Get some fresh Air.
While the massive progression of full suspension bikes is remarkable, we think it's always important to keep a place in our hearts —and garages, for a quick and nimble XC-machine. Whether you're getting ready for race day, or setting out to spin over miles of rolling singletrack, the 2018 Niner Air 9 RDO 2-Star GX Eagle Complete Mountain Bike is quick and ready to tackle the trail, and with its updated geometry, boost spacing, and lower bars, it's more capable than ever for picking its way through precarious rock gardens, and powering up long climbs with agility and precision.
When the Air 9 saw a makeover in 2017, the most major change we saw was to the handlebar height, dropping it lower, and pushing it into a bit more aggressive positioning, like that of the RKT 9 RDO. When combine with a longer cockpit, and a headtube that moved from steep to moderate, you'll find that the Air 9 RDO handles with agility on quick and unpredictable singletrack, and lunges forward to attack the trail as soon as you tell it to. The chainstays also saw a bit of a squish in, shortening by 4mm to 435mm, allowing quick acceleration that pairs with a snappy rear end that feels controlled and nimble underneath you.
The new Air 9 RDO aims at landing between its two predecessors for stiffness, the first, which some may describe as feeling noodly, was often received as being too soft and flexible, while the second was stiff and rough. The happy medium achieved on the new Air 9 RDO comes from a combination of focusing the strength of the frame into the right places, and shedding material where possible, like swapping to a smaller 27.2mm seatpost diameter, to give you a little flex. In back you'll also find an upgrade that passed through many bikes in 2017—boost spacing. This widened hub that was stretched from 12 x 142 all the way out to 12 x 148 allowed for shortening the stays, stiffening the back end, and even allowing Niner to explore uncharted territory of 27.5+ wheels. Niner also opted to tuck the brake caliper mounts on the chainstay, cleanly out of the way and inside of the rear triangle, where it's protected by the seatstay's burlier strength.
Niner utilizes its Carbon Compaction System (CSS) on the Air 9 RDO, just as we've come to know with other of Niner's RDO offerings. CSS gives total control to Niner over tube thickness across the frame, allowing for just the right amount of resin and material to be used in every area. This makes for virtually flawless tube walls, and a reduced amount of material, so there's less excess resin build up, and a stronger over all finish. With the implementation of CSS on the 2018 Air 9 RDO, Niner is claiming a massive weight savings of 10% over previous model years, which is nearly unheard of in a one year jump.
This particular build of the Air 9 RDO features SRAM's GX Eagle groupset, for the perfect balance between budget and performance. On long climbs you'll be able to appreciate the massive 10-to-50-tooth gear range that Eagle offers, and with the GX line it's much more budget friendly than its X01 and XX1 siblings. It does come in heavier than the others from SRAM's eagle lineup, but we think it excels in its price-to-performance ratio. This build also comes decked out with a 100mm RockShox Reba RL Solo Air fork, so you won't be destined to fully rigid riding with its cushion to small rock gardens and rooty aspen groves.
- An aggressive XC bike for when you need a breath of fresh Air
- Modern XC geometry designed to tackle more terrain
- Lightweight RDO carbon boosts stiffness in the right places
- 12 x 148mm Boost axle spacing increases responsiveness
- 100mm of RockShox squish softens the blow of rock gardens
- Smaller 27.2mm seatpost offers your sit bones soft flex
- SRAM GX Eagle gives you a massive gear range that's budget conscious