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  1. #1
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    New AIR 9 Build, Opinions ENCOURAGED

    Hi everyone

    I'm relatively new here but not necessarily a noob cyclist. I have a 2012 Epic Comp Aluminum I have lightened up as much as possible without changing out parts that have little ROI as far as I'm concerned (non rotating mass). It is about 26.5# and I would like something to race on that is a little lighter and more peppy/competitive feeling. I live in the Upstate of South Carolina so I race and ride on all types of terrain from fast flat Singletrack/Fire Road courses, to epic rides in Western NC (when I can get away ). I am 6' 0" tall and weigh about 185#. I will star the pieces that I already have as these will be used if possible to save a little dough, I can always add some candy parts later if I feel the need. My previous ride was a 2011 Stumpjumper Comp 29 HT with 1x10 and I could pedal it up most stuff around here as long as I wasn't super tired or what not.

    Frame: Air 9 RDO BLK Licorice L
    Fork: RokShox Reba 29 RLT 100 Tapered Steer Tube
    Brakes: Shimano XT 160mm
    Front Der: ethirteen xcx chainguide (34.9 highmount)
    Rear Der: SRAM X9 short cage*
    Shifter: X9 rr 10s
    Crank: SRAM X9 w/34t CR*
    Seatpost: Syntace 31.6mm Hiflex
    Post Clamp: Niner 34.9mm
    HBar: Specialized 29er alu 680mm 9 deg bend*
    Stem: Specialized 105 mm alu*
    Cass: XT 11-36 I have a 1080 for race day
    Wheelset: Stan's Crest/ Hope Hubs/ DT comp spoke*
    Chain: SRAM 1051
    Tires: Specialized Fast Trak Control*
    Saddle: Fizik Tundra aluminum rail
    Grips: esi*
    Pedals: Shimano 540*

    This is the build list I am considering please let me know what you think

    the retail estimated price of the non-starred parts I need is a bit over $3.5k

    Thanks for the input!

    Scott

  2. #2
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    All sounds good to me except the tires. Those fast traks are great on a full suspension bike, but that hardtail will benefit greatly from at least a 2.2 out back. Run it tubeless so you can get the pressure down to about 25psi.

    If you need a fast running tire I suggest a Geax AKA 2.2 or a Michelin Wild Race'r 2.25. I've spent a lot of time on both of these... they are fast rollers that corner well, have good sidewalls and come in at under $40.

  3. #3
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    cool thanks for the advice I will consider 2.2 tires once I wear out the fast traks I have a set new in the garage... maybe I can sell them and try some fatter tires out. The tires will be ran tubeless unless a tube is required for the short term I run 26psi in front and 28psi in rear usually but with the fatter tires I guess I could try a little lower!

    If i ride fatter in the back for cush, I'll probably wanna run it in front too for the added traction and balanced feel.

  4. #4
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    Looks good to me, judging by the build you are running a 1x10.

    My input would be to get a chain other than sram. Shimano or KMC perform substantially better imo. You may want to also look into a carbon handlebar, one of the places where the $$ to weight savings is pretty good ratio. Wheels look solid, that is the second best place after the frame to spend your cash.

  5. #5
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    yes planning for 1x10 (i love the simplicity and feel the gear range is pretty good for my ride style/terrain)
    I have had a carbon HB before and liked it (EC70 with same dim as Spec alu bar), but for now thinking staying with Spec Alu Bar, it is not too heavy and nice and stiff, but mostly because I already own it. This is something I can easily change down the road though if I feel like the HB weight is holding me back . I would likely change Hbar and Stem at some point if I really wanted to notice a difference in front end.

  6. #6
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    I have had good luck with SRAM chains, but it seems there are a lot of opinions here. My OE chain on Epic was kmc and it failed within a few hundred miles while warming up for a race on pavement and flat ground(5 minutes b4 of course). My good friend has same bike as me and his OE kmc chain failed on one of his first couple of rides in similar manner. The SRAM is definitely working better than that
    I heard recently from a bike shop mechanic that Shimano chains were coming in with greater than .5 reading on the PT chain wear indicator (can anyone confirm this?), making me feel as though the longevity and value weren't that great on these. He said they worked great on used cassettes, but didn't like the idea that they were already "worn" a bit according to chain wear gauge.

  7. #7
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    I can't say much for whatever KMC stock chains you guys had but my KMC x9sl has held up for over a year of single speeding with no problems at all.

    The rest of the build sounds pretty good and there is nothing wrong with using parts you already have to save a little cash for the things you really want.

    Tire selection becomes a matter of preference imo. But I can say that I have tried a couple that are pretty fast rollers. Race Kings for sure but the 29er version is fairly heavy in comparison to some of the other tires out there. However, the RK rating of a 2.2 is odd because the tire simply has more volume than most 2.2's out there which provides for a very nice ride. I also like the Maxxis Ikon in a 2.2. Again a fast roller and weighs in right around 530g which isn't bad at all. I currently have a 2.2 Ikon on the front and a 2.0 Bontrager 29.3 on the rear. Both roll fast, corner well, and are being run tubeless. Just to throw a few options out there for you. But by all means, run what you have already paid for first and get your money out of them! Hey, they are sort of free to you at this point. Spend the money you have on parts you know you want to replace then worry about the other stuff as it wears out.

  8. #8
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    yeah i don't know about the stock chain, it just worries me about QC if they both broke so quickly.

    I wear parts quickly as I do ride a good bit, so replacing parts is a necessity on a regular basis. Will probably be a good time to try some meatier tires. Using what I have is not an option it is a necessity, but in 3-5 months those tires and whatever chain I buy will be done and need to be replaced

  9. #9
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    Looks like i underestimated your knowledge base. Sram chains have always felt "clunkier/heavier/cheaper" than the shimano and KMC chains i have used. I do have a sram chain on my FS, and one on my wifes had tail, they have both been fine thus far; but sram chains have been the ony brand to "explode" on me on the trail. Like everything with bikes, if you ride it and like it, don't listen to me Don't want to de-rail the thread with a debate about chains.

    I think you have a solid build picked out

  10. #10
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    yeah when I talked about chains at the group ride tonight it went from I don't care, to I can bust any hollowpin chain immediately... I guess I just want it to work and for my experience sram has been good, but I haven't personally tried the Shimano chains except on the road where they perform exceptionally IME. Many do seem to prefer KMC though in my circle of friends, but I had such a bad experience. I may try them again at some point, but for now... I am just gonna wear it out as long as it doesn't break on me prematurely I'm happy! can't wait to build a frame from the ground up and get away from darn avid brakes that are spec'd on every stock bike from here to timbuk2

  11. #11
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    I also may stick with the phenom specialized saddle I'm used to, as it is very comfortable and pretty light... but my butt seems to get used to any saddle I spend a few hours on over a season

  12. #12
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    The only advice I can give is to run solid cable housing all the way to the rear der. I have an Air9 Carbon and have had nothing but issues around servicing the cables. The cable guide inside the BB shell is a pain to get into and set up. Fun the first time, but a PITA every time after that. I have found that the best way is to delete the internal cable guide and (using the stock screw from Niner) secure the cable housing with a plastic P clip (available from most hardware suppliers in the electrical section). You also have to drill out the badge on the headtube (only just enough to thread the cable housing but not so much you still can fit the housing end cap if you decide to go back to the original configuration). This keeps all the crud out of the shifting system which has been a problem for me as it seems every race I have had in the last 6 months has been a mud fest and required a complete teardown after every race.
    This fix has worked a treat for me and has cut down on the servicing time. You can now replace the cables without removing the cranks and BB cups.

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