R.I.P. for Roll In Peace. 9 for its 29er wheels. Put it all together and you have RIP 9, for a bike that is made to order for big mountain riding. Big wheels to roll over roots and provide extra traction in loose terrain. 4.5 inches of travel paired with a 120 MM fork to float through the gnarl that comes with the territory on back country trails. Active suspension that feels plush in the rough yet climbs efficiently. It’s the real deal, amigos. And it should be at the top of your list of bikes to ride next.
Niner is dedicated to pushing the envelop of 29er wheeled bikes, and only makes big wheelers. Their stable ranges from steel-framed single speeds to flowing carbon racers to the Kermit-colored WFO 9, a 29er free ride machine. The RIP 9 is right below the WFO – recommended for XC, enduro and all mountain riding. For years I’ve wanted to ride a “long travel” 29er aimed at the all mountain riding style. The Niner godfather granted my wish with the RIP 9.
I put the RIP 9 through its paces on Liberty Mountain in Lynchburg, VA. A loop of Lake Trail to cut across to A Trail Too Far before coming back to the bottom of Lake Trail and the long gradual side hill climb back out, dished up narrow side hill singletrack descents, a log ride or two, and the bridges of ATTF with enough climbing to appreciate how efficient the RIP 9’s Constantly Varying Arc (CVA) suspension design is.
The RIP I rode rocked a SRAM XO drive train and brakes, a custom-valved Fox RP-23 shock and a RockShox Reba RLT Ti with a 20 MM through axle. All the parts performed well, and I don’t know if the red anodized bearing caps on the pivots helped functionally or not, but they did look convincing. The Continental Mountain King 2.4 tires did not fuss or fume about doing their job on the ups or the down. In fact, it’s a tribute to the bike and tire combo that RIP didn’t feel sluggish with that big of shoes.
Now this may sound strange, but I think the RIP 9 is more efficient and fast feeling than the JET 9, Niner’s full-suspension XC race bike. The RIP 9 boasted that long-legged seven-league boots feel that some all mountain bikes have. It makes a bike feel like it can go all day over rough terrain, climbing and descending whatever mountains may be in front of its tires. These bikes are geared toward the “mountain” aspect of all-mountain, and do not seem to be built to be hucked off towering man-made ramps, etc. The Giant Reign (although you could huck that puppy with confidence off of some pretty good rock drops) and Gary Fisher Fat Possum were such bikes. I tend to prefer this type of rig, since it suits my long distance pursuits and love of technical single track. Since I have a trauma-induced fear of jumping a bike, I’m not looking for the beefiest huckster.
At the end of the day, I did not want to dismount from my size large, Hot Tamale colored RIP 9. It was one of the few bikes that made my “gotta have it” juices start flowing immediately. And to demonstrate just how good this bike is as a “one bike,” Scott – who loves to climb the trails I think of as good descents – was with me that day, and after getting in saddle time on several Niners, we both agreed that the RIP 9 left us wanting more and trying to figure out how to scrounge together the more than $5,000 it would cost to buy our own 29er all mountain bike that was so much fun to ride.
You can check out Niner bikes at your local authorized Niner dealer. My two favorites are Blackwater Bike Shop in Lynchburg, VA and Just the Right Gear in Salem, VA. Both are located near trail systems that will allow you to really test the capability of the Niner of your choice.
© 2011 Big Mountain Riding