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  1. #1
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    So I see a lot of threads on here with people asking about how these two bikes compare to one another (since I was trying to decide which one I wanted- I read through most of them). After selling both my mountain bikes (Salsa Spearfish 2 and Special Ed Rockhopper SS) I am fortunate enough to have been able to build one of each of them in the last few months, and I have to say I was SHOCKED at how different these two bikes feel, behave, and perform on the trail.

    Disclaimer: I run the Nimble as a SS and the Yelli geared. I have run the Nimble at 100mm and 140mm, but for the sake of comparison, I will compare the Nimble 140, since that's how the Yelli is also equipped. The Nimble does have a slightly better wheelset (I9 laced to Stan's ArchEX) when compared with the Yelli (Formula hubs laced to Stan's Arch), and I realize that will affect some of my review. Another part of the disclaimer is that the riding here in PA is very diverse. We have fast and flowy, rocky and rooty, big ups, big downs, you name it. Which I feel makes for a good testing ground for bikes.

    The Nimble seems much quicker to get up to speed. This could be partially due to the lighter wheels and the reduced drive train drag since it's single speed and doesn't have a chain guide like the Yelli.

    The Nimble feels a little more playful at slower speeds, mostly due to the quick poppy acceleration. Overall I feel like the Nimble 9 is really fun at low and high speeds, and does VERY well in the twisty turny sections, and at climbing and descending. While the Yelli is by no means sluggish, it isn't as "fun" or "playful" as the Nimble at slow speeds. But that's not what I built the Yelli for... chainguide, flat pedals, 785mm bars, 50mm stem... I had more aggressive riding in mind with this build. When you pick up speed, or when you point the Yelli downhill, it screams (wakawaka) to life and is scary fun. The Yelli descends even more confidently than the Nimble, and I feel like this bike could get me in trouble. Example: there is a loose downhill rock garden on a trail I ride regularly. I typically average about 15 mph through there when I look at my GPS. That's on the N9. Tonight I hit that section on the yelli and averaged 21 mph. Pretty huge increase. And the scary thing was I didn't feel any more "out there" than I do on the N9 at 15 mph. This bike is crazy rigid and sturdy. It is also still scary nimble through the tight twisty areas.

    My overall impression is this: The Nimble 9 is a better all around bike. The steel really does a good job of muting the trail chatter. It's fun to ride all out, up hill downhill, or slow picking apart rock gardens. It is very quick handling and confident in turns, downhill, in the air, etc... This bike rewards a multitude of riding styles.

    The Yelli however, is a complete animal. It is a much better trail bike. The aluminum isn't rough, although it is pretty stiff in all the right places, allowing you to really throw the bike around aggressively. It LOVES air, railing turns, plowing through rock gardens, tight twisties etc... but it is meant to be ridden FAST.



    In summary - These are both amazing bikes and, despite their similar geometry, I feel like they are two very drastically different bikes. As to which one is better, I suppose that depends on how you want to ride it. If you want a bike you can go very quick on, like an XC bike, but that is still super confident with more aggressive stuff, the Nimble might be for you. If you want a scary fast, self shuttling downhill bike (to coin a descriptor another member on here used for his Yelli), the Yelli is the better bike. Just depends on your riding style and goals. Bottom line is I'll keep both, as I don't feel there is as much overlap between the two as I suspected there would be. While there are some trails I love each bike on, there are some trails I would take the Yelli on every time, and some I would take the Nimble on every time.


    Anyone who has ridden both, please feel free to argue differently, as I am really surprised I felt this way about both of these bikes.

    And some photos of each build:

    Nimble 9:






    YelliScreamy:







    Hope this helps someone make a decision at some point...

  2. #2
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    Nice write up!

    I had a gen 1 N9 and now have a Yelli and have had some of the same thoughts. I have even considered selling the Yelli and going back to a N9 because the N9 seemed more versatile and a better fit for my riding.

    Love the term "self shuttling" (whoever coined it) - will have to remember that one.

  3. #3
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    goddamit now I want an XC based N9 to go with my trailsy Yelli. You're not helping!

  4. #4
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    Hahaha. Glad to be of service. Lol

    Fwiw I am running the N9 with a Reba RL at 100 mm and it makes a freaking awesome XC bike. Although I still hit jumps and the like with it just fine.
    Last edited by pointerDixie214; 11-16-2013 at 04:48 PM.

  5. #5
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    Love both builds.

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    very much liking the look of the black N9. If anyone in the UK's selling a medium N9, get in touch with me.

    I run my Yelli at 120mm but the forks need a service and were sticking at 100mm, it handled well, I can't say I missed the 20mm for my local (Surrey Hills) riding.

    PA backcountry looks nice.

    Hope this helps someone make a decision at some point...

    Yeah, get one of each!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghetto View Post
    goddamit now I want an XC based N9 to go with my trailsy Yelli. You're not helping!
    And I'm having a little buyers remorse, feeling like I shoulda splurged for a N9 instead of the Unit frame I just bought!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by So Cal RX View Post
    And I'm having a little buyers remorse, feeling like I shoulda splurged for a N9 instead of the Unit frame I just bought!
    Unit, although vastly different than these geometries, is still a sweet sweet bike.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by So Cal RX View Post
    And I'm having a little buyers remorse, feeling like I shoulda splurged for a N9 instead of the Unit frame I just bought!
    Should've bought a Honzo.

  10. #10
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    Nice builds pointerDixie!! I thought those cranks looked familiar on the Yelli Looks like the Yelli turned out great (much better than mine)! That's a helluva pair of Canfields to have! ENJOY!

