My first stint on a 29-er came at the Interbike Outdoor Demo last fall. I was wandering by the Niner booth and met the owner, Chris Sugai, who set me up on an unridden “media only” Niner RIP 9. The thing was mind-blowing. I simply had no idea how much of a difference 3 inches could make. Small bumps were non-existent and it just seemed to float like a Cadillac down everything in sight.
After that ride, I hopped onto the Turner Sultan and had a great time as well, but not as great of a time as I did on the Niner RIP 9. Since that time, I’ve had several friends drink the 29-er Kool Aid. On trailrides, I’m now surrounded by Gary Fisher HiFi 29 full-suspension and the Felt NinePro hardtail. I had the opportunity today to slip out on the Felt NinePro for a trailride and was surprised how much I enjoyed riding a hardtail of all things.
About the Felt Nine Pro 29-er
The top-of-the-line hardtail 29-er from Felt is no slouch on components. The solid Shimano Deore XT drivetrain combined with the RockShox Reba fork and stout wheels make for a quality overall package. As is typical for 29-ers, the head angle is a super-steep 72 degrees, but don’t fear, it’s all calculated.
A few other features of the Felt NinePro include:
- “Nine” double-butted aluminum tubing
- Shimano Deore XT shifters, derailleurs, hubs and cranks
- RockShox Reba Race 29
- WTB Laser Disc rims
- Integrated headset
- Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 tires
- MSRP: $2199
- Learn more at www.FeltRacing.com
Felt Nine Pro 29-er Quick Review
I only spun a quick out and back over about 800 vertical feet of climbing on narrow, twisty singletrack, but I did get a good overall feel for the NinePro during the 45 minutes I spent in the saddle. Just a note… most of my reviews are done over several weeks time, so keep in mind that this was indeed a quick review. My first impression of the Felt NinePro was just how smoothly it rolls. This is a characteristic of all 29-ers and makes me consider (I know… crazy) purchasing a hardtail again. I haven’t even uttered those words in years. And while it may not actually happen, I’m open to the idea.
Spinning uphill was a breeze thanks to the instant power transmission from pedal to wheel. The tires gripped well on the hardpack and rocky desert soil here in Utah. I did notice some slight bouncing on ruts where the rear wheel lost some contact with terra firma. I just had to finesse my climbs a bit more than I have to on full-suspension rigs.
Descending on the NinePro was predictable and stable. The 29-inch wheels roll over everything with aplomb… yeah, aplomb. It’s amazing to me that a hardtail can feel so smooth. I mean, nobody is going to confuse this hardtail with a squishy Iron Horse Sunday, but by no means should this bike be lumped with the old-school 26-inch hardtails I grew up riding. Yes, you have to pick your lines a bit more judiciously, but it will roll over stuff that would typically give a short-hooped hardtail fits. Since it is a hardtail, braking is noticeably less efficient going into hard corners… again, finesse is needed to avoid skidding into corners.
Not everything was perfect, however. Apparently, my buddy doesn’t know how to adjust modern forks, so after suffering halfway through the climb, I had to stop and make adjustments. The rebound on the RockShox Reba fork was set all the way to slow and it was about 30 psi low. After some quick adjustments (I wonder how many people ride their forks like that?), the suspension was much more active and supple. After those quick adustments, the Reba was as smooth as 100mm travel can be and my buddy couldn’t thank me more for improving his ride. Let this be a lesson to all of you… please adjust your suspension regularly!
The other gripe was with the stock Felt bars. These bars are BAD, BAD, BAD… holy smokes… they are about 3-4 inches narrower than any other bar on the market and they lack any upsweep. Needless to say, the bars would be the first thing to be ditched on this bike.
Good Felt NinePro
- Nice and smooth 29-er
- Solid parts spec
- Great climber… capable descender
- Feels better than any hardtail I’ve ever ridden
Bad Felt NinePro
- Awful Felt handlebars… too narrow and no rise
- High center of gravity is noticeable if you lose momentum
- I know it’s a 29-er, so you “can” charge a premium, but for $2199, this thing should be sprinkled with XTR and carbon/titanium bits and no house-brand parts
The Bottom Line on the Felt Nine Pro
I had a great time on the Felt NinePro and I’m now actually open to the idea of having a hardtail. Though I may never jump on a hardtail, I’m definitely a 29-er believer. The Felt NinePro is a simple and solid workhorse for those wanting to stay hard, but get on something that can take the edge off. You’ll have to finesse it more than you would on a full-suspension rig, but if lightweight rolling efficiency is what you seek, the Felt NinePro is a great choice.