Introduction by Francis Cebedo
What is the purpose of this steel hardtail that is designed for a 120mm or 140mm front fork? Well the purpose is to ‘Ride Over Shit’ and that’s why it’s called the ROS 9. But is there really a market for a 29er hardtail bike that is not optimized for Cross Country or Racing? Can a 29er hardtail be fun?
We think so. This is part of a new segment of bikes we like to call ‘rally hardtails’. The more common term is All Mountain hardtails and other companies like Banshee and Canfield have been forging the way for public to discover this new kind of hardtail that can tackle rough terrain. In general, they have lots of travel in front and none on the rear. Slack head angles and short chain stays are part of the equation. And in recent months, the dropper seatpost has become part of the formula. The 29er wheel is a key component as well since that 0 mm of rear travel needs all the help it can get.
All seems very alien right? Well we tried the Trek Stache 8 ourselves and warmed up to the idea. Here is a bike that doesn’t cost very much yet is comfortable in the tightest singletrack, drops, jumps and flow trails. With a dropper post, some big volume, tubeless tires running low pressure, this bike can rally.
The numbers on this Niner ROS 9 check out just fine. The chainstay length is 16.8 inches and that is indeed short. Most hardtails are at around 17.5 inches and even Niner’s own SIR 9 is at 17.3 inches. This is good as short stays translates to agility, traction and fun. The BB height stays the same as the already low Niners at a 2.2 inch drop. The other key metric is the head angle. Is it slack? Oh yes, it’s slack at 68 degrees with a 120 mm fork and 67 degrees with a 140 mm fork.
And then the other key feature is internal cable routing for a dropper post. Such is a new concept in hardtails but there is no question that they will be the norm in 3-5 years because they extend the range and the playfulness of a bike so much. Another feature to note is a 142×12 Maxle rear axle to keep the rear end as laterally stiff as possible.
And of course let’s not forget that this is steel with 29er wheels. This will give the rear of the bike that extra cush as the front of the bike is likely to get in to all sorts of ruckus.
So we’re excited. $900 gets you the frame and $2500 gets you a bike in their base 1-Star X7 Kit.
Continue reading for details on the frame and full photo gallery.