Let’s be honest…if you had to guess, and many of you did, you probably knew this was coming.
Niner’s new RIP 9 RDO takes their 120mm travel all mountain bike and gives it a lighter, stiffer and waaaaaay sexier carbon fiber frame. In fact, we’d say they’ve outdone their Jet 9 RDO/Carbon model by a leg or two with the svelte layout of the link pivots into the frame…it’s really unique.
For good measure, they also gave it five more millimeters of cush, putting the rear end at 125mm travel.
After two years (and change) of development, the official coming out party is tomorrow at Interbike’s indoor opening day, but we’ve had a chance to see the frame in person already and it’s a beaut. Revised cable routing will make many Niner fans happy, and the inclusion of ISCG tabs opens the bike up for even more aggressive riding…
To get the scoop on the key differences and upgrades, we spoke with Niner’s lead engineer, George Parry:
“We took some of the swoopiness out of the tubes (compared to the Jet 9 RDO) and made it a little more straight forward. And we increased the diameter of the tubes and stays to increase stiffness. Overall, we made it a bit beefier because it’s going to be ridden harder.”
“We went with angular contact bearings, so the contact surfaces are completely different compared to the regular sealed cartridge bearings on the Jet. We came up with a really unique way to do it, and it lets you take the rear end on and off really easily. The right side linkage has an integrated axle, similar to a how driveside crankarm have their axle attached. The bearings sit on that axle, which then runs through the frame to an adjustable cone that’s tightened down to remove play. Then you put the other side of the link on and tighten down an open-center bolt using a Shimano cassette tool (the red bit above). That set up is in three locations – two on the lower linkage and one for the main rocker arm pivot. Sealed cartridge bearings connect the rocker arm to the seatstays.
“We knew we wanted to do an integrated axle on the linkages but the challenge was to integrate the ACB’s so there was nothing pressed into the frame on the main pivots.”
The result is improved stiffness thanks to the larger diameter axles and reduced weight. Like the Jet 9 RDO, their goal was to match the alloy bike’s stiffness, and they say it’s equal, but reduce the weight. They shaved about a pound from the frame.
They put a little alloy skid plate on the bottom to keep things safe, too.
Another new feature is the inclusion of ISCG tabs, something the alloy RIP doesn’t have. To do this, they moved the lower linkage to the left a bit so there was clearance for a bashguard or chainguide.
Parry: “We also reworked the cable routing because, honestly, the Jet 9 RDO’s system is a bit difficult to route.”
The front derailleur cable still wraps around the bottom bracket and comes up from the bottom. The rear cable, however, pops out of the downtube above the BB and curves up to the seatstay, running externally down the stay to the derailleur…much like the alloy frames. There’s also dropper post cable routing under the top tube.
The rear axle is 12×142 with full carbon dropouts and post mount brakes. It’ll initially ship with a standard hanger, but they’re making a direct mount rear derailleur hanger for it soon.
The frame is designed around 120mm to 140mm forks, and it carries forward the revised (slacker) head angle of the 2nd generation RIP 9 alloy frames for a more confident descending experience without giving up good ol’ fashioned trail manners.
Wanna take it even slacker? It’ll work with Cane Creek’s Angleset adjustable angle headset, too.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the color, too? It’s new, and it’s called Rally Blue. Frame and Fox CTD Kashima shock will retail for $2,899, and a kit with a matching Rally Blue 130mm Rockshox Revelation RT3 fork will be $3,550. Complete bikes can be built up on their website with “limited edition top-end build kits.” Available in March.
Side note: All of a sudden, the long travel 29er bike is en vogue. The Tallboy LT came out earlier this year, Cannondale just announced their Trigger 29er and we’ve seen others. I spoke with quite a few of the Niner folks at Eurobike about this bike and it’s interesting that their production cycle from concept to shipping was two years, and that’s not entirely uncommon. So, while the RIP 9 RDO was a twinkle in their eye, others brands were independently thinking along the same lines. I mention this only because, at times, it seems like there’s a knee jerk reaction for a brand to get something out to compete against someone else’s new bike. The reality is these things are likely as much coincidence as anything else, with the good brands simply knowing what their customers are going to want sometimes before they do.