Fresh off its first birthday, the Niner Jet 9 RDO gets updated with a few key changes, and the original trickles down to become the “standard” Jet 9 Carbon.
The 2013 Jet 9 RDO mostly sees changes at the rear with a 12×142 and a new carbon rocker arm at the top. Other small changes include tweaks to the carbon layup and an upgrade to Enduro Magnetite Black Max sealed bearings throughout. If you recall, when the Jet 9 RDO was introduced in June 2011, founder Chris Sugai told us they stuck with a standard QR rear axle because the gains in stiffness with a thru-axle were marginal at best and introduced engineering complexities that didn’t warrant the switch. I’ve been riding my own Jet 9 RDO for about eight months now and would agree that the rear end is more than stiff enough, and considerably stiffer than the 2nd gen alloy Jet. So, why the change?
“The way our rear end is designed with the short distance from the chainstay bridge to the axle, it’s super stiff,” said Sugai. “But where there’s a gain, there’s a gain. Believe me, we had long discussions about what RDO really stands for -Race Day Optimized- and that’s why it’s on there. In the end, we felt we needed to have the latest standards.”
Sugai: “One could argue that the quick release axle does make rear wheel releases quicker, making it more optimized for race day, but these decisions are made 18 months before the product is released, and we feel that this keeps the bike compatible with the best equipment on the market. There is a benefit to it, and the slight boost in rear end stiffness outweighs any perceived increase in time spent changing wheels.”
Niner’s engineer, George Parry, said it’s not so much the internal layup that’s changed, but they’ve “added a special outer layer that improves the consolidation of the carbon during the heat molding process. This improves quality control and will improve the constancy of the frame weight.”
“There is no difference in the frame weight. We’ve added a few grams with the 142×12 dropouts, but accounted for that weight with the lighter carbon rockers. We’re only talking about grams here (10-15g). I think the story is the benefit of the 142×12 rear axle, and we have increased the stiffness slightly with the carbon upper links.”
Travel remains at 100mm, designed to work with a 100/120mm fork.
The bottom bracket remains a 73mm PFBB30, and there are limitations to the max chainring size (40T) but Niner recommends not running current XTR 2×10 systems because their chainline could cause clearance issues with the chainstay. No word yet on if the new SRAM XX1 will work with it.
And if you really want to make your friends green with envy, it now has the Niner Green color option just like the Air 9 RDO.
The bike uses the Rockshox Maxle rear thru axle standard, just like their new SIR 9 steel hardtails. Other tidbits include titanium frame protectors on the chainstay and BB, plus 3M frame protecting tape under the downtube. Retail on the frame is $2,899 and includes a custom tuned Fox Kashima coated CTD rear shock. Complete bikes will also be available, pricing depends on the build kit selected. Both frame and bikes will be available in mid/late October.
JET 9 CARBON
With the RDO getting some updates, the original design thankfully stays in the lineup and just becomes the “base” level Jet 9 Carbon. The important thing to note here is what you’re not giving up: Carbon frame from the same mold (same geometry) as the RDO, is essentially the same weight and works phenomenally well. It gets standard bearings and a lower level shock to bring the price point down a bit, and keeps the standard QR rear axle, but that’s about it. It even keeps the titanium frame guards!
Oh, and it brings about a monotone paint scheme. Initially it’ll come in Moondust and only as a complete bike with SLX drivetrain, Rockshox Recon Gold 100mm fork, Niner alloy cockpit with WTB Volt saddle, and American Classic wheels wrapped with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires. At just $3,899 for the complete bike, it’s a pretty good deal. Framesets will come online later, likely early next year.
The monotone paint scheme doesn’t quite accentuate the Jet 9’s lines as well as the two-tone, but it’s a nice alternative and we’ll likely see more color options as it becomes available as a frameset, too.
THE OTHER BIG NEWS
EXTRA SMALL FRAME SIZE: Both bikes will now come in a XS size, letting them fit much smaller riders. This is something at least one of their employees-of-the-female-persuasion has been pushing for for quite some time. Standover on the XS Jet 9 Carbon/RDO bikes is just 26.5″ (672mm) with a 22″ (559mm) effective top tube length.
BACKWARD COMPATIBILITY: Already have a Jet 9 RDO? Don’t worry, you’ll be able to retrofit both the carbon rocker arm and the 12×142 rear triangle on your frame if you want. And, if you’re on a budget now, you can get the Jet 9 Carbon and upgrade those same bits later, too.
COMPLETE BIKES: Sugai added that they’re really trying to get the word out that they sell complete bikes now. Their website has been completely revamped to include a bike builder that lets you pick your frame, color, wheels, drivetrain and build kit, then print that out and take it to a dealer to order. Ready to waste some time building your dream Niner? Here’s the link: ninerbikes.com