It was only a season ago when we participated in a shootout for a German MTB web mag. Over the better part of three days we rode a wide variety of trail rigs, consisting of both 27.5″ and 29″ wheeled rigs. We came away impressed with the straight line speed of the 29ers in the test, but we found we preferred the maneuverability and play factor found in the 650b/27.5″ models.
Though we’ve owned and ridden 29″ XC hardtails for sometime, until recently our go-to has always been for the middle wheel size for aggressive trail riding. Our stance changed somewhat after logging some real time on the Niner RKT 9 RDO; it turned out to be the most fun we’ve had on an dual suspension XC-specific rig to date. It was everything we could ask of a 29″ XC rig: fast up mountains, zippy on the trail, and so fun to ride it didn’t makes us think “XC”.
It also began a major shift in our thinking in regards to wheel size.
That brings us up to now, as Niner announced the release of two completely refreshed models today: the Jet 9 RDO and Rip 9 RDO.
After taking a long hard look at the specs and numbers, we’re extremely intrigued. Both models feature full carbon frames and new geometry inline with current trends. Longer reach measurements allow the use shorter, proper handling stems. Steeper seat tube angles improve climbing. Like the RKT 9, the new models carry over the use of boost spacing to enable the implementation of shorter chain stays.
Both bikes have changed so much from their previous iterations, we’re surprised they weren’t released as all new models.
650b? Like models from Santa Cruz and a few others, the bikes are offered in build kits with 27.5+ wheels for riders looking for the additional traction. Although the models are both technically 29ers that can be fitted with the smaller diameter plus size wheels, this is noteworthy for a company that until now has been purely championing 29″ wheels.
Highlights of the Jet 9 RDO (29″ configuration)
- 120mm of active rear travel, paired with 130mm up front
- Fits 29 x 2.4 tires (or 27.5+ tires up to 3.0)
- Boost 148 x 12mm rear spacing allows 434mm chainstays with tire clearance for up to a 2.4 29″ tire
- Threaded 73mm bottom bracket with ISCG 05 tabs
- Internal and external dropper post compatible
- All sizes have water bottle mounts in front triangle
- Electronic drivetrain compatible, included battery storage in frame
- 1x and 2x compatible
- Complete builds starting at $4,500 MSRP
With 120mm of travel, the new Jet 9 RDO is situated to be an all around trail steed. Taking a look at the geometry numbers, it’s essentially a trail version of the bike we recently spent time on, but with a boost in travel, slacker head angle, and more importantly, legitimately short chain stays. At 434mm/ 17.09″ they’re respectably short, and 5mm shorter than the RKT 9 we found ourselves rather fond of.
Highlights of the Rip 9 RDO (29″ configuration)
- 150mm of rear wheel travel paired with 160mm fork
- Boost 148 x 12mm rear spacing
- Clearance for up to 29×2.5″ tires (or 27.5 up to 3.0)
- Internal and external dropper post routing
- Threaded 73mm bottom bracket with ISCG 05 mounts
- Electronic drivetrain friendly with integrated battery storage in frame
- Room for bottle cage inside front triangle
- 1x or 2x drivetrain compatible
- Complete builds starting at $4,700 MSRP
The Rip 9 features 150mm of rear wheel travel, putting it solidly in the all mountain/ enduro ready category. Like the Jet, its also available in plus size packages that utilize a longer travel fork to maintain a reasonable bottom bracket height. Though the chain stays are a bit shorter, they come in at a respectable 439mm/ 17.3″ length, the same as the XC specific RKT 9.
Unlike the Jet, the Rip doesn’t feature provisions for a front derailleur. It does have bottle mounts on the frame though, so this sucker is enduro-ready. Complete builds start at $4,700 for the 2-Star SLX build kit, with both models becoming available in August.
Check them out at NinerBikes.com