I reckon this green is my fave colour for rdo frame now.

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oh so young but still gorgeous

Installed the Elixir X0 Trails and the brake feels completely different to previous x0’s. In a bad way.

It seems to have heaps of empty stroke. I am hoping it is just a bleeding issue. It is actually worse than the R1 at the current moment.

SIGH oh well, the bike is worth the trouble to get the set up perfect. It is part of the fun i guess.

Rode Manly Dam for the first time today and once again the trail has gone chunkier. Seem like a common theme as the track errodes more and more. Some section was weird and non flowy vs previously but overall the track was pretty good. The tech step up’s have gone chunkier and truth be told this is the one trail feature at MD that always worries me a little. Usually it takes me some luck to ride up both technical step up’s in one go. On the niner? First go…..followed up by a second lap…..

I am pretty sure it isn’t me. In this case it is definitely all about the bike.

Went to a farewell with my workmates yesterday night and it was a pretty interesting feeling. It is something that i had never experienced (with work mates any ways). I still believe that most people have a certain level of inhibition at work but there was non of that yesterday. Once the booze started flowing, the real you comes out. It felt like going out with a bunch of people with no guards up. Will never view certain people the same way on Monday again.

Tomorrow i am riding Appin with my good friends Kev and Clifton and then riding at SOP with my wife and Bethany. I think this weekend has being a good one. In fact, i realise that every one of my weekends are fun packed. I am a lucky guy.

 

edit :: It seems like the piston is migrating and resetting to the proper levels. All i had to do was tape down the lever to force the piston to migrate. Woot

Hmmm, i like the frame and the whole design of it but dislike the price.

3.6k is just way too much for a hardtail frame! Having said that the scale’s are pretty similarly priced but even that is too exxy.

Would you guys spend 3.6k on a hardtail only frame with crankset? In other news, niner jet 9 rdo gets updated with x-12 rear and a carbon rocker…..what about a better cabling system -_-

Stuff for sale

1. Formula R1 brake set = $400
2. Kinlin XR-200 wheelset 1250g clincher = $350
3. Fulcrum racing 7 = $150
4. Dt swiss white scott oem wheelset = $150
5. Revelation team tapered 150mm fork = $300
6. Stan’s NoTubes Podium race gold 29er wheelset = $700

Stromlo again

Saturday came and went in the flash of an eye. Why do good moments in life always pass so fleetingly?

Woke up at around 5am on saturday and left home around 6. Plan was to drop the girls at Canberra DFO (don’t laugh, it is great shopping for girls looking for asian sizes) and Kev and I to go shred some stromlo dirt. I don’t think my car could be anymore loaded. Two bikes on the roof (29er’s no less) and 4 people in the car and a bootful of gear must have looked funny.

The weather on the way there was pretty scary. We saw nothing buy grey skies and even spotted snow on the mountain peeks. We knew it was going to be freaking cold. We arrived at around 10am after dropping the girls off and the other guys were already here. Quickly, we prepped and put on our 10 layers of thermal layers and wind jackets and headed up the mountain.

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I was interested to see how the 29er would handle the many switchbacks of Stromlo. I needn’t have worried. It was very similar to riding the yeti asr5 or any slightly slacker bike. It requires conviction and a plan prior to entering the corner and the proper body language to get through that corner (elbow down, look towards corner exit) but it isn’t an issue.

The climb was fairly sedate. I noticed i stood up a fair amount with the niner and that is usually a good sign of quality suspension. Usually shitty suspension just encourages me to sit down and spin. There was quite a few pinches where i would stand up and power through (maybe a little too over enthusiastically) and overall it is good that you have the ability to do that on a full susser.

Stromlo i now realise is a fairly pedally course. Most of the dh’s actually requires a fair amount of pedaling because it is fairly untechnical in terms of pure rockiness/chunkiness so as you go down the mountain you are constantly pedaling and trying to keep up the momentum. The 29er’s was very good at this as you would have expected. It kept the dh momentum very well which allowed me to actually pedal less. Most of the bumps are smaller-medium bumps and the niner ate those up as well. Basically i think it saved me a fair bit of effort of pedaling to keep the speed.

