Niner RIP RDO 29 3-Star Review
Cons: Moderately heavy, complicated linkage, low bottom bracket
Manufacturer: Niner Bikes
Compare to Similar Products
Niner RIP RDO 29 3-Star
|Price||$5,600 List||$7,299 List|
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|$5,899 List||$4,300 List||$5,399 List|
Check Price at Backcountry
|Pros||High-end suspension, adjustable geometry, good component spec||Excellent climbing abilities, impressive downhill performance, high fun factor, tremendous build kit||Outstanding all around performance, more capable on the descents than its predecessor, great climber, excellent build||Highly adjustable geometry, adaptable for terrain or riding style, SWAT storage, plush suspension, very stable and confident descender||Lightweight, playful, well-rounded, modern geometry, solid component specification|
|Cons||Moderately heavy, complicated linkage, low bottom bracket||Expensive, pivots came loose a few times during testing||Expensive, still not a full-on enduro bike, a touch on the heavy side||Overkill for tame trails, Fox 36 Rhythm fork, moderate weight||Not a brawler, Fox 34 fork can be overwhelmed|
|Bottom Line||The Niner Rip 9 RDO has an enduro-esque feel yet performs well all-around for the descent-focused rider||A fantastic trail bike that blends superb climbing abilities with fun and well-rounded downhill performance||The new and improved Ripmo V2 is the best all-around trail bike we've ever tested||A heavy-hitting longer travel trail bike with an innovative, highly adjustable geometry||We loved the old version, but believe it or not, the new Ibis Ripley is even better|
|Rating Categories||Niner RIP RDO 29 3-...||Yeti SB130 TURQ X01||Ibis Ripmo V2 XT||Specialized Stumpju...||Ibis Ripley GX Eagle|
|Fun Factor (25%)|
|Downhill Performance (35%)|
|Climbing Performance (35%)|
|Ease Of Maintenance (5%)|
|Specs||Niner RIP RDO 29 3-...||Yeti SB130 TURQ X01||Ibis Ripmo V2 XT||Specialized Stumpju...||Ibis Ripley GX Eagle|
|Suspension & Travel||CVA - 140mm||Switch Infinity - 130mm||DW-Link - 147mm||FSR - 150mm||DW-Link - 120mm|
|Measured Weight (w/o pedals)||31 lbs 6 oz (Large)||29 lbs 9 oz (Large)||31 lbs (Large)||31 lbs 14 oz (Large)||28 lbs 14 oz (Large)|
|Fork||Fox Float 36 Factory FIT4 EVOL 150mm||Fox 36 Factory - 150mm 36mm stanchions||Fox Float 36 Grip 2 Factory 160mm||Fox 36 Rhythm - 160mm||Fox Float 34 Performance 130mm 34mm stanchions|
|Shock||Fox Float DPX2 Factory EVOL||Fox DPX2 Factory||Fox Float X2||Fox Float DPX2 Performance||Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL|
|Frame Material||Carbon Fiber||Carbon Fiber "TURQ"||Carbon Fiber||FACT 11m Carbon Fiber||Carbon Fiber|
|Frame Size||Large||Large||Large||S4 (Large equivalent)||Large|
|Frame Settings||Flip Chip||N/A||N/A||Flip Chip and Headtube angle||N/A|
|Wheelset||Stans NoTubes Flow S1 with Neo Hubs||DT Swiss M1700, 30mm ID w/ DT Swiss 350 hub||Ibis S35 Aluminum rims with Ibis hubs, 35mm ID||Roval 29 alloy rims with Shimano Centerlock hubs, 30mm id||Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs|
|Front Tire||Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO 2.5" WT||Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5"||Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5"||Specialized Butcher GRID TRAIL T9, 2.6"||Schwable Hans Dampf 2.6"|
|Rear Tire||Maxxis Aggressor 3C/EXO 2.5" WT||Maxxis Aggressor 29 x 2.3||Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5"||Specialized Eliminator GRID TRAIL T7, 2.3"||Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6"|
|Shifters||SRAM GX Eagle||SRAM XO Eagle||Shimano XT M8100 12-speed||Shimano SLX 12-speed||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM GX Eagle||SRAM X0 Eagle||Shimano XT M8100 Shadow Plus 12-speed||Shimano SLX 12-speed||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Crankset||SRAM Descendant 7K 32T||SRAM X0 Eagle Carbon 30T||Shimano XT M8100 32T||Shimano SLX 170mm||SRAM Descendant Alloy 32T|
