28 July 2011 - 17:38How Does it Ride Though?
So I’ve managed to get a couple of rides under my belt on the new Jet 9 RDO. As with everything else that Niner produces, the fit and finish is top notch. I find the frame visually appealing, the swooping curves remind me of a vintage sports car. Originally I thought I was going to be getting a black frame, but was more than fine with the tang colored one I received.
My first ride was my customary shake down ride at the Town Loops in Stowe. A little of everything can be found there in terms of terrain. Because this bike is a whole new design, I needed to pay extra attention to the shock set ups. And wouldn’t you know it, I forgot my shock pump. I had inadvertently over pressurized the front end, and had under pressurized the rear, the bike bike was a little saggy in the back, but far too firm in the front. Cornering at speed was a little scary at times, but mental notes were taken, and on we rode.
I made my adjustments to the suspension, trimmed up the shifting – the cables had stretched a bit, and the bike was ready for test ride II (electric boogaloo). As I said in my previous post, the bike was flawless. the suspension was perfect, and I felt very balanced. By my 3rd lap, I felt like I knew where the sweet spot on the bike was, and found that turning at speed in the tight singletrack was as simple as dipping your shoulder into the turn and pedaling through it.
photo cred: Shot in VT
This bike is STIFF! There is something about the feel of carbon that is unlike any other material. My WFO is stiff too, but the weight difference is what makes it feel so unique. My frame was 5.2 lbs right out of the box. The combination of the stiffness and lack of weight make for a bike that feels very lively and responsive. The geometry is quick without being twitchy. The rear shock was buttery smooth. The Kashima coating is very slippery, and there is no detectable bushing drag on the RP23 at all. The 4″ travel rear end of the bike feels bottomless.
My third ride was a recreational one. As I have no more races coming up (I’m doing the DH40 on my singlespeed), and needed to replace the front tire, I opted for a trail tire, one that I could just mount up and forget about. I had a set of older 2.25 Nobby Nics on Kermit, so a tire transfusion was performed. Tire clearance is a bit tight, but I don’t know that I would run anything much bigger on a bike like this anyway. We’re currently blessed with dry trail conditions, but I am a little suspect of mud clearance with these tires. It’s a good thing I don’t ride when it’s muddy!
I met up with E-Dog, JayPro and KP, and we headed up to the Kingdom for a solid ride. We rode all of the must ride trails, Coronary Bypass, Tap and Die, West Branch, Sidewinder, Webbs, Jaw, East Branch, and of course Kitchell. Early in the ride I was having issues with tire pressure and suspension settings. I was all over the place. After fiddling with everything a couple of times, I ended up softening everything up. I wanted to just sit and pedal over the roots and rocks, and let the bike do the work.
Well, this turned out to be a semi-bad idea. I sent the tire into the frame on one of the big G-outs on Sidewinder. BRRAAAPP! I checked it out at the bottom, and everything seemed ok, so on we rode. As we were climbing out, I hit a little whoopdie-doo, and burped the front tire upon landing, sending me over the bars.
OK, so the tire pressure was too low.
I fixed that with a CO2, and we continued to ride. The rest of the day was worry free, and we rode some fantastic singletrack. I got some video that I am currently working on.
I do have a couple of niggles with the frame though. I’m not a huge fan of the internal cable routing from a bike mechanic’s perspective. It looks great, and works well enough when everything is new, but performance tends to decrease as stuff starts to wear. Changing the shift cables is now a more arduous task, but the frame did come with some nifty cable guides pre installed when I got the frame. Running the cables during the build was easy enough, and I think that as long as people hold onto those guides, and maybe replace the cables before they are frayed beyond use, this will not be the same song and dance as a cable change on the A9C.
The rear triangle is pretty wide too. I rub my heels on the chainstays pretty frequently, but I am using the 156 Q-factor XX cranks. I wonder if the 166 Q-factor crank would fix that? Also, I knocked one of the zip ties that holds the rear brake line in place off on my first ride. It is kind of a busy arrangement, and wonder if there as a more direct way to run the line. So far, I have not replaced the zip tie, and it has not been an issue.
The bottom line is this. The bike is certainly capable. The option to run a 120mm fork up front is nice. I think with the longer travel up front, the bike could firmly tread on the toes of the RIP9. Who wouldn’t want that type of performance, especially when the bike would be 4 lbs lighter? I personally don’t feel the need for that much travel on this particular bike, but I will try it out before the summer os over. One thing is for sure though, I can’t wait until my next ride!