Mountain bikes have come a long way in the last decade, and the Niner EMD 9 is a prime example of technology trickling down. While it lacks some of the bells and whistles of Niner?s top tier bikes, the EMD still rolls with the same hydroformed tubing, attention to detail, and performance-oriented geometry normally reserved for bikes that cost significantly more.Sharing the general design of the Air 9, the EMD 9 uses a lightweight, hydroformed alloy tubeset to offer a compliant ride, and a tapered headtube to ensure strength and steering precision. Niner uses extensive computer-aided finite element analysis, as well as a mess of real-world testing, to perfect its tube shapes. These tubes, when combined with widespread forging and CNC machining, ensure the optimum balance of strength to weight.The development investment on the EMD 9 frame is meant to ensure that the advantages of 29ers really shine. From the wide, swoopy stays, to the sturdy bottom bracket junction, the EMD 9 is designed to transfer all your pedal energy into forward momentum. Niner also relies on the AIR 9?s proven geometry to give the EMD 9 quick handling, stability at speed, and plenty of stand-over clearance.The EMD 9 uses a standard, English threaded 73mm bottom bracket shell. If you plan on going the 2x10 geared route, Niner recommends not exceeding a 26/39 front chain rings for SRAM, 28/40 for Shimano. The rear triangle will swallow a 2.4in tire and fits 160mm rotors. The disc mount is International Standard. You?ll need a top-pull front derailleur with a high-mount 34.9mm clamp. The EMD 9 uses a 31.6mm seatpost, and you?ll also need an inset style headset with a 44mm upper and 56mm lower.Niner offers the EMD 9 in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large. It comes in Niner Red and Matte licorice.
After spending most of the last 18 years on some sort of full suspender I picked up a used '08 with a Reba fork. I'm in my mid-50's and a lousy climber so I always used the argument that bigger hoops are harder to move up a hill as my reason for not wanting to go 9r. I was also afraid of the turning ability of the larger wheels. But after getting this thing I just don't find as much use for my Yeti 575 anymore. This is partly due to changes in schedule that keep me from getting to the rock-strewn trails of Frederick and spending more time on the flowy trails of Mid-Montgomery County, MD. The EMD is sheer joy even over the more rare rock fields of mid-MoCo. It loves to turn and holds a chosen line. When my spindly legs twist the crank this guy leaps to action as if asking "what took you so long?" I had to get over my fear of pinch flats and ride with the tires set at 30 PSI. But I've learned to trust that higher volume and greater gap between tire and rim. (Haven't gone tubeless yet, but that's next.) The lower pressure also puts a nice little bit of undamped suspension in the ride which is nice when I just don't feel like getting my ass off the seat for a trail irregularity.
I've been riding it since last fall and see many miles of great riding ahead on this thing. To quote Ferris Bueller, "It is so choice. if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."
Strengths: Stiff, uphill goat bike.... 2013 hydo tubes increase stiffness... just a sharp build....
Weaknesses: It's hard to get off the thing - ya just wanna ride it and ride it and ride it......
I'm old... 50's... been rollin in the dirt when they started makin em' for the dirt... yes early 70's....bought my first niner when they came out 10-12 years ago - I have a nice fleet of em' now but this e.m.d.(XL) is the bike. After a few rides this year it has no weakness that I can find... yet. Set up as a 10 speed, sram X9, RDO fork, seat post & bars....SLX grabbers....and Stans Flow EX circles (X9 hubs work really good for me.. at 6'3" 245 - Size matters = speed on the down side.... Switch backs are controlled, control of the back end is stable.... it never makes you guess what the bike is gonna do... It is Stiff, not sure what some of the folks are saying about it not being stiff...ridding style for everyone is different - and your experience level (time in the saddle) is the goona make a huge difference on what you are able to do this bike.... the carbon fork up front carves very well and the weight savings is nice. The 710mm bars are the way to go as uphill/climbing becomes - shall we say "Easier", okay, easier. 96er's (29 front, 26 back) is a great set up - it's like cheating although top end speed is reduced a bit but if your looking for a goat bike this frame can be dialed in nicely!!
