The whole package
The case for the 9.4’s value may be overwhelming but price alone isn’t enough to make you desire a bike. For that you need a combination good looks, great handling and a promise of speed.
And the good news is that the handling and the speed are definitely there. As for the looks… well, those are a personal matter. You may love them; I’m not quite sold on the powder-blue head tube/pseudo-Sky colour scheme.
Complicating the aesthetics issue further are the disc brakes – the disc themselves look pretty cool but the effect the hydraulic system has on the hoods is not what you’d call elegant. Elephantine is a more accurate description, as creating space for the cylinders has meant the hoods have had to be extended upwards, giving them a swollen look that’s not dissimilar to the Mekon’s head.
The 9.4 was developed before Shimano launched its flat mount open standard for disc brakes, so instead of the calipers bolting flush onto the fork and frame, they’re attached to adapters that sit on posts. If you’re in the market for an endurance bike now, you may see that as a shortcoming but the post-mount calipers on the 9.4 are hardly an eyesore – compared to those hoods – and lack nothing on the performance front. And should you want to swap or upgrade the brakes you’re unlikely to struggle to find suitable adapters for a few years yet, so it’s nothing you need worry about.
But would I be prepared to overlook those factors if I was in the market for a bike like this? Absolutely, because the 9.4 is a lovely bike to ride.
The hours fly by while you’re in the saddle and the only discomfort you feel is the fatigue building in your legs and lungs from pedalling. Meanwhile, your back and backside are both enjoying a proverbial and literal easy ride.
Endurance bikes, generally speaking, leave me a little cold as they can lack the sort of stiffness you get with a race bike and tend to be springy rather than sprightly. But the 9.4 gets the balance between the two just right. It feels like it reacts instantly, unlike some endurance bikes that seem to pause for a moment so tension can build up sufficiently before being released.