Heading into the Eurobike, Interbike, Outerbike swing, Niner Bikes has announced the re-design of both the Air 9 and E.M.D.  9 frames. The Air 9 has long been the hardtail flagship of Niner’s lineup and now both the Air and E.M.D. 9’s are taking on a similar design to the much-beloved Air 9 Carbon.

The highlights include stronger, lighter frames that feature new hydroformed tubing, no mor Scandium for the Air 9 (Niner opted for 6000-series aluminum instead), BB30 bottom-backet on the Air 9, tapered head tubes and more. Here’s the details from Niner.

New Niner AIR 9: Lighter and Stronger

Niner riders have long loved the simplicity of an alloy hardtail with great ride quality. For those riders, we are excited to announce updated Air 9 and E.M.D. 9 frames, available immediately.


For the updated Air 9, we have selected a newly available aluminum alloy from the 6000 series family. For those who are scandium loyalists, this may require a change in mindset, but the advantages of our selection are clear. For many years, the lightest alloy racing frames came with round tubes such as scandium. While a historically important material, scandium is not compliant with newly available hydroforming and production methods. When looking to produce advanced designs with a carefully tuned ride-feel, we have to look for better raw material options.

  • Our new alloy tubing produces a stronger Air 9 frame than the previous material. In testing, the new Air 9 is stiffer than previous round-tube models.
  • This new material allows us to double, triple or even quad butt the tubing where we see fit, giving us a light but compliant frame. Those of you riding the original Air 9 will be pleased with the great ride quality.
  • Our new alloy tubing loves to be shaped, giving us significant design freedom. We are now able to tune our alloy frame as carefully as we do our carbon frames, adding strength where needed and improving ride feel via tube-shaping methods. These methods complement our award-winning geometry to create an advanced alloy hardtail for racing applications.
  • Our new alloy tubing is anodizing friendly. While not recommended for the previous material, the new Air 9 can be anodized, allowing folks to get a rugged and extra-light finish in a stealthy black, with low profile logos.
  • The new Air 9 will win more races. The net effect of a lighter, stronger and stiffer frame with better ride feel is a faster bike.


The benefits of a tapered headtube aren’t just for riders of long travel bikes. XC racers and riders also see significant advantages, which is why we have incorporated the technology into the new Air 9.

  • By allowing for the use of the newest generation of tapered steerer suspension forks, we create the stiffest front end possible – leading to increased steering precision as you carve a corner and descend toward the finish line.
  • The change in headtube standards also allows us to incorporate an integrated headset – giving you the same stack height as our original Air 9, but with a significant increase in torsional stiffness.


Riders will notice significant changes to the look of the new Air 9, due to hydroformed tubing throughout the design. However the effect of this upgrade goes much further than appearance.

Hydroforming allows us to shape the tubes and optimize strength and stiffness in key areas, giving us the ability to create beautifully tuned frames with the precise ride characteristics we seek for every application. In testing, this frame puts up stiffness numbers much higher than the original, with no weight penalty. We utilize hydroforming in the toptube, downtube, headtube, chainstays and seatstays.

  • Because of the larger welding area created by the new tapered headtube, we are able to include a new, massive, hydroformed downtube as well as a significantly larger diameter toptube, contributing to a much stronger frame.
  • The shape of a tube is as important now as the material it is made from. Shaping has a huge effect on the way stress is distributed across and around a tube. Controlling the stress distribution enables us to use less material while maintaining, or even increasing, the frame strength.
  • Shaped tubing is found in many frames. It is important to be aware that how a tube is shaped can change the quality of the results. The least expensive method for shaping a tube is via mechanical forming. In this process, tube shapes are achieved by manipulating a straight gauge tube using mandrils, dies and, tube bending equipment. This approach has limits, particularly when it comes to tube bends and tube butting (wall thickness). To contrast, Niner uses a multi-stage hydroforming process – a straight gauge tube is butted and mechanically formed in preparation for the hydroforming process. Once the initial tube geometry is achieved, the tube is fully enclosed in a die, then pressurized with hydraulic fluid. This causes the aluminum to expand, obtaining the shape of the die. This process allows better control of wall thickness and more flexibility in cross sectional shaping over mechanical forming (www.ninerbikes.com/hydroform).
  • Chainstays, seat tube and seatstays also benefit from hydroforming, via controlled wall thicknesses for increased butting profiles . This translates to a rear triangle that is tuned for stiffness, strength and vertical compliance – in other words, ideal ride feel.


The new Air 9 now uses the PRESS FIT 30 standard, allowing for further weight reduction. Shimano-style cranksets are compatible, via PF30 adaptors.


Finally, the question everyone asks – is it lighter than the old version? Yes. The frames are about 70g lighter than the original, with even more weight savings when considering the new component options:

  • Old Air 9 + external headset + GXP BB = 1773g
  • New Air (anodized) + integrated headset + PF30 BB = 1661g

So yes, you will save weight, in addition to increasing power output and efficiency, an all-around win.

The New Niner E.M.D. 9

The E.M.D. 9 is also redesigned, integrating custom hydroformed tubing and a tapered headtube, as worthy brother to the Air 9. Upgrades include a new tapered headtube, hydroformed downtube and significantly larger diameter toptube, contributing to a much stronger frame.

These upgrades also allow for the use of tapered steerer suspension forks and internal zero stack headsets, for the stiffest front end possible (with the same stack height as our original E.M.D. 9 model).

The EMD 9 still features a standard bottom bracket, making this a friendly frame option for riders upgrading from a pre-existing bike.

The E.M.D. 9 sees an update to looks as well, with the new aesthetics reflecting the flagship bikes in the Niner lineup, and now including a Black Anodized option for those seeking the lightest, most rugged finish.

Frame finish details remain top-notch on the E.M.D. 9 – stainless steel Niner headbadge, reamed and faced headtube and bottom bracket, chased BB threads and faced disc brake mount tabs.

More Info: Visit NinerBikes.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly 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.

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