Bird Launches the Aether 9AL Short Travel Trail Bike

Dec 21, 2020
by BirdBikes  



Press Release: Bird Cycleworks

Following in the footsteps of the Aether 9C, the Aether 9AL is the affordable choice for short travel radness.

Introducing the Aether 9

Send.
Everything.

When designing the Aether series we set ourselves the goal of delivering the maximum fun on a trail centre ride as we could. As much as we like to think of mountain biking as the expression of our desire to explore the unknown wilderness, the reality for most people’s modern day riding is that we’re riding more and more man-made, and less wilderness trails. To extract the maximum enjoyment from this more groomed environment, we wanted to build something a little wilder than your average short travel 29er.

Ron's Burgundy

Gloss Raw
Tungsten Grey

While many companies market their modern trail and enduro bikes as ‘Well Balanced’ and ‘Quiver Killers’, we prefer to think of the Aethers as a little unhinged or maybe just plain old fun. Bikes built to pump, jump and pop. To attack berms and rock gardens with equal enthusiasm, and most importantly of all, let you still do it after 30km in the saddle.
We’ve combined the best bits of modern enduro-focused geometry, XC efficiency and the oldest trick in the mountain biking book for making a bike ridiculously fun to ride, a compact rear. The 9 aluminium is the latest in the Aether story, with easy climbing, phenomenal downhill capabilities for a 130mm frame and that oh-so fun, confidence inspiring handling that begs to just send every damn thing.

Aether 9 Geo

We wanted the Aether 9s to be more than winch and plummet machines - there’s no compensation for travel when it comes to descending, and you can make a perfectly good wincher with 150/160/170mm travel, so we needed something different here. This meant maintaining the room & comfort in the seated position, without creating a huge wheelbase that would hamper performance on tighter trail sections.

For the Aether 9 we start with two key dimensions for handling, seat (77° @ 140mm) and head angle (65° @ 140mm), and added to that 430mm chain stays and a bottom bracket that’s low, but not compromisingly so.


We’ve kept our roomy effective top tubes, and while everything bigger than your smallest is just a size, that does give plenty of space for a comfy seated position even with the shortest of stems and tallest of riders - but raised the stack height further on the L and XL models to allow an easier shift in rider weight distribution more to the front tyre - compensating for the slightly rearward weight distribution that the shorter back end creates.

Large Aether 9 still has plenty of standover and can run a slammed 213mm Bike Yoke post


With steeper seat angles comes other design considerations - the saddle gets right between your legs just when you don’t want it to, but on our 3rd generation frames seat tubes are short, and straight almost the whole way down. We’re careful to balance the insertion length perfectly with the frame size - no point running a fantastically small seat tube if the post can’t be inserted all the way. This careful design means that an ML will perfectly swallow our 200mm dropper without compromising the cable run, and L or XL frames can run the awesome (but lengthy) 213mm Revive; Bike Yoke’s longest drop post fitting all the way in. 


These little adaptations for modern riding styles like accommodating super long droppers, balanced seat angles and big standover height as all our Generation 3 frames have, and the addition of a little more stack height, has huge cumulative effects on rider confidence at high speeds and in rough terrain - compensating for the lack of travel and super poppy handling to create a still balanced feeling bike that encourages you to send it over jumps, stick it full bore into rock gardens, and slap turns like no other 130mm bike you’ve ridden.

Kinematics have been tweaked a little too, in order that we get the best balance of pedalling grip for climbing, and punchy pedalling performance for when you're stamping on the pedals mid way through the cassette. This is a bike that's all about going fast everywhere, and the suspension set up reflects that.

Aether 9a Leverage Curves
Click Image to enlarge


Built the Bird Way

Like all Birds we assemble every Aether 9 to order at our factory in Consett, UK. We combine multi-award winning customer service with one of the widest ranges of options from any manufacturer. The Aether 9 alone has over 30 billion possible unique specifications, and that’s before we consider the many colours and sizes of components we offer in many of the lines. Of course some might say that’s a few too many, so we only run the choice components from the best known and most respected manufacturers including RockShox, Fox, SRAM, Shimano and RaceFace.

It's all about...
the customisation.

