All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Niner SIR 9

I have been meaning to write about the new addition and the retirement of my old friend for a while now.

After many years of faithful and near faultless service, many incarnations of running gear, I finally retired my 2000 Kona Muni-mula I had ridden and raced for many years, many of the most recent updates found their way on to Nik's bike or will do.  They say you shouldn't get attached to such objects and I don't believe we ever do, but stripping that bike down for the last time did remind me of some great rides and great people I met and friends I made along the singe trail.

However, a suitable replacement had been found and was waiting for all the parts to arrive and be built by the guys at Cycleworks to some exacting standards.  The Niner SIR 9 arrived originally as pictured here.

The build was:
SIR 9 Root beer
Reba RL forks
Hope Pro gold hubs
NoTubes Crest ZTR rims
Hope Mini X2 Pro
Hope Gold 90mm stem
Easton EA 70 bars
Hope BB
Middleburn Crank
Middleburn hard coated chain rings
XT rear block
XTR shifters
XT front and rear mech
Thompson set back 27.2 seat post
Specialized Alias 143 saddle
Hope gold expanding bar plugs
XT pedals

Single speed build: as above minus shifters, rear block, two less chain rings and some messy cables.

The SIR 9 was built by the guys at Cycleworks and road fantastically as a geared bike and in my first race on it carried me to 8th in Open Mens 24hr at the Bontrager Twentyfour12.

On the open trail it rides fast and covers the miles quickly and effortlessly, when I turn it to the single track I find it rides as true and nimble as my 26 inch bike.  Where the SIR might be slowed down by the track being twitchy and tight it is balance by the fact that it cruises the rough stuff that normally shake a 26 inch bike around and off line.

Having a slightly wider bar on it helps increase the advantage over the field as it reduces some of the twitchiness (is that a word?) unless the trees get very close.  I did find myself free wheeling and finding even better lines on much of the single track in recent races pulling away from the bikes with tiny wheels.  I put this down to fact the the combination of the big wheels giving you a smoother faster ride allows you more time to concentrate on that improved line and set corners and technical bits up earlier and on lines that you normally wouldn't consider.

When it does get technical and/or steep on the down I find the steel frame lively and going just where I wanted it and when in the saddle for hours it is comfortable and stable. Sure being steel it is no sprinter like a carbon or scandium frame, but neither am I.  The SIR 9 soaks up the trail and provides a positive riding response and keeps doing so, hour-after-hour, mile-after-mile, I have covered many miles on this bike in a number of 24hr and a 12hr race and the steel frame and geometry have delivered me to the end each time with some great results.

I have run the SIR geared for the 24hr races and single speed for the 12hr and will do so from now on (it just feels natural that way).  Running the bike in both options gives you so much choice and allows you to ride a great bike configured just the way you wanted.

The Bio-centric BB is genius, I can change a single speed rear sprocket in about 15 minutes from putting the bike in the stand to taking it out, it truly is brilliant compare with my Voodoo Wanga, which I fiddle with the sliders and multiple bolts to drop the wheel out.  Simply loosen the Bio-centric BB bolt give it a twist and release the rear skewer and sort the rear wheel out.

What can I say about the craftsmanship from Niner, you obviously request a high level of attention to detail from you manufacturer and they are delivering, the frame was finished beautiful and the finish bike seems to turn heads even of the most avid 26 inch geared rider.

A finally note has to be said about Niner's customer service, I have had one slight issue with the frame and that was the seat post slipping.  After getting in contact with Niner customer service (Drew Rhode) the suggestion of some friction paste and the problem is solved.  Brilliant, a simple solution to a problem.

SIR 9 from Niner gets a big thumbs up from me.

Three races on the SIR have netted an 8th (24hr Solo) and 7th (12hr Solo, single speed), I look forward to more good results and fun riding.


Cooper W. said...

Nice write up!

rswans14 said...

Great insight Scott. I hope you don't mind if I pick your brain for a minute regarding frame choices... In the past I have ridden 26" steel for endurance races and now I'm ready to make the switch to 29". I'm considering a SIR, however now that carbon has begun to prove itself, I can't help wonder if it's worth the investment (some plastic on the plastic). I understand the fundamental differences, but my primary question to you is, on a 100 mile course, how many minutes do you think a SIR will yield to an Air9 Carbon? Any additional thoughts will be appreciated. -RD

Scott Swalling said...

RD so sorry just picked this up. Wow! It would depend on the body really. I find that the steel is so compliant that I feel like I am riding a short travel xc full sus, but without the draw back. I have ridden the A9C and it is a great bike, but over the long races I do wonder if my tail and back will hurt, therefore it would be me giving in and not the bike. I am in love this bike so much I wish to build another the same. Both SS and ready for 12/24hr races. HTH?

Cooper, ta!