Getting Back My JET9

One of only two pictures of me and my Jet9 before it was stolen
One of only two pictures of me and my Jet9 before it was stolen

Last June my Niner Jet 9, fresh from being returned to me from recall, got stolen off the back of my car in Stockton, CA. I filed a police report and posted an ad on Stockton Craigslist and other than some sympathy (much appreciated)… nothing.

Until Sunday, May 1st. Someone commented on a blog post I wrote: last comment. My Jet9 is on ebay. The commenter had matched my description with the ad! As you can imagine I was quite excited. After looking on ebay, I knew it was mine. I built my bike up personally with parts I bought and although the components themselves are not unique, the combination of them on a black Niner Jet 9 has to be pretty rare, if not one-of-a-kind. There was one huge problem though: I didn’t take the time to record my Jet’s serial number. I had the bike for less than a month and I never thought I’d have it stolen. Who thinks about that?

My Jet9 on ebay

On Monday morning, May 2, I contacted ebay and Stockton PD. The detective was nice but frank: no serial number, not much they can do. I emailed and called Niner hoping that they would have kept the serial numbers when they shipped the recalled frames back to their owners, but no such luck although they did pre-Jet9 recall. At this point I was despondent. I read back through ebay’s response and it said that if I thought an item was stolen, I had to ask the police to contact ebay. I called back the detective and asked him to email ebay. He did, but I wasn’t holding out any hope. That was my last lead.

On Tuesday morning, May 3, at 11:30am, I received a surprise phone call. The detective is on the other line and says I am looking at a black bike, tell me how I can know it’s yours. I proceed to blather about an XT cassette (not mentioned in the ebay description), Trek water bottle holder (also not mentioned) and bright blue rim strip in the wheels. The detective says that if I send him some paperwork showing that I owned the bike I can get it back but it would have been much easier if I had the serial number.

Few new scratches, but I’m not complaining

I said ok, hung up the phone and proceeded to pull out all the receipts I sent to the insurance company to make my claim. I sent them to the detective and a short while later, the detective emails to have someone pick up the bike. It’s in Stockton and I am, of course, in So. Cal but no problem. I’m getting my bike back!

It ends up that the Detective’s email to ebay led ebay to send him the phone number for the seller. The Detective did a reverse look up and found the address of the seller. He went over to the seller and told him that he thinks the bike is stolen and the seller gave it up right away! The Detective says that the seller bought it at a flea market or garage sale… at least that’s what he is claiming.

Currently the bike is at my mother-in-law’s. She took a day off just to go pick it up. Thanks Mom.

Here is something for you to do: Stop surfing the internet and go to your precious bike(s). Under the bottom bracket you’ll find your serial number. Write it down. In fact, email it to yourself with some keywords:

Niner, Jet 9, Jet9, black, 29, mountain bike, BIKE I LOVE THE MOST, serial number… you get the idea.

Email it to yourself and don’t delete it. If you’re using gmail, use the archive function. This will remove the email from your inbox but allow you to search for it later.

Ride Report: Bommer Canyon

Great views from our Bommer Canyon ride. All pictures courtesy of Dan Burdett

A small group of us (Weyland, Dan, Tim & I) headed out to Bommer Canyon in Irvine for this past Saturday’s Open Access day. In about 3 hours we rode about 16 miles and climbed over 3,000 feet. By the end of the ride, Tim & I were cramping, Dan (who was under the weather) was starting to slow and Weyland looked ready for another 16 miles.

Tim cruising down the singletrack after finishing off the descent from the hill behind him

Bommer Canyon is an open space preserve in the Irvine Ranch Land. Use is limited and reservations are required. In fact, you can only ride Bommer Canyon on open access days or on docent led rides. Yes, we even saw an Irvine Ranch Ranger as we were out riding. The land is an important preservation area for many local plants and wildlife. The open access days and docent led hikes/rides are ways for them to test the impact on the land before, hopefully, opening it up 7 days a week.

Because of the limited access, mountain biking in Bommer Canyon was a treat. Weyland was the only one familiar with Bommer Canyon so he led the way. We started off the route with a grueling climb ascending 600 feet in a little over a mile of singletrack. This comes out to be a 10% grade. The rest of the ride was a serious of rolling fireroad on the ridges and singletrack into the canyons with singletrack/fireroad climbs back out. Thankfully, we ended the ride with a blast down that initial climb.