I am able to ride with the yougens' 2x29" and when I take my hat off the gray hair goes well with the Black Frame... LOL. If you able to test ride one of these do it. This frame Geom will test you and might make you (or the bike) do things you've never done on a bike as the balance is near 50/50 as I have it set up...you may stop ridding the FS bike after you do....I know niner says this is their low end entry level frame but at about 8 oz's heavier then the Air 9 I say this frame is a steal...I wish I had this frame when I was 17-18....
Stay Vertical Out There. Falling happens. Pain Occurs....Cheers and just ride dam it....(they got that from us as kids.. LOL).
Strengths: Latest version 2012. Fast! Eat My Dust! Climbs great. Light. Nimble. I built this bike to have a 2nd bike/winter muck bike and I can't believe how much I enjoy this bike. Love it! What a value.
I thought I was just building an affordable 2nd bike. Wrong! My main bike is getting jealous.
Strengths: The geometry of this frame just works. I came from a 26" Spec. Epic with a nice set of Crossmax SLR wheels and hopped on a friends EMD with crappy WTB wheels and was instantly faster. The aluminum is light for the price as well. For the money, this has been my favorite bike in 15+ years of cross country riding.
Weaknesses: The only weakness I can think of is that the aluminum is stiff. But if you're worried about a bike being too stiff, why are you buying a hardtail, aluminum frame in the first place? Get steel or carbon or a full suspension.
This bike has truly made mountain biking something that I constantly look forward to. I love getting on this bike and feel even better when I get off of it after a good ride.
Strengths: - got my frame on a closeout deal in 2011 for about 300 bucks. Best deal ever.
- thing climbs like a goat
- great weight for the price
- fairly responsive for a 29er
- great looking frame and paint job (love the moondust)
- ride is smooth
- I love the Niner company as a whole
Weaknesses: - paint chips super easily by chainstays (to be expected and the frames come with a bottle of touch up which is nice)
- not as stiff as other aluminum frames
- built up super light it can be kinda squirrelly
I built my EMD up with full XTR, superlight wheels, and carbon seatpost, bars, etc. Altogether it weighs about 23 lbs. Overall, I think this is literally the best frame at this price point. It does everything you need it to and more. It's fast, light, easy to control, sturdy, versatile. Just a great frame at an unbeatable price. Definitely try and pick them up during closeout sales at Jenson or something as these are literally the best deals around in my opinion.
Some cons are the fact that the bike tracks a little squirrell sometimes in the corners. This could be due to its lightness and my inexperience though as well. I came from a heavy duty 27 pound hartail and was used to its fatty stability so coming to this bike was a transition. Also the paint is pretty fragile and chips really easy.
Other than that its a great bike, well worth the price.
Date Reviewed: August 31, 2012
Strengths: lightweight frame, comfortable, climbing ability is outstanding
Weaknesses: none so far
Best mountain bike I have ever owned. Felt like a pro the first time I took it out. Was doing things I would have never done on my Trek 26". Climbing with this bike just put a smile on my face. Very happy with my choice of frame. Not much on building a bike from scratch but Outsideoutfitters.com built the bike with their reccomendation and it was effortless. They did an awesome job so I must reccomend them too. So glad I got this bike.
My last bike was a Salsa Mamasita with Scandium and carbon, a great bike but bobbed to often. The EMD dos not, it is very responsive and stiff
a Cross Country Rider
from Arlington, tx USA
Date Reviewed: March 19, 2012
Strengths: Light frame at 3.6lbs, Best climber I've ridden, Very efficient and very fast bike, acceleration is 30% better than any FS bike I've had, handles awesome for 29er, easily keeps up with friends on 26 HT, soakes up roots, rocks, and trail bumps with larger tires, very smooth/solid riding frame and feels planted on the trail,
I don't know why I every went to FS
Weaknesses: Really have to ride differently to get the most out of this bike. Really watch the trail now to position myself for what comming up. Have to loft the front tire reallly large obstacles to absorb rear wheel shock.
