The Jet 9 Carbon features a carbon front triangle and an alloy rear with the suspension design being Niner's own patented CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) dual-link rear suspension.
Available in a full size curve from XS to XL, the small and up all have space for a water bottle in the front triangle and one under the downtube, while the XS only has space for a bottle mount under the downtube. The frame comes standard with titanium frame guards to keep your chain from eating into the chainstays. Depending on specific models, there is enough clearance to run a 2.4" tire. Most Jet 9 owners would probably not go wider than 2.25" in the rear, but it's great to see enough clearance to run wider tires and more than enough space to keep mud from building up and slowing you down.
Internal routing and provision for a dropper seatpost are nice detailed touches. The entry ports on the head tube look a bit messy though and will require some form of D.I.Y to keep them neat and fresh for longer.
- Carbon full suspension front triangle with alloy rear triangle
- 100MM of CVA suspension is efficient in every chainring
- Compatible with 100-120MM Tapered Forks
- Tuned for CVA – Rock Shox Monarch RT with Fast Black coating
- Forged alloy suspension linkage and unique Niner hardware
- 142x12MM rear spacing
- PF30 bottom bracket
- Extra small size with industry leading standover
- Available in: Orange/Blaze Yellow or Black/Slate Grey
The Jet 9 Carbon as tested here is the 2015 spec. 2016 will sport a Shimano XT M8000 11-speed drivetrain and Rock Shox Pike.
[spec_list][spec_list_row=Frame]JET 9 CARBON - Orange/Blaze Yellow and Black/Slate Grey[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Fork]ROCKSHOX REBA RLT 120MM[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Wheels]NINER ALLOY, 100X15MM FRONT, 142 X 12MM REAR, NINER GRAPHIC[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Tires]SCHWALBE RACING RALPH[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Brakes and Rotors"]SHIMANO XT, 180/160MM ROTORS[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Brake Levers"]SHIMANO XT[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Front Derailleur"]SHIMANO XT M785[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Front Shifter"]SHIMANO XT M785[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Rear Derailleur"]SHIMANO XT M785[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Rear Shifter"]SHIMANO XT M785[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Cassette]SHIMANO XT M785[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Chain]SHIMANO XT[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Crankset]SHIMANO XT M785 [/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Bottom Bracket"]SHIMANO[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Saddle]NINER CUSTOM WITH CR-MO RAILS, NINER GRAPHIC[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Seat post"]NINER CARBON SEAT POST, 400MM, NINER GRAPHIC[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Handlebar]NINER FLAT TOP CARBON, 710MM, NINER GRAPHIC[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Stem "]FSA SL-K[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Grips]NINER GRRRIPS L/O NYLON[/spec_list_row][/spec_list]
Fork: At first I was a little disappointed to see a a Reba on a carbon Niner. That did not last long as I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the fork out on the trail. The Reba deals well with trail clutter and felt balanced with the Monarch doing shock duty.
Wheels: Niner's own wheels have been spec'ed on the Jet and they were up to the task. A wider rim would be nice and will allow the Jet 9 Carbon to venture even deeper into Trail riding territory.
Drivetrain: One simply can not fault Shimano's XT groupset. Shifting was sharp and precise, and I liked riding a 2x drivetrain for a change.
Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralphs and fairly narrow rims do not make for a confidence boosting combo. I suppose the pairing is not out of place on a 100mm Marathon / XC racing bike, but wider rims or gripper tires will make for a more fun experience.
Brakes: As with the XT drivetrain, the XT brakes deliver no matter what bike they are on. Just make sure you have the right size rotor for your riding and you should be okay for anything short of the fastest, hardest types of riding.
Handlebar: Another spec choice from the Niner parts bin. At 710mm wide it was a bit narrow for my liking, but will most likely be spot on for most XC or marathon riders. I'd still like to see that bumped up to 725mm at least.
Grips: I'm not a big fan of foam grips and I prefer lock-ons, but I'd assume foam grips are specced most of the time to save some weight. I'd rather have all-day comfort than save a couple of grams. The Niner grips were quite comfortable though, but in heavier, technical terrain they started to show their shortcomings. Again, not something that will or should be a problem for most XC or Marathon riders.
On The Trail
Niner prides themselves on the claim that their CVA (Continually Variable Arc) suspension design is designed to pedal well in any size chainring. Having recently ridden the 11-speed R.I.P. and this Jet that came equipped with a 2 x 10 Shimano drivetrain, I can confirm that both bikes pedalled really well regardless of what gear they are in. To the point where you can leave the shock in its full open setting and let the suspension do the work for you. This is music to my ears as it means when setting up the suspension one can truly go for the optimal setting rather than try and find a good (compromised) middle ground. I'm sure hardcore racers will prefer to lock the rear out, but for most trail riders there will be no need to tinker once happy with the set up.
Although on paper its geometry is squarely in the XC mould, on the trails it leans towards the feel of a trail bike. Some of that is thanks to the 120mm fork which slackens the head angle out to 70.5° - down from 71.5° with a 100mm fork, depending on axle to crown and tires of course. Thankfully the seat tube angle stays a climb-friendly 73.5° with a 120mm fork.
The Jet 9 was happy to tackle both smooth flowy single track and trails with more challenges thrown in. Its neutral feel gives the rider a lot of confidence and all attention can be focused on the trail and having some fun. Pedaling is very good which helps take some effort out of long climbs. Put the gas down out of a corner and the Jet 9 leaps forward with little to no signs of squat under power. Tackling short, steep technical climbs that need a burst of power was especially rewarding on the Jet 9, as the combination of he CVA suspension and the bike's overall geometry works together. District gravel and fire roads are disposed of with a focused tenacity and vigour - hardly causing the Jet 9 to break a sweat.
I have to admit that Niner Bikes have a "coolness factor" that is hard to explain. I think it's a mixture of the way they go about their business, cool graphics and colours, beautiful design (very subjective, I know) and, of course, the way their bikes ride. Or maybe their marketing just works well on me!
There can however be no doubt that the Niner is a natural climber that is happy to have some fun if its rider is up for it. There are limits to what a XC focused bike with 100mm travel can do. Stick to those confines and chances are you will have a blast riding your Jet 9 Carbon.
More information and pricing available here.
From the Manufacturer:
The Jet 9 Carbon is the choice for cross country riders looking to topple their riding buddies on the local loop, aim for the podium on any given Sunday, or head out on an endless high country single track epic. It begs you to push harder and challenge your physical limits as you ride further and explore deeper on unridden trails.
When you find yourself lost exploring new trails or in the darkness of an oxygen-deprived state as you race yourself to the next trail intersection, the Jet 9 Carbon will deliver you with ease.
The new Jet 9 Carbon features the same full carbon front triangle, geometry, and beautiful lines that Niner riders have grown to love. It is now paired with an alloy rear triangle to bring the coveted ride quality of carbon to a greater base of riders. The newly revised frame offers an updated alloy rear triangle that takes advantage of 142x12mm rear wheel spacing and adds confidence to all riding conditions with the ability to run an externally routed dropper post.