Interbike kicked off today with the Outdoor Demo at Bootleg Canyon. After all the dust settled, this is what I saw and rode.

The Fargo was available and was the first bike I rolled out on the demo loop. If anyone is wondering just what the Fargo is, let it be known that “mountain bike” is definitely part of its resume’. The Fargo dealt with all of the obstacles without any fuss. The steel frame was springy in a good way. Yes, the bottom bracket is a tad low, and you will be reminded of that from time to time in case you forget. Time your pedal strokes and you won’t have any issues. The fact is, two other full suspension bikes I rode were actually worse in this regard than the Fargo, so go figure. I thought the front end was quite quick, and actually was a blast to navigate through anything twisty on the loop. The lower bottom bracket certainly helped and made the bike feel super stable and made you want to take the nearly treadless Vulpines to the edge of insanity any chance you had. Fargo: You may have trouble wrapping your mind around it, but it is definitely off road worthy.

The Niner Bike’s R.I.P. 9 has been totally redone from (nearly) scratch. The only remaining part of the original left on this updated version is the seat tube/shock mount. Every other tube, connection, and bearing is a new piece on the 2009 R.I.P. 9.

Where do I start? At first glance, I noticed that the head tube and gusset between the top and down tubes was radically different. The head tube is now like the W.F.O. 9 in that it tapers from 1 1/8th to 1.5″ at the base of the head tube. Fox is supplying the front fork for this, but Chris Sugai tells me that eventually we will see all 4 plus inch travel 29″er forks going this route from all the 29″er fork manufacturers. (Yes, he said “all”!) At any rate, the design changes continue with hydoformed tubing that is size specific, with size specific butting. That means that a frame for a 5’10” guy will be as stiff as a frame for a 6’2″ guy. Good stuff for the larger dudes out there.

The suspension linkages have also gone to a forged/CNC’ed construction with a one piece design for each that yields a stiffer linkage than the previous R.I.P.9. Also changed are the bearings, which were all moved outwards on the pivots to create a laterally stiff pivot and bearing size was also increased with aluminum construction here replacing steel as used previously. All this yielded a stiffer suspension laterally with little to no weight gain. How much stiffer? Steve Domahidy says that nothing they changed on the R.I.P. 9 yielded anything less than a 50% increase in rigidity and stiffness across the board. That’s crazy! But wait, there’s more!

The drop outs are modular, so there will be drop outs for Rohloff and Maxle applications in the near future. Hmm…….sounds like the W.F.O. 9. Well, it is a “trickle down” application of all the good things that Niner believes they found esigning the W.F.O. 9. They felt that the R.I.P. 9 could be made better using these things, and as Chris Sugai stressed to me, “We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t believe it was going to make a better bike.” Okay, after all of this, how did it ride?

I’ll put it simply, the “old” R.I.P. plushness is still there, but the bike has “tightened” up handling that is definitely noticeable. As Steve Domahidy said to me, “The old R.I.P. was pretty nice…”, but this one he admits is an improvement, and I think that is a dead on assessment of what they have accomplished wit the 2009 R.I.P. 9. Look for a tech post on 2009 Niner stuff in the near future.