Suspension is overseen by Niner’s patented 29er-specific CVA linkage design, which it says allows for pedal forces to operate independently of rear wheel travel, the idea being energy into the pedals is MPH blasting out the back end. CVA is designed to take advantage of the increased bottom bracket drop of 29ers. Because the lower swingarm linkage is located underneath the bottom bracket, chain torque in any chainring effectively neutralizes the unwanted forces that degrade power transfer to the rear wheel, claims Niner.
Niner also claims this iteration of CVA is the best yet, thanks to its engineers optimizing the linkage and bearings to produce the lightest, stiffest version. Again it’s impossible to honestly speak to any of these claims, except to say that during our limited time on the bike it went up hill just as you’d expect a lightweight, short travel full suspension bike to do — quite well.
You can also stay hydrated on this bike thanks to medium and large frame sizes that have water bottle mounts on both the underside of the down tube and within the front triangle.
The 73mm PF30 BB allows for compatibility with the full array of drivetrain configurations, and if you are anti-press fit, the bike can accept a threaded bottom bracket using adaptors. And yes, it is dropper post compatible if you choose to make the upgrade (which you should). The frame is also Di2 friendly and has a detachable front derailleur mount.
Time to Head Down
At the top of the climb, the Picture Rock trail levels out, darting in and out of Pine Tree groves. Here the RKT 9 RDO was really in its element, easily maintaining speed through pedaly sections, and hugging tight lines as the trail weaved its way to sprawling overlook of the South St. Vrain Canyon below. In 2013, this drainage transformed into a torrent of destruction during the tragic Boulder County flood disaster.
That ugly memory is pushed aside. It’s time to retrace our tracks, this time going downhill. Quickly the limitations of this bike become apparent. Remember it’s a race bike with 90mm of rear travel and a 100mm Fox 32 fork up front. Rough trail will always feel like rough trail. You cant simply slam your way through rock gardens. A more precise and deft touch is required. Fortunately all the aforementioned nimbleness comes into play again.
This is no boat of a bike. Instead, it changes direction quickly so long as its pilot is paying attention. At the bottom of the trail I admittedly feel a little beat up. My go-to bike these days has 160mm of travel and 2.4” tires. This is a whole different ball game. But if your game is going fast uphill, racing to win, and capably surviving (not thriving) in the rough stuff, Niner’s new RKT 9 RDO should be on you short list of 2016 bikes to consider.
MSRP for frame, rear shock, seat collar, headset and maxle is $3000. Head over to page 3 for a rundown of features, build specs and complete bike pricing, plus an extended photo gallery. For more info visit www.ninerbikes.com.