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It may have the same name as its predecessor, but the 2017 Niner RIP 9 RDO Mountain Bike Frame went in for some serious upgrades before stepping into the limelight. Dropping with a slacker head tube, steeper seat tube, longer top tube, stubbier chainstays, and a deeper suspension, the new RIP 9 RDO bridges the gap between its trail heritage and enduro aspirations to settle firmly into all-mountain territory. And surprisingly, given Niner's historic dedication to the eponymous 29er, the frame now boasts compatibility with both 29in and 27.5+ wheels so you can choose the size that best fits your riding style.
In addition to the geometry tweaks, the new RIP 9 gains a heap of versatility with the introduction of Boost axle spacing. Boost spacing makes for stiffer wheels, which wagon wheels are uniquely qualified to benefit from, but it also opens up a world of options throughout the rear triangle. By pushing the rear axle out to 148mm, Niner was able to finagle enough clearance at the bottom bracket to shorten the chainstays by 11mm and sharpen the seat tube angle by two degrees. These subtle changes make the rear triangle that much more responsive to input while also pushing the bike's engine (read: you) up over the pedals.
The stubby stays keep the bike agile, but the slack-ish head tube means the RIP 9 RDO also revels in attempts to flatten everything in its path—or at least bailing you out when your lines start to get a bit too ambitious. Depending on the fork and wheels you pair it with, the Rip 9's front end can hit as low as 66.5 degrees. Its longer top tube pairs well with a short stem and wide bar to keep handling on-point, despite that low head tube angle, so you can always fall back on those short stays to navigate stretches of especially technical terrain.
There's obviously oodles of new radness with the RIP 9 RDO, but two things remain pleasantly unchanged: The Race Day Optimized (RDO) construction method and the Constantly Varying Arc (CVA) suspension design. RDO involves a dual-compression process that eliminates resin pooling and imperfections by allowing precise control over wall-thickness. Reducing imperfections makes for a more structurally sound frame, and the targeted control over lay-up and wall thickness lets Niner reinforce the structure where it's needed and reduce material where it'll save weight without sacrificing stiffness. The result marks the nexus of low weight and efficient durability that's equal to trail abuse.
The new RIP 9 RDO's CVA suspension design is also unchanged, but it allows that design to play with 25mm more travel. This brings it up to 150mm—which parallels the WFO—and optimizes it for descending fast in hairy terrain while keeping it surprisingly responsive when you punch on the gas. Unlike other designs, CVA is optimized for the increased bottom bracket drop inherent in 29ers. It tends to ride high with a controlled mid-stroke that balances pedal input and suspension travel, keeping it stable through rock gardens and snappy when you stomp. It also jumps incredibly well; this is one wagon wheeler that’s very happy when it’s airborne.
The frame's finishing details are everything you'd expect from the obsessive designers at Niner, and our favorite new addition is the inclusion of a BSA threaded bottom bracket. PressFit shells may be lighter and more convenient, but the exact tolerances of a CNC-machined thread are unmatchable by today's composite technology. The threading means bearing cups install perfectly, reducing wear over time and helping to silence the creaks and groans that so often accompany PressFit models. Vulnerable frame bits are girded with titanium protection plates, and the frame also includes integrated battery storage in case you get the urge for electro shifting.
The revised axle spacing and geometry dimensions accommodate 29er tires up to 2.5in and, if you trade out for 27.5+ rims, the frame will max-out at 3in tires. Those changes also mean the frame is one-by only—front derailleurs need not apply.
- The updated RIP 9 lands firmly in all-mountain territory
- 6in CVA travel specifically designed for wagon wheels
- Updated geometry climbs faster and drops-in with enduro style
- RDO carbon lay-up reduces weight without sacrificing stiffness
- Compatible with electronic drivetrain routing and battery storage
- Accommodates both 29in and 27.5+ wheels