What is it
The Haro R9 LT is an 140mm travel bike with 27.5 wheels. It is targeted at the all mountain buyer looking for sufficient travel for rough local trails and occasional road trips. It tries to offer the best components available from reputable component companies for the money.
And if this doesn’t strike the buyer’s fancy, the Shift family of full suspension bikes includes eight bikes from $1300 to the top-of-the-line $2610 model featured here. Some have 120mm of travel and one model even has plus tires. But all have 27.5 wheels and all try to offer the consumer the best value for their money. It is indeed refreshing to hear a company say their top-level bike costs $2600 instead of $10,000.
- Geometry is effective and bike performs well
- 4-bar suspension works well on descents and it pedals efficiently
- Good, recognizable components for the price
- Stiff crank and snappy 1×11 drivetrain
- SLX brake selection is up to the task
- XT shifting is precise
- RockShox suspension good treat at this price point
- No dropper post on the R9 or any of the Shift family
- No water bottle mounts on the frame
- Remote fork lockout unnecessary and adds cockpit clutter
- Not very supple suspension or supportive in mid-stroke
- 11-42 gearing would be improved by 11-46 XT
The highlight of this bike is the components but before we get in to that, let’s talk about the frame itself. Geometry is well sorted with a 75-degree seat angle and 68-degree head angle. For this amount of travel and 27.5 wheel size, it would be nice to see it at 67 degrees or 66.5. Cockpit is modern with 760mm bars and a 70mm stem. Reach was 443mm on our test bike. We’d like to see a 50mm stem on an all mountain bike like this.
Ride is good with the RockShox suspension. The bike is responsive and can handle technical terrain in part due to the Nevegal X tires. Rims are wide enough at 31mm and the Pivit hubs were extremely quiet. Convert this rig to tubeless and it should improve noticeably in terms of weight and traction.
It’s not the most supple front and rear shock and there is not a whole lot of mid stroke support, as the action of this suspension is fairly linear. There is no low or high speed compression adjustment but that is not unusual at this price point. On the bright side, tokens can be added to the Rockshox Revelation fork to allow lowering of air pressure by making the fork more progressive to prevent bottoming out.
But for the $2610 price, that is completely understandable, as fancier fork/shock combos often cost $1500 by themselves.
In the wide open rear shock position, it was an efficient climber without much pedal-induced bob under power. Lockout the rear and it’s essentially a hardtail.
This is a highlight, indeed, as Haro is an established brand that is aggressively re-entering the mountain bike market after a hiatus. And they’re able to offer this pricing while supporting bike shops and not going consumer direct.
Spec includes Shimano XT shifters, derailleur, and cassette, which deliver precise and reliable shifting. The 11-42 cassette does the job but those new 11-46 ones will be much more useable for riders of different levels.
The Praxis Cadet crank is crafty selection, as it offers better performance with a massively stiff crank spindle, yet it is more affordable. Ritchey cockpit, WTB saddle and rims all do their specific tasks well. The included chain guide and remote fork lockout are a bit unusual and unnecessary to some. But they’re not doing any harm.
Our No. 1 takeaway from this review is the bike performs well. Haro’s engineers have done their homework re-entering the mountain bike market. And they’re rapidly improving their offering, as they’ve already addressed a lot of our ideas in the next generation Shifts that they’re working on.
Value Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
More info: www.harobikes.com
Q&A with Haro Product Manager Jean-Luc Ferre
Mtbr: What were the design objectives for this bike? Who is the ideal buyer?
Jean-Luc Ferre: The basic Shift design was created three years ago now to offer solid trail (120mm version) or all mountain performance (140mm travel), but keep strong pedaling capability. This is why we use a low forward pivot point on the swing arm that keeps the “bob” effect to a minimum.
The all mountain version (LT w/ 140mm of travel) tested with the R9 allows for more travel and a progressive rear shock spring ratio for faster riding and bigger drops or jumps compared to the original Trail version. It offers as well a RockShox Monarch RL rear shock with DebonAir, with a bigger air reservoir for a more linear spring curve and more traction and control over small bumps.
The typical buyer for that model is someone who cannot afford all the more expensive bikes starting at $3,500 or more with similar specs (or slightly better), but still looks for performance and great riding feel or feedback from the bike.
Mtbr: Price is $2610? How were you able to hit this mark with XT components and full RockShox suspension?
Jean-Luc Ferre: The Shift frames and bikes are made at a very good factory which is completely vertically integrated (from billets of aluminum to final assembled bikes). They manufacture everything from A to Z on our frames. We were able to lower our cost in terms of tooling (all frame parts are cold forged + CNC machined) and were able to come out with very competitive costs for 6061-T6 alloy models with a wide range of components.
For the R9 LT specifically, we looked at the best Shimano XT/SLX parts combination with a similar approach regarding the cockpit and wheels (Ritchey components and WTB rims for instance) to offer performance at an affordable cost. All of the Shift frames use Enduro sealed bearings and most bikes are fully equipped with sealed bearings hubs.
Mtbr: Why the Praxis crank and ring over XT? For the record, we’ve had very good experience with Praxis.
Jean-Luc Ferre: The Praxis Cadet crankset is excellent. It is affordable, stiff with its 30mm alloy axle and cold forged arms and turns on a very good and precise sealed bearing BB set. I was immediately impressed by the stiffness when I started using a sample crankset back in late 2015. Considering the cost, the forged “Wave” chainring and the quality, there was no need for us to pay a lot more for a Deore XT 1x crankset. We are looking forward to increasing the amount of specs we have with Praxis on 2018 models.
Mtbr: Why does it include a chainguide and a fork lockout? We don’t see this a lot in 1×11 bikes such as this.
Jean-Luc Ferre: The chainguide is a safety addition as the chainrings can get worn out over time and offer less chain retention. It just serves that purpose. The fork lockout was a request from our sales department, mostly for international distributors. It is mostly useful when you start pushing hard standing up on climbs. This spec has been dropped for MY18 in favor of a dropper posts, which leads us to question No. 5.
Mtbr: No dropper? Is there accommodations for internal routing?
Jean-Luc Ferre: Yes, the internal or external routings are part of the stock frame design. The internal one goes through the downtube, exits at the bottom and goes through the seat tube and its linkage mount.
For our Shift models with a price range between $ 1250 and $2600, the goal has always been to let consumers choose the best dropper post option for them. Our pricing is then more competitive but the specs are not restrictive in terms of quality or weight when it comes to these posts. Nonetheless and with better options for 2018, most of our mid-range Shift models and above will offer internally-routed dropper posts.