7 September 2012 - 9:12Something Different
I’ve been riding Niner bikes for a really long time. They work for me. I’ve owned at least one of just about every model, with the exception of the EMD and the MCR. I’ve owned and ridden other bikes, there was a time when I had an Intense Spider 29er, and all of last winter I got to spend some quality time on the Spot Brand Rocker. But let’s face it, I’m a Niner guy.
The good news is that Niner makes a variety of bikes that work for many riders, but my one niggle is that they are a little slow to develop bikes in what I consider the “growth” category. Sure the RDO bikes are fantastically beautiful race machines, but not everyone races. In fact, the ratio to recreational riders to racers is a pretty big difference. I am referring to “trail” bikes. The bikes that people just want to ride.
Now, I’m a little different in that I’m a semi-weight conscious nerd, but there is one thing that I don’t like and that is heavy bikes. My WFO is not heavy by any means, but it is a 32lb bike. All things being equal, it is a beast of a bike, but there are similar bikes out there that are lighter, because they are made of carbon. Carbon is where it’s at, and Santa Cruz is currently singing my song with their Tallboy LTC.
My friends up at iRide had just gotten one of these in, and offered me the opportunity to take one for a spin a couple weeks ago. I rode it back to back against Black Sunshine. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to get all nerdy with the weights and numbers as I was nowhere near my shop, plus the bike was a medium. I’d ride a large. The bike was set up with a 3×10 Shimano XT group, WTB Frequency wheels, Hans Dampf tires, Rock Shox Revelation fork and Reverb dropper post. A pretty legit build if you ask me. My course was to be 1 lap on each bike around the Adam’s Camp trails.
I rode Black Sunshine first, and it had ben a while since I had hauled my fat ass out on a bike. The DH40 to be exact. Ugh. Obviously, the climb up hurt a little, and I needed a minute or 2 to get myself ready to descend Kimmer’s. I wanted to concentrate on a nice smooth ride down, something I’m nit super capable of when I’m all blown up. But, I had a nice run down, not pushing it too hard, but also working the corners and keeping the speed up. Kimmer’s is a hard trail to ride fast, it pays to be smooth than speedy.
I got back to the car and swapped bikes. I set up the rear shock per the recommended rate of body weight minus 10psi or so. It felt really really firm. But climbing was fine, the 3×10 gearing allowed me to find a gear to get a good spin on, and I motored up to the start of Kimmer’s once again. I decided that I would drop some pressure in the rear shock. A lot actually. JayPro had ridden the bike the day before, so when I got my hands on it it had been set up for him. I dropped the psi form 200 to 170, and the back end felt immediately better. I left the ProPedal off, dropped the seat a couple inches, and also let some wind out of the tires. I like my Hans Dampfs around 22psi.
Well, it was a giggly good time, that’s for sure. The bike felt very agile and quick, but I’m willing to bet that had more to do with the size of the bike than any other factor. Still, it sliced and diced through the woods like nobody’s business, and I was hooting and hollering all the way down. The VPP suspension was great, very snappy and responsive, but in a different way than Niner’s CVA design. It had a bottomless feel that I really like, and did very well pedaling out of the saddle when exiting corners at speed. The frame was stiff and tracked with surgical precision. And it felt light. Flickable. Quick. Carbon. Love it.
Well, I gave the bike back with a big smile and thanked iRide for the chance to play with their new toy. I’d own one.
I tracked my laps on my Garmin. I knew there was going to be a little inconsistency in my lap times because I was farting around a lot longer on my first lap before dropping in on the downhill, but what I found is that the Santa Cruz was actually a tad slower in terms of overall speed. The WFO felt like driving a baddass truck by comparison, exhilarating but requiring careful attention to stay on line. Think of it like the difference between a Ford Raptor vs a Tacoma TRD.
Well, Interbike is coming, and Niner put a sneaky picture of something on their latest newsletter. I wonder what it might be…