2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 1

26er 27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Enduro
Niner JET 9 RDO

The Jet 9 was another bike that was high on my list as a possible Chilcotin complement so I was keen to give it a whirl. The RDO is the all carbon version of the XC/race Jet 9 recently updated to incorporate all the latest design features including 100mm of travel, 142mm rear spacing, and carbon upper rocker arm. Niner really prides itself in designing beautiful bikes whose form follows function derived from combining data for strength, weight, stiffness, and damping characteristics into an aesthetically appealing final shape. I liked the looks of the Jet 9 alright but wasn’t totally won over by the curvy lines. The front triangle and rear seem a little disjointed to my eye.

Despite what it looks like, it works. They definitely got the function part right. It is amazing how light they are building bikes these days and the Jet is no exception. This one felt a bit heavier than the Anthem but I’ll bet it was still under 25 lbs. The sizing felt good and component selection was top shelf. I think they went a bit too XC (for me) on the bars, tires, and post so it lost a couple points for narrow barrows and no dropper. Other than that, the spec was good.

Once on the swoopy, sometimes rocky Lakes loops it seemed to fly. It railed berms well, flew down through the steep g-outs and up the other side effortlessly, and floated over rocky sections and the occasional booter with pizazz and little drama. It felt like it could pop and play well. Seated climbing and standing sprints yielded the same efficient power transfer I’ve come to expect from the excellent CVA rear suspension linkage while soaking up edges and bumps with a firm yet controlled short travel plushness. For a short travel race bike, this bike seemed to exceed its expected trail cred as opposed to the Rip 9 which fell a bit short of what I expected. With “proper” 120mm fork, wider bars, and fatter rubber I think it could give the Czar and Solo a run for their money in what I want for a bike of this sort.

Points off for sporting a front derailleur. That is so last year. Arched stays and top tube…. ummm, the jury is still out for me on the aesthetics.

“Pedal Dammit”….. then go “Drink Beer”? I know it’s very unhip of me to say, but I can’t get behind either one of those directives.

Next Bike » Yeti SB 75

About the author: Kent Robertson

Kent Robertson (better known to Mtbr forum users as KRob) is just a guy who likes to ride. A lot. Kent’s 52 and has been riding mountain bikes for almost two decades, though he says his love of two-wheeled conveyances began when he was 5. His favorite trail type is any, be it fast and flowy, steep and chunky, or jumpy and droppy. Even a mellow bike path cruise with his wife makes him happy. “If I’m on two wheels it’s a good day.” Kent calls Ely, Nevada, home, but he’s ridden all over the western U.S. from Moab and Fruita, to Tahoe and Oregon, to a bunch of places in between. And while Kent focuses on the ride more than the bike, he’s ridden and tested a ton of bikes and knows what makes for a good ride — and a good bike. You can read more from Kent on his personal website, www.stuckinthespokes.com

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  • Craig Manning says:

    Great job Kent! It was great to hook up with you again this year. Sorry I couldnt make it out there on tuesday. The 5010 was a great all around bike. I could see that as being a great all rounder. I really enjoyed the Anthem 27.5 clearly as an XC race bike though. One thing I want to mention. XX1 and XO1 are incredible drivetrains but for some riders there may not be enough range in the ratios to satisfy everyone’s needs. I know SRAM has gone on record to say that 1×11 isnt going to replace 2×10 and it wasnt meant to. The Anthem had a 34 tooth front ring, Bootleg doesnt have any really steep climbs and I found myself wanting an easier gear but on the other hand, I would spin out a 34/10 on a fast XC course.

    • KRob says:

      Thanks Craig and thanks for riding with me Monday. It was good seeing you again and I enjoyed your input. After getting back on some of my normal trails this week I got wondering if I overstated the 1×11’s range…. although with bikes that light I don’t think there’s much I couldn’t climb in a 32×42 and I rarely ever spin out in 36 x 11 on my chilli so 32 x 10 should be close. Although this view may only apply to me. I’ll have to get the gear inch calculator out and do some figuring before I commit to the upgrade.

  • Evan says:

    Pivot Mach 6 wins!!!!

  • Liberty555 says:

    Great review. It’s refreshing to get the sort of review you’d get from a mate rather than the superlative laden stuff you get elsewhere. Honest and to the point. More like this please.

  • Ben says:

    Cheers for reviews, where is the mach 6 did you demo?

