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Product Review: Niner R.I.P. 9 RDO

Photos: Re Wikstrom

Niner’s name makes it perfectly obvious that the brand stands for all things wagon-wheeled, and the R.I.P. 9 RDO represents the Colorado brand’s take on the ultimate trail bike. Naturally, this means that it’s efficient, lightweight, and capable. And while it certainly is all of those things, there’s something, well, special about the ride that’s hard to pinpoint, yet impossible to ignore.

Suspension

Part of the R.I.P. 9′s magic is in its CVA suspension platform. At 125mm travel, this rendition of the parallel link platform is designed around the increased bottom bracket drop that’s characteristic of 29er geometry. And whether or not this fact actually makes any difference, there’s no denying that this bike’s suspension is straight up amazing.

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It rides high in the travel, and it doesn’t budge when you stomp on the pedals. And because it doesn’t settle in as deep as many other bikes, it keeps that travel on reserve for those moments when you really need it. Obviously, this takes the sting out of massive, square-edged impacts. However, what was really surprising is that it actually helps the RDO jump as well as any trail bike that I can think of — not something you typically associate with 29ers.

Geometry & Handling

The R.I.P. 9 RDO is best described as precise. The steeper head angle makes the bike eager to initiate turns, while the ample bottom bracket drop keeps it feeling planted once it’s laid over. But despite the quick steering, it feels miraculously stable at speed.

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In terms of fit, Niner bikes are typically characterized by a shorter reach and a longer top tube, which is courtesy of a relaxed seat angle that puts the saddle farther behind the crankset. This keeps the wheelbase from becoming too long, and it’s also part of the reason that the R.I.P. 9 is so quick to change direction.

Construction

The massive aluminum pivot hardware is a dead giveaway that oversized bearings were used throughout, which adds significantly to the expected lifespan. Meanwhile, the cable routing is clean and simple, which goes well with the curvy lines of the frame.

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And while it’s ridiculously vain to point out, the RDO Blue paint job looks awesome, and it seems to get a good deal of comments on the trail.

Drawbacks

Standover clearance on the RDO isn’t its strong suit. The seat tube lengths are long per size, which is fine if you’re all leg. But if your body type is more torso and arm, you should really look elsewhere. It’s unfortunate, because I love the handling, but having tried three different sizes, there’s just no way for me to get a satisfactory fit on a R.I.P. 9.

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The Takeaway

The R.I.P. 9 RDO may be the most versatile big-wheeled trail bike out there, so long as it fits you. It’s far more responsive than it has any right to be, but it doesn’t give up stability. It’s stiff, efficient, and requires very little adjustment period. And as previously mentioned, it’s one of the best jumping trail bikes that I’ve ever ridden, which was a total surprise. So, if you have a long inseam, you owe it to yourself to try it out. If not, too bad, because like me, you’ll be missing out on one of the best big-wheeled trail sleds in the business.

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- Niner R.I.P. 9 RDO Frame

- Niner R.I.P. 9 RDO Featured Mountain Bike

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