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I know, I know – by now some of you are sick and tired of hearing about 29ers. I promise this is my last 29er post from Interbike and I plan on taking a self-imposed vow of silence on big wheel bikes until October. 🙂 Hopefully by this time next year we’ll just be calling 29ers “mountain bikes.”

Judging by the showing at Interbike, Niner continues to push the 29er envelope with bigger travel, interesting frame materials, and killer design. The Niner guys weren’t at Outdoor Demo this year – probably because they were absolutely mobbed last year – so I didn’t get to ride any of these rigs. Instead, here are some pics and comments to whet your appetite.

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See that little paper label where the head badge should be? That says “Prototype” and it’s why I love going to Interbike. This frame looks very similar to the AIR 9 Carbon and sports the new Niner carbon fork. Big wheels came from the road cycling scene so why not borrow carbon forks as well? A fully rigid, single speed mountain bike isn’t for me but I’m sure someone is drooling over the possibility of this bike right now.

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Internal cable routing on the AIR 9 Carbon frame. Beautiful.

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The Niner S.I.R. 9 is actually an acronym meaning “Steel Is Real” and after riding a couple steel 29ers at Outdoor Demo I have to say I’m sold. Niner uses Reynolds 853 steel which is the same stuff in the Raleigh XXIX and it’s smooth as butter. This bike is a hardtail but apparently no one told MTBR (pic below) – they gave the S.I.R.the nod for “Best FS 29er Mountain Bike.” Steel is definitely more springy than aluminum but I wouldn’t quite call it full suspension 🙂

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The mega popular AIR 9 also comes in scandium tubing which seems to be catching on more and more these days. Scandium is lightweight and not super stiff like aluminum or (sometimes) carbon. Niner continues to experiment with different materials and frame configurations and remains on the cutting edge of 29er technology.

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Close-up of the Niner Bio-Centric bottom bracket. You can get all the details about the technology here but one of the advantages of an eccentric bottom bracket system is it makes perfect chain tensioning dead simple.

I didn’t get pics but also check out the Niner W.F.O. 9 – a 5.5″ rear travel 29er mountain bike. Sick.

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