  • Mark says:

    ‘All Mountain Bike Tests’ is the title, but I just saw reviews on XC/trail bikes in the 100-125 mm category. Will part II include at least a token AM bike?

    • KRob says:

      I guess because the bulk of my test rides have been AM bike in years past, mtbr titled the feature the same as previous years. You’re right, mostly XC/trail bikes this year with a few stretching into the AM category (Enduro 29, Bronson, Mach 6) in part two.

  • RJ says:

    How did these bikes compare to the Turner Burner??
    Get a chance to ride one for direct comparisons?
    or maybe you can remember from before to give us an idea?

    thanks for all the effor

    • KRob says:

      Here’s my response to a similar question in the Turner forum about comparing the Mach 6, Bronson, and Burner.

      “krob – always enjoy your impressions from Interbike. now the question: can you give us your thoughts on the Burner vs Mach6, Bronson, etc.? thanks!”

      Tough call there. I’d say they are all pretty close. It would come down to your preference (or lack thereof) for carbon, suspension type, and subtle geometry differences. I will say that dw-link on both the Mach 6 and Burner and the VPP on the Bronson offer nice controlled, plush action in the rough and efficient bob-free climbing on smoother stuff. I’d give the nod to the dw-link though.

      The Bronson is very close in suspension feel as well. It might not be quite as active while climbing square ledges but like I said in the review, I do not detect any pedal kickback.

      Geometry is a bit lower and slacker on the mach 6 compared to the Bronson and you notice that some. The mach just seems like it loves to run and is set up for the descent, although there was nothing really wrong with the climbing from the little I did either.

      The Burner seems to fall in between the two of them geometry wise (I haven’t actually looked at the numbers recently to compare) with low bb and 67 HA IIRC and feels like it falls nicely between the two.

      If I were buying a bike in this category I’d have a really tough time deciding. ….. and you know I’d have to throw the Warden in the mix as well when it came time to purchase. Good bikes all.

  • jgray says:

    If you look at the picture of the 5010’s top tube from above, you visually see why 5010 replaced S0l0…

    • KRob says:

      Yeah, I didn’t even catch that it *didn’t* say SOLO when I first looked at it due to the similarity in the font. It wasn’t until I overheard the techs calling it a 5010 that I took a touble take and noticed the change. Very clever of them. Still don’t like the new name.

  • Ron says:

    I am 65 years an started biking 9 years ago. I read everything from your sight to educate myself. All that I have seen is that the bikes keep getting better and the prices keep going way up. How does a average person young or old buy any of the bikes that you keep reviewing. I ride the western frontier at Snow Shoe Mountain and I have to rent them because I can’t afford $4000.00 and up for a good average bike. What can I do

  • Ben Permuy says:

    Very good review I just picked up my Solo from the bike shop about a week ago and have put in about 50 miles on it since, it’s a blast to ride very fast and responsive excellent components and looks sharp could not ask for anything more for the price. I have been looking and tested several bikes in this category and finally decided on the Solo this was the right choice for me. I have a 29er in a small frame and have never felt one with the bike the 29 in tires and small frame did not work for me. I am 5’6 and just could not find anything that fit me right. I was able to fit perfect on a medium frame size thanks to the awesome geometry of this bike.

    • Epacheco says:

      Ben, was the Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 one of your choices? I’m debating between the 5010 and the Anthem. I’ve ridden the Anthem and was very impressed on it’s swift climbing and the way it responds when pedaling. Can you give me some insight which way to go?

  • johnny D says:

    Seriously Matt, you must be a nob. The guy has clearly explained his background and his credentials and by the look of it they are are a shitload more impressive than yours. Thanks for the feedback Krob. You were telling me the things I was looking for. Lookout bank account…im diving in

  • Dan says:

    Really enjoying these (presumably) unpaid, unbiased, and honest reviews from Krob. My God, how refreshing, real criticism, where have you been the last 10 years! None of this, forget last years bikes, these new models are all awesome, endlessly repeated, year in and year out. What a load of absolute BS. Let’s call a spade a spade, they can’t all be equally good, and some are downright average. To always suggest all these new bikes are as good as each other devalues your currency as a review site and confusers your readers. You read Pitchfork because you know they’ll bag the latest Beck album, whether you agree with it or not, it’s always interesting to read an alternate, but not necessarily contrarian opinion. Keep the honesty coming, much appreciated!

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