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.
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.