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  1. #1
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    Jet9 Carbon vs Aluminum

    Hello all.
    Earlier this week I test rode a 2013 Jet9 Carbon and think I may have found myself a new bike.
    It would be my first full suspension bike and my first carbon mtb (if I choose it over the alum).
    Iíd be using it for xc training/racing mostly in the northeast (rocky/rooty trails).

    Before taking the plunge Iíve got a few questions Iím hoping some current Jet9 owners might be able to answer.

    Can anyone compare the ride of the carbon to the aluminum?

    Can anyone speak to the difference in weight between the two?

    How much maintenance does the rear suspension need? Bearing replacement? Shock internals?

    From reading this forum (and those for other manuf) there seem to be continuous issues with carbon frames developing cracks (not just with Niner but with all bike brands). Just doesnít give me a good feeling about taking (what I perceive to be) a chance on carbon. Is this fear well founded?

    Anything else you think I might want to know about these two bikes?

    Am considering used bikes but as there would be no warranty I just donít think I could go the carbon route if I go used.

    Before last week Iíd never ridden a full suspension bike but Iíve now been on a Spec Epic Comp (alloy) and Trek Superfly (carbon) in addition to the carbon Niner. For me, the Niner won this shootout by a sizeable margin. Loved the bike, now Iím trying to get a better idea of what it would be like to live with one.

  2. #2
    trail "cleaner"
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    I own/ride both the Carbon (2012) and Al (2011) versions of the JET. The carbon is much Stiffer. The weight is @ 1 pound difference in frame weight. Suspension maintenance is really depending on where/what environment you are riding in. In Arizona...no problem. So far, no issues with my Vanna White JET regarding the cracking epidemic. The RDO has 100mm rear travel vs. 80mm on the AL version (except for new 2013-14 AL version). The RDO loves a 120mm fork while the AL is more comfortable with a 100mm. If going used... gotta agree to go with the AL version if warranty is a concern. If going new.... RDO all the way. Hope this helps!
    No dabs allowed!

  3. #3
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    I've also own both and raced heavily on both here in the Rocky Mountains.

    You'll probably get a lot of different experiences and opinions on the carbon vs Al question. I have broken two Jet 9 Al frames in crashes, broken to the point of not being ridable. Compared to my Jet 9 RDO, I broke my collarbone along with a saddle and Thomson Masterpiece seat post and continued to race on that frame for another year (I did do an upgrade this season for the sake of upgrading to the latest version but really there was no reason to). I've also broken two Al frames of other brands. Overall, if you crash all bets are off, but my experience is the carbon frame is more likely to survive, but where Al will bend, the carbon will either be unharmed or destroyed. I know of heavier riders, 200 lbs + cracking frames, but the material does not seem relevant as they've cracked carbon and split steel... If you buy new, the carbon frame will have a good warranty (warranty basically void if used).

    Suspension parts vary based on conditions. Water will destroy anything it gets into. I have had good experience with the bearing on the RDO (they use bearings and not bushings), though a deep water crossing that puts the lower swing arm under water may cause a need to at least take things apart and grease the bearings. The shock I've never had an issue with. As with any FS you will want to check the pivot bolts every few rides, I've had bolts come out not just on my Jet/RDO but also on other FS brands I've had, it is just an extra maintenance item of a FS.

    The Jet 9 Carbon/RDO is definitely stiffer than the Al version, but I was quite happy with the Al version all the time I raced on it. I'm on the Jet RDO all the time for all my races, I only use my Air 9 Carbon mostly in the off season like now to help a bit on skills as the Jet 9 RDO goes down the crappiest lines so well that riding skills can become relaxed!

    Since I've been racing on Niners for about four years now, I haven't even been tempted by other bikes even when offered REALLY good deals.

  4. #4
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    Thank you guys, I really appreciate the insight.
    As a full suspension bike is a new step for me itís good to hear that it wonít take much more effort to maintain. The comparison between the two bikes is what I was really trying to get at. I gather that the carbon is the nicer ride, is lighter and has more travel. All plusses. Now the trouble Iím having is judging how durable a carbon mtb is (not directed at Niner specifically but at a carbon mtb from any manuf).

