Niner is a small company with a strong sense of identity and big
ambitions. Whereas others may waver in the face of ever-changing
public opinion, the folks at Niner have remained steadfast in their
dedication to building the best 29er bikes possible. In fact, Niner believes
they’re the only bikes worth building.
Don’t even bother asking a Niner owner if he likes his bike—unless you
want to hear a passionate discourse on why 29ers are better in every way
and a heartfelt speech about how Niner treats its customers better than just
about anyone in the sport. Niner owners love their bikes.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The R.I.P. (“Ride In Peace”) 9 RDO will appeal to a lot of
riders. It’s lightweight and has enough travel to handle any
all-mountain or enduro ride. This is one of the longest-travel
models Niner currently offers. While the geometry looks
steep and twitchy on paper, it is geared to handle gnarly
trails. The RDO portion of the name stands for “Race Day
Optimized,” which means no expense was spared in the
construction of the frame. Don’t be misled, though; this is far
from a “race-day-only” bike.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The frame is carbon through and through and features
Niner’s patented CVA suspension. Niner claims its dual-link
design provides an excellent pedaling platform and a spring
curve that delivers plush and playful suspension performance. The R.I.P. frame features a press-fit bottom bracket
with ISCG-05 tabs that are integrated to work flawlessly
with the suspension pivots. The frame also features everything else prized by trail and all-mountain riders, including
a 12x142-millimeter rear axle, tapered head tube and direct-mount front derailleur.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
We’ve been spoiled by SRAM’s outstanding XX1 drivetrain, and it bolts up flawlessly to the R.I.P. chassis. The
shifting is smooth and lightning fast, and the chain management is nearly perfect. We’ve yet to drop a chain from an
XX1 system, even in the nastiest conditions. As an added
bonus, SRAM’s Type 2 clutch-style rear derailleur keeps the
drivetrain completely silent, which means all you hear is the
rubber of your tires thumping the ground. Nice.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: Niner’s bikes run big. In fact, our stock large R.I.P. test bike only fit our tallest crewers. Finding
the correct size Niner might require a demo ride, but don’t
worry, because Niner offers numerous demo events around
the country, so check the schedule on their website and see
if you can attend one before picking your size.
Setup: Setting the suspension on the R.I.P. is a cakewalk.
The RockShox fork and Fox rear shock have a simple, single, air-valve pressure setting. We set our bike to 30 percent
sag, front and rear, and hit the trails.
Suspension feel: CVA stands for “Constantly Variable
Arc,” which is an apt description of the wheel path, as the
bike goes through its travel. Niner claims that it allows the suspension to be fully active while avoiding the chain-growth issues that plague some dual-link designs (the sensa-
tion that the pedals are being tugged back when you pedal
over an obstacle). We won’t delve into the physics behind it,
but just know that the suspension design on the R.I.P. Nine
works very, very well. It’s active when you want it to be,
but provides an adequate pedaling platform for just about
Pedaling: With the CVA suspension controlling the rear end, pedaling is efficient and confidence-inspiring. We
found ourselves using the “Descend” mode on our Fox CTD
shock in nearly every situation—partly because the lever on the shock is difficult to reach on the fly, but also because
this bike simply doesn’t need the extra pedaling platform.
Climbing: The low weight of this particular test bike certainly helps it float up the climbs, but that’s not the whole
story. The large-diameter wheels and capable suspension
make it a blast to charge into technical climbs and let the suspension do all the hard work. Longer seated climbs are
no problem, either, as the natural pedaling platform of the
CVA design lets the rider forget about the settings on the
rear shock and just hit it.
Descending: The steepish angles of the R.I.P. 9 RDO
are compensated for by the stability of the large wheels.
While we would have preferred a slightly slacker head
angle in really rough and steep terrain, the geometry is
tried and true and will work well for most riders. If you’re
looking for a dedicated gravity bike, look elsewhere. If
you’re looking for trail geometry that can handle 95 percent of hairy descents, look no further.
Switchbacks: Whether you’re going up or downhill,
switchbacks are going to be a handful on the R.I.P.. The
bike feels long, and hairpin turns are not its strong suit.
While the Niner will make it through the tightest of turns,
it will require some extra body english and skill on your
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
After a few rides, we decided to swap the 90-millimeter
stem for Niner’s new 50-millimeter Trail stem. This quick
and easy change really woke up the handling and made
the R.I.P. much easier to manual and bunnyhop down the
trail. The shorter stem definitely resulted in a much more
The R.I.P. 9 RDO shreds singletrack, and it’s exceptionally capable when it comes to aggressive trails and difficult
climbs. That said, building a 29er trailbike is inherently
complicated and will always require compromises. The
larger wheels put numerous constraints on the design,
because those bigger wheels need to clear all the tubes,
rockers and extra plumbing of a full-suspension bike.
The R.I.P. 9 doesn’t try to minimize its 29er traits. It is proud to be large and in charge when cruising down the trail. This bike isn’t for everyone, but with its proven
geometry, dialed suspension and construction quality
that’s second to none, we can’t help but recommend the
R.I.P. 9 RDO to a huge cross section of riders. Just be sure
you like the taste of the 29er Kool-Aid before you take this
THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION:
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that's 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we're still having fun. You can start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345. Also available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org