Normally we test frames with our 29eronline test kits. We will continue to do this, but the JET9 will be ridden as a complete package because it is sold that way (unlike many other bikes we test). This is a a value based build and many of our readers are interested in complete package deals. Since 29eronline received the JET9, I have ridden it as it came out of the box,with a kit that is to pretty close to our 29eronline kit, and in various combinations.
The JET9 spec is listed below as you will see it on Niner's website with the X7 build. Retail pricing for this build is $3099.00. Below the picture of the bike is a link.
The first thing that really stands out to me is the fact that it is a full Sram x7 kit. It isn't a cheap kit with a nice rear derailuer. The JET9 comes with good parts were it counts. It has a Rock Shox Reba RL front fork (4 inch) with a tapered steer tube and a standard drop out fork. Take some time to check the updated geometry charts on Niner's website. With the 4 inch fork that the X7 complete comes with, the head-angle is 71 degrees.
The stock rims are tubeless ready Stans Arch rims. I think this is a standout at this price.Converting to tubeless is one of the cheapest ways to increase performance by losing weight in the area most affected by it, the wheels. It also allows you to run less pressure and is not prone to pinch flats, although burping can be a problem.
The X-7 hubs have been surprisingly solid for such an affordable hub and wheel stiffness has been a non-issue. The brakes are strong and easy to modulate, especially since the JET9 X-7build is using 6 inch rotors front and rear. Our preference is using a 7 inch rotor up front and a 6 inch in the rear. The Sram X7 cranks have been plenty stiff and the bearings run smooth.
The drivetrain is 2 by 10 with a 39 tooth big ring and 26 tooth small ring. The 39 tooth gearing is a little tall for some short steep climbs but I have ridden our entire test loop in the 39 tooth ring. The 26 tooth feels a little too low for my riding locally but some of the long grinding climbs out west could easily give the 26 tooth ring some action. I can't imaging using the 26tooth front with the 36 tooth rear, as that is a really low gear. Once you resign yourself to the fact that the 26 x 36 is the lowest gear you have, I don't believe you will wish for lower. I was wishing the low was a 30 tooth or at the lowest a 28. Â This is, of course, an opinion and,truthfully I don't believe any of our testers will be bothered by this gearing. If I can get some comments I will update these statements.
Like most bikes at this level, the Sram X7 bike does not come with pedals so, if you don't have your own, you will need to save some room in the budget for them.
There are little nits I have, but really,Â if I bought this bike, I probably would only change the handlebars and grips as a matter of personal preference. Well, that's not completely true. I would dump the tires. I will have the testers ride them and not warn them first in order to see if they come to the same conclusion before I put out the final verdict. I'll put it this way. After my first ride on the Continental Race Kings that came with the bike, I will not ride them again. I switched to Geax AKA tires and am not looking back. I do have it on good authority that they work well out west in the dryer Rocky Mountain area.
My initial thoughts on the frame focus on the fact that this is a classic example of why you can't judge strictly by numbers. I have ridden two bikes recently that have more travel then the JET9 yet I am more comfortable on the Jet 9 than I was on the longer travel bikes. The Jet9 is really dialed as far as suspension performance. Traction is excellent and the suspension really allows you to stay seated on medium and small roots. The bottom bracket height lets you keep the power on with no pedal strikes. On small drops I used the suspension, but did not feel it bottom out. The Jet9 suspension is dialed to work well for XC or trail duty.
So, in further posts and a final review, I will comment on handling, geometry and long term use/strengths and weaknesses. In addition, of course, our testers will provide feedback in video form.
If you have specific questions, please let us know in our comments section.