In the early days of 29ers one of the big tradeoffs with bigger wheels was increased weight, particularly the added rolling weight in tires and rims. With few component choices available, early adopters were forced into sometimes clunky builds that weighed much more than their 26-inch equivalents. But that was then; today manufacturers are producing some shockingly lightweight 29ers including these three bike we saw at Interbike.
Niner Air 9
The Air 9 is sorta the granddaddy of the lightweight 29ers and it seems like every gram has been scrutinized over the years to come up with the lightest build possible. That means things like gears and suspension are out–this is a fully rigid singlespeed machine designed to be as lightweight as possible. This year’s Air 9 includes a 15mm thru-axle on the carbon fork and the model we saw at the show weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 17lbs. Yeah, that’s at least 2 lbs. lighter than my carbon road bike.
Now, for those who think this bike isn’t for them because it’s a rigid singlespeed, consider this: If your bike were lighter, wouldn’t that make the climbs a little easier? Could you afford to drop a gear or two? And when your bike weighs just 17lbs. it’s much easier to loft over rocks and roots, so much so that it’s a bit like floating on Air. I’d really love to demo this bike because none of the 29ers I ride are anywhere close to this in terms of weight.
Pivot is dedicated to producing amazing full suspension bikes, so much so that the company name itself is a reference to suspension frames. And that’s what makes Pivot’s new 29er all the more interesting: it’s pivotless. It’s the Pivot Les.
The Les is a carbon hardtail frame weighing 2.5 pounds and we were told the model at Interbike weighed somewhere around 18lbs. Like the Niner Air 9, this build features a singlespeed drivetrain but WITH a suspension fork up front. In my hands this bike felt like a toy, almost as if it were a bike made of plastic–in a good way of course.
The Les frame features 12x142mm dropouts so you can run a thru-axle in back which is a welcome modern touch. Pivot offers several builds including the “XX” version with the all new SRAM XX1 11spd drivetrain. In this case, Les is definitely more.
Breezer Cloud 9 Elite
The Breezer Cloud 9 Elite is a pure racing 29er and while its 22.1 lb. stock weight isn’t what I’d call ultralight, you can definitely see the potential here. Unlike the other bikes mentioned, the Cloud 9 Elite sports a full 2×10 drivetrain and a suspension fork. But slap an XX1 drivetrain and carbon fork on this bike and watch the pounds melt away like an episode of Biggest Loser.
What’s the lightest mountain bike you’ve ridden?