The 29er vs 26er continues to simmer over a medium heat, but it’s fairly obvious there’s more acceptance of the larger wheel size. Colorado’s Niner Bikes have been at the forefront of the 29er market since 2005, mainly because of founder Chris Sugai’s colossal passion for the big wheel bikes, but also because of Niner’s fresh business approach.
Chris makes sure every Niner employee is an ‘A-player’—hired, after three or four interviews, for a love for the brand and bikes that can match his. The bikes are virtually produced in the cloud: starting off as a Google Doc, brainstormed from chatrooms with customers into spreadsheets, designed with Solidworks 3D and tested with Catia 3D.
Niner riders are so enthusiastic about their brand, they’re referred to as ‘Ninerds’. Matthew Mead is an awesome wedding photographer, based in Sydney, who recently built himself up a Jet 9 RDO. These are extremely versatile frames: “I can drop the suspension down to 100mm,” Matt tells us, “add some air in the rear shock and do a 100km XC race on it, or I can put on some beefy tires, run the fork at 120mm, soften it up and bomb down Mt Stromlo with a big smile on my face.”
“I’m caught up in the hype now. To me, medium travel carbon dually 29ers are the way of the future. Especially this frame, it’s got everything you need! 12mm axle, all carbon with internal cabling (which will be more awesome when Di2 comes around for MTB).”
Even Specialized, who dismissed 29ers as a passing trend, now offer their legendary Stumpjumper exclusively with the larger format wheels. The medium travel frames tick a lot of boxes for a lot of riders and Niner Bikes have a special ingredient: a special mix of quality, good design and passion.