Grant rides the No 9 Posted on 7 January 2019 By Simon Bowns 0 Grant's thoughts on our No 9 steel hardtail.... Our #team18 rider Grant took our No 9 demo bike out for a spin over the Christmas break and wanted to share his thoughts. Here's a few words from him; I usually ride a fairly traditional 29er XC bike, so the long and slack No.9 was quite a departure for me. It obviously wasn't as direct as a race machine along smoother surfaces, but I was surprised (in a good way) by how well the bike managed with technical climbs - the front end doesn't try to lift up so it's easy to get over natural steps and tight switchbacks. Descending took some getting used to as it required me to switch from a weight back to weight over the fork style, but that's a criticism of my old school riding style more than this bike in particular. My test rides took the bike over some fairly rough and rocky terrain, but I didn't miss rear suspension (presumably due to the steel construction and wide tyres) and really appreciated the low standover/long dropper post to get the saddle out of the way. It's also a bike that rewards you letting it (and the suspension fork) do the work, rather than trying to steer around everything. This is a good thing as the long and slack nature means lifting the front wheel is a bit more difficult than on steeper bikes.As a 6'4 bike rider with long arms I'm probably at the maximum for the 500mm model that I tested, and might be better off with the 525. I felt like that extra couple of centimetres of reach would have been a little more comfortable, although a similar effect (with slower steering) could have been achieved with a longer stem. That's a preference you can sort out when ordering the bike, and Si and Matt at 18 Bikes are happy to discuss those types of changes.A quick word on the build kit - I was surprised with how good the Magura brakes were, plenty of power and the combination of 4 pistons at the front and 2 at the back seems incredibly sensible. The Burgtec bars looked the part and the width complemented the rest of the bike too. Finally, the folks I was out riding with all had positive things to say about the colour scheme and were impressed by the overall weight of the bike. On a personal level I was also pretty chuffed to be able to tell them that the bike was made in Sheffield, within a handful of miles of where we were riding. We'll have news on the rest of the No7 and No9 demo fleet soon, watch this space. In the meantime, you can view the bikes here and the frames here.