21 October 2006 - 17:27I Told you it was Coming….
Not just the snow either. 6″ up high is kinda a lot, and the snow level is below 2000 feet. The season of poor biking is nigh.
No, the actual feature of this post is the Niner RIP 9. In the short time I have had this bike, it has earned the highest marks in my book. There is no question that the guys at Niner excel at what they do. I have had time to fiddle with the settings, get used to the ride, and now I am ready to spill my guts.
A large sized, Atomic Blue painted Fox RP23 equipped beauty. In my haste to build it, I completely forgot to weigh it. I was simply too fired up. I have another large frame inbound, so I’ll weigh that one, however, the anodized silver frame does not glow in the dark like the blue one does. It ain’t called Atomic Blue for nothin’…
Rock Shox Reba, 100mm, King/WTB Speed Disc Trail rims, Panaracer Rampage 2.35 tires (new), King headset, Thomson bits, Easton Monkey Light carbon bars, WTB, Weirwolf grips, WTB Devo saddle (new), SRAM XO triggers, XO rear derailleur (fixed!), XTR front derailleur, FSA Carbon Team cranks, 24/34t with Spot Bash Ring, FSA Ti ISIS bottom bracket, SRAM PG-990 cassette (11-32t), PC-991 chain, Avid Juicy Carbon brakes (185mm rotor up front, 165mm in the back), Salsa Flip Off wheel QRs and seatpost binder, Time ATAC Carbon pedals.
29.9lbs. For real.
Plush. plush, plush. Buttery smooth. Fast and confident, up or down.
It took me a while to get this puppy dialed in. On my first ride the suspension was definitely on the soft side. This made the bike feel slack, as I was sagging pretty far into the travel. At rest, I was sagged about 3/4″ at the shock at 80% of my body weight. I felt like I was blowing through my travel, on both ends. This was pretty weird to be getting a soft feeling from the front, as on the AIR 9, the fork was set up perfectly. And I was having all sorts of shifting issues, brought on partly from a hasty build, and partly from the middle piece of rear derailleur housing. It is in a funny spot, and creates a funny bend, and as the suspension activates, it causes it to bow out. It was pretty annoying actually, because it kept hitting me in the calf in a bothersome fashion. 1 zip tie fixed that, problem gone.
Despite that, my first impression was that the bike pedals exceptionally well. I am slightly biased when it comes to suspension design, mostly from where I have worked in the past. I still hold many of those values true. My last full suspension bike was an Ellsworth Id, which climbed well, but exhibited brake jack, which was not so fun in techy sections. I could also wind the back end up so much that I could shift it by applying power to the pedals. The high BB made the bike tippy in some sections, but it really helped in the more root, rock and side hill laden trails we have here.
Well, the RIP does not wind up at all. I attribute that to the careful execution of the bike’s design. The rear wheel is held in place by what is essentially a unified rear triangle, which is as stiff as can be. The rear triangle is held in place by an upper and lower rocker assembly. The upper and lower rocker plates are machined beautifully, and are held together by shiny red aluminum blocks that stop them from wandering side to side. All the hardware is stainless, and the bearing sleeves are stepped, making it almost impossible to overtighten the hardware. The tolerances are tight, and there is no room for any slop. It corners like a scared cat. This scores high in my book.
There is no noticeable power loss when you get on it either. Stand up and crank, that back end does not move until you hit a bump. Very cool indeed. Niner has spent quite a bit of time getting this figured out, and they branded thier suspension technology CVA or Constantly Varying Arc. You can read more about how it works here, but I can tell you, it just plain works. End of story.
I added air to the rear shock, now sagging at 1/2″ (I added about 40psi) which definitely firmed things up. Before riding again, I checked every pivot bolt, as recommended by Niner. They had all come loose after the first ride, which was to be expected. They have not come loose since.
After the second ride, I was still feeling like my hands were getting beaten up, so I added more air to the front shock. I can only guess that because I am now riding things faster, the fork is working more. I also feel like the back end tends to drive the bike more through it’s stroke. This would all add up to not enough air up front. I added 20 psi to both positive and negative chambers. Problem solved.
Now after a handful of rides, the bike is totally dialed in. I am riding things faster than ever before. The bike is capable of handling just about anything you throw at it. Now, with the additional grip of the Rampage, there is no reason not to go hit the local trails, no matter what is hiding under the leaves.
My one and only gripe is that the bike has a low BB. Don’t get me wrong, the 13″ unsagged BB is not low by industry standards, it’s just my last bike had a 15″ BB. So I’m a little sensitive to that. It is just going to be an adjustment I have to make. The BB wound up where it is, because of the various riding conditions that prevail in this country. A balance had to be made. In the west, trails tend to be more smooth (relatively speaking of course), but have long and sometimes steep downhills. I’m not saying there isn’t any technical riding out there, because I have seen plenty of it. A high BB would make the bike too high and tippy for those guys. On the East Coast, the trails are seldom smooth for long, and are littered with short, sharp ups and downs and tight turns. A low BB = your pedals smacking into the ground, which is not only annoying, it can be dangerous as well.
I love this bike. I’m pissed that I didn’t get one until late September, I could have used it in June! All that aside, this is one bike that will remain in the stable for the long run. I am already planning some future component upgrades for it:
*Stan’s has some new rims in the works that will be available early next year that will allow me to run tubeless, saving some serious rotating weight. And, can anyone say Industry 9?
*I’m also interested in changing the fork to a Maverick DUC. At 4.5″ of travel in it’s 29er configuration, it will raise the BB about 10mm, getting me just a little closer to that “lofty” BB location I want.