|Saddle||Niner Custom TR with CR-MO Rails||WTB Volt||WTB Silverado Pro 142mm||Specialized Bridge Comp||WTB Silverado 142mm|
|Seatpost||SDG Tellis 170mm||Fox Transfer 150mm||Bike Yoke Revive (185mm size large)||X-Fusion Manic 170mm (S4/S5), 34.9 diameter||Bike Yoke Revive 160mm|
|Handlebar||Race Face Aeffect R 35 780mm||Yeti Carbon - 780mm||Ibis Adjustable Carbon 800mm (30mm rise)||Specialized 6061 alloy, 30mm rise, 800mm width||Ibis 780mm Alloy|
|Stem||Race Face Aeffect R 35 40mm||RaceFace Aeffect R 35||Thomson Elite X4||Specialized Alloy Trail stem, 35mm bore||Ibis 31.8mm 50mm|
|Brakes||SRAM Guide R||Shimano XT M8000||Shimano XT M8120 4-piston||Shimano SLX 4-piston||Shimano Deore 2 Piston|
|Measured Effective Top Tube (mm)||624||628||632||625||625|
|Measured Reach (mm)||467||477||475||475||475|
|Measured Head Tube Angle||66.0-degrees||65.1-degrees||64.9-degrees||63-65.5 (adjustable)||66.5-degrees|
|Measured Seat Tube Angle||75.5-degrees||76.8-degrees||76-degrees||76.9-degrees||76.2-degrees|
|Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm)||338||335||341||340 (adjustable with flip chips)||338|
|Measured Wheelbase (mm)||1212||1231||1238||1247||1210|
|Measured Chain Stay Length (mm)||436||438||435||438 (S1-S4)||434|
|Warranty||Five Years||Lifetime||Seven Years||Lifetime||Seven Years|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy this Bike?
The RIP 9 RDO is the evolution of Niner's long-standing RIP 9 trail bike which they claim is "more versatile and capable than ever before." It's definitely the most exciting bike we've seen Niner make in quite a while, a real departure from their traditionally more conservative designs. It is undoubtedly more capable than any Niner we've ridden on the descents, thanks to their adoption of a modern long, low, and slack, geometry. The new RIP 9 has a serious preference for the descents and is a bit of a bruiser with a mini-enduro bike feel. It's very forthcoming with its travel and feels like it has more than 140mm of rear suspension as it smooths over mid-sized chop, eats up big hits, and comes alive as speeds increase. Its climbing performance is respectable, though the uphills aren't this bike's strongest suit. It's an aggressive trail bike, plus it has adjustable geometry with a flip chip to slack it out even further for shuttle or lift access days. Niner has also broken their own mold by offering the Rip 9 in a 27.5" wheel size, a good option for smaller riders or 29" wheel haters.
The Editor's Choice Award-winning Ibis Ripmo V2 is one of the easiest and most obvious comparisons for the RIP 9 RDO. The Ripmo shares similar travel numbers as well as a similar long, low, and slack design and rips the downhills harder than the Niner, and with a sportier and more lively rear end that helps make its performance feel more well rounded on the descents. The Ripmo has a steep seat tube angle and supportive rear suspension, power transfer is excellent, and it climbs as well as it descends. The Ripmo also weighs less than the Niner giving it a noticeably lighter feel that contributes to its liveliness and climbing prowess. The carbon Ripmo V2 comes in a variety of builds starting at $4,399.
The Santa Cruz Hightower is quite comparable to the Niner. It also has 29-inch wheels and matching travel numbers to the Rip 9 RDO, though it is a touch slacker, with a longer wheelbase and a steeper seat tube angle. We found the Hightower to feel more confident in super rough terrain and at speed, with a more supportive and progressive rear suspension feel that handled big hits with aplomb. On the climbs, the Hightower's VPP suspension design provided great pedaling support that combined with the steep seat tube angle for an efficient and comfortable experience. Overall, we'd say the Hightower is a bit more well-rounded and versatile option. It comes in aluminum and carbon frames, with complete builds ranging from $2,999 to $10,499.
