Tailwind Bicycles is proud to introduce Niner Bicycles to our already fantastic bicycle line. Founded in 2005 and based out of Ft. Collins, Colorado, Niner believes in one thing: the 29” wheel. They staked their entire claim on the 29” wheel, which at the time, only a few companies even offered a model with the oversized hoops. It ended up paying off tremendously, as the 29” wheel quickly became the industry standard.
Niner offers a full line of off-road orientated bicycles. From hardtail/full suspension bikes to cyclocross/gravel bikes. All bicycles are rated with different star levels. One star being the base model, and three-star being the top of the line. Models through the star range all have the same frame, but they are outfitted with different componentry.
The 2018 Niner Jet 9 (one star) was the first bicycle that we received. This full suspension model was equipped with Sram NX1 1X11 mated to a 32t crankset, 29” Niner alloy wheels (2.4 front and 2.25 rear Maxxis Ardent tire), and a Fox 34 Float Rhythm fork with 130mm of travel in the front, for the back a Fox Float DPS shock.
The second bicycle to arrive was the 2018 Niner Air 9 (two star). This hardtail model came equipped with Sram GX Eagle 12sp paired to a 32t crankset, 27.5”+ (optional 29”) wheels (2.8 front and rear Maxxis Rekon+ tires), KS Lev integrated dropper seat post, and a 120mm Fox 34 Float Rhythm fork to cap everything off.
We had the Jet 9 bicycle out of the box and built in under 45 minutes. After a few minor fork and shock pressure changes, it was ready for its first test ride. The Air 9, on the other hand, was a little bit more work. Upon opening the box, I found each piece or componentry neatly wrapped up and a bare frame that was ready to be built.
As mentioned above, all frames for each star level are the same. In order to cut down on final cost for the customers, Niner packages some bikes with each piece individually wrapped because it allows them to ship off 1, 2, and 3, star builds very quickly without having an overload of each fully built model taking up warehouse space. That being said, it allows better quality control and the ability to the bike shop to make all of those minor adjustments right out of the box to get the perfect fit for the rider.
After building and fitting our new toys, we finally hit the trails. Since our shop, which is under construction, is in Kingwood, we decided to do 15 miles of greenbelt trail riding over to East End Park to get a feel for the bikes. The Jet 9 was the first to hit the pavement in all its red and blue glory. Being the only full suspension model we have from Niner, I was very interested in how their proprietary suspension system (CVA) worked compared to other bicycles I have ridden. As soon as you start pedaling, you can feel the difference. Many full suspensions in the past that I have ridden feel like they are robbing you of power for traction, and this system is different. The action is moved under the bottom bracket to increase power output during the bobbing motion of pedaling, and around here that’s perfect. Long, straight sections of trail where ample pedaling is required you will notice a smoother stroke with more power to the rear wheel. Trail riding will really be the only way to truly test this bike, though.
Midway through our ride, I had to give up the Jet 9 and test ride the Air 9. Riding the Air 9 was like rolling on a cloud. With the 27.5”+ tires providing encouraging traction around each turn regardless of debris or speed, you could really feel your confidence build. I found myself scoping out ahead for any chance to swoop off path around a tree or off a root. The bike felt light and nimble, and is relatively short, handled very well.
I have ridden many bikes around the Kingwood greenbelt trails, and I would have to say the Air 9 is one of my favorites. With walkers, runners, and cyclists on the trail, a bike that is able to do everything is essential. You can cruise at 15 mph all day, or hop off the trail to avoid others, all with confidence and ease. Don’t let me tell you which Niner is right for you, though. Come by the shop sometime and we can see which bicycle is right for you, and always remember. “PEDAL DAMNIT.”