Clipping into Niner's RKT 9 RDO Mountain Bike Frame brings back fond memories of a time when XC was king and frame geometry wasn't so heavily influenced by slacked out gravity sleds. Niner's paraphrased goal in creating the RKT 9 RDO was to build a 3.5in chassis that handles terrain like a five-inch bike but still climbs like an XC rocket, resulting in a 29in platform every bit as race-ready as any 27.5in trail machine. On moderate terrain, speed is definitely the RKT's friend. It's easy to choose a gear and choose a line, trusting that the suspension's capability will carry you across rock-strewn trails and through corners with a nimbleness that we've rarely experienced on 29in wheels.
Given that it's an XC race bike, Niner tweaked the RKT 9 RDO's CVA travel to hit the sweet spot of low-travel speed. In its initial stroke, the RKT's CVA suspension focuses on maintaining a firm, responsive pedaling platform. Even while riding the shock open, CVA encourages speed on rocky, root-latticed climbs. As roll overs and light rock gardens usher the travel into the mid stroke, CVA also embraces 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.
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. The geometry presents a few departures from Niner's typical recipe, including a longer effective top tube and a lower head tube. These adjustments net a lower, more aggressive rider position that incorporates some stabilizing elements of longer enduro geometries for an XC race machine that holds lines with no extra weight or sluggish bulk.
Of all the geometry, suspension, and material changes Niner builds into the RKT, the most influential may be the Boost rear axle. Now almost ubiquitous in new school mountain bikes, the wider hub decreases the angle of the spokes, which reinforces the wheels for a wheel/chassis platform that Niner claims is 30% stiffer and feels every bit as efficient as 26in bikes. The Boost 148 rear hub allows for more rear clearance with a wider crankset and stays, letting Niner shove the wheel further into the rear triangle and reduce the chainstays to a positively stubby 17.3in - more than a half inch shorter than the Jet 9 RDO. The stubby stays add yet more stiffness to an already snappy rear triangle and make for more agility while navigating switchbacks and picking through terrain most 29in steeds would hesitate to clear.
- Niner's ultimate 29er CX rocket
- A responsive pedaling platform with 3.5in of CVA travel
- Snappy XC geometry balances speed and stability
- Boost rear axle spacing bumps stiffness
- Hub spacing also adds clearance for tighter chainstays
- RDO Carbon construction reduces weight and increases stiffness
- Compatible with tires up to 2.4in in width