Unfortunately, the effort that was saved from the 29er wheel was ruined by a combo of the formula R1 levers being not optimal for my hands and the fact that my upper body strength isn’t really up to the task of repeated dh runs. The R1 levers ergonomics for my smaller hands caused my hand to near cramp and towards the end of the day i struggled to even hold the handlebars (this problem will be solved by the incoming elixir x0 trail brakes which should remedy this) and upper body strength part just requires me to ride more MTB. Basically i got pretty tired and it was a shame as i could see the track but i just couldn’t go fast anymore as i struggled to hold on. This should have something to do with the rougher front sus too.

Into the berms the front wheel had a lot better grip vs the previous bikes have ridden here but this might be heavily influenced by the fact that the dirt wasn’t loose and coated with rain. Actually, now i think about it, this was probably a major factor but i still think the front wheel has much more grip. I would normally have 1-2 or maybe 3 hairy moments where the front wheel washes out from time to time. I did not experience this at all on Saturday. How much of this was down to the terrain and the bike is something i can’t say for certain.

Anyways, we all know what 29er’s advantage is by now. Confidence, effort saved, technical aptitude. I found two other things of interest to me.

1. I found that riding this bike downhill through the luge/skyline it was definitely slower to react to my inputs. It was like my actions was always constantly delayed by a fraction. Every reaction took longer to carry out and when you are in a constantly turning situation such as a chicane that delay builds up more and more … and if you don’t get it right, you will find that you will start piling that delay on and before you know it you are doing some drastic trying to correct yourself as you head into a corner turning way too late. I know what i just wrote is hard to comprehend but it is the most straight forward way of putting down what i felt. It was a bit like a catch up race. In short, you can feel this bike underneath you. I don’t ride motorbikes but if i did i would say it is like riding an Hayubusa vs R6.

2. Point 2 follows on from point 1. Going through a chicane i flicked the wheel to the left and then quickly flicked the wheel to the right and i was almost caught out as the front wheel almost felt like it was gripping and had that slight feel like it was going to chuck me otb. Must be something to do with the circumference of the wheels that it digs into dirt at a different angle and i am guessing that on a 26er i actually utilised the motion in between switching directions as a little bit of a slide to transition the motion but now, when i do the same, it just grips and threatens to chuck me off. This motion is definitely only reserved for certain tight situations so it won’t really work everywhere or anywhere but it was just another reminder that this bike isn’t as down to be handled around the same as the ASR5 and in some aspects that took away a little bit of the fun. I knew i was probably going quicker effort for effort vs any other bikes i have ridden at Stromlo but i can’t say that it was the most fun i have ever had. The bike simply isn’t as telepathic to me as the ASR5.

The bike seemed a little easier over the many smaller drops littered around Stromlo. I think the bigger wheels also stabilises the bike in the air a little more and i don’t know, i just felt a sense of safeness when i popped of the edge. Definitely easier to do drops on this bike.

Having said this though, i will readily admit that i am willing to scrafice the riding style of the ASR5 to gain the confidence inspiration that comes with this bike. It is just such a machine when it comes to chaos control over rocks. It might be that this bike feels safer and not as always on the edge which makes it feel like it is a little less edgier vs a bike that is always a little bit more sketchier. That probably contributes to my findings.

Plan’s? Elixir x0 is obviously no1 priority but the character of the bike is tempting me to take this niner down a slightly burlier route. I am looking for a set of enve wheelset and for the first time i am tossing up the AM option with the 24mm internal width rim vs the XC which as 18mm option. To me, i feel that it might further emphasis that monster truck feel. I am considering this even though the wheelset is heavier.

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We headed home bound around 4pm and could not resist the ritual of a meal at hungry jacks before getting back on the hwy. Kev kindly drove on the way back because i was pretty damn tired. I always seem to be tired driving back home. All in all an awesome day and i wish i could have stayed over on saturday night and then rode Kowen the next day but there is always a next time ;). I will be back Canberra!

Mmm fave male xc mtber for sure.

NINER Jet 9 RDO

This is my first 29er so instead of just an initial impression i will also be going back and forth with the cliched 26er vs 29er battle.

My niner is around the 10kg mark. Give or take. I chose to run a talas fork and have paired it with a set of stans race gold 29er wheels. I continue the trend for 1x setup by using 1x again on this bike coupled with a xx cassette shifted by a xtr shadow plus derailleur. Cockpit setup so far are Formula r1 on 710mm enve non riser sweep bars. I have employed the syntace hiflex seatpost and a selle italia slr carbonio kit to rest my ass on.

