EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out the all-new Niner RIP 9 for 2009
Going into this year’s Interbike Outdoor Demo, I had a few items of business I wanted to take care of. Tops on that list was to ride a 29-inch mountain bike. Last year, as I pounded the trails on a myriad of standard mountain bikes with 26-inch wheels, I kept seeing this sweet-looking Niner full-suspension bike cruising around Bootleg Canyon. This year, I was determined to get on that bike, which happens to be Niner’s flagship bike, the Niner RIP 9.
Niner Bikes was started by Chris Sugai and Steve Domahidy after Steve embraced 29-inch wheels and Steve had built Supergo’s proprietary bike lines (Weyless mountain bikes and Scattante road bikes) into winners. The 29-inch movement was just starting to catch on and Chris and Steve were bent on building a company with great bikes, great people and amazing customer service.
After chatting with Chris Sugai at the demo, I was completely sold on his passion and dedication to building a great product and a successful, customer-oriented business. He was super personable and very willing to chat about his bikes. Niner appears to be enjoying the success of their labors and I’m sure Chris didn’t have to be in the booth, but I’m guessing he wouldn’t have it any other way. Likewise, everyone else in the booth was equally informative and excited to fill me in on the features of their bikes.
About the Niner RIP 9
While other manufacturers of 29-inch mountain bikes are building a slew of hardtails or shorter-travel full suspension designs, Niner introduced the RIP 9 with 4.5-inches of smooth travel at Interbike 2006. Dedicated to providing the best handling mountain bike and staying true to their geometry and handling standards, the crew at Niner spent likely thousands of hours fiddling and tinkering with their designs before nailing the geometry and design achieved by the Niner RIP 9.
The heart of the Niner RIP 9 is the Constantly Varying Arc (CVA) full-suspension design. If you’re interested in finding out how the CVA was developed, check out RIP 9 CVA information page. Basically, it’s an optimized version of a proprietary virtual pivot bike. We could talk all day long about how awesome this suspension design is and how it’s so much better than anything else on the market, but that all that talk means little until you hit the trail and experience it for yourself. And, once you experience it on the trail, you’ll begin to plug your ears and say “la la la la la” as you hear the pitch on other suspension designs because the CVA is all it’s cracked up to be.Aside from the CVA suspension design, the overall fit and finish of the RIP 9 is on par with other custom bike manufacturers and carries a full 2-year warranty.
Quick Review of the Niner RIP 9
I hopped on the Niner RIP 9 as the second bike of the day and instantly noticed how smooth it rolled over everything in sight. The loose gravel in the demo area disappeared as I rolled through the maze to the trails. A quick climb on the RIP 9 revealed the only perceived flaw on this rig–I had to pedal in a lower gear to keep the momentum I was used to. That said, it wasn’t like I was huffing and puffing to push this bike up the hill… it’s only a slight, but noticeable difference. I guess it is worth mentioning that I wasn’t super keen on the flat bars on this bike, but that’s a personal preference. It’s funny riding flat bars again… it just felt odd.
Once the trails turned downhill, the beauties of the RIP 9 were quickly apparent. This uber-smooth bike laughs at rocks, drops and twisty-turny singletrack. Without a doubt, the RIP 9 has singlehandedly opened my mind to go bigger. 29ers aren’t just for eccentric 26-inch haters, they are for anyone who wants to enjoy a great ride on a great bike. And, the fact that the RIP 9 has bigger hoops is really a side story to the overall quality and design that makes it a great bike.
A little about the parts spec on the RIP 9… while this bike is available as a frame-only option, it looks like Niner is making inroads towards offering a complete bike package. This bike was spec’d to the hilt with Manitou Minute 29 featuring 120mm travel and a 20mm thru-axle for the ultimate in rigidity, all-new Mavic CrossMax 29-inch wheels and a great all-around SRAM X.9 drivetrain and Avid Juicy brakes.
The Bottom Line
There’s no doubt that this bike will continue to win over more and more people in he 29-inch bike market. With Niner Bikes, you get an amazing bike and a great company that’s dedicated to treating their customers right. Oh yeah… you also get one of the smoothest all-mountain rigs on the market.
Looking to get your hands on a Niner RIP 9? Check out www.ninerbikes.com, plunk down your credit card and get in line for one of the best all-mountain bikes available. Retail price of the RIP 9 is $1649 (frame-only).