I have never written a review about a bike before but this bike is bad a&%. It accelerates like no other I've ridden, never wears me out on long rides, climbs 30% better than any FS bike I've owned, and has great smooth, verticle compliance. If you can wrap your head around owning a 29er HT this is the bike for you.
The 29 in tires smooths everying out and does act like a "mini" suspension. If you choose your lines and ride it hard it will pay off with unlimited fun evertime.
If you afraid of braking the frame, don't. It has huge, beefy welds and thick 6000 aluminun in the rear triangle and hydroformed top/bottom tubes.
If you hate HT this bike is not for you, but if you are willing to try something different go for it.
Bike Setup: Shimano XT/XTR drivetrain w 11-32 cassette and XT hydro brakes
Mavic Rims with White Industries Hubs
Carbon Raceface post and bars
Specialized Fast Trac tubeless
11 Rock Shox Reba RL
Koobi Alpha saddle
Weight is at 23.8 lbs and that's light enough for me
Jimmy the Hoff
a All Mountain Rider
from Dongduchon, South Korea
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2012
Strengths: Light and rigid - awesome geometry
Weaknesses: nothing yet
This rig is for everyone from newbies to experienced trail riders.
I have been trail riding on a full suspension Yeti 575 for 7 years - I never thought I'd go back to a hard tail - let alone a 29er. I also race quite often here in Korea (Koreans are mad about MTB) and yes, I raced my Yeti - she never failed me; nor will I get rid of her. But, I recently started reading about 29ers and found that Niner seemed to be leading the charge - took a chance and bought an EMD from JensonUSA. Pieced it together and have been riding it ever since - yes, my 575 is gathering dust (I am almost ashamed to say that...).
The Niner EMD geometry delivers incredible maneuverability, its agile, super responsive, light and very fast - I feel like I should have paid a lot more for it. I would take this rig on any trail I have ever ridden on; Crested Butte, North Cheyenne Canyon, Moab, Fruita, Hamesterly Forest, The 7 Stanes in Scotland, anywhere.
I am honestly stunned at how much I love riding this bike - freakin' stunned. It really deserves 6 chili's across the board. Well done Niner, well done.
Similar Products Used: GT Peace 9r (riding to work) - trail bike is a Yeti 575 (2005)
Bike Setup: Large frame, Manitou Tower Expert fork, XT shifters, Truvative Noir Crank set, SunRingle Black Flag Wheels, Racing Ralphs, - weights in 25.5 lbs.
a Cross Country Rider
from Monterey, CA
Date Reviewed: February 1, 2012
Strengths: Sturdy frame, quality build, light, climbs well, good value
Weaknesses: Nothing major. Rear brake pipe/cable routing and bosses seem hydro-specific, feel that cable/mechanical would be better suit the no-nonsense feel of the frame.
XL frame and 29" wheels were a no brainer for me at 6'4" and 200 lb, and the fit is fine. Never even considered 26".
This was my first build and it was great fun to figure out what I needed, cruise EBay and MTBR for bargains (Ti BB $35 koff koff), and assemble and tune the bike. I'd recommend a bike build as a fun project to anyone mechanically inclined... Niner frame with pre-prepped threads and faces gave no probs during assembly and does not seem finicky about component choices.
Riding, the handling is predictable and easy to carve and it is stiff to pedal and climbs great, easy to get weight onto the rear wheel for traction and is quite controllable on steep descents. Ride IS stiff which is pretty much inherent with aluminum. I originally used a Bontrager carbon fork for this build, which was feather light but punishing on ruts and potholes. I needed to keep up with a faster rider on a full suspension bike so put the M-29 on last year... seems to be a good match for the frame.
