Your Favorite Trail Just Got Better
The Niner R.I.P. 9
Niner specializes in bikes designed around 29-inch wheels. They are so
committed to the wheel size that the company has never offered a model with
traditional 26-inch wheels and have no plans to do so. This laser-like focus
has allowed them to concentrate all their resources, creativity and
brainstorming on the large-wheel format. The result of this commitment is
obvious from the first ride on the R.I.P. 9.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The R.I.P. 9 is intended for flowing up and down trails and approaching
every obstacle along the way with a can-do attitude. It can be ridden to the
far recesses of the forest or used for the Saturday morning group ride. In
short, it is true to the most basic expectation of what a mountain bike should
be: a bike that can handle a little bit of everything.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The R.I.P. 9 is an aluminum-framed trailbike. It has a tapered head tube
that accepts a conventional 1 1/8-inch steerer tube or tapered steerer tube.
The top tube and downtube are hydroformed. The links, dropouts, and rear yolks
are forged to increase strength without a weight penalty. Niner’s patented
dual-link suspension is called CVA, short for constantly varying arc. The
forged lower link swings below the bottom bracket, and the triangulated
swingarm sits low in relation to the plane of the axles to ensure clearance for
fat tires. The seat tube is angled to make room for the tire.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Everything stands out on this R.I.P. 9, so let’s point out the not-so
obvious. The headset is the new Cane Creek AngleSet, which allows the rider to
fine-tune the steering head angle up to 1.5 degrees in .5-degree increments. It
was adjusted to slacken the stock steering tube angle 1 degree. Our spec chart
reflects the stock measurements. This slacker adjustment kicked the head
tube angle to 70.5 degrees, the wheelbase out to 44.5 inches and the bottom
bracket about half an inch lower. The rear axle is a DT Swiss 142 RWS to add
rigidity. The RockShox Reverb seatpost with remote actuation allows you to drop
the saddle 3 inches on the fly. Niner built our R.I.P. 9 with the SRAM 2x10
drivetrain, their own carbon handle- bar and a Thomson stem. The bike would set
you back around $4800 set up the way our test bike rolls.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Ergonomics: The R.I.P. 9 cradles its rider. You don’t sit on top of the bike, you
sit in it. The rider is treated to an upright position; the bars are wide (we
love ’em), and the Ergon GA1s were well liked by all the wrecking crew. The WTB
Silverado saddle is on the lean side of a trailbike saddle, but the shape is
comfortable, even a few hours into the ride.
Moving out: The 2.2-inch-wide WTB Bronson tires, while marked “XC” (cross-country),
put down a big footprint. The knob pattern and rubber both fight rolling
resistance, but you do notice getting these wheels up to cruising speed. The
large wheels float over trail chatter, maintaining momentum that no
26-inch-wheeled trailbike could match. We never needed to employ the shock’s
ProPedal lever. This is a firm pedaling bike.
Cornering: The Cane Creek AngleSet was adjusted to slacken the head tube angle by a
degree, and it was noticeable on the trail. We like the R.I.P. 9’s stock
geometry, and slackening it adds to the steering stability while not giving up
too much responsiveness. Dropping the seat for cornering feels like doubling
the width of the tires. The R.I.P. 9 sticks like nobody’s business, even in
loose terrain, and dropping the saddle adds to this performance.
Climbing: This bike is proof that the 2x10 drivetrain has a place on the trail
(and not just the race course). There is always a comfortable gear ratio for
climbing, and the R.I.P. doesn’t mind if you are in or out of the saddle. This
thing hooks up. A few crewers did long for a slightly lower gear during prolonged
In the rough: The wheels and the suspension share the hit-absorption duties, and it is
hard to tell when one hands off to the other. It is a much more seamless
sensation than riding a 26er. The big wheels smooth out the trail; therefore
the only trail input you get is when you hit something big or flat-edged. Even
then, the wheels and suspension make quick work out of most obstacles.
Descending: This is a confident, sure-footed bike that allows you to relax and go
fast at the same time. 29ers sometimes have flex issues in the rear end when
pressed on downhills. Niner’s spec of the DT Swiss rear axle gives the bike
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Cane Creek AngleSet headset popped when hitting a bump under hard
braking. We disassembled the headset and carefully reinstalled it. The noise
came back after a few hours of use. We found that the trade-off of the
headset’s adjustability was not worth the annoyance of the popping. Niner has
their geometry dialed, so we’ll go with that.
The Bronson tires were overkill for our hardpacked trails. If you don’t
ride in sloppy conditions, you’ll get more rolling performance from a narrower
tire with less aggressive knobs. The RockShox Reverb seatpost was sluggish
returning to full extension and occasionally needed a helping hand. We
pressurized it to the recommended 25 psi, and it worked more consistently. We
wouldn’t build an R.I.P. 9 without this product (or a similar seatpost). It
makes a big difference.
The R.I.P. 9 was already a favorite trailbike when compared to any
previously tested 26- or 29-inch-wheeled bike. The addition of a 2x10
drivetrain and an adjustable-height seatpost sweetened an already sweet deal.
The R.I.P. 9 is an intelligent choice for any terrain we have ever ridden.
Where we ride most often, on Southern California’s weird mix of loose sand and
adobe hardpack trails, the R.I.P. 9 has an even more distinct advantage.
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