Price: $8,400 (estimated)
Weight: 24.2 lb. (medium, with dropper), 23.1 lb (medium, no dropper)
After releasing new versions of their RIP, JET, and trail bikes, Niner has introduced a newer race-focused bike RKT to their lineup.
The bike is less than 100mm of travel, is focused on speed, and is all-new from tip to tail with more durable components.
Niner is announcing its electric bike today, but the bike won’t be in stores for some time. The company said, “We expect frames and build kits to ship by September 2022,” and that prices will be similar to model year 2022, which should mean prices will start around $4,400 with a top end of near $10,000. My review bike—with 5-Star XO1 Eagle—will sell for about $8,400.
Niner RKT 9 RDO Ride Impressions
The Niner RKT 9 RDO is fast and precise, feeling like a race bike (but with a nice descent). It climbs extremely quickly, handles well, and descends decently.
This bike feels responsive when you turn the cranks, and responses accurately regardless of your speed. The bike feels connected and explosive.
Now that Niner’s engineers and product team have a handle on kinematics, they can create superior shock tunes. Specifically in their low-end, ground-breaking RIP 9 and the best-of-breed JET 9, Niner finally achieved competitive performance out of their patented CVT suspension.
The RKT’s rear suspension feels appropriate with a firm pedaling feel while keeping riders up, forward, and in an efficient position on steeper climbs.
The suspension is also soft enough to provide good traction and take the sting out of energy-sapping hits and have enough progression to control high speed impacts on progressive XC race courses.
Though I still don’t love how the lower link dangles under the frame which exposes it to roots and rocks.
I set the rear suspension to 25% sag, which is a visual display of the upper link. Setting the fork to 20% was easy, as I only needed to do that by making adjustments on the rebound damping.
The rear suspension has enough support and anti-squat that I do not need to use the handlebar remote with respect to road conditions.
If I were to replace my bike’s remote lockout with the RKT, I would minimize use of the remote. The RKT is efficient enough that I typically only used it sparingly.
The stock seatpost that came with the frame is very short, coming in at just 370mm from the bottom to the top. Even with this short post, my saddle was high enough that there was plenty of room for it, which felt better given the light XC-grade frame.
Riding an aggressive trail bike can leave a person feeling insecure. Thankfully, the RKT uses a short-dropped seat tube and I removed the stock rigid carbon seat post to put the dropper post.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough room for both of them when I received the bike (the remote was under the left side of the bar), so it relocated to the top right side of the handlebar.
The dropper added 500 grams of extra post and remote weight but increased the RKT’s descending capability. The RKT handles well, but high-posting a light, quick-handling, and short travel XC bike with pinner tires down descents isn’t my idea of fun.
I accepted the weight penalty for more control on the downhills. However, if you prefer the lightest bike possible, my R KT review bike came in at an impressive 23.1 pounds without a dropper.
Niner shipped me their new bike without wheels because the planned DT Swiss 1501 ceramic wheelset was not available for reasons beyond the company’s control.
I had to find a comparable weight (1550 grams) Reynolds Limited Edition XC Black Label Carbon 309/289 rims, which should feel like they were meant to go on this bike given how similar they are to the stock parts.
Niner did include the stock Schwalbe tires, so my ride should—barring differences in wheel stiffness and compliance—feel, weigh, and perform similarly to a stock build.
Niner RKT 9 RDO – What’s New
The previous RKT had 90mm of rear travel, which Niner sold in two versions: The standard RKT with a 120mm fork and the RS with a 100mm fork.
The new RKT somewhat splits the difference; there is 100mm of front and rear travel. There’s also an adjustable sag gauge on the seattube top link to assist you in your suspension setup.
The original frame, the RKT, was made of old technology as it had a derailleur mount. The new version is 1x specific and internal routing makes maintenance improved and the frame looks better because exposed housing improvements to the design! Niner’s wickets make sure these features are less invasive for quick external access.
The BB shell has been changed, the rear derailleur hanger is now SRAM’s UDH which should help with future-proofing, and the new frame can fit 2.5-inch tires instead of the former 2.3 which is a change that increases tire clearance and makes transportation easier.
For a second bottle mount, the RKT includes an additional Velcro attachment on the downtube.