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2017 sees some drastic changes to the Jet 9 platform to push the much-loved trail machine into a whole new dimension of versatility. The new Niner Jet 9 RDO 27.5+ 2-Star SLX Complete Bike is slacker up front, steeper out back, longer across the top, and boasts 20mm more travel than its predecessor to take on ever gnarlier terrain. It also gets 27.5+ compatibility, as outfitted here, while still retaining the option to swap over to 29in wheels should you want to get some use out of that set gathering dust in your garage. This particular build gets kitted up in Shimano's workhorse SLX drivetrain, with a dropper post and Stan's NoTubes alloy hoops completing a versatile package that's ready to tackle grinding climbs, shred descents, or power through fast, flowy singletrack.
As with most bikes in the current trail generation, the key element underwriting the new Jet 9's versatile geometry is its Boost rear axle. Bumping the spacing up to 148mm lets Niner chop 21mm off of chainstays by slamming the rear wheel up into the seat tube. The seat tube contributes to that versatility, too. Despite the fact that the 2017 Jet 9 comes with 140mm of front travel, its seat tube angle nearly identical to the 2016 Jet 9 with a 100mm fork. Adding 40mm up front would typically force you out of the bike's center; however, the new Jet 9's geometry and plus-sized wheels keep you on top of the pedals while the included dropper post allows you to clear out some cockpit space so you can throw the bike around on descents.
The bike's updates shine at the front end, too. In 2016, the Jet 9 was limited to a 71 or 70.5-degree head tube, depending on whether you were running a 100 or 110mm fork. For 2017 (as configured here), it drops to 67 degrees. This puts the Jet 9 right on the cusp of moderate stability and enduro abandon. When paired with the new iteration's longer reach and shorter stem, that angle means the bike can ride roughshod across all manner of trail furniture without sacrificing responsive steering. Slack head tubes are fun, but we're occasionally frustrated by their muddy responsiveness. The Jet 9 lives up to Niner's reputation of nimble wagon wheel machines by ensuring that enduro aggression doesn't come at the cost of control.
Despite the above changes, Niner's Race Day Optimized (RDO) construction process remains relatively unchanged. This is a good thing, as Niner's compaction method presses out any excess resin and compacts the carbon down to a uniform wall thickness. This gives Niner precise control over where material is and where it isn't, letting the engineers actually engineer the frame by reducing weight where it's not needed while ensuring stiffness and durability at key areas of power transfer and abuse.
The CVA suspension model is also virtually unchanged. Its low compression ratio means there's less need for suspension preload, so the mechanism can float more freely and react more readily to the terrain without being loose or sloppy. CVA's lower linkage placement beneath the bottom bracket isolates pedal input from suspension action to prevent the system from bobbing or back-kicking, resulting in a smooth but efficient bike that's responsive to both your power and the trail's trickery.
- Niner's classic trail bike gets a plus-sized versatility
- Adds 20mm of CVA suspension compared to previous model
- Updated geometry climbs faster and descends harder
- RDO carbon construction drops grams to gain speed
- Compatible with electronic drivetrain routing and battery storage
- Shimano's workhorse SLX componentry weathers the miles
- Accommodates 27.5+ tires up to 3in, and 29in tires up to 2.4in
- Item #NNR005E