Quality/Build
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Niner, i am honestly disappointed that you chose the cabling system that was employed on this frame. Holy eff is it troublesome to build up. I cringe the day that i need to rebuild the bike for sure. I am using the new niner shift cabling kit as the old ones were known to have all sorts of issues if not setup 100% perfectly. Still, even with this new kit, it is still a bitch to setup. The kink down the bottom is so tight that i worry for the carbon as the pressure is significant. This will be an area i check up on every so often to make sure nothing bad is going on. Other than that, apart from some cable tension wounded in on my first ride it is shifting perfectly. Give me the santa cruz tallboy’s full external cabling any day. You guys have it good! Rest of the frame looks the biz, some times i am tempted to think that it is a generic ebay china frame due to the complete blackness that is often associated with brandless frames but i know, within, that i am riding a very special frame. A pure breed. Quality of the frame is great. No complaints there, titanium headbadge, carbon weave, subtle niner branding. All top stuff you would expect from a 3k+ frame.

Sizing and Fit
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No problems here. Being an obsessive mofo pays dividends. For eg, i know where my handlebars should be to my saddle for a trail bike and just by looking at where it is tells me how much fun the bike is going to be. Generally speaking if my saddle is higher or level with bars it is more of a race geo for myself. Even though i have not ridden a 29er properly yet, i know that they are slower handling machines so i always knew i was going to run a shorter stem. Thomson 70mm, the same as Kev’s santa. I think i made a good choice there. 710mm enve bars are a little wide i admit and i can feel that they should be cut down but for the time being i am enjoying being able to absolutely manhandle the bike in the rough stuff vs a 610mm handlebar. Fun stuff. I fit on the bike pretty comfortably, i was expecting more of a sit inside the bike feeling associated with the previous few 29er’s i have tried but this feels more like a conventional 26er where i am more or less perched on top of the bike. Maybe my senses aren’t quite right there or maybe it is the height of my bars/seatpost.

Suspension Feel
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Both my front and back suspension is not setup optimally yet. Front is way too harsh but i can’t lower the pressure any more or i will sag it too much. Kinda confused there. Maybe i left it sitting there for too long and it needs a service (or maybe talas is just harsher). Back is noticably smooth but i think i can still lower the pressure a little more and lower the rebound. My backend is bouncing a bit and that i know is the rebound but more so, i think i can lower the pressure which lowers the overal center of gravity on the bike which makes it even better to ride. I know this was the same case with the yeti and a few psi difference sagged the rear that much lower and changed the feel of the bike completely. I am looking forward to sorting this two issues out. At the current moment, this is by far the biggest issue on the bike i need to sort out. Niner’s CVA sus feels good. Certainly did not make me miss the DW-link suspension and it has no real feedback/chain growth that i can feel. I will take the words of other niner riders which is the suspension is one of the best in the industry.

How it rides
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All of the above is useless if it doesn’t ride well right? How does it ride? Well, i guess one of the most prominent feeling is one of confidence inspiring. I have not ridden mtb for hmmm since DW which i don’t really classify MTBing any ways. So really, the last time i rode anything slightly technical was at the beginning of this year around January. I paid 1x visit to Appin and 1x visit to stromlo and that has being my entire mtb intake for this year. Not exactly riding heaps. On top of that, i recently just came back from a 3 month hiatus with riding in general. I used the time to sort out more important stuff in my life but also give myself a mental break from riding. So cutting to the chase, i am not very confident at the current moment with anything requiring technical manoeuvring of my bike.

I specifically rode only Appin as i wanted to get my tech skill’s back in check ASAP, that and the fact Appin is a fun fun track that resist’s very well to weather erosion. I have ridden at Appin twice and the first time was shocking. Appin has changed a fair bit which doesn’t help but my confidence was an all time low. Stuff that usually i laugh at was a major issue. Still, i knew that given a little time i would find my flow eventually. It seems though that the flow has come back faster than i thought it would. Part of that i am sure is down to the bike.

