The Rip9 Frame and Package Review

29er Pro Reviews

Trifecta front end – tapered, thru axle, light/strong wheel
Niner worked with Fox to get this fork made for 2010, FIT, 15mm, 120mm travel, tapered steerer. The front end stiffness will be immediately noticeable, for the better. I’m a big believer in tubeless rims, so I felt right at home on the WTB hubs/Flows/Rampage setup. Rims are strong and wide, allowing for a stiff front wheel build, yet not overly heavy.

This being a ‘longer’ travel 29er FS, Rampage are about the lightest tire you want to use on the front. I would have like to try a lighter rear tire for my use and terrain. The Rampage are stout and very cut resistant, but are slow to pedal. Not any slower than comparable tires, but slow nonetheless.

Wide Niner flat handlebar. Keeping the bars low on a longer travel 29’er is very important, especially in the smaller frame sizes. Niner uses a short Headtube, coupled with flat bars. This allows a reasonable bar to ground height for the Small and Medium frames, as it is likely that these riders are not tall, and want to keep a good bar/saddle height relationship. A wide bar is really needed to control a big 29’er front end, on a longer travel bike. As speeds, or steepness increases, you want a lot leverage and control over the front wheel. The Niner bar is not short on width at 710mm, and gives the level of leverage needed to keep a bike like this under control. Taller riders sometimes will need a riser bar to accomplish the seat/bar relationship that is best for them.

The ride

This is where the part selections pays off big time. The FIT 2010 fork is a big jump up in performance from 2009 Fox, or the Reba forks. This allows the frame/fork package to work together as a really well tuned system. The fork/TA hub/Flow rim allows you to point the bike on any line and keep it there. In the past, to ride a Rip9 fast with a Reba/Maverik, you either get a plush ride, but the front end wallows, dives and wanders. When you add pressure, you get less dive but trade that for a harsher ride. The Rip9 rear end has always been plush and feels like endless travel.

Seated climbing is a strong point of the RIP9 and has always been. The amount of good traction that the CVA design gives you is mind boggling. On climbs, it has the ability to track the terrain, conform around roots and rocks and keep the rubber planted is what you’re paying for. Tire slips were never my issue on steep ascents, but rather my legs and lungs. I spent over 100 miles climbing on this bike. During some of the endless uphill sections, I’d look down and marvel at how the shock doesn’t move at all. I get can the shock to move with out of the saddle climbing, but even with that, it moves a whole lot less than other frames, given how plush I have the shock set.

When things point downhill, you’ll notice very little brake jacking, if any on this frame. I can brake hard and late into bumpy corners without the feeling of my braking affecting the quality of travel in the rear suspension. With certain FS designs you can feel the rear suspension essentially lock up and stop working when the brakes are on hard into a corner with braking bumps, effectively leading to skipping across the top of the bumps and more skidding.

Conclusions here…

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  • david8613 says:

    cons: more colors? they have 3 colors to chose from, other manufacturers somtimes only have 2 colors per model like cannondale for instance.

  • jadedbee says:

    I’m drooling! How much is msrp on your build? What does it weigh? Which rear axle type did you go with? Do you feel the wider Flow rims were necessary; would the Arch’s be too light duty?

  • Thomas Tran says:

    David, I’m reaching there for improvement areas when I’m asking for more colors. While a few mfg will offer a wide spectrum of colors, most are limited to 1-3 colors like you say.

    The MSRP of the frame and bike kits are best answered from the dealers. Speedgoat has a good ‘build a bike’ section and they sell Niner.
    Frame MSRP is $1799.

    While I ride 355s and Arch rims, I do feel the Flows are needed for a bike like this, and worth the ~150g. I have built wheels with all three rims, and just holding the Flows in my hands, you can feel the significant torsional rigidity advantage it has over the others just by flexing/twisting. The extra width of the Flows will allow you to get a wider tire print, and run a few pounds less pressure.
    I think this build was right at 30 lbs.

  • Michael says:

    When I build a RIP for a customer I use the Jagwire cable bridge around the rear triangle. Works great. We’ve used the Flows on every build. The rear Maxle is worth it, especially for the bigger guys. Mt personal build is the anti-color .. raw. Bad azz if you ask me!

  • Larry says:

    I love my 09 RIP and agree with your review. However, for heavier riders 190+ the shock valving is way off. I tried the large air sleeve which was an improvement but not a fix. My shock is at Push right now.

