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Review: Niner Air 9 Carbon

  • By Ben Marchant
  • Published Jan. 2, 2012
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:51 PM EDT
The seat tube is curved around the rear wheel to help shorten the longer wheelbase of the bigger wheels. Photo: Ben Marchant


Under the hood…

The seat tube is curved around the rear wheel to help shorten the longer wheelbase of the bigger wheels. Photo: Ben Marchant

Niner is a company that really gets 29ers.  Unsurprising, really, as it is all they make, throwing out the rulebook when it comes to bike design to reinvent it for the bigger wheel size and the challenges that come with this, like handling and wheel base.

Sugai and his team looked at the head angle, bottom bracket height, chain stay length, down tube shape, seat tube shape, just to name a few things, and came up with a plan for how these could be improved. Initial designs and models were perfected with steel and aluminum frames (The Air9 and EMD9), which were quick and easy to change and perfect. Once happy with this they began to look at making a carbon bike and the Air 9 Carbon was born.

Carbon presents many advantages over steel or aluminum, not just in terms of weight. Shapes can be created that are not possible or practical using metals and carbon has unique properties such as vibration absorption, reducing trail buzz in a similar way to titanium.

The Air 9 Carbon is at first glance something different. The down tube is huge and boxy with the graphics underneath and sets the tone for a hugely stiff front triangle with no noticeable flex under side loading. The seat tube is curved around the rear wheel to help shorten the longer wheelbase of the bigger wheels, quickening the handling and allowing tighter cornering. At the end of that massive down tube, the bottom bracket shell is huge.

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FILED UNDER: 29er / Bikes and Tech / MTB TAGS: / /

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