I'd recommend this frame for anyone who wants a quality build without succumbing to bling-ism. I don't see it as 'starter' or 'entry-level'; I expect this to fill the Hardtail spot in my fleet even if I add a trail bike in a year or two. I am still learning and improving, and this bike shows no signs of running out of performance for me.
Bike Setup: Stan's Flows on Hope Pro II hubs, RST M-29 fork, BB7 brakes, SRAM X-9 drivetrain with twist shifters, Race Face Turbine cranks with Ti square taper BB, Thomson post and stem, FSA mid-rise bars, WTB Devo saddle, Saguaro rear/Rampage front tires.
a Weekend Warrior
from Berthoud, CO
Date Reviewed: November 16, 2011
Strengths: Inexpensive, fairly light and stiff, excellent geometry, frame is prepped from factory, very well packaged for shipping
Weaknesses: Slightly harsher ride than comparable steel frame (mostly felt in the rear wheel)
This review is for the 2011 frame. I LOVE this thing so far, great bang for the buck. Handling is intuitive and the bike feels lively and responsive. I haven't been on an aluminum hardtail mtb for many years and wasn't sure what to expect in terms of ride quality. IMO it is excellent. The main thing I noticed initially was slightly more 'feedback' from the rear wheel and felt like I maybe needed to drop a few PSI in the tire. But after a few rides this has become a non-issue.
Aside from that I think it's great that Niner goes the extra mile and preps the headtube and bottom bracket at the factory, a definite plus for the home mechanic. I also like the fact that this frame has a real metal head badge and not some cheesy glued on junk like so many bikes these day.
Strengths: For the price, it was the most bang for my buck. It was light, strong, looked great and I loved the geometry.
Weaknesses: For a frame that retails for about $400 I really can't say anything bad. Sure it could be lighter, but if you want a lighter bike go carbon. The paint did fade and scuff easily, but I was not concerned about that.
I couldnt ask for a better bike for what I paid. I sold it because The frame was a tad too small for me and I bought a XL Rig, which I regret. If you are thinking of building a 29er it is a great frame.
Not to mention that Niner is a great company that seems to care a lot about their bikes and what their riders think. You don't get that from the major brands.
a Cross Country Rider
from Sanford NC USA
Date Reviewed: October 29, 2011
Strengths: Everything about this bike is great. I hear people say that niners are not as good as 26 inch mountain bikes because of this or that. What I have noticed is everything is the same or better than a 26 inch bike. I noticed nothing but improvements. I think that anyone that has doubts about the 29 inch layout should not get one. When I see them on the trail I know that right off the bat I have an advantage because of my EMD Niner. I know they will have to be a better rider than me to outdo me.
Weaknesses: The fact that it is a hardtail may be a weakness. With a Niner setup I feel you do not need back suspension. It is one less thing that wears out on your bike and needs to be replaced.
I am now a much better Mountain biker than I was before I owned a EMD. The one thing I had to get adjusted to was right at first the ride was so much better I lost focus in technical sections because in my mind I thought the bike could do anything without much focus. I found myself getting careless and ended up going down a few times because of this. So do not do that. Keep your focus.
Similar Products Used: Only 29 inch bike I have ridden.
a Cross Country Rider
from Marietta Ohio
Date Reviewed: October 26, 2011
Strengths: Stiff frame, Strong Welds,S-bend stays,Great geometry all around. 34.9 seat tube, very light frame, same geometry as the air9 and only .4 pounds heavier
Weaknesses: Paint. a housefly could scratch it. Niner needs to work on fixing their paint formula.
Very good buy for the recreational mountain biker that is looking for a ride that is stable and functional. There is plenty of room for part improvement if you get tired of the stock setup. its a good idea to get a good chainstay wrap because of the paint problem.
Strengths: Excellent geometry, esp headtube length and angle.
Weaknesses: scratchable paint.
excellent bike for xc racing. this bike can handle it all- rocks, roots, sand, mud, whatever. especially excellent with a 470mm axle-crown fork. Turning this bike is an absolute joy, and the BB height is just right- not tippy, but high enough for excellent clearance.