Right now, as you read this, people are bidding on six special edition Niner S.I.R. 9 framesets to raise money for IMBA. The paint scheme is themed after the ideals of the International Mountain Bike Association and every penny spent on the frames goes directly to the advocacy group.
For those of you who can’t afford to donate more than the $1,000 frame cost (all auctions are already over the retail price) but are in the market for a steel hardtail 29er, give the new S.I.R. 9 a look. There are plenty of updates that show incredible attention to detail.
The new hardtail has a new Reynolds 853 air-hardened tubeset that features “DZB,” or dual zone butting that keeps the tubeset light and strong. The tubeset also features the first bent down tube in the history of 853. This gives fork crown clearance and wider attachment points for the top and down tubes to the head tube. At the front of the bike, savvy eyes will notice a 44mm head tube, making the use of tapered and straight steerer tubes possible.
The stays get some lovin’ too. They are now custom bent in three dimensions for better tire clearance and feature nifty, bullet-shaped post mounts for the rear brake. New forged chain and seatstay bridges keep everything aligned and stiff.
The new steel steed uses a 142x12mm rear axle and a new dropout designed by Niner that will be available to custom frame builders. The system comes with two dropouts, one with a hanger for derailleur use and one without for singlespeed riders. The keyed design keeps everything properly aligned without adding unnecessary weight.
For 2013, the S.I.R. receives an eccentric bottom bracket with a two-bolt design that eliminates creaking and slippage. Niner calls their version “Bio-Centric” and the system allows for greater range of adjustment in tensioning the chain. The internal of the shell is PressFit 30 that allows the use of virtually any crank on the market thanks to adapters. Also available is a centering adapter for those building up the frame as a geared bike.
New cable routing uses full-length housing and bolt-on clips on the underside of the down tube. When built as a singlespeed only the cable stop for the front derailleur is unused. To keep the rear housing in place on the chainstay, Niner offers a chainstay-protector.
The price for the frame only is $999 and the S.I.R. 9 will be offered in Small through Extra Large.
On the trail
I rode a medium S.I.R. 9 set up as a singlespeed and built with Niner’s own rigid carbon RDO fork. The Rock Shox Maxle thru axle paired well with the new S.I.R.9’s 142×12 rear axle. Together the handling was point-and-shoot accurate. Sun Ringlé Black Flag wheels kept the bike weight down and even after jumping off a five-inch trail bike, the S.I.R. 9 was reasonably comfortable.
Of course, if you ride rigid often (and I do) you’re not looking for trail bike plush. Instead it’s about finding a bike that connects you with the trail. In that department, the Niner had me to the point of pulling out my credit card (only my girlfriend’s wrath kept me from ordering one). The ride of Niner’s steel hardtail is phenomenal. With its excellent handling and extremely versatile frame (geared or singlespeed with ease), the new S.I.R. 9 is an absolute winner. Now if I could only sneak the IMBA frame that I just bid on into the house…
For more information on Niner’s IMBA auction, see the Niner Facebook page. Click here to bid.