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    Thanks for this comparison review, I'm currently agonizing over which frame I want. The N9 is better suited to my single speed intentions for the bike, but I just can't get over the 2 pound weight savings on the Yelli. I'm no weight weenie, but that's a big difference. And I do like steel, but he way the N9 is built up to allow the short chain stays, I wouldn't have thought there'd be much flex left.

    Why do you think the Yelli descends so much better?

    I would've thought that with their nearly identical geometry, they'd handle the same. [The biggest difference to my mind is the weight savings on the Yelli, but I wouldn't think that would make a difference for descending.]

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Furdaddy View Post
    The N9 is better suited to my single speed intentions for the bike, but I just can't get over the 2 pound weight savings on the Yelli. I'm no weight weenie, but that's a big difference.
    I would've thought that with their nearly identical geometry, they'd handle the same.
    I was in the same boat recently. I was coming off a gen 1 N9 which I loved. Good weight and single speed with a 120mm fork. I was trying to decide between a gen 2 N9 and a Yelli. Even though I prefer single speed I went with the Yelli. I could not look past the 2.5 lb weight difference. I have not ridden a g2 N9, but I am guessing it is a fairly stiff steel frame since the g1 was stiffer. The Yelli is super stiff, but in a good way. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the two frames do ride differently. I would expect them to be the same, but they are not. I do agree that the Yelli descends better too.
    As of now I have a slight case of buyers remorse. I am converting the YS to single speed. I prefer riding the chunkier trails on single speed. I would potentially consider a frame trade for a L or XL gen 2 N9. I have the black chrome YS.

  13. #13
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    Quote Originally Posted by socalfyre View Post
    Nice builds pointerDixie!! I thought those cranks looked familiar on the Yelli Looks like the Yelli turned out great (much better than mine)! That's a helluva pair of Canfields to have! ENJOY!
    Ha. Thanks. Cranks were in awesome shape. Love em.

  14. #14
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    Quote Originally Posted by Furdaddy View Post
    Thanks for this comparison review, I'm currently agonizing over which frame I want. The N9 is better suited to my single speed intentions for the bike, but I just can't get over the 2 pound weight savings on the Yelli. I'm no weight weenie, but that's a big difference. And I do like steel, but he way the N9 is built up to allow the short chain stays, I wouldn't have thought there'd be much flex left.

    Why do you think the Yelli descends so much better?

    I would've thought that with their nearly identical geometry, they'd handle the same. [The biggest difference to my mind is the weight savings on the Yelli, but I wouldn't think that would make a difference for descending.]
    The N9, despite the weight, rides lighter. I know that sounds funny. But it does.

    I think the Yelli descends better because it is even stiffer than the already stiff N9. That's all I could figure.

    EDIT: I should add that the difference in descent confidence isn't extreme. It's just noticeable. Both are VERY capable in rough downhill situations. Before I had the Yelli, the N9 was by far the most confident descending bike and the stiffest bike in rough stuff I had owned. So it's hardly flimsy or timid.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for everyones posts even though I have really only been looking at getting a new steel frame. For whatever reason I have not even considered aluminum. This has been a slow process but threads like this one are helping me a lot.

  16. #16
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    I've run my Yelli SS (using a Surly Singulator), it went well. There's no good reason not to if folks are tempted to try.

    Given how burly the Yelli is built I've never quite understood why the N9 is that much heavier.

  17. #17
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    Darn it this is hard just between these 2 not including the handful of other excellent options with similar geometry. Any more people that have ridden both? I wish I had some experience with aluminum for reference.

    I could save $100.00 and 2 pounds very tempting.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GS Spirit View Post
    Darn it this is hard just between these 2 not including the handful of other excellent options with similar geometry. Any more people that have ridden both? I wish I had some experience with aluminum for reference.

    I could save $100.00 and 2 pounds very tempting.
    What kind of trails do you ride? What kind of rider are you? The Yelli is noticeably more stiff (and rough) as a frame. Of course the 140mm fork and some big tires really help.

    I feel like both these bikes were meant for Ardent 2.4 tires. lol

  19. #19
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    I ride a little of everything by that I mean all sorts of trails here in Colorado. I am not sure how hard or easy they are as I am just getting into it. I do ride gnar technical single track trails on my dirt bike, as hard as I can find. I am always pushing myself to do the next thing that challenges me. I only want to own one bike that is set up to excel at having a playful nature like picking the line that catches air etc. I am drawn towards steel because that is the only kind of bikes that I have owned going back to my BMX days. Partly my mind is already made up on that even though they way more. I need to do some more test rides but most of the bikes I am looking at are not in the shops here but I will make an effort to look a little harder.

  20. #20
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    If I had to choose one I would go N9 just for the versatility. Easier to SS and can run gears. And Steel.

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    I am leaning that way too because it will be used for everything. There are a few other bikes in the running as well with similar geometry and steel. It is cool that you get the chance to really see the differences between the two in varied terrein having both.

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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    The thing I wonder about for the people that have both is the finish as fragile on the yelli as the paint is on N9?

  23. #23
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    Quote Originally Posted by ferros View Post
    The thing I wonder about for the people that have both is the finish as fragile on the yelli as the paint is on N9?
    The finish on the yelli is tough!! It takes a beating.

  24. #24
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    Review - Nimble 9 vs. Yelli Screamy

    Quote Originally Posted by ferros View Post
    The thing I wonder about for the people that have both is the finish as fragile on the yelli as the paint is on N9?
    I can't speak to that too much. Mainly because my N9 hasn't gotten any chips or anything either.

    Maybe the flat black N9 has better paint? Not sure. Yelli definitely has good paint though. One ride was before I remembered to put on a chain stay protector (aka tube) and I got some chain slap. Not a scratch.

  25. #25
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    The Gen2 N9 is powder coated not painted.

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