The RIP 9 has been Niner's flagship trail bike for a number of years and it has seen a complete redesign for 2019. This bike is a departure from Niner's typically conservative geometry, and it's clear that they intend for this bike to shred on the descents harder than anything else they've ever produced. This is most evident in their adoption of a long, low, and slack design that puts this bike in line with modern trail bike geometry. They've also equipped it with 140mm/150mm of generous feeling suspension to tackle whatever comes down the trail. It's also offered in both 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes with dedicated frames for each wheel size. Flip Chips in the seat stay pivots also allow you to choose between high and low geometry settings.
The RIP 9 RDO features their CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension design which they claim "is perfectly balanced, so the result is stable yet supple, active, ground-hugging traction in every situation." Constantly Varying Arc refers to the path of the rear axle as the rear suspension moves through its travel. They claim this axle path helps to control chain growth during the bike's suspension travel, which helps create the anti-squat in the rear suspension. This design features a rocker link attached about midway up the seat tube that compresses the shock straight down towards the bottom bracket. There is also a large curved lower link that is attached just in front of the bottom bracket that wraps underneath it during compression of the rear suspension. Both links are connected to a stout rear triangle with thick carbon tubing.
The front triangle of the RIP 9 RDO has big carbon tubes, and they've added Rib Cage struts that connect between the down tube and seat tube around the rear shock to stiffen up the rear end. While they may stiffen up the frame, the Rib Cage struts do get in the way of the shock's valve, and you have to use a valve adapter to make pressure adjustments. Niner has included a crack pipe valve adapter, which is nice, but using it is annoying as is the difficult to reach attachment point on the inside of the seat stay. The frame has a low standover height, and Niner has shortened the seat tube to allow for the use of longer dropper seat posts; our size large test model came with a 170mm dropper. We measured our test bike to have a 624mm effective top tube length and a 465mm reach. Its got a long 1212mm wheelbase and 436mm chainstays. The head tube angle measures 66 degrees in the high geometry setting with a 75.5-degree effective seat tube angle. In the low setting the head tube angle slackens out to a trail plowing 65-degrees and the bottom bracket lowers by 7mm.
- Offered in carbon fiber only
- Available in 27.5" or 29" wheel sizes with dedicated frame designs
- CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension design
- 140mm of rear wheel travel
- Designed around a 150mm reduced offset fork
- Adjustable geometry flip chips
- Full-length internal cable sleeves
- Frame only starting at $3,200
- Build kits ranging from $4,500 to $8,800
The Rip 9 RDO impressed us the most when it was pointed downhill and gravity was doing most of the work. It has plush suspension and modern geometry that excel at speed, over mid-sized chop, and on bigger hits or drops. It seems to have no speed limit and handles rowdy terrain better than some others in its travel class, though it does so at the expense of agility and liveliness. The 3-Star build is impressive and helps this bike excel in aggressive terrain.
The RIP 9 RDO has a preference for speed and handles rowdier terrain quite well given its 140mm of rear and 150mm of front wheel travel. It gives freely of its travel, and it feels like it has more squish than those numbers suggest. We tested it primarily in the high geometry setting, mostly because the low setting felt way too raked out and low for our everyday trail riding needs. The 66-degree head tube angle is plenty slack to charge down steep rock gardens with confidence, and this is backed up by a sturdy yet super plush Fox Factory 36 fork. The CVA rear suspension settles deep into its travel, lowering the bottom bracket and slackening the front end even further. At 30% sag, we measured the head tube angle in the upper 64-degree range. The rear suspension is quite supportive at the top and mid-stroke but generously provides full travel when you need it.
The RIP 9 RDO has a long but not excessive 1212mm wheelbase which helps give it impressive stability at speed. It also has a long but reasonable reach of 467mm. This provides a roomy and comfortable riding position that feels great when the pitch steepens, or you're going warp speed. This bike definitely feels better at speed and in more open terrain, it prefers the fall line and has a ground-hugging suspension feel. When the trail gets tight and speeds decrease, we noticed the length of the wheelbase and the slackness of the head tube resulting in somewhat sluggish handling. Playful isn't a word that got used much to describe it either; this bike is more of a plower. A couple of testers also noted that it occasionally, but not always, seems to wallow in its suspension when it's deep in the stroke. This resulted in some moments of awkward handling with the front end being ultra slacked out while the rear end tries to recover.