Its not just about the big far-east manufacturing though, as we source manufacturing and branded components right here in the UK including some of our own Bird components, Hope and Unite parts, and all our DT Swiss components are sourced from Switzerland and Poland.

Every one built to order

By selecting and manufacturing the very best components, we ensure whichever way you spec your Aether 9 there’s no bad choices. We also understand what has real value on a bike. Simple touches like upgrading shifters to XT on our SLX group sets, or offering our own factory wheel line so you can get hand built wheels with your choice of rims and spokes, as well as brass and aluminium nipples depending on the build style you want - its about doing it right; no compromising anywhere.

Specification options on the Aether 9 reflect its intent. Its impeccable trail manners and friendly climbing characteristics might fool you into thinking we’ve compromised on strength, but we haven’t - the Aether 9 will run up to a 150mm 29er fork, and shares most of the same features that make our reliable AM9 still one of the lightest aluminium 29er enduro bikes around. Whichever PB you’re after, up or down the hill, the Aether 9 has you covered.


Frames start at £1260 (GBP inc. VAT) including RockShox Deluxe Select+ Shock

Sample Specifications for Aether 9a Builds, click to enlarge

Aether 9 aluminium builds start at 28.1 lbs / 12.75 kg (Med frame, XX1, XMC1501, Pike, Deluxe Ultimate, 125mm dropper). Of course you can specify your own choices, but most will be in the 30-32lb range.

Plenty of room for a view


Tungsten Grey

Less is more, but also more is more.

The Aether 9 has less travel than its bigger brother, but we're not skimping on the options. RockShox and Fox builds are available with more being added as stocks allow. Its been a funny old year, and with some parts manufacturers now quoting 2022 delivery dates for critical components, we've secured a good supply of the best parts to keep the bikes rolling out the door in 2021.


For more information and to build your Aether 9 today click here.





Rider Tomas Kupstys @tomask83
Photos Ian Linton


84 Comments

  • 56 0
 Something looks right about a nicely made alu frame
  • 3 1
 Looks very... Nukeproof Reactor, and if I hadn't just ordered one, I'd be keen to try one of these. Steeper seat tube also.
  • 2 0
 yes, prices for starters, and all that polish....uhmmmm, lovely!
  • 33 0
 Bird bird bird the bird is the word.
  • 21 0
 I bet this bike flys
  • 4 0
 this guy knows his birds. hawk, sparrow, Ea9al
  • 3 0
 You can really give ‘er the beans with this one. Every bit as fast as the 2010 tranny blindside only with wagon wheels and a horst link
  • 25 10
 I always bypass reviews on bikes made out of carbon. Always stop and have a good read of bikes made out of metal like this. They just look right with nice welds etc. Cheaper, stronger and will last longer.
  • 16 3
 Brother alu bike just cracked after 1k miles at the top tube and my carbon is still going strong after 3k and being a heavier rider...
  • 28 1
 Cracked four alloy frames and one steel frame over my lifetime of riding MTB (93-present). A good many of those years racing expert/semi-pro level. Only cracked one carbon out of the last six I have owned. The 'alloy will last longer' is a myth
  • 4 1
 @bman33: How many alloy/steel frames have you owned/used versus the 6 carbon ones since 1993?
  • 2 0
 @bigogoat: think they have a life time warranty on their frames.
  • 7 0
 @bigogoat: Most people's problems with carbon durability are not related to "regular riding" conditions, but mostly with crashes, bike transport, etc. Also, cost-benefit

I can't foresee myself ever buying a carbon frame, but have no doubts any proper modern carbon bike would withstand years of my riding without blinking an eye. Issue is, I crash... frequently.... often into rocks and stuff. I also sometimes shuttle the bike in less than ideal conditions, planes, buses...
  • 2 0
 @MattP76: Two steel, 8-9 alloy, 6, carbon
  • 3 2
 @bman33: Fair enough. I've been riding similar time to you and over those years I've seen so many carbon frames and components fail in comparison to metal ones. I have to say I have never ever broken a metal frame bike but I have a carbon one.

