niner

Niner ROS 9 review

A steel frame at this price might seem outrageous, but we’d open our wallets without hesitation for Niner’s unbelievably smooth yet full-gas, grinfest-fast trail terror.

  • Highs: Genuinely floats like a butterfly but stings like a whole damn hive
  • Lows: Expensive, heavy and not as rigidly accurate as some bikes
  • Buy If: You can afford a sublime mix of trail melting steel alchemy and bomber belligerence

Frame and equipment: a beauty

Part of the price justification comes from some truly beautiful bits of workmanship on the ROS 9. The custom double-butted main tubes are subtly curved to manipulate ride character while the seat tube curves back over the wheel from the adjustable Biocentric II eccentric bottom bracket block.

The double-butted (with identical wall thickness) and gusseted top and down tube are strong enough to handle up to a 140mm fork:

The double-butted (with identical wall thickness) and gusseted top and down tube are strong enough to handle up to a 140mm fork

A machined chainstay yoke still means tons of clearance and stealth dropper post routing, optional front derailleur hanger, 140mm tapered fork capability and 142×12mm axle boxes are all ticked.

Ride and handling: a beast

What would make us buy a frame that costs this much, however, has little to do with features and cosmetics – it’s the ride. Thanks to what we can only describe as chromoly steel alchemy the rear stays give an incredibly – in the true sense – supple and smooth ride. In fact traction and ground connection are more like a short-travel suspension frame in ‘pedal’ mode than a hardtail. We lost count of the number of times we checked the Mavic CrossMark rubber under our back end because we presumed it was punctured but no, it really does melt the trail and glue the tread to the ground.

RockShox' revelation fork twinned with a 67-degree head angle means you can go barrelling into dicey corners and emerge unscathed:

RockShox’ Revelation fork is twinned with a 67-degree head angle

That crazy level of traction and go-with-the-flow smoothness is the same at the end of the Revelation fork too. Add a super-slack 67-degree head angle and potentially belly scraping centre of gravity and you can pile the ROS 9 into sketchy corners or straight line rocky, rooty carnage like a fully-sprung enduro bike and come out still inflated and elated.

Despite the impact shrugging insolence it still instinctively puts the front end exactly where it needs to go. As the front end grabs grip it then chops or slides the short back end through to exit way tighter and faster than you’d believe. The tight rear lets it pop the front wheel up without hesitation whether you’re sending a drop or manualling a treacherous wet root spread. The only time it gets caught out is trying to sneak it down super-steep switchbacks where the front end can be too long and not quite stiff enough to get round every time. Somehow there’s no obvious softness or spongy loss of pedal power though.

The ros 9's ride is incredibly supple, smooth and planted:

The ROS 9’s ride is incredibly supple, smooth and planted

As a fairly hefty machine we’re not saying this is a fire road climb dragster, but it holds its own surprisingly well on more techy climbs. In fact, the fluid rear end and unholy grip saw us first-time clean and then nonchalantly multi-repeat a super-ugly stepped climb we’ve been trying to bag for 20 years. While the Niner bars and stem are spot on and the SRAM X01 11-speed kit is perfect for the ROS 9, it rides this well with distinctly ordinary WTB wheels – so an upgrade to a proper pair of premium hoops is likely to unleash even more superlative adulation.

Specifications as tested:

  • Size Tested: M (also available S, M, L, XL)
  • Weight Tested: 12.95kg / 28.54lb
  • Frame: Niner custom butted chromoly
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RCT3, 130mm
  • Shock: N/A
  • Max Tyre Size: 2.4in

TRANSMISSION

  • Chainset: SRAM X01, 34T
  • Shifters: SRAM X01
  • Derailleurs: SRAM X01 (R)
  • Chain: SRAM XX1
  • Bottom Bracket: SRAM X01
  • Cassette: SRAM X01, 10-42T

WHEELS

  • Front: WTB i19 TCS rim, Hope Pro 2 Evo hub
  • Rear: WTB i19 TCS rim, Hope Pro 2 Evo hub
  • Tyres: Maxxis High Roller, 29×2.3in (F), Maxxis CrossMark, 29×2.2in (R)

FINISHING KIT

  • Brakes: Shimano XT, 180/160mm rotors
  • Bars: Niner alloy, 780mm
  • Stem: Niner RDO, 70mm
  • Grips: Hope, lock-on
  • Seatpost: KS Lev Integra
  • Saddle: WTB Volt Race
  • Headset: Hope
  • Pedals: N/A

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








Niner offers new eccentric BB design and new carbon wheels

FT. COLLINS, Colo.