Tim and a rare other rider

The views were very nice. We got to see some Pacific Ocean, some downtown Irvine and a lot of mansions in the neighboring housing developments. We also found that there were very few people out riding which is also a treat, especially when you’re suffering with cramps!

My replacment, a Voodoo Canzo.

I got to ride a new to me bike, a 2008 Voodoo Canzo. I was able to get a good deal on it through a local mountain biking forum but it does have some issues both cosmetically and functionally. After 16 miles, a couple of quick thoughts on the bike:
– not as efficient as the JET. The four bar suspension necessitated propedal on the climbs for me. This is probably the biggest reason why I like mini-link suspension designs: not having to turn on/off the propedal/lockout/platform. I definitely couldn’t stand and climb without the propedal engaged. However, the Canzo was very comfortable on the downhill although I still need to dial in the fork/shock pressures.
– As much as I like the idea of more travel (currently 120mm) I’m not sure if I have the huevos to justify it. I much prefer to walk sections that are at the edge of my riding ability. Hopefully, with time, I can grow into the fork.
– The first thing I did the day after the ride was swap out the end caps on the hub. It was using a standard QR but I had an extra 9mm DT Swiss Ratchet skewer (the JET’s hub was 9mm only). The 9mm is nearly double the diameter of a normal QR which in turns helps the wheels/fork track better through rough terrain.
– The Canzo felt heavy in the rear. I’m not sure why? Heavier bike (I had been riding a HT for the past month) or longer chainstays (18.3 inches). More time needed to diagnose.
– for the build, the bike came in at 29lbs 4oz. I’m shooting to get it down into the 28 lbs range and leave it there.

Ride Report: The Ride that Didn’t Happen

I showed up early Saturday morning for a not-to-be-named boutique bike manufacturer’s demo day. Since my JET9 was stolen three weeks ago, oh how I miss you, I have been perusing the classifieds for a replacement. I have tentatively narrowed down my choices to the following three: Niner RIP9, Santa Cruz Tallboy and Specialized Stumpjumper Expert FSR 29 all of them WAY beyond what I can currently afford. They are all burlier than my JET9 but I think, for my sole FS bike, I’d like more travel bike than the JET’s 80mm.

Back to Saturday morning: having been around a few bike demos including 4 Sea Otters where I demo at least a few bikes each weekend, I have a basic plan of attack to get some saddle time one one of the aforementioned bikes: arrive early, talk to the demo guy and start my ride at 8:00, the scheduled start time of the demo. If the bike I am looking for is being demo’d or they don’t have my size, no worries: I brought my AIR9 (locked to the car of course) so I could still grab a two hour ride with svelte Dan. This, by the way, is my suggestion for any rider looking to demo bikes at a demo day.

7:45. I arrive at the bike shop after a 35 minute drive. Dan had just arrived as well. We look around. No one else was there. No demo van, no other riders, nothing. I am nervous and pleased at the same time. Nervous as the demo van wasn’t there but pleased that we were the first ones and had first dibs on the bikes.

8:00. We stand around outside the shop. When a shop employee arrives, we are let in and the employee tells us that the demo guy is late. That was my first warning. The employee then tells me that there is a sign-up sheet for the riders but he says (which you had to call to be placed on) although he is not sure if the demo guy will use the list or just go by first come first serve. I look over the list. I’m number 3 for the bike I want to ride. Ugh. My second warning.

8:15, the demo guy shows up. He is late and a small crowd has gathered to wait for the demo bikes to unload. As he begins to unload, he glances over at the crowd, pulls out his phone and takes a picture of us and proceeds to tell us that we’re on facebook. I roll my eyes. I should have left by now as there was no way I was going to squeeze in a decent ride in under 1.5 hours but I wait hoping that I’d get the bike I wanted to ride and be off on the trails soon.

8:40, the demo guy asks how he is going to distribute the bikes. The shop employee mentions a list… I sigh. I remind myself that maybe I’m the only one who signed up and showed up for the bike… please, please, please. 10 minutes later: nope, the other two guys before me on the list are both present. Out of luck and by now it’s too late to ride. Might as well stick around, watch Dan get set up on a bike and see him off on the trail.

9:30, Dan finally gets his demo bike and starts off towards the trail while I get back in my car for the 35 minute drive back home. Wasted morning.

