Monday, June 19, 2017

The New SIR 9 From Niner

Niner Bike's new SIR 9- The "what the El Mariachi should be like" bike.
Niner Bikes announced a new SIR 9 bike today. The steel hard tail is an evolution of their first model which was introduced in 2005. This new SIR 9 is more in the "modern geometry" vein and also sports the ability to be a 27.5+ bike or a straight up 29"er bike. They also figured that most folks that have a hankerin' for a steel 29"er hard tail probably will also be inclined to do a bit of "bikepacking" (read- bike camping) and Niner added a bunch of braze on points for hard mounted frame bags.

This all makes sense. Steel frames are regarded as being tough and up to the task of the back country cyclist. Hard tails eschew the complications of a full suspension bike. Plus, many regard hard tails as being more efficient, especially for touring/bikepacking/bike camping. The SIR 9 started out as Niner's flagship XC oriented hard tail SS/geared bike. The times have changed and so Niner offered up an update of this iconic model.

Interestingly, I find that Niner's evolution of the SIR 9 stands in stark contrast to what Salsa Cycles did when they ditched off their legacy steel hard tail model, the El Mariachi, in favor of a low end spec, aluminum hard tail dubbed the Timberjack. Many thought that Salsa would update their El Mariachi, steel hard tail 29"er, to be a "plus bike" compatible rig and that they would update the bike to "modern geometry" standards. Much like what Niner has done with the SIR 9.

The reinforced chain stay yoke that Niner developed for the SIR 9 is very complex and an interesting solution.
 Oddly enough, the Salsa Cycles Timberjack is not really even in the same vein as the former El Mariachi. It then seems rather ironic that Niner Bikes has upstaged Salsa in regards to this sort of bike. The SIR 9 would appear then to be exactly what the former champions of the El Mariachi were hoping to see from Salsa. A trail bike with bike packing as a standard focus. A bike with a short rear/long front center and a slack head angle. Steel tubes and modern amenities.

So, when I see this new SIR 9, I see "what the El Mariachi should have morphed in to". A steel hard tail that could be single speed, geared, and has modern geometry and "adventure by bike" capabilities. Not a rebadged, price point, aluminum tubed, poorly spec'ed model.

At least devotees of the steel hard tail 29"er have a champion in Niner Bikes.


Phillip Cowan said...

I haven't given a crap about mountain biking in 20 years but the SIR 9 IMBA bikes they raffled off a couple of years ago could have wooed me back. Those things were beautiful!

Unknown said...

Kona's steel bikes use a similar weldment for the chainstay yoke, though the one on my Explosif is definitely tighter on clearance.

Chris S said...

Thanks for the nice comments Guitar Ted!!

Niner Bikes

Guitar Ted said...

@Chris Sugai- You are welcome, and those comments are well deserved. All The Best to you Sir!

Kevin said...

Nice write up Guitar Ted. What flavor of steel is Niner using?

Guitar Ted said...

@Feeny Hollow- Reynolds 853

Sophia said...

Hey!, so how is this bike so much better than the Salsa Timberjack? Especially the Ti framed version. It seems to me like they are quite similar and Salsa just added in a new model name instead of redesigning the Mariachi. Best, Sophia.

Guitar Ted said...

@Sophia- Hey!

The Timberjack doesn't have the bikepacking hardpoints that the SIR-9 has- (rack mount, bag mounts), and the Ti frame has even one less bottle mount. Secondly, aluminum is generally thought of as having less resiliency than steel in rough conditions, plus it generally doesn't have the nice ride feel steel does. Finally, an aluminum Salsa Timberjack lists for $799.00 from several retailers sites I checked, while a SIR-9 is 1200 bucks, and the Ti Timberjack tops out at well over two grand.

So, if you are on a budget and the rack mounts, frame bag hard points, ride quality, and resiliency of the frame against rocks, etc is no big deal to you, then the Timberjack is a great bike. The Ti T-jack is maybe a great trail bike but at almost twice the price of a steel Niner, it seems a bit pricey, and more attuned to the trail rider vs bikepacker. But again- different strokes for different folks.

My point was that the El Mariachi, a bike very much a favorite of bikepackers, was not replaced by the Timberjack, as the Timberjack is really a budget trail bike, not a purposed bike packing bike, like Niner's offering.

So, again- if bikepacking doesn't mean a hill of beans to you, then the post doesn't matter that I wrote. But for those that were hoping Salsa Cycles might make a new model to address those bikepacking needs when they replaced the El Mariachi, they were likely disappointed, because the Timberjack doesn't really address those needs. The Niner SIR- 9 does. It is more of what I, and others, were expecting out of the company that made hay with the phrase: "Adventure by Bike".

Sophia said...

Got it, I am looking for a bikepacking bike and thought Salsa did have pretty good options with the TImberjack and the Woodsmoke. I didn't realize the SIR had such better gear attachments -- especially didn't notice the Ti had one fewer than the AL version. Thank you for your speedy response! I do like that the Timberjack allows for 130mm of travel vs. the SIR's 120mm. I'm interested in bikepacking the CO trail and the Baja Divide. I think a little extra suspension might be worth it for those trails. I'll start considering the SIR more seriously.... just love that Ti look :/ but ya, not worth it I think, Reynolds 853 steel SIR looks like a pretty sweet option, with 3" plus tires 120mm is probably enough.