The metal version of Bird's Aether 9C, delivers daring frame angles for a 130mm 29er, without breaking the budget.

For every great carbon-fibre frame design there is an aluminium test mule and Bird has now released one as a standalone model.

The Hampshire brand launched its first composite bike earlier this year, the progressive geometry 130mm Aether 9C.

For those riders who find the 9C’s geometry thoroughly appealing, but can’t quite stretch the budget for a new carbon-fibre frame, there is now an aluminium alternative.

Read more: the best trail bikes of 2020

Heavy trail or lite-enduro?

Bird’s Aether 9AL is everything there is to like about a 9C, in metal. Designed to run a 140mm fork, balancing its 130mm of rear-suspension travel, the Aether 9AL sits at a 65° head angle, like its carbon-fibre twin.

Where Bird’s industrial designers have altered the frame geometry slightly, is in terms of reach. The Aether 9C has a very generous front-centre sizing, with a large registering 512mm of reach.

On the Aether 9AL that has been shortened a touch, with the size large frame measuring to 506mm of reach. All four frame sizes feature the same 430mm chainstays.

Ensuring the lowest and most stable possible rider position during those steep descents, are trimmed seat tubes. The Aether 9AL medium-large frame will accommodate a 200mm dropper seatpost without complicating its cable routing. On the large and extra-large frames, you’ll get full stroke on a 213mm dropper.

Frames or full builds

Bird is offering an array of build options, including a broad range of customization. The most affordable option is a £2600 Aether 9AL, using a Rockshox Pike Select fork and Deluxe Select+ rear shock.

Drivetrain on this derivative is Shimano’s Deore 1×12, with similar specification stoppers.  The entry-level Aether 9AL rolls DT Swiss M1900 wheels.

Those who fancy a lightweight Aether 9AL can option for the £4670 premium build. It uses a Rockshox Pike and Deluxe shock components, in Ultimate RCT specification.

Drivetrain is SRAM’s XX1 Eagle with matching G2 RSC brakes. As one would expect at that price point, wheels are light and strong, being DT Swiss XMC 1501s.

Unlike the Aether 9C, the aluminium version does not have internal frame routing and if you prefer a frame only option, Bird offer the 9AL in that configuration at £1100.