My personal reservation on carbon will always stand.
  • 1 1
 @bman33: matt is like a vegan, but for carbon instead of meat. he's a crusader! (and who can blame him, there's nothing wrong with aluminium. a lot of my favourite bikes have been aluminium.)
  • 1 0
 @tobiusmaximum: Haha! I am certainly a crusader for bikes made of metal that's for sure.
  • 1 0
 @tobiusmaximum: I'm not against either, both have pros/cons I'm just amused at all the hyperbole sad around carbon
  • 11 0
 “Simple touches like upgrading shifters to XT on our SLX group sets”

Brilliant! So many smart choices being made on this bike.

I don’t see frame weight listed but it must be reasonable to get those build weights... probably close to many other brands carbon offerings...
  • 9 0
 Bikes are brilliant and they have legendary customer service. I have just hit 5000km on my bird am9 v1 with zero issues.
  • 3 0
 Absolutely agree - I sold my mk1 Aeris earlier this year after 5 years of hard riding and more km than I care to think about and they let me pass over the lifetime warranty to the next buyer. But the thing for me was that when I was comparing new bikes, so much of the geo was basically what Bird had 5 years ago!
  • 3 0
 @RadBikeBro: Sold mine last week, bought an AM9. The Geo of that bike was unreal considering it's 5 years old and bikes are only just catching up to it now.
  • 1 0
 @beggers87: Same applies to the AM9, which is essentially a 2017 design.
Pick a current size L V3 AM9 with a 170mm fork and compare it to the latest Commencal Meta AM 29, Nukeproof Mega 290, Norco Sight, Transition Sentinel, etc.
  • 8 2
 Raw looks awesome, burgundy reminds me of my mate's 1992 Sierra Sapphire. Overall looks like a great option for those deluded souls who still want short chainstays.
  • 8 0
 If only we had known. It could have been Sapphire Red. That would have been nicely confusing Smile
  • 3 0
 Actually looking at a Sapphire its quite a good red match after all.... could have been a good name.
  • 5 0
 Yeah it is wierd how the burgundy and raw bikes seem to look totally different. To me the raw looks super nice and the burgundy just looks wierd. At any rate I really liked how this whole piece was written. Unpretentious, and the people at bird are clearly really into to just building well though out stuff.
  • 3 0
 @KennyWatson: yeah think they try to make mountain bikes that ride well and what people want to ride simple as that.
  • 2 0
 @BirdBikes: painted a few bitd it’s called magenta if memory serves....
  • 5 0
 This is going to be a great bike. My AM9 is the best bikes I’ve ever ridden. I’ve had mine almost 3 years and still can’t find anything I’d like more.
  • 7 0
 Love my AM9
  • 8 7
 "but raised the stack height further on the L and XL models to allow an easier shift in rider weight distribution more to the front tyre - compensating for the slightly rearward weight distribution that the shorter back end creates."

That screams bullshit. I've never raised my bar height and thought how much more front wheel grip I've got - the opposite.
  • 7 0
 Regardless of the reasoning, I'm glad to see an XL frame get some more stack as typically they get barely any increase over the smaller sizes. I've always presumed it is a cost thing; cheaper to share headtubes between sizes or make them barely any different.
  • 4 0
 @pipm1: Agreed. Bored of XL size frames with low stack heights so i end up with 35mm rise bars and a load of spacers. Nice to see another manufacturer doing it properly.

@Bird - are you still doing demos at Swinley?
  • 2 0
 @Bunzl: yes we do, or at least from up the road at our office in Eversley.
  • 1 0
 As a 6’3” rider I really much appreciate that.
  • 5 0
 And great customer support too.
  • 5 0
 It's bikes like these that make me want to get off my hardtail high horse.
  • 2 0
 they do an awesome 29er hardtail tbh.
  • 1 0
 Looks good. 65 degee HTA, I like 77 deg STA. The XL Aether is long like the XL Optic (1292mm vs 1275mm), but shorter chain stays (430 vs 440). But the biggest difference is the Reach: 527mm is long .. but those >~6'1" will probably appreciate it.
  • 3 0
 130mm of travel and a 140mm or 150mm fork is not a "Short Travel Trail Bike"... It's a trail bike... 120mm travel and 120mm fork is a Short Travel Trail Bike!
  • 2 0
 Yep. I wish there was more 100mm or even 80mm bikes with slack geometry.
  • 1 0
 Aether 9 or Transition Sentinel V2? Given the spec/price I'd say Bird might be seeing my money. I'm now hoping there's going to be a load of positive reviews for the Aether. Anyone ridden the Aether and the Sentinel V2? Thoughts?
@Bird - Do PS Cycles at Cwmcarn still do demos for you?
  • 8 7
 Name stolen off my submission for the morpheus contest 9 years ago. I should consider sueing! I will ask spesh for legal advice.

