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RKT 9 RDO 3.5-Star X01 Complete Mountain Bike - 2016

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The playful racer.

Niner claims that the all-new RKT 9 RDO 3.5-Star X01 Complete Mountain Bike "offers true and undeniable performance gains" over non-29er bikes. Having had the chance to throw a leg over this particular model, we're comfortable translating that claim as "a bike that's as aggressive on undulating, rocky trails as it is on fast, steep hardpack." The re-worked CVA suspension, a revised carbon layup, and a new, oversized axle standard conspire as the ideal platform for SRAM's X01 drivetrain for an overall package that's eager on climbs, surprisingly plush across terrain, and disarmingly playful to ride on everything from a weekday escape to a race-day excursion.

The RKT 9's magical ride begins with a few geometry tweaks aimed at bridging the divide between low-weight XC race machines and high-confidence, line-holding trail sleds. Given that Ms. Rusch, the Queen of Pain herself, summarizes the RKT 9 RDO as the answer to her dreams, we'd say Niner hit the mark. Compared to Niner's previous XC racers, the RKT 9's longer top tube and shorter head tube make for a more aggressive rider position and a longer geometry with better line-holding capabilities across terrain skewing into the five-inch trail bike category. These adjustments are paired with Boost 110 and 148mm axles in the front and rear, respectively, for increased wheel stiffness and more rear-end clearance, allowing Niner to slam the back wheel up and reduce the chainstays to just 440mm. Stubby stays make for more agility entering corners and stretches of trail furniture and more power-transferring stiffness while accelerating out of the other side.

The frame is built according to the specifics of Niner's RDO Carbon Compaction System (CCS). CCS uses internal molds during the curing process to ensure precise control over wall thickness and material distribution, eliminating excess grams and structural imperfections like resin pooling. For the RKT 9 RDO frame, the CCS process has been refined even further, resulting in a frame with a claimed weight as low as 4.5lb. Niner assures us that this process will soon show up in the rest of the RDO line; but until that happens, the RKT is almost 1/2lb lighter than the current Jet 9 RDO. This is even more impressive when you beat the hell out of it on the trail and realize that the RKT 9's low weight doesn't come at the cost of structural weakness or flex.

Given that it's an XC race bike, Niner tweaked the RKT 9 RDO's CVA travel to hit the sweet spots of low-travel speed. In its initial stroke, the RKT's CVA focuses on maintaining a firm, responsive pedaling platform — a theory that translates well to the trail. Even while riding the shock open, CVA encourages speed on rocky, root-latticed climbs to the point that the RKT fires out of berms on the uphills with almost the same alacrity as it does on the downhills. Alacrity also describes the RKT's enthusiasm as roll overs and light rock gardens usher the travel into the mid stroke, which opens up a bit more to embrace trail furniture without sacrificing momentum or straying from its line. As it hits the end of its 90mm, the travel ramps up to avoid harsh bottom-outs, extending the margin of error just a bit further for when enduro ambitions start to get the better of XC restraint.


  • An XC dream bike with race day attitude
  • 29er-specific suspension demonstrates Niner's wagon wheel nous
  • Blends a longer cockpit with tighter rear triangle
  • Boost axles increase tire clearance and wheel stiffness
  • Flawless carbon construction leaves nothing to chance
  • Kitted with SRAM's workhorse racing groupset
  • Item #NNR003N
Frame Material
CCS carbon fiber
Rear Shock
FOX Float DPS Factory
Rear Travel
90 mm
RockShox Pike RC
Front Travel
120 mm
Cane Creek
SRAM X01 (right only)
Front Derailleur
Rear Derailleur
32t SRAM X01
Bottom Bracket
10 - 46t Shimano XT
Brake Type
hydraulic disc
180 / 160 mm SRAM Centerline
Niner Flat Top RDO carbon
Handlebar Width
710 mm
Niner Grrrips
Niner RDO carbon
Niner Custom with Ti rails
RockShox Reverb Dropper (125mm)
Seatpost Diameter
30.9 mm
Seat Collar
34.9 mm
Niner Alloy
Front Axle
15 x 110mm Boost
Rear Axle
12 x 148mm Boost
Maxxis Ikon
Tire Size
[front] 29 x 2.35 in, [rear] 29 x 2.2 in
not included
titanium chain guards
Recommended Use
cross country
Manufacturer Warranty
5 years on frame

Overall Rating

4 based on 3 ratings

Review Summary

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