It’s been teased, and people have been building AIR9 Carbon hardtails with drop bars for years. And there’s enough Niner employees that race ‘cross that it needed to happen. After all, the RLT9 gravel road bike proved they could translate their mountain bike heritage into something new.
The introduction of the new Niner BSB 9 RDO gave them an opportunity to introduce a new carbon fiber frame production process, too. Called Carbon Compaction System, it uses a pre-shaped styrofoam mold that the carbon is laid up around. This provides them with the shape they want and a firm platform to build each frame part around. The benefits are multiple: First, it sets the carbon in the exact position it should be in without any shifting from a bladder inflating after layup. Second, it means less excess resin pooling inside the frame, so less weight and waste. Third, it makes for a perfectly smooth inside wall with no wrinkles or fibrous looseness. This means fewer opportunities for weak spots.
Technically, there’s still a bladder around the styrofoam that’s inflated to fully compress the carbon against the outer, metal mold for proper compaction. But starting with the firm styrofoam core gets them very, very close to the final shape – much closer than wrapping around a floppy silicone core. Once heat molded and cured, the styrofoam molds shrink to less than half during the process and are simply pulled out and discarded. The whole design means they have more control over the process which leads to more precise construction.
Of course, they also had to come up with a cool name. The Niner BSB means…
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