29er’s are definitely confidence inspiring and a little bit like cheating. I believe that now. Everything just seems that much easier on it. Technical climbs become so much easier on 29er’s due to wheels not hanging up on bumps and technical descents are definitely easier too. Small bumps to medium bumps especially stops much less of your momentum and generally allow you to roll on. I know it sounds cliched but that is definitely my findings with 29ers. Within my second ride i was riding confidently again. I cleared everything at appin no problems in a single lap and generally got that confidence back. In terms of rating bikes capability to tame technical stuff i would say that the niner places pretty damn close to even the ibis mojo hd i rode previously. That is just astonishing. Technically it is definitely more adapt than the yeti ASR-5C my last go to bike whilst also being faster as well. It isn’t quite as fast as the scale is but it is damn fast for the technical abilities it possess. Keep in mind, all of this is with ill setup suspension. The front suspension is about 50% there. So really, it is rubbish atm. It is way too harsh but i am still rating it just as capable as the ibis mojo hd. Think about that for a second. Once the suspension is dialled in, god forbid, it is going to be an absolute machine.

So the good of the bike is it is confidence inspiring in the bucket loads but still stays super fast when it comes to putting the pace down. Are there any downsides to this whole 29er craze? Yes.

You see, the funny thing with the bike is, it felt every bit like a big bike to me. The ibis mojo hd was a heft to move around the trail. You can feel it under you and you gotta really use some muscle to man handle it the 29er’s is much the same. I noticed i needed more effort to move the bike underneath me around the trail and in the state that i am in after not riding mtb for a while i did feel the toll on my upper body. Sure, it is also because i haven’t used that group of muscles for quite a while but never-the-less it is definitely more effort required to lift/turn/hop the bike around the trail. The other thing that is weird is that i had a lot of fun. I always do when i am charging down a rock garden but it was missing a little bit of the fun that the asr5 had. It was almost like it is clinical. When i corner with the asr5 i feel like i am on the edge of grip and i can feel the front of the tyre wash slightly and that nervousness/heart in your chest feeling was all too familiar. It was pretty exciting.

The niner? Very clinical. i set the path i want to go into the turn and the damn thing just carves it up. It’s ridiculous. Unless you are retarded or you set your cornering arc wrongly, this bike will just corner like no bodies business. At the end of the day i was pushing more and more in the corners to the point where i felt like i definitely exceeded the asr5’s speed but even at that, the front didnt even slightly wash. It was stupid. Now consider once again that the asr5 was on trail tyres x-king and the niner is just on a set of racing ralph race tyres. Still it is a funny feeling though and i can’t quite place it. It’s almost as if on the niner you do your cornering before you enter the corner whilst on the asr5 you do your cornering ALL THE WAY through the corner adjusting for every little thing. Did you go in too fast? brake a little, is the front washing out a little? shift your weight etc etc. I think the niners capability and clinical nature has made it a little less fun unfortunately. Maybe you have to go that much faster in the niner to up it’s limits and then you will have a little bit more fun although i worry at the thought of how fast this might need to be as i thought it was plenty fast today already.

This is why i think a 29er would be a machine for a race bike. Especially in endurance events. When efficiency is more important over fun. I can easily see the benefits of going out for a night lap already 3-4hrs into the race onboard the niner vs say the asr5. It is the closest thing to cheating.

Immediate changes?
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I already know of a few things i need to do in order to get this bike close to perfect. First to go are the Formula r1’s. I gave them a go and unfortunately they just do not work for me. The lever doesn’t come close enough to the grips for my hands that anything over 1hr and my hands cramp up a little. Only elixir’s for me so i am thinking of replacing it with the new elixir x0 trail. The R1’s should sell well as i got it for a good price and the trail’s should afford me that extra power to cope with the technical abilities of this bike which i heavily underestimated.

Secondly, i need to get my sus sorted. The backend i am not worried about, the frontend, i cant see a solution unless i get a rebuild. I think it is no where near how it should be and that is a major part of the detriments of this bike at the current moment.

Further down the importance is minor things like whether i should chop the bars down to 680mm or change the saddle to a less xc model to improve overall comfort (even though its decent enough atm thanks to the flex post/kashima shock/29er wheels).

Overall, the bike is pretty amazing as i thought it would be. I do miss the straight out fun that the asr5/banshee spitfire was but i think in the long run this bike mixes speed/confidence/technical prowess very well indeed. A true do it all bike then!