The 29er market has lost some of its lustre recently. Aside from the Evil Following, there aren’t many big-wheeled bikes from the past year that have made much of a splash in the longer travel arena. That is mostly a function of 650b stealing the larger-wheeled limelight – for the moment. And while many commentators think 29 has staying power in this market, naming your brand after a wheel size must make you watch trends carefully. Jon Harris is our resident large hoop lover and he’d rather be fast than trendy. Here are some of his initial thoughts on the Rip 9. Ed.
The Niner Rip 9 Carbon sits below the RDO version of the same bike. This model has a carbon fiber front triangle and a aluminum rear.
A recent move took me away from the North Shore and now my regular riding is on shallower gradient trails, but ones that are still fast, challenging and rowdy. With 6″ travel bikes being so capable and able to be built as light as any trail bike (case in point: Cam’s Giant Reign Advanced coming in at 26.6lbs) it makes the case for a 5″ bike harder to justify. That said, the effectiveness of a 6″ bike can waken the desire for some trail feedback on mellower trails, and a little less bounce can sometimes bring a little more fun and speed.
Your eyes do not deceive you, they do still sell bikes with a front derailleur. I actually chose to test a 2-by as I felt I needed to reacquaint myself with it after a long bout of single front ring time. A full XT groupset on the 3-star build is a solid option.
After talking to some of the Niner staff last year they felt like they had something that might suit my needs, pointing me toward the Rip 9. It’s the bike of choice for a lot of their crew, especially when the 125mm rear travel is matched with a 140mm travel fork.
The finishing touches on the Rip 9 are impressive, with the main pivots on the linkage featuring big angular contact bearings with lock rings designed to accept the same tool used to tighten the lock ring on your cassette. In addition, all the finishing hardware is anodized.
The Rip 9 uses Niner’s CVA suspension platform. CVA is a parallel link design, and the bottom link sits quite a bit lower than the bottom bracket.
The bottom link has some protection added and that should also help avoid it packing up with mud.
Rock Shox provides the spring, with a Monarch at the rear controlling 125mm of travel.
XT brakes are my personal choice. Solid, reliable with great power and lever shape. Is that a 142mm rear axle?
Niner supplies some fun in their patented YAWYD (You Are What You Drink) top cap. The message on the top tube will remind you what to do, even if exertion has you too cross-eyed to read it.
Press on your favorite bottle cap over the rubber ring and you add a little personal touch to your ride.
Niner branded stem and bars are pretty solid. The bars may shout XC with their flat profile, but I was pleased by their 780mm width. The 70mm stem combined with the longish reach on the bike means a shorter stem may be in the cards.
The sleek tapered head tube features the smart Niner head badge with the entry points for the front and rear shift cables incorporated. The rear brake line is external.
External routing for a dropper post is starting to be a thing of the past, so seeing it on the Rip 9 was surprising. It does not detract from the function at all, but does grate on the eyes a touch.
A 140mm travel Rock Shox Pike and chunky Schwalbe Nobby Nic (the new version) rubber points to a more rowdy demeanor than you might expect from this bike.
As good a dropper post as the Reverb is, that lever does not play well when running Shimano brake levers and shifters. The Niner grips seem a little short and firm so they likely won’t remain on the bike for long.
Another example of nice finishing touches on the Rip 9 Carbon frame. The hardware is top quality and helps set the frame apart from some of the competition.
The Niner wheelset fitted to the 3-star build has 28 spokes and 22.5mm internal width rims. Time will tell if they are up to aggressive riding but they look sharp out of the box.
Out of the box the Rip 9 Carbon looks like it should be a fun bike to ride. The quoted angles don’t back that up but it’s best to judge that on the trail. It has sleek lines and a quality finish. The aggressive fork, tires and wide bar speak to my inner hooligan and I’m jonesing to throw the Rip into some singletrack.
The Niner Rip 9 Carbon is available in 4 different builds with the 3-star build here sitting second on the totem pole, retailing for $4799USD. It is also available as a frame only option for $2199USD.
Does a 5″ bike suit your needs? Is it about the number or how you use it? Let us know below.