m.pinkbike.com/news/morpheus-dj-contest-prototype-2-update-2011.html
  • 9 0
 Sorry man. Cheques in the post.
  • 1 0
 Specialized will sue you if you ask for legal advice; suing companies for petty reasons is their idea.
  • 1 0
 @ninjatarian: it's a sue-ception
  • 1 0
 @BirdBikes: cheers mate! I was so sad that morpheus had completely ignored my submission and I had lost the contest but after all these years winning your contest sure means a lot!
  • 4 0
 Dan and Ben are brilliant to deal with! Love my AM9.
  • 3 0
 A build option with full SLX and an XT shifter, and at that price? This might be my next bike!
  • 2 0
 Looks like a great trail bike and the frame is much prettier than the carbon one in my opinion. But I'm not a fan of super short chainstays anymore, so not for me.
  • 1 0
 I miss aluminium Transitions. Nice metalic colors, well made welds. Now this Bird seems to offer same advantages. I would definitelly consider it if I was after the new modern trailbike ready for anyything.
  • 3 0
 The only bird I wouldn’t mind flipping!
  • 2 0
 Surely a short travel trail bike is a long travel down country bike or is it a new fad GravelDH rig ?????????
  • 2 0
 They should have introduced it with a how to video on tail whips and berm slapping titled " How To Flick A Bird"
  • 1 0
 i see reviews of all kinds of obscure bikes but no Bird's in the larger 'magazines'. we really need some better coverage and reviews of these awesome looking Bird bikes.
  • 1 0
 Love it. Looks quality! But at 130mm this should simply be a trail_bike, and not labeled short travel. Give us a 100 and call it short travel trail Wink
  • 1 0
 What's the hole for on the seat stay near the linkage where the lower shock mount is?
  • 1 0
 If Im getting the question right, thats the bridge that joins the Seat Stays. Its tubular.
  • 2 0
 I wish more bike companies made suspension kinematics graphs available.
  • 1 0
 I might be biased with my bike being a similar colour, but damn that Tungsten grey is so clean and sharp looking!
  • 1 0
 dude, yessss, I'll sell my stumpy evo today to get one of those, raw is the only way to go
  • 2 0
 Away with the birdies
  • 2 1
 hate those cable clips at the sides
  • 4 0
 So first thing after receiving the bike, is replace them with good old fashioned cable ties. #hardwork
  • 1 0
 Those damn c clips lol.
  • 13 0
 Just be sure you don't tighten them up too much. C clips are good because they hold the outers nicely without compression on the inner. If you have 12 speed & certain dropper posts you may have noticed modern parts are really susceptible to cable drag interfering with performance (or you're still wondering why your 12 speed never indexes properly and your seat post isn't working right).

We've _tried_ to ensure that the run from brake/shifter/dropper to wherever its going is as smooth as we can make it without doing something weird. Thats why the guides are just where they are on the down tube - to reduce extreme turns to a minimum as well as ensure you don't get any cable rub (you definitely won't).

They're also offer both left and right hand brake routing, you just need to flip the bolt on DT guides, and also be sure to make sure the right hoses go in the right places on the DT guides (the slots are sized for cable vs hydro outers). If you buy a complete bike though you'll get the brakes on the right side for your country.
  • 2 1
 Lookout, you're gonna get sued by Knolly!
  • 2 0
 Super sick bike
  • 3 3
 With Brexit hitting there will be no more German bikes I think
  • 3 5
 People hate on Ibis designs, but then love this bike, we live in a strange world.
  • 2 3
 A Lizardskin on the Chainstay? Is it 1998 again?
  • 2 5
 o sweet another horst link bike. tell us more. how does that work?
  • 2 0
 @TomasK: brilliant ;-)
  • 1 0
 @TomasK: nice
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