Note: These are not reviews but are simple ride impressions based on the demo tech set-up. All bikes were ridden on the Bootleg Canyon demo loop. Keep in mind that a short ride is not a review, but merely gives us, (and you out there), some idea of what we’re looking at here.

Ride Impressions:ROS 9- by Grannygear

Pedaling through the paddock on the way out to the trails at Bootleg Cyn, I was about to have a fun time on the trail. I was astride a bright blue Niner Bikes R.O.S. 9 and the rocky, craggy, crumbly trails were about to be my oyster, but I did not know that quite yet. At first, the combo of a140mm Rockshox Revelation fork, wiiiide bars, short stem, plump Schwalbe tires on wide rims and tucked-under-your-butt-like-a-scared-dog’s-tail rear wheel position had me wondering if this was gonna’ be thumbs up or thumbs down.

I had never been on a 29″er like this. Guitar Ted had tested the Diamondback Mason hard tail, a bike in this same vein, but this kind of AM hard tail approach was new to me. And after a hot (literally…typical Nevada desert afternoon) lap on the demo XC course, I came back to the Niner booth smiling. Result? Thumbs up.

What I cannot do is compare the R.O.S. 9 to other bikes of this ilk, so that will have to be done by someone other than myself, but if this bike is a good example of what a long travel hard tail is about, then I see the appeal. I did not weigh the bike, but it was not light in an XC sense. However, even with the burly build of the 2.35 Knobby Nics and Flow rims, the 4130 steel frame still pedaled well, pushed along by SRAM X0 11 gear multiplication. The upright seated position on the LG size frame I rode with the short stem and wide bars was not meant for long, seated climbs but it made total sense when the trail got to zigging and zagging. It took a while to tune into the way the bike liked to be driven and while I could tell that it would take me many more miles to really get in the groove on the R.O.S. 9, I found that it liked to be steered/weighted from the back, letting the fork take the hits. Lofting the front end was dead easy.

Wheelie drops were easy too. Over the back wheel, nose first drop-ins were no issue with the Reverb dropper post and the 140 fork. I found myself wheelie-ing out of corners, popping off every rock in in the trail, and just riding over s_____…stuff…for the fun of it. I did not find the bike to be a harsh ride, but it felt substantial, if that makes sense. There was OK clearance at the chain stays and that was with a pretty big tire on a wide rim (Flow EX). The Biocentric 2 EBB allows for single speed use as well as fine tuning your bottom bracket drop/height to suit the terrain (this only applies if your are running gears, not in single speed mode). There is a provision for a front derailleur if you need to go that route.

I even pointed it at a pretty steep, slow, ledgy climb expecting to fight the front end to keep it from lifting and it was not near the trouble I thought it would be, but it did call for a forward weight position.

It is not a bike that I have a need or even a real desire for, mostly due to where and how I ride, but that did not keep me from having a lot of fun on the R.O.S. 9. And fun is why most of us ride anyway.