The build on the Niner is really quite impressive. The cockpit is well appointed with an excellent Race Face 35mm bar stem combo for responsive steering, and a 170mm SDG Tellis dropper post that gets your saddle nice and low for those steep, aggressive descents. Niner also chose to spec a nice wide Stans NoTubes wheelset and crowd-pleasing Maxxis Minion DHF/Aggressor tire combo. These tires are spot on for this bike's aggressive intentions, and provide great cornering and braking traction and inspire confidence. The SRAM Guide R brakes are solid and have predictable and reliable performance. The suspension package is what really blew us away. The Fox Factory 36 fork and Fox Factory Float DPX2 pack some serious bling factor, are highly tuneable and are typically found on more expensive builds.
Considering the aggressive downhill performance of the RIP 9 RDO it still climbs pretty well. The CVA suspension platform provides a good amount of anti-squat, and it has a calm and relatively stable pedaling platform, even with the shock in the open position. It rolls along relatively efficiently and climbs well for a bike of this weight and geometry.
The CVA suspension platform provides a stable pedaling platform that has barely any suspension movement when seated. Out of the saddle, there is noticeable bobbing of the rear suspension, and if you're an out of the saddle climber, you will probably benefit from the use of the compression dampening on the rear shock. With an effective seat tube angle of 75.5 degrees, the seated pedaling position is comfortable and just about directly above the cranks for solid power transfer. Due to the frame's design and kinked nature of the seat tube, it does feel a little bit like your weight is a little further back over the rear wheel than on bikes with straighter seat tubes like the Ibis Ripmo. The RIP 9 does settle into 30% sag very easily and the 338mm bottom bracket height can feel a little low and result in pedal strikes if you aren't careful.
Due to the long wheelbase and slack head tube angle, the RIP 9 RDO can be a handful in tight uphill switchbacks or technical terrain that requires quick and precise handling. It motors along quite well in a straight line and benefits from momentum and a skilled climber. While the 31 lb 6 oz weight isn't terribly heavy, it is noticeable when navigating techy climbs and will certainly wear you out on all day epics, especially when compared to lighter models.
The components on the Niner are a benefit to its climbing abilities. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is great and provides reliable and consistent performance with plenty of gear range. The 32-tooth chainring paired with the 10-50 tooth 12-speed cassette has pretty much every gear you'll ever need. The 2.5" Maxxis Aggressor tire in the rear has loads of air volume and a fast rolling center tread, yet provides ample climbing traction in all but the loosest of dirt conditions.
The 3-Star build we tested retails for $5,600, and we feel this is a good value considering the quality of the component specification. That's no drop in the bucket, but this bike comes fully decked out and ready to charge on the trails. There is little if anything we'd need or want to change about this build, and the Fox Factory suspension is definitely a highlight. Of course, this bike will be most valuable to the right consumer, a descent-focused rider looking for an aggressive mid-travel trail bike.
Niner is certainly on to something with their new RIP 9 RDO. This is by far the most cutting edge and aggressive design we've seen from this traditionally more conservative brand. This is an aggressive trail bike that thrives at speed and when the trail gets steep and rough. It rides like it has more travel than it actually does and feels a lot like a mid-travel enduro bike. It's far from the most agile or playful bike out there, but if you're focused on the descent and are after a stable, planted, and confident ride we think this is a solid mid-travel option to consider.
Niner offers the RIP 9 RDO in both 29" and 27.5" wheel sizes. They have produced completely different framesets for the different wheel sizes. They offer it as a frame only for $3,200, and in 4 build kits including the 3-Star GX Eagle we tested.
- The least expensive version is the 2-Star NX Eagle, $4,500, that comes with a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, Fox Performance suspension, SRAM Level brakes, and a Niner wheelset.
- The 4-Star XO1 Eagle, $6,950, comes with a SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide RSC brakes, carbon cranks, and a carbon handlebar.
- The top of the line 5-Star XO1 Eagle build, $8,800, comes fully tricked out with a SRAM XO1 drivetrain and DT Swiss XMC 1200 wheels.
— Jeremy Benson, Joshua Hutchens, Pat Donahue
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