    I guess times sure have changed. I rode a lot 20yrs ago, then took several years away and have now gotten back into riding again in just the last few years. To me, the idea of breaking a frame seems like something that should be a very rare and exceptional event. When shopping for a bike a few years back I wasnít even looking at carbon, mostly due to its cost. Now that Iím shopping again (and looking into carbon), Iím reading stories of folks who have broken frames and the prolonged time it takes for a replacement to arrive.

    Now it seems accepted that there is a real chance that your frame might break. Granted, my bike from 20yrs ago was a fully rigid steel ride where the frame alone probably weighed 10lbs. Is it unreasonable for me to expect a carbon frame to last for many years without issue?

  5. #5
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    I still have my Trek 8300 from ~1994, I think it was the first carbon mtb frame (mostly carbon, carbon tubes and aluminum lugs). I don't ride it these days though and it is set up as a commuter.

    Consider that almost all new commercial aircraft are made of carbon fiber, the Boeing 787 is a 100% carbon fiber airframe from nose to tail, the aircraft is designed for 50 years of service.

    Carbon on it's own never decays, never corrodes, never gets weaker. However, just as with any material, it can be poorly manufactured. And just with any bike quality varies by brand.

    I can say with certainty, in a crash that breaks a carbon frame, any other frame would also break. Carbon is strong as sh!t! It is stronger than any other material available.

    If there is an issue with the frame and it cracks for whatever bizarre reason, Niners have a 5 year warranty that will cover a defect. That said, I've seen every frame material out there crack even Ti. It all depends on the quality of materials and workmanship.

    If you are that concerned, I'd suggest you look at a Salsa Titanium frame, they are only hard tails but they are indestructible and very nice frames. Aluminum frames are made paper thin!!! Most down tubes you can squeeze together with your fingers, same with the seat stays, the aluminum used is often the thickness of a sheet of paper. In fact if I recall, the Jet 9 Al, you can flex the down tube by squeezing it with your fingers (that could have been the Elsworth or the Intense I used to have, I can't recall).

  6. #6
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    Maybe I'm just making too big of a deal out of this.
    From my reading I was just surprised to see how many broken frames there were.
    Suppose if it was an epidemic that no one would buy them at all.
    Still like the idea of a 5yr warranty so buying used might not be such a hot idea in my case.

  7. #7
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    Jet9 Carbon vs Aluminum

    It was asserted that the alu has less travel than the carbon/RDO. If we are talking about the new alu version, this isn't the case. The old Jet was 80mm, the new Jet is 100mm just like its carbon brothers.

    I have a new alu RIP and have ridden the carbon version. Is there a difference? Definitely. Is it as pronounced at the price gap might suggest? Absolutely not. It's marginally better, albeit at everything, which certainly adds up. The aluminum version is no slouch, though. I came away from my RDO demo really, really happy with my own bike. If the difference between the new Jet alloy/carbon models is anything like the RIP, the bikes will be really close, especially with the new Jet's updated travel.

    My take on the frame cracks is this: say you're an average rider and your frame cracks. I don't know about you, but the first thing I'm gonna do once I get home is google that ****. Post about it, google some more, join in on other threads, etc... If my frame doesn't crack, then my bike is working awesomely and it's time to cook dinner or whatever, so life goes on. People report negative experiences way more than positive ones. I don't think the issue is as big as it seems online. Buy new, put your stock in Niner's great warranty and CS, and ride.

  8. #8
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    Just finished reading the thread about cracked RDO frames.
    Though not directly related to the Jet9C or alloy it made me realize how important a company's warranty (and how they stand behind it) has become in my buying decision. Now that I've found that frame breaks are more common than I'd ever thought.

    If I do go with a carbon Niner it simply has to have the 5yr warranty. No question.

