By Josh Patterson
To be fair, this isn’t really a “first impressions” blog. More like a second and third impressions blog really, since I first rode the Jet 9 RDO at a press camp last summer. Click here to read my actual first impressions, and here for our first take when we built our test bike up.
When I first rode Niner’s new carbon full suspension race bike I remember thinking that the suspension worked well, but that the bike handled a little on the fast side for my liking. The RDO ‘s 71.5-degree head angle is on the steep end of the spectrum when compared to most 29 cross-country full suspension bikes introduced in the last two years. It’s certainly a nimble bike, but in high-speed and technical situations I would have preferred to have the front wheel further out in front of me.
Thankfully, the RDO will accommodate 100-120mm suspension forks. My test bike came with a 100mm RockShox SID. I opted to replace it with a 120mm Fox F29 for our recent trip to the endless rock garden that is Sedona, Arizona. The 120mm fork relaxed the handling and made the bike much more versatile. The Jet 9 RDO really came alive; it still climbed well but now it flew through rocky chunder. Niner’s CVA suspension is quite active and does a commendable job of handling square edge impacts. To be fair, I would have enjoyed Sedona’s trails no matter what bike I was on, but this Niner made riding great trails a superlative experience.
The next step is separating the additional 20mm of suspension travel from the slacker head angle. Thanks to Cane Creek’s AngleSet I’ll be able to set the head angle to 70.5-degrees, reinstall the 100mm SID and see how it performs. Look for my conclusions in the print review.
I’ll leave you with some dusty glamour shots.
The front and rear derailleur cables are internally routed through the headtube.
My initial impression is that a 120mm fork makes the Jet 9 RDO a much more capable bike while giving up nothing in terms of race-day performance.
I’ve been very happy with how the bike rides in the lowest ProPedal setting— just enough platform to keep the bike pedaling efficiently while still allowing the suspension to work as intended.
I ran 29×2.3-inch Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires in Sedona and had room to spare. The Hans Dampf is proving to be a very capable tire over a wide range of conditions.
Look for my full review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag, and subscribe today to make sure you don’t miss it.