Climbs like the hill isn’t there
The full-carbon Niner RIP 9 range shaves weight with a new production process. This redesigned enduro rig climbs like it’s on rails.
Niner RIP 9 3-Star GX Eagle need to know
- The RIP 9 has been reworked into an enduro bike with full carbon frame and modern geometry
- 29er wheels as standard, but the bike will take 27.5in Plus with tyres up to 3.0in
- Top end Fox Float Factory suspension delivers 150mm travel, with 160mm fork
- Aggressive specification — 2.5in tyres, wide handlebars and short stem, and KS Lev dropper post
Niner RIP 9 review
Niner has championed 29er wheels since the brand’s inception back in 2005, anticipating that the market would swing towards the new standard and away from traditional 26in wheels. How right it was, as 29ers are now at the cutting edge of enduro bike development, while downhill bikes are finally embracing them, six years after Intense’s first proto big-wheel DH bike.
It’s slightly ironic then, that Niner’s most interesting new bike – the reworked RIP 9 RDO – will take 27.5in Plus wheels with tyres up to 3in wide. I’m not complaining though, it’s a sensible move and the RIP 9 comes stock with 29in wheels and chunky Maxxis rubber, which puts it bang on trend in the hotly contested enduro bike category.
The RIP 9 RDO isn’t really a new bike, but given the changes to the frame it might as well have been. The full carbon chassis is now made using something Niner calls RDO Carbon Compaction that involves wrapping carbon around a foam core, which is then removed after curing. It’s a technique that’s been used by many top brands for a few years now and makes for a more consistent wall thickness.
It retains its CVA twin-link suspension, designed with a forged then machined rocker link and lower link, with the latter arcing under the BB shell. It’s got more travel too, 150mm of it, and the bike’s geometry has lengthened and slackened – it’s still not particularly long though, the reach measurement on the size L coming in shy of 450mm.
The range is made up of five models alongside a frame-only option. The cheapest complete bike is the 2-Star, the priciest the 5-Star with a Push Eleven Six coil shock, which puts this 3-Star model at over £5,000 towards the value end of the line, if you can call it that. For 2019, Niner has given the RIP 9 a facelift with a different camo colour scheme and additional internal cable routing for the rear brake (the current bike has everything internally routed except the rear brake). It has also raked out the head angle by another degree.
These changes don’t change the fact that the RIP 9 pedals and climbs extremely well, in part because it’s fairly light. Perhaps that explains the message on the front of the top tube that commands you to “Pedal damn it”. Niner boasts that the bike has short chainstays but the geometry figures contract that; 439mm stays on a 29er are average by modern standards. They feel right on this bike, though, and certainly help put you in a decent position for climbing and stop the bike looping out on the steepest ascents.
It’s a shame, though, that the RIP 9 doesn’t descend quite as well as it ascends; it’s just not that exciting to ride, probably because the Fox Float DPX2 Factory shock feels overdamped. Again, perhaps that’s the real reason it pedals so well. I ran the rebound really fast to try and overcome this but it still didn’t produce the poppy, exhilarating ride that a bike this light and stiff should deliver. This is a real shame because the geometry feels good, the frame looks terrific and the component choice is really smart (excepting the small 160mm rotor on the back). I’m left wondering how the Push shock version might ride, and how this bike might do with a different shock tune.