The 2014 RIP 9 is here and it is lighter, stiffer and more capable than its predecessor. Travel has been increased to 125mm in the rear. Up front, 120mm or 140mm are the fork options and they deliver a head angle of 70.5 and 69.5 degrees, respectively. Our test bike split the difference with a 130mm fork, thus delivering a 70 degree head angle. Chainstay length is maintained at 17.9 inches and BB height is the same as well, at a 1 inch drop from the axle height.

Weight is 6.85 lbs for a medium and that is about .5 lighter than the last version. Stiffness has been improved with a better process for shaping the tubes. The rear dropouts take a 142x12 maxle to further improve rear stiffness. An ISCG mount is included and the dual-link CVA has been moved to accommodate it with the correct chain line.



Cable Routing remains external, as the cables run on the sides of the down tube and articulate with an s-bend as it meets up with the rear triangle. The dropper post cable routing is external as well, as it runs along the right side of the top tube. This external routing is easier to install and maintain, but nowhere near as clean as the new internal cable routing in some bikes today. It works well enough for the derailleur and brakes. The dropper post though should have an internal routing option, as the external cable is unwieldy as it bows to the side when the saddle is dropped, or it goes in between the linkage and the frame which causes some rubbing.



Details

The frame is much more attractive than the previous generation, as all the tubes flow together much better. Red bearing caps adorn the frame throughout and every bolt seems to be red anodized for this green frame. Our small frame unfortunately could not accommodate a water bottle in the front triangle, so a consolation mount is available at the bottom of the down tube. Just for the record, we will never use a bottle mount down there.

Continue reading for ride impressions and full photo gallery.




The Ride

We got our test bike at Sea Otter, so we've had ample time to play with it. The best part about this bike is how it turns and handles corners. This thing can turn and there's no hint of oversteer or plowing through corners. This is one of the crutches of longer travel 29ers, as riders have to take wider lines through corners. We've been ready to use some body english or lift the rear wheel through the turn, but it hasn't been necessary. On very rutted descents, we feel the front end wander a bit and we can't quite narrow it down to a flexy wheel or fork.

The rear suspension action is very smooth when set up with proper sag. We have taken this bike on some good-sized drops and jumps and it takes the hits and does not seem to be bothered with the bigger hits that we've been dishing out.

Pricing

Although carbon bikes are becoming more prevalent, they still hit the pocketbook pretty hard. Fortunately, as we found on our all too brief first ride, Niner's revamped alloy Rip 9 is suitable to the task at hand. The airformed front triangle has reduced its frame weight to 6.85 pounds - just .65 pounds shy of the flagship Rip 9 RDO carbon frameset.

Plus, it has the same excellent ride qualities that make Niners popular. The least expensive Rip 9 Alloy model will run at $3,000 with Sram X7 componentry. The price for a frame, shock and Maxle rear-axle is $1849.



Strengths

  • Steers quickly with minimal understeer and plowing through corners
  • 125mm rear travel and 120-140mm front gives the bike range and versatility
  • Enduro bearings are free-moving and durable
  • Laterally stiff
  • 6.85 lb frame
  • Lots of top tube clearance
  • Awesome new carbon handlebars that are wide and can be cut down safely
  • Dashing good lines and colors
  • Simply awesome with 1x gearing

Weaknesses

  • Chainstay length at 17.9 could be shorter
  • No water bottle cage inside front triangle
  • Not stealth dropper post routing
  • Carbon version should be lighter
Niner has a come a long way with this one, as they've learned a ton about the RIP 9 in the past few years. This is a solid bike and there are plenty of good build options, all the way to the blinged out RDO Carbon version with 1x11 Sram drivetrain.