There are lots of good bikes in the light, fast, race oriented hardtail category so choices often come down to the details. In this respect the Niner has an interesting mix of great and not so great details. The green color is amazing and garnered many trailside compliments. There is much attention paid to the sculpting of the tube shapes ensuring that the form flows together into a cohesive whole. The top tube arches gracefully into the seatstay which drops into a continuous loop around the rear of the bike into the chainstay. Making sure the beautiful frame will last are a clear rock guard on the downtube, a metal chainsuck plate and even a small metal plate on the forward part of the bottom bracket in case your chain should drop. The standard Niner inducement to “pedal damn it” appears on the top tube and although it may not be conspicuous enough to help when you are cross eyed with effort it certainly adds a welcome touch of personality, as do the matching Niner branded seatpost, bars, stem, and even seat collar.
However the details in the maintenance department are not so great. The slick looking rear brake mounting makes caliper adjustment difficult. Cable routing for the rear derailleur is positioned so the rear tire covers it in mud where it enters the frame. The internal cable routing ensures a clean appearance but is not the easiest to work on and the short cables between the shifters and where they enter the head tube seemed to add some resistance when turning the bars. These aren’t the kind of issues that you encounter often during the time spent with a bike but you quickly notice them when something goes wrong either at home or on the side of the trail.
In the end how one feels about this bike would come down to priorities. If you spend a lot of time being your own mechanic, or need a go-to bike for after work rides or long stretch-your-legs type endurance rides then it may not be the best choice. But if there is room in the stable for a dedicated XC race bike then I would say the Air 9 RDO should definitely be on the short list.
- 73mm BB width
- PF30 BB adaptable to threaded via adapters (not compatible with aftermarket EBB designs)
- 31.6mm seatpost size
- 34.9mm seat collar size (not included)
- 34.9mm front derailleur, high mount, bottom pull
- 1.125”-1.5” taper head tube with integrated (Campy style) headset (FSA headset included) Cane Creek standard description: IS42/28.6|IS52/40
- Replaceable derailleur hanger
- Size Small has one inner triangle bottle mount
- Size Medium, Large and XL have two inner triangle bottle mounts
- 135mm QR rear spacing
- Aluminum Head Badge for Internal Routing
- Can fit up to a 2.4” tire (tire size varies by brand, some tires may not fit)
- Compatible with current-standard 3x chainring systems
- 2x chainring system recommendations:
- SRAM configs: 26/39 or lower
- SHIMANO XT configs: 28/40 or lower
- SHIMANO XTR double cranks have a non-standard chainline and are not recommended.