Ride Impressions RIP-9 RDO -by Grannygear
It had been at least a full model generation since I was on a RIP 9 and I had never ridden the carbon RDO version at all. So with no hope in sight of getting on the size LG WFO-9 that was harder to find than Sasquatch, I grabbed a fresh off the trail LG RIP-9 RDO and settled for second choice. As the tech was setting things up, I was talking to Chris Sugai, owner of Niner, about the changes in geometry and travel of the latest version. The 125mm of rear travel on this demo bike was matched to a 130mm front fork with wide bars and a short stem, and along with 2.35 Knobby Nics, it gave a very All Mountain kind of feel to it. That was very appropriate for the demo area here at Interbike. But I suspect that the RIP 9 RDO can be a massaged to one side of the trail spectrum or another and I bet with a 120mm fork setting (or even with a 130mm fork), a longer stem/narrower bar, and lighter but still trail ready tires, it could be a pretty good XC Trail bike as well.
The chassis, according to Chris, is one of if not the stiffest of all the Niner full suspension bikes (we did not compare it to the new WFO specifically, so…) and grabbing the bike and twisting it around shows a resolute beast of a frame. But carbon can be stiff AND light and the RDO felt pretty good when hefted. Out I went in search of dirt with the RIP 9 in Trail mode (per the set-up tech) on the CTD shock and the fork open.
CVA has always been, and maybe even is, one of my favorite XC rear suspension designs, that coming from some time on a couple of JET-9s. I expected a lot from the RIP9 in that regard and I was not disappointed. I swapped back and forth from Descend (open) to Trail on the CTD shock, and finally left it on Trail, and was happy with that. The bike popped forward with every pedal stroke and was actually more playful feeling than the last 27.5″ full suspension bike I had just ridden.
In fact, it was easier to loft the front end too. Seated climbing up ledgy, loose climbs was brilliant. It was almost child’s play…no squatting, no kicking back, just upward motion. I would swear it had more travel than it did and although I bet it would begin to lose the battle when things got into real All Mountain territory, it felt every bit as trail capable as the 160mm Breezer I just ridden (although at first the big wheels felt ponderous after the tinier 27.5″ hoops of the Breezer).
I was not crazy about the cockpit set up and I would narrow the bar and lengthen the stem to get a bit more weight forward, but that is just nitpicking as I would run this bike as an all-round XC/trail bike 29″er in a heartbeat. I would run a wheel like the DT Swiss Spline 1 we just reviewed, or maybe the budget Roval carbons, and a 2.2 trail tire and just ride it all day long.
The RIP 9 is not truly new news, but it is good news. And the RDO is the best version yet.