29er specialist Niner Bikes has launched a carbon fibre version of its Niner Air 9 29in race bike. Called, without too much imagination, the Air 9 Carbon, the sub-3lb frame packs some interesting features. And what’s more, it looks pretty damn fantastic.
With major brands like Specialized and Scott launching carbon 29er hardtails, Niner knew it had to raise its game to compete. It’s a pretty impressive achievement to have come out with this frame given how much smaller Niner is – carbon fibre frame development isn’t a cheap game.
A curved seat tube to give tyre clearance with shorter chainstays is pretty much part of the 29er vernacular now. Niner has also included a headtube designed for a tapered steerer and post-mount caliper bosses at the back. It’s stuck with its steep head angle/long top tube geometry – the Large frame has a 72° head angle and 24.5in effective top tube.
A particularly cunning feature is the CYA bottom bracket. The oversized shell can accommodate Niner’s own Biocentric eccentric bottom bracket system, which uses conventional BBs but allows a greater range of chain tensioning adjustment than regular EBBs for the singlespeed fans. Or if you’re running gears, you can do without the EBB and stick a BB30 setup in there.
While the Air 9 Carbon will take an 80 or 100mm suspension fork, it was designed in parallel with Niner’s recently-launched carbon fibre rigid unit. The fork is distinctive in its own right, but when combined with the frame the result is really quite special. If the Air 9 Carbon rides half as well as it looks, Niner will be on to a winner…
More details at www.ninerbikes.com