Demo guys: please have your bikes set up at the time the demo is scheduled to start. Some of us have other things to do on a Saturday morning. Your tardiness caused me to miss my only chance to ride all weekend.

Sea Otter 2010: Niner Bikes

I stopped by Niner bikes booth for a few minutes to mainly check out two things: how wide is the downtube on the Air 9 carbon and to see in person the new Jet 9.

What I got was a bit of a surprise, and I’ll put it out there at the top so you can’t call me a tease: Niner is coming out with a Carbon Jet 9. This is sort of expected, but the dates are quite surprising: Now Niner is notorious for over-promising and under-delivering on dates so take this with a grain of salt: prototype: Interbike 2010 and shipping maybe Spring 2011.

The AIR9 Carbon downtube:

Yeah, its wide. I didn’t have my ruler with me, so I broke out a dollar and folded it in half. A dollar is about 6 1/8 inches in length. Folded in half, the dollar is just over 3 inches. The downtube is about that width, which doesn’t seem that wide until you’re down at it from above. It’s wide. For reference, the new Jet9’s downtube is 48mm wide or just under 2inches in diameter at the widest point.

Niner Jet9, the non-carbon version. Good news: Steve is saying the replacement Jets are on the boat and will be shipped once it clears customs. The frames are fully assembled with rockers and shocks in place. Niner is estimating 3 weeks starting Saturday. See above disclaimer regarding Niner’s delivery dates.

Niner’s New Jet9… is it a 2011

Single Pass Flat welds. Used only for connecting tube to tube, not tube to forged material such as in the rear triangle. Steve Domahidy says its stiffer than tig welds.

Of course, all the rage: tapered headtube

Old links on a new body. I can’t wait.

And just for kicks: I tell ya, Niners get great treatment out at Sea Otter. Here is the bike stand for my Niner Air9

and yes, “pedal damn it”

Yes, 1 degree makes a difference

So my beloved Jet9 was recalled. Very sad as I liked that bike a lot. It fit my style of riding to a “T”. The first issue I had to deal with was what was I going to do? I had three options which were:
1. Buy a significantly discounted niner frame and wait 6 months to get a new 2010 Jet9
2. Straight swap to a RIP9. Even trade, no money being exchanged
3. Get $150 and wait 6 months to get a new 2010 Jet9

Since riding rigid, I’ve found that I don’t need a lot of suspension for most of my riding, hence the JET fit my riding style perfectly. I’m sure I could have adapted to the RIP and be happy with that bike, but in this case less is more. So, option 2 was out.

Now it was down to options 1 and 3. I knew which option my wife wanted me to go with and it definitely was not option 1 but, my wonderful wife was supportive when I did go with #1 in the form of an AIR9.

My JET9 replacement, Niner AIR9

I swapped out all the part from the Jet to the AIR. I bought some new cables as I was not crazy about the Alligator ilinks I had used. They were great, but a little finicky to set up. I also had to buy a new seatpost as the seatpost diameters were different.

I got in a short 3 mile “teaser” ride on Friday after everything was done. I immediately noticed that I felt a slightly forward bias as compared to the JET. This bias made me feel more susceptible to going over the bars. I only noticed this in some short downhill sections but since I was on a new bike high and I was only doing 3 miles, I decided to chalk this feeling up to the tackier trail which may have held my caused the front to grip better making me less balanced on the bike. It could also have been the fact that I haven’t ridden a mountain bike for about a month as I went through my busy season at work.

Scandium makes for a light frame that is still pleasing to ride

But today’s ride confirmed it: there is a slight forward bias to the bike as compared to the Jet. I got in a pre-work ride and I noticed I had to consciously push myself farther off the back of the bike on the downhills sections to feel as though I would not fly over the front of the bars. When I got to the office this morning I took a look at the geometry numbers for the first time and compared them with the Jet9.

So what caused this feeling of forward bias? A one-degree difference in Seat Tube Angle. All of the other “main” geometry figures were the same: head tube angle, effective top tube, head tube length. The difference of one degree in the Seat Tube Angle put the seat just a tad bit more forward and also a little higher since the seatpost height stayed the same.

After some consultation, I’ve decided to adjust to the difference rather than make changes to my cockpit setup, which is currently nearly identical to my previous setups.