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2023 Niner RKT RDO XC race bike’s new design flies low, aims high

guy riding the 2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike
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The all-new Niner RKT RDO is the long-overdue successor to their short-travel full-suspension XC race mountain bike, and it appears to be worth the wait.

The original RKT debuted in 2015, with just 90mm rear travel paired to a 100mm fork. That frame was fast, living up to the RocKeT acronym, but times and courses have changed. The 2023 RKT gets the expected geometry changes and slight bump to 100mm rear travel, but some of the details are pleasant surprises…

2023 Niner RKT RDO tech details

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike

The biggest update is the overall frame design. It’s dramatically lower, with a top tube that sits a long ways down from its prior position. And the support truss on larger frame sizes is gone, instead relying on an oversized section leading into an extended seat tube.

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike

Not only does this lower the center of gravity and improve standover height, it also makes room for longer droppers. The extended tube runs straight for as long as it can before hitting the main rocker pivot, giving you room (and internal routing) to add a dropper post if you want…none of the builds come with one.

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike closeup details of rear suspension

The bike keeps Niner’s CVA suspension design, using a lower linkage under the bottom bracket and upper rocker arm to control the rear wheel path and leverage ratio. The design works exceptionally well, but being an “XC race” bike, it’s no surprise they’re including a remote lockout switch for the rear shock on most builds.

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike closeup details of head tube

The 100mm rear wheel travel is matched with 100mm forks on all builds (for now), and they’re all using the Fox 34 Step Cast. Niner says they could have saved a couple ounces by using the 32 SC forks, but they preferred the stiffer chassis and more robust, plusher performance of the 34 SC forks.

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike closeup details of shock mount

Other welcome updates include drainage ports at the lower shock mount, which also houses a flip chip to let you slack things out just a bit more (check the geometry chart further down). This would be helpful should you want to swap to a 120mm fork and make it more of a “fun country” bike, which Niner says is perfectly good thing to do.

Cable guides keep the rear shift and brake housings tucked close to the frame, and both run internal through the downtube and then again inside the chainstays.

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike closeup details of rear triangle

The seatstays also sit low, which led to a more shapely design than Niner’s other bikes at the rear. It not only looks good, it keeps the rear brake caliper tucked inboard out of harm’s way.

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike closeup details of top tube

Another welcome new feature is a top-tube bag mount. Given this bike’s ability to run up to 2.5″ tires yet cover a lot of ground quickly and efficiently, it’s a good option for marathon races and all-day backcountry rides, so the extra storage capacity is appreciated.

All frame sizes have two bottle cage mounts – one inside the front triangle, and one underneath the downtube.

Other key specs are:

  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket
  • SRAM UDH derailleur hanger
  • Enduro MAX Black Oxide pivot bearings
  • Molded frame protection on downtube and chainstay
  • Full length internal cable/hose sleeves for easy routing
  • Trunnion mount rear shock
  • Lifetime frame warranty

Niner RKT RDO geometry & build options

niner rkt rdo geometry chart

Compared to the prior model, with this bike’s Flip Chip in the High position, the new RKT RDO has a ~3º slacker head angle and about ~0.5º steeper seat angle. Reach is ~23mm longer on average.

Chainstay length is 10mm shorter at 430mm, but that slacker front end still pulls the wheelbase out ~35mm to 45mm longer, depending on frame size. The bottom bracket sits a full 5mm lower than before in High, and 10mm lower in Low.

2023 niner RKT RDO mountain bike with black paint

Pricing on all builds will be “similar to MY2022 bikes” but is yet to be finalized, but you’ll have lots of options:

  • 5-STAR XO1 Eagle AXS Ltd
  • 5-STAR XO1 Eagle mechanical
  • 4-STAR Shimano XT
  • 3-STAR GX Eagle AXS
  • 3-STAR GX Eagle mechanical
  • 2-STAR SX Eagle mechanical

Full build specs available on their website. We have one in for testing, look for that review in late July.


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1 year ago

Nice. Hits the sort of numbers a race bike should

1 year ago

MTB bike without a dropper, seriously..

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