Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

It should come as no surprise that a company founded on 29er mountain bikes would lend that experience to anything else it makes. While that pedigree wasn’t as obvious on the gravel-oriented RLT I reviewed a while back, it’s front and center on the BSB cyclocross bike.

I tested the original BSB 9 RDO through last season’s cyclocross series, returning it a few months before the latest version came out with a thru axle rear end. Other than that, changes to the frame and bike were minimal save for spec and paint. And other than the safety boost provided by switching to a thru axle design on a disc brake bike, performance between the two should be identical. Yes, thru axles typically make a bike stiffer, but this bike’s already plenty stiff from end to end, so any improvements on this particular bike are, I’m guessing, negligible. Either way, if you buy a new one, you’re getting the thru axle version whether you want it or not. The RDO fork that comes on the bike has had a thru axle from the get go.

Looking for a fast, light and aggressive handling cyclocross race bike for this season? Read on and see if the Niner is right for you…

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

The original BSB was introduced in summer 2014, hitting shops in time for last season’s races. I used it for plenty of early, mid, late and post season training and fun rides and for about half my races. Our test bike was equipped with a SRAM Rival 2×11 group with hydraulic brakes, a build that was added a couple months after the original, Shimano-only options. The rest of the bike had a Niner alloy bar and stem, Niner Carbon seatpost and Niner alloy wheels with tubed Schwalbe tires.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

In stock form, the size 58 came in at 18lb 12oz (8.5kg).

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

I don’t always ride ‘cross, but when I do, I prefer tubeless. So I swapped the stock Schwalbe tires and tubes for the Vittoria Cross XG Pro TNT tubeless ready tires I reviewed back in 2013. They’ve held up admirably and perform well in a variety of conditions. Niner’s alloy CX wheels came out before the bike did and weren’t officially tubeless ready. But, with a little tape and sealant, they worked just fine for me for the duration of the test.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

The RDO ‘cross fork comes in at 569g, and the Maxle is 65g.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

Safety first.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

The fork is full carbon save for the threaded axle insert. It’s light and monstrously stiff, particularly laterally. There’s just enough give fore/aft to absorb some of the terrain, but with zero braking shudder or undue flex.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

Now that Niner’s running the housing and hoses into the frame behind the headtube (rather than thru a headtube badge), the only complaint from a build standpoint was that the front brake hose rubbed along the headtube, scratching it up quickly. This sort of thing can wear through carbon faster than you’d think, so I put one of Effetto Mariposa’s Shelter frame protector decals at the highest movement point.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

The frame can handle up to 40mm tires, giving the 32mm Vittoria’s lots of clearance.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

These photos came at the finish of a race that saw several days of rain leading up to and misting in the morning. On lots of grassy fields with clay/dirt/mud sections.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

Everything worked flawlessly throughout the race. The grass was a particular concern as it likes to build up in the cassette and around the BB shell, but there was enough space around it all to let the bigger clumps fall off before they became an issue.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

Disc brakes FTW!

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

Fortunately, other races were a bit drier. A double header at Hendersonville let them fine tune the track for day two, offering power climbs, launchable drops (which I swear I had an awesome pic of!!!), fast stretches and technical off camber turns. It was a course that tested everything a ‘cross bike should be able to do, and the Niner passed each section with a high grade. As it should, considering it’s a bike made to race, not for all-day rides. The stiff frame provides predictable handling whether swooping around course taped S-bends or slamming it into to gain a spot.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

It also gives you a laterally stiff platform for sprinting or muscling up the steep climbs that others typically run. From front to back, there’s no flex to be felt or heard.

Niner BSB 9 RDO carbon cyclocross race bike review and actual weights

All that translates into a bike that’s confident descending, cornering hard and overtaking others. The rigidity is slightly offset by shaped seatstays that mute a little of the chatter, but after a weekend racing across bumpy grass fields, it was clear this is a race-day bike with no aspirations of pulling double duty as an all ’rounder.

Which is fine by me. It’s refreshing to see a purpose built bike among so many new multipurpose rides that want to serve you on gravel, pavement and at the races. Cyclocross is short, I can handle a few bumps knowing the bike makes no compromises in getting me around each lap as fast as possible.

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Mike
Mike
6 years ago

Bear with me a moment: look at the rear tire tread orientation. Can any crossers advise on the preferred orientation for the rear chevrons? I’ve always operated under the assumption you point them forward (like for the front tire) in the rear for better speed, and point the chevrons backward for better traction (scoop action, as in the picture). Delusions, or smart orientation?

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

And Tyler, how are those Giro shoes holding up in the muck? I’ve considered a pair but worried about the laces and durability. They’re hot though.

Ripnshread
Ripnshread
6 years ago

@Mike, my opinion has always been that you are half right. Forward chevrons for traction when climbing, accelerating (speed), but backward chevrons for better braking.

Pit
Pit
6 years ago

I like the idea of a beefier fork and thru axle disc brakes on a bike like this. I currently ride a ridley with trp v-brakes. It shudders like mad on twisty descents in single track. But I love the climbing and agility of a light cross bike in the woods.

Phil Jones
Phil Jones
6 years ago

Setting up tubeless on non-tubeless rims… you’re not gonna have a good time.

Chris L
Chris L
6 years ago

For really wet and muddy conditions I’d much rather have lace up shoes than Velcro
straps. I’ve seen many a Velcro shoe come undone in wet, muddy races.

efrain
efrain
6 years ago

did the BB shell creak or make any noise?

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

Why not just get a hard tail mountain bike with a ridge fork and throw on some skinny tires. I think cyclocross is pointless!

JR
JR
6 years ago

“Why not just get a hard tail mountain bike with a ridge fork and throw on some skinny tires. ”
No more or less point than having a CX type bike. Just different. Don’t get so hung up on bike types.

offrhodes
6 years ago

It is funny that the Velonews review is almost the exact opposite of this one.

fueledbymetal
fueledbymetal
6 years ago

offrhodes – I was thinking the exact same thing!

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

@Mike (the imposter). That’s my extremely generic handle! Get your own boring name! I happen to love cyclocross.

@Ripnshread Never thought about braking issues, honestly. That’s a good point.

Thanks! I was thinking as a between season shoe also… I have some Mavic’s and they are light and breath really well, but man they’re cold in the winter.

Matt S
Matt S
6 years ago

“Why not just get a hard tail mountain bike with a ridge fork and throw on some skinny tires. I think cyclocross is pointless!”

Yawn.

efrain
efrain
6 years ago

@ Tyler thanx for the response but the removal tool for that BBinfinite looks ridiculous but it looks like a good response. Did they change the rear derailleur hangers to change the spacing to get the rear thru axle? and could you change to the 142 if you wanted too?

@offrhodes and fueledbymetal
I would agree it was their review that prompted me to ask about the bb esp because niner have been know to have this this issue through out their bikes.
having said all that it does look like an interesting bike

Heffe
Heffe
6 years ago

I am puzzled by the Velonews review vs this one.

pfs
pfs
6 years ago

@Heffe – Is it really that puzzling? Velonews is a pretty terrible source for accurate information. I personally will stick with this review because based on the photos bikerumor actually rode the bike.