Niner Rip 9 RDO
The Niner We’ve Been Waiting For
Words by Drew Rohde
Photos by Drew Rohde & Ian Hylands
Chances are you’ve heard of Niner and their steadfast vision to big-wheeled mountain bikes. Back in 2005, when Niner first started, this was a pretty bold move since 29ers were nowhere near as accepted as they are today. But, don’t let the brand’s image or even name fool you any longer. They’ve finally made some moves that aggressive trail shredders are going to want to pay attention to. The New Niner Rip 9 RDO is here, and besides actually looking bad ass, it rides unlike any Niner we’ve been on before, and we didn’t event try out their new 27.5 version. That’s right, the completely reinvented RIP 9 has two frames for either 29- or 27.5-inch wheeled riders. Where to begin…
You read it right, Niner’s new Rip 9 RDO is now offered in two wheel sizes. Wanting to give customers the best riding bike they could, Niner chose to forego an adaptable frame and instead built two dedicated frames. Each is optimized for the respective wheel size. It’s a pretty bold move from a brand named after a wheel size.
Nearly everything on the new Rip 9 is fresh off the drawing board. One major carryover comes in the form of Niner’s CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension design, although travel has been reduced to 140mm while also getting a new leverage rate for improved performance when things get rowdy.
If you’ve ever ridden a Niner chances are you may have enjoyed certain benefits of the CVA system, but been left wanting for a bit more on the descents when pushing hard. It’s very obvious that Niner’s star shredder and MTB legend Kirt Voreis has had a hand in the way the new Rip rides.
A slightly higher overall leverage ratio helps give more support and resistance to bottoming. Starting off at about 3.0 and moving to 2.3, the new leverage ratio gives a supple feeling off the top that slowly migrates to a more progressive feel as you push pass the sag point. The result is a higher riding shock that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re riding at 60% of the travel. Don’t worry pedal-fiends, the bike still climbs well.
The 210×55 Metric shock includes a .4 air volume reducer and mounts between Niner’s “Rib Cage” and a new 2-piece rocker link. One thing worth mentioning is adding or removing air in the shock requires a special attachment. The rib cage blocks the air valve so an adapter will ship with all bikes and has an attachment point on the frame to reduce the chances of losing it. It’s probably not a huge deal since most riders will set their air pressure and not play with it very often once a desired pressure is found, but it can be problematic if you lose or forget the adapter.
You can see the newly shaped tubes are a bit flatter. The new tube shapes combined with the rib cage add significant stiffness while reducing vibration in the front triangle. The struts also obstruct access to the shock’s air valve. An adapter ships with the bike and will work with any shock pump.
FRAME & GEO
Not wanting to be the only ones missing out on the LLS recipe for success, (longer, lower, slacker), the new Niner Rip 9 RDO is certainly in line with its contemporaries. Along with being the slackest and lowest bike Niner has ever made, it’s the first bike they’ve built with flip chip geometry.
The numbers are pretty close between the two models, but since we rode the 29-inch version for our first ride we’ll be referencing that for the remainder of this text. Our size large bike could be adjusted to have either a 66- or 65-degree headtube angle and 75.8- to 75.2-degree seat angle. The 431mm (17.1in) chainstay length is snappy and stiff, adding to the overall confidence and feel of the bike. Furthering the playfulness and fun is 32-39mm bottom bracket drop.
Both 27.5 and 29-inch versions of the Rip 9 RDO will be available in four build kits. Prices start at $3,200 for frames and completes start at $4,500 with a Fox Rhythm and SRAM NX Eagle group. Prices step up to $5,600 for an NX Eagle/Fox Flat Factory FIT4 bike, then $6,950 for a SRAM Eagle X01/ Fox Factory Float Fit 4 option. If you’re looking for the bling bling, then Niner’s 5-Star Eagle X01 kit with Fox Factory Fit4 suspension and DT Swiss XMC wheels will set you back $8,800. With these prices it seems Niner is focused on continuing their image as niche brand rather than going after the affordable budget-friendly market the way brands like Fezzari and Canyon do.