  9. #9
    Carbon & Ti rule
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    I have owned a 2008 Jet9, 2010 Jet9, 2012 jet9 RDO & 2013 jet9 RDO

    As you would think the Carbon Jets are a big step up from the earlier Jet9 Alloys with 80mm rear travel.

    Now I have not ridden the new Alloy Jet9 Alloy with 100mm rear travel, But I do own The New Rip9 RDO & the new Rip9 Alloy.
    So I have some idea of the difference between the alloy & carbon models.

    I am a fan of Carbon & that would be my 1st choice.

    The Jet9 Carbon is a lot cheaper than the Jet9 RDO & a good choice when on a tighter budget.

    Now all the options are good so it comes down to how much money you are going to spend.

    Although I'm a fan of carbon if I had to put a lesser fork or wheels on because of the extra money spent on the frame, I would rather go with the Alloy frame.

    How much do you weigh & how tall are you ??

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by muzzanic View Post


    Now all the options are good so it comes down to how much money you are going to spend.

    Although I'm a fan of carbon if I had to put a lesser fork or wheels on because of the extra money spent on the frame, I would rather go with the Alloy frame.
    This is good to hear, I was too debating between the Carbon and AL (current) versions. I opted to order the AL version so I could spend more money on parts.
    Misfit diSSent 1x10
    Jet 9 AL...under construction

  11. #11
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    Jet9 Carbon vs Aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by pascale27 View Post
    This is good to hear, I was too debating between the Carbon and AL (current) versions. I opted to order the AL version so I could spend more money on parts.
    This is what I did with my RIP. Pike 150, Torch Trail wheels, carbon bars, X0/Wolf Tooth 1x10, Reverb, Crampon Ultimates...couldn't be happier.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by muzzanic View Post
    How much do you weigh & how tall are you ??
    I'm 6ft and 175lb.

  13. #13
    Carbon & Ti rule
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    Quote Originally Posted by fitforlife13 View Post
    I'm 6ft and 175lb.
    Ok cross between Med & Lge.

    I'm 6' & just a little heavier than you, I like a Lge frame better.

    I do run my seat higher than most at 6', My seat is at 800mm from centre of crank to top of seat, Inline with seat post.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by muzzanic View Post
    Ok cross between Med & Lge.

    I'm 6' & just a little heavier than you, I like a Lge frame better.
    The bike I got to test ride was a Large and it felt right. It felt about the same as my hardtail (which is also a large but by another manuf). Didn't even feel the need to swing a leg over a medium.

  15. #15
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    I was able to ride a 2013 Jet 9 Rdo, with XO 2x10, american classic race wheels, and a SID XX fork for about 8 miles on familiar trails, the bike wasn't set up for me but man was it fast. It's ability to climb, get the front wheel up and over obstacles and its turning characteristics, lack of pedal bob were pretty eye opening.

    So this past weekend I was able to ride about 45 miles on the 2013 Alloy version, same fork, and drivetrain, monarch rt3 shock, american classic all mountain wheels (with tubes). I will say the alloy version is pretty stiff, tracks very well, has the same geometry and feel, climbs great, and goes where its pointed.

    I still haven't decided which bike to get, I really want XO1 with good wheels and hubs, one sticking point is Fox (carbon) vs Rockshox (alloy), and the sram brakes (not very impressed by them). I also didn't care for the engagement points on the American Classic hub, compared to my current bikes DT swiss 350 with the 36t ratchet.

    I think either the Carbon or Alloy are great bikes, like others have said it really comes down to what components are important to you, and how much you want to spend.

    What are others thoughts on the Fox CTD evolution fork vs. the Rockshox Sid? and the Fox rear CTD shock versus the Rockshox Monarch RT3?

  16. #16
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    Jet9 Carbon vs Aluminum

    I inquired as to whether Niner would set up the AL frame with a Fox rear shock, that was a big negative. I'll give the Monarch a try if I don't like the performance I'll sell it and upgrade. I'm guessing it won't be an issue though.


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