What Is It
For as long as I’ve been riding mountain bikes, I’ve heard manufacturers throwing around the term “quiver killer” to describe do-it-all bikes. But even in the best cases, the term only loosely applied. That could be changing, though, thanks to the new Niner RIP 9 RDO V3, which Mtbr was able to test for about a month prior to its launch this week.
Top line features of the Colorado bike maker’s new steed include 140mm of CVA suspension with 150mm up front, availability in dedicated 29er and 27.5er versions, and the honor of being longer, lower, and slacker than any Niner ever made. It also boats flip chip geometry adjustment, a wider and stiffer Rib Cage main triangle, clearance for 2.6” tires, and a refined suspension curve for sensitive early stroke and supportive mid-stroke. At least those are the marketing claims. Keep reading to find out how this Mtbr test session went.
For a deep dive on the new Niner RIP 9 RDO’s features check out the Mtbr launch post here.
- Impressive stability and control at speed
- Efficient pedaling platform thanks to CVA suspension design
- Under 30 pounds total bike weight
- Clearance for up to 2.6 tires
- Factory installed frame protectors in critical areas
- Adjustable flip chip technology
- Longer reach
- Slack headtube angle (66 or 65 degrees)
- Lower standover height than predecessor
- Shortened seat tube to accommodate longer dropper post (up to 170mm)
- Shorter chainstays thanks to lower link under the BB
- Refined suspension curve
- Comes in 29er and 27.5 options
- 90-degree shock valve adapter required
- Some will pine for even steeper seat tube angle
- Over $3000 for frame only
- Is it really still a Niner if there’s a 27.5 option?
Though the concept behind most longer travel trail bikes makes sense in certain realms, the reality is that most of us are not frequently accessing terrain via helicopter, or even shuttling in the truck every time we want to ride. Thus, it makes sense to lighten the load a bit. Even if that which we live for demands as much suspension as possible. Niner has done that and then some.
Now at 140mm of travel, with 150mm up front, the suspension package on the new Niner RIP 9 RDO is slightly less than it boasted before. But coupled with some progressive geometry revisions that follow the industry trends of longer, lower, and slacker, and a flip-chip geometry adjustment package to exaggerate that even further, this bike is exceptionally capable — and reasonably light. Our size large 4-star 29er build weighed a touch under 30 pounds. Choose the 27.5 (because that’s an option now) and you’ll shave even more weight.
Nonetheless, Mtbr elected to test the 29er version — and it delivered. Coupled with an impressive suspension package, incredibly agile ride feel, and beefy tire package, the Niner RIP 9 RDO ate up all manner of trail obstacles. In the process, it made me a better rider. And it did so without requiring too much compromise in the power-to-speed transfer that I’m used to on shorter travel bikes.
However, I’ve ridden my fair share of trail bikes as a contributor on this platform, as a guide, and as a lifelong mountain biker. The Niner RIP 9 RDO V3 stands out from the crowd in that it not only performed well on the chunkiest descents I could find for it in a wide variety of conditions, both on Colorado’s Front Range and in my new home in Tucson, AZ, but it did so while offering the qualities traditionally reserved for a much lighter machine.
After all, exceptional downhill performance was a feature I expected of a highly anticipated new competitor in the trail bike space. But doing so among the best in the business, while maintaining the lively ride feel and all-day functionality of a cross country rig (albeit one on holiday) was a label refinement I honestly didn’t expect. On the slopes of Mt. Lemmon, I can’t imagine riding a bike with less bravado in either of these disparate categories. The fast descents, big drops, and chunky landings require a highly capable bike. Yet even a shuttle ride around Tucson often means a thousand feet of climbing to transfer between the valleys. And climbing over steep ridgelines at 7000 feet is no joke, even for those who enjoy pedaling as much as dropping in.
Bottom line, during this monthlong test session, I found the Niner RIP 9 RDO V3 to be stable, yet snappy when I needed it to be. It was efficient when power to the pedals took precedence, yet every bit as capable as similar bikes on the market when focus shifted to the descent. For this, I’d highly recommend this playful, growth-inspiring trail bike for anyone looking to up their game in a package that will allow for more all-day accessibility than is traditionally expected from a bike in this category.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Price: $6950 as tested
More Info: ninerbikes.com