Niner co-founder Domahidy launches new company with Kickstarter campaign

DENVER (BRAIN) — Niner co-founder Steve Domahidy is launching his own company with the crowdfunding site Kickstarter . Domahidy Designs is offering two 29er hardtail models: an $899 Reynolds 853 frame and a $1,799 titanium version. If his Kickstarter launch is successful, Domahidy will ship those bikes in July and be off and running his own company

Niner Bikes sponsors Dirt Fest 2014

FORT COLLINS, CO (BRAIN)  — Niner Bikes will be the presenting sponsor of Dirt Fest 2014, a three-day mountain bike festival produced by Dirt Rag magazine in Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania. The event is May 16-18.  Our staff is already fighting over who gets to go and we are hoping to see a huge Niner rider turnout,” said Niner global marketing manager Carla Hukee, “We’d love it if this turned into an East Coast Niner-rider pilgrimage.” Maurice Tierney, Dirt Rag’s publisher, said, “I am super stoked to have Niner Bikes as presenting sponsor of Dirt Fest. They won’t just be a name on a banner, no, they are going to ‘Bring it’ to the best Dirt Fest ever! Our two companies both support and promote IMBA-built, new-school, sustainably built trail systems like Allegrippis

Niner sponsors Crusher in the Tusher race

FORT COLLINS, CO (BRAIN) — Niner Bikes, which introduced its first drop-bar bike this fall , will be the official bike sponsor of the 2014 Crusher in the Tusher, a tough dirt road endurance race in Utah. The July 12 race is promoted by former road racing pro  Burke Swindlehurst .

Niner sponsors Crusher in the Tushar race

FORT COLLINS, CO (BRAIN) — Niner Bikes, which introduced its first drop-bar bike this fall , will be the official bike sponsor of the 2014 Crusher in the Tushar, a tough dirt road endurance race in Utah. The July 12 race is promoted by former road racing pro  Burke Swindlehurst

Niner adds to sales and graphic design team

FORT COLLINS, CO (BRAIN) — Niner Bikes has hired Armando “Mondo” Aguilera as the brand’s new territory representative for Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Gravel Grinders are Niners, too

LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN) —  S ince the emergence of the 650b wheel size as The Next Big Thing, employees at Niner Bikes have been pestered by industry wags with queries and knowing looks. They’d ask: “What are you going to do

Niner RLT – first look

Niner’s product releases are nothing if not predictable, predictable in the sense that riders know it will be a mountain bike and that it will have 29in wheels. Until now, that is. This 29er-centric brand is venturing into new territory with the introduction of the RLT, a disc-equipped gravel race bike that’s longer, lower and slacker than typical cyclocross bikes.

Niner’s RLT will be available in early 2014. The RLT frame with matching carbon fork will retail for $1,049. Complete builds will range in price from $1,999 to $2,999.

Click through the gallery at right for detailed images of Niner’s new gravel grinder.

Niner is the latest in a small but growing number of companies to recognize a distinction between pure-bred cyclocross race bikes and something better suited to the emerging North American gravel race scene.

Niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing: niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing

The Niner RLT is designed with gravel racing in mind

“Gravel grinders are not ‘cross bikes and vice versa,” said Niner product manager Barrett James. “The geometry of the RLT was not designed with cyclocross in mind, but that’s not to say you can’t take that to your local ‘cross race and have a good time.”

The rlt is slightly lower, longer and slacker than many cyclocross bikes on the market:

The RLT’s low bottom bracket is in line with many other North American cyclocross bikes, but the longer chainstays and slack head angles make for a longer wheelbase and handling that favors stability over agility.

RLT stands for Road Less Traveled and, as one might expect, it’s designed with versatility in mind. The RLT can accommodate tires up to 700×45 and has fender mounts on the fork and rear dropouts.

Other frame features include internal cable routing for the front and rear derailleur cables through ports on either side of the downtube, while the rear brake line runs along the bottom of the downtube. The RLT also has a port on the seat tube for a Di2 battery, should owners want to ditch cables for wires.

The rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed: the rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed

The RLT frame uses a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. Niner developed an eccentric version for singlespeed use as well

Niner has a great deal of expertise in designing carbon forks. The RLT’s full carbon fork shares many aesthetic and structural similarities to the company’s rigid mountain bike forks. The RLT fork shares the same 45mm of offset across the six-bike size range.

Niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizes: niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizesThe RLT’s fork has fender mounts and dropouts for a standard 9mm quick-release

One might expect a company firmly rooted in mountain bike technology to lead the charge for thru-axles on bikes with skinny tires. According to Niner’s marketing manager, Carla Huckee, the company chose to stick with front and rear quick-releases because it expects that many customers will build up RLT framesets with existing mountain bike wheels.

Despite the fact that the RLT is more road bike than mountain bike, both the frame and fork are tested to the more rigorous mountain bike CEN standard. Claimed weight for a 53cm RLT frame is 1,395g.

Niner will offer the RLT in two color options, two complete builds, and as a frame with matching fork.

What’s next?

Judging from the progression of Niner’s past projects it’s safe to assume that there will be a carbon version of the RLT down the road. The fact that RLT is not intended specifically for cyclocross leaves the door open for the development of a ‘cross-specific Niner down the road.

For more information visit www.ninerbikes.com.


    

Niner RLT 9 – first look

Niner’s product releases are nothing if not predictable, predictable in the sense that riders know it will be a mountain bike and that it will have 29in wheels. Until now, that is. This 29er-centric brand is venturing into new territory with the introduction of the RLT 9, a disc-equipped gravel race bike that’s longer, lower and slacker than typical cyclocross bikes.

Niner’s RLT 9 will be available in early 2014. The RLT 9 frame with matching carbon fork will retail for $1,049. Complete builds will range in price from $1,999 to $2,999.

Click through the gallery at right for detailed images of Niner’s new gravel grinder.

Niner is the latest in a small but growing number of companies to recognize a distinction between pure-bred cyclocross race bikes and something better suited to the emerging North American gravel race scene.

Niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing: niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing

The RLT 9 is designed for gravel racing

“Gravel grinders are not ‘cross bikes and vice versa,” said Niner product manager Barrett James. “The geometry of the RLT 9 was not designed with cyclocross in mind, but that’s not to say you can’t take that to your local ‘cross race and have a good time.”

The rlt is slightly lower, longer and slacker than many cyclocross bikes on the market:

The RLT 9’s low bottom bracket is in line with many other North American cyclocross bikes, but the longer chainstays and slack head angles make for a longer wheelbase and handling that favors stability over agility.

RLT stands for Road Less Traveled and, as one might expect, it’s designed with versatility in mind. The RLT 9 can accommodate tires up to 700×45 and has fender mounts on the fork and rear dropouts.

Other frame features include internal cable routing for the front and rear derailleur cables through ports on either side of the downtube, while the rear brake line runs along the bottom of the downtube. The RLT 9 also has a port on the seat tube for a Di2 battery, should owners want to ditch cables for wires.

The rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed: the rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed

The RLT 9? frame uses a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. Niner developed an eccentric version for singlespeed use as well

Niner has a great deal of expertise in designing carbon forks. The RLT’s full carbon fork shares many aesthetic and structural similarities to the company’s rigid mountain bike forks. The same 45mm offset fork is used on all six frame sizes.?

Niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizes: niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizesThe RLT 9’s fork has fender mounts and dropouts for a standard 9mm quick-release

One might expect a company firmly rooted in mountain bike technology to lead the charge for thru-axles on bikes with skinny tires. According to Niner’s marketing manager, Carla Huckee, the company chose to stick with front and rear quick-releases because it expects that many customers will build up RLT 9 framesets with existing mountain bike wheels.

Despite the fact that the RLT 9 is more road bike than mountain bike, both the frame and fork are tested to the more rigorous mountain bike CEN standard. Claimed weight for a 53cm RLT 9 frame is 1,395g.

Niner will offer the RLT 9 in two color options, two complete builds, and as a frame with matching fork.

What’s next?

Judging from the progression of Niner’s past projects, it’s safe to assume that there will be a carbon version of the RLT 9 down the road. The fact that RLT 9 is not intended specifically for cyclocross leaves the door open for the development of a ‘cross-specific Niner at some point.

For more information visit www.ninerbikes.com.


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