THE SELL: Full-suspension 29er meets race-ready performance.
THE TEST: With short travel (just three inches) and feathery wheels, speed is the name of the game for this aluminum rocket. The Jet 9 handled better than most of the 26ers we tested but never felt twitchy. Several riders commented on the bike's instant accelerations, but what surprised us most was how well it handled steep, technical downhills. A big reason why is that Niner has really figured out the geometry and suspension. The price gets you quality bits and pieces—our test bike had full Shimano XT and a Thompson stem and post—but for the money we wish the Jet 9 were a pound or two lighter.
THE VERDICT: If it lost a little weight, it'd be damn near perfect. 26.8 lbs; ninerbikes.com
Wheels are the linchpin of a great 29er, and our Jet 9 came with the best hoops for the price—with satiny DT Swiss hubs, Stan's 355 rims, and supple Continental Race King tires.