If you're coming from a less-aggressive machine, the Niner RIP 9 RDO XT Complete Mountain Bike is sure to blow away your expectations of just how fast you can ride down the steepest, rockiest zones of your local trail ecosystem. This big-wheeled brute resembles Niner's 2016 WFO more than the previous RIP 9, seeing it features 150 millimeters of plush, rock-swallowing travel on reserve with appropriately slack and long geometry figures to match. Niner cements the RIP 9 firmly into the all-mountain realm, seeing its aggressive demeanor and riding capabilities sit on the edge of what you'd sanely ride down without donning a full-face helmet and dual-crown fork.
For the 2017 model, the RIP 9 RDO retains its all-mountain geometry specs, stiff carbon fiber frame, CVA suspension with 150 millimeters of plush travel, ability to accept both 29-inch and 27.5+ wheels, and Boost rear axle for precise tracking over chunky, rock-strewn terrain. Boost allows the rear end to clear wider 3.0-inch tires in 27.5+ form, which affords gobs of traction and a smoother feel across especially rocky terrain. In 29er form seen here, you'll find it clears the 2.5-inch tires becoming increasing popular for their excellent grip and smoother feel over unruly trail sections.
Delving into its geometry, you'll find the RIP 9 RDO features a relatively slack 66.5-degree head tube angle that keeps you composed and confident at high speeds and on steep descents, but without pushing things into overly slack realms like many long-travel 29ers on the market. Niner retains the longer top tube of the previous version as well, which pairs well with wide bar/short stem combos for increased stability and better handling at high speeds. 17.3-inch chainstays strike a nice balance between agile cornering and straight line dominance on the trail. Additionally, the steeper 75-degree seat tube angle places you in an optimal position to lay down power on climbs, meaning this bike is actually much better at pedaling uphill than its long-travel figures would suggest.
There's oodles of radness with this 2017 RIP 9 RDO, but two things remain pleasantly unchanged over the previous version: The Race Day Optimized (RDO) frame 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 RIP 9 RDO's CVA suspension design is also unchanged, but it allows that design to play with more travel. This brings it up to 150mm—which parallels the older 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.
- Big-wheeled brute for conquering steep, rock-infested trails
- 6in of CVA travel smooths out rocky terrain and bigger hits
- RDO carbon lay up saves weight and provides optimal stiffness
- Accepts both 29 in and 27.5+ wheels for greater versatility
- Boost rear spacing clears 29 x 2.5in and 27.5 x 3in tires
- Shimano XT 1x11 drivetrain provides a wide range of gears
- RockShox Yari RC DebonAir 160mm fork for big-hit composure
- Race Face Aeffect R wheels withstand all-mountain thrashings