The saddest thing we see is a rider at the trailhead with too much bike. We are not talking about an expensive bike (we’ve always said that if you can afford it, go
for it); we are talking about dual-suspension, long-travel,
bulldog-stemmed trailbikes being ridden on flowy, rolling singletrack. Riding the Niner S.I.R. 9, a bike that champions
simplicity, proves our point perfectly.
group that includes a Shadow Plus rear derailleur, trigger
shifters and adjustable-reach brake levers. The MBA
five-star-rated RDO seatpost clamped a WTB/Niner saddle in
place. This was also our first outing on Sun Ringle’ Black
Flag XC wheels.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: What setup? Use the super-handy gradients on
the fork’s stanchion tubes to dial in your preferred fork
sag, check the tire pressures and you are good to go.
Ergonomics: The S.I.R. 9 positions the rider’s weight
with an ever-so-slight bias to the rear. The saddle is comfortable. The bar is at an ideal height, and the absence of
rear suspension means you are spinning along on a lean
Moving out: We’ve ridden bikes at this weight that
feel heavy from a stop, but not the S.I.R. 9. This
bike has a lively feel, and the Sun Ringle
wheels with Schwalbe Racing Ralphs have
to get credit. The bike doesn’t penalize
the rider for getting out of the saddle
either. It has the ultimate pedaling plat-
Cornering: The way this thing
holds its line through corners will
have you questioning the validity of
short-travel, dual-suspension bikes.
Why carry the additional weight and
deal with brake jacking or bobbing
when you can flow fast corners, trac-
tor around tight switchbacks, and coun-
tersteer yourself to bliss along a twisty
trail on the S.I.R. 9?
In the rough: Okay, the S.I.R. 9 is a wake-
up call to crewers who have grown used to (and
complacent on) dual-suspension bikes. This hardtail
requires a lot more out-of-the-saddle time on bumpy trails
while negotiating braking bumps and for clearing obsta-
cles. Still, the steel stays are far more forgiving than most
aluminum stays (and even carbon fiber), and the RDO
seatpost adds to the comfort level. Still, you can’t be lazy in
Climbing: Niner gave us a 34-tooth cog for the lowest
gear, and they were right. A 36-tooth bailout would have
been overkill. The bike doesn’t mind out-of-the-saddle
attacks (it is tough to break the rear tire loose) when you
want to get back on top of a gear, but riding in the saddle
gets it done best. Our bike’s light weight added to its climbing chops.
Descending: Stay out of that saddle and have fun.
The fork tracks whatever line you ask it to with its 15-
millimeter axle. The big wheels are lightweight, and the
forgiving steel frame and neutral steering allow riders to
bop, hop and dance down the descent. The Shadow Plus
derailleur keeps the chain from slapping, making choppy
March 2013 / MOUN TAIN BIKE ACTION 53
A Simple Approach to Mountain Biking Nirvana
The Niner S.I.R. 9
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
This is a hardtail trailbike perfect for the rider who
doesn’t want to mess with rear suspension, wants to get a
light bike on a reasonable budget, and likes the idea of versatility in the design. It is also plenty of bike for areas where
fast, flowy, long climbs and epic distances are staples.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The first person who says “retro” when referring to the S.I.R.
9’s steel tubing doesn’t deserve to ride this modern wonder. Yes,
modern steel tubes. The frame uses a custom-bent, double-butted
Reynolds 853 DZB (Double Zone Butting) downtube, and a 44-
millimeter Reynolds 631 head tube allows use of tapered or 1-
1/8-inch forks. The steel stays have a proprietary custom bend
with investment-cast bridges and dropouts. Niner uses their
BioCentric II bottom bracket system, and the removable downtube cable stops allow a clean single-speed or geared setup.
Retro? Steel frames were nothing like this back in the day.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
While Niner now offers build kits for the S.I.R. 9, our test
bike came with the all-new Shimano SLX 2x10 drivetrain