  • chad says:

    “I’d look down and marvel at how the shock doesn’t move at all.”

    This should be a con. You want an active suspension on climbs to keep the tire planted. Unless you are talking about pedal bob alone, which it doesn’t sound like it. DW Link for instance minimizes pedal bob, but the shock stays fully active on climbs, and you see it working the whole time. Not being a hater, but if a stationary rear is what you are looking for, a hardtail is the better option.

  • david says:

    when is the niner wfo 9 review coming out? i just got one and im building it now…i would be curious to see how would they would spec that bad boy out…

  • Thomas Tran says:

    Chad, I’m just talking about mindless FR climbs when the shock doesn’t move. You’re right, I want it to be very much like a HT then.

    The suspension is very active, and offers tons of good traction on rutted, rocky, rooty climbs. During those moments, my eyes are focused on what is ahead of me. ;-)

  • Justin says:

    Great review Thomas, I was wondering, did you ever feel the need to use pro-pedal in any climbing situations?

  • Thomas Tran says:

    Justin, PP does help on this and I did flip the lever many times. The sus is efficient enough to run ‘unlocked’ and not worry about it. On long sustained climbs, I’m too much of a geek to NOT flip the lever to get as much efficiency as I can.

  • Brett says:

    Actually 4 colors:
    1.Tang / 2. Raw/ 3. Licorice Anodized (black ano)/ 4. Milk Dud Anodized (brown ano)

    Most manufacturers offer one color if they sell the complete bike only, more if they are “boutique” and sell frame only. For instance, Specialized and Fisher – 1 color choice. Turner, Santa Cruz, Intense have 2 or more per model.

  • Tom says:

    I have the first generation RIP9. This frame is one of the most versatile frames I could ever imagine. I originally build it up as a cross country racer at 25 lbs. (Stans 355 rims, Scrub rotors, XTR, ti eggbeaters, Schwalbe racing ralph 2.25 tires, Fox 120). Did a couple of 100 mile races on it and I’m sure I had the most comfortable bike out there without sacrificing much pedal efficiency. I currently have it build as a free ride bike. Haven’t weighed it but I guess it’s closer to 30+ lbs. (Stans Arch Rims, 1×9, XTR, Stout 2.4 Tires, Crank Brothers Mallet 2 Pedals, Crank Brothers Joplin Remote Hydraulic Seat Post, Fox 120) Overall I’d say it’s a better cross country bike, the geometry isn’t slack enough to make it a true free-ride bike, but maybe a 140mm fork would fix that…I’ll have to try it. This would definitely be my only bike if I could only have one.

  • Paul says:

    Thomas
    Thanks for a great review.
    How stiff do you think the rear area is?
    I wonder how laterally rigid the rear triangle is with that skinny looking link for the chainstay.
    Thanks.

  • Rensho says:

    Paul, the chainstay link is actually very beefy. It is welded unit, and stiffened up the rear end nicely.
    In all the riding of the bike, the whole package always felt stiff. Nothing about the ride and handling ever gave the impression of flex. Stiffly built wheels helps too.

  • NZCranker says:

    I have a medium (183cm tall) raw 2010 Rip9 running XT 30 speed, Stans Arch tubeless, Fox FIT, Elixir Mag with Hope 203/183 floaters and Rockshox Reverb. This is the ultimate do it all MTB, it easily climbs slippy terrain without loss of traction where my friends dismount their 26ers, the Rip9 is a fast smooth confident ride on any trail and makes you look much better than you are. The Reverb is necessary to keep the C of G optimised on fast descents as 29ers are tall bikes. Not cheap but a high quality product!

  • Bob says:

    I rented a ’13 RIP 9 in Moab last week, my first 29er experience. Astounded! I’ve ridden the Mag 7 trail a half dozen times, and this time it was completely different. Too much to say about how well this bike deals with sharp turns over ledges, both up and down; descents are buttery, and when coming fast onto a steep 6′-9′ face drops, that abruptly transition back up, this thing rolls it easily. The purchase-patch of the front tire is so sticky that I had to back off how firmly I used the front brake. When I got back home I ordered the same bike but with better fork, shifting, braking and wheel-set. $4600 out the door. I’m stoked. Can hardly wait to head to SW UT for winter riding there, N AZ. Love to ski but this bike is going to keep me in my VW camper and on the dirt much of this winter. I agree with Cranker … this bike is so much better than I am that it makes me feel like a more competent rider.

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