3. Pingback: Niner Jet 9 Al 29er Bike Review - FeedTheHabit.com

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