Niner RKT 9 RDO 3 Star XT 1X
Writing this Niner RKT 9 RDO review was almost as fun as actually riding Niner’s World Cup mountain bike. Whether you are gearing up for a local endurance XC race or getting ready for the Cape Epic, the Niner RKT 9 RDO is one 29er mountain bike that you need to consider. The RKT is also debuting as a strong contender in the full suspension short travel category. Niner has developed a 29er with their patented CVA linkage to aggressively climb and descend with confidence while also serving as one fast racing rig.
Right out the gate the RKT frame features Niner’s light weight RDO Carbon Compaction system to allow for a stiff yet durable construction. One feature that I applaud Niner on is the new cable routing system they have integrated with the RKT. Typically Niner routes their cables right through the front of the head tube and it use to be a frustrating task to change cables. As a former shop guy I can honestly say that bike techs will love this feature! The internal cable routing also keeps the bike looking clean and streamlined, which further enhances the stealth appeal of the RKT. The Niner RKT features Niner’s patented CVA linkage, which Niner boast as the only linkage system specifically designed for 29ers. The 90mm CVA suspension works very differently to isolate pedaling forces and remain fully active under all conditions. The shorter 439mm chainstays allow for a quicker response on the trail and more maneuverability. We tested this feature thoroughly while railing it around corners descending like a bat out of hell. To be frank, I relied heavily on the trusty XT brakes to keep myself out of the bushes on multiple occasions.
Technical Features on the RKT 9 RDO
- CARBON FULL SUSPENSION NINER RDO CARBON COMPACTION SYSTEM FOR THE ULTIMATE IN STRENGTH AND RELIABILTY
- 90MM OF PATENTED CVA SUSPENSION IS EFFICIENT IN EVERY CHAINRING
- OPTIMIZED FOR 100mm FORKS (ALSO COMPATIBLE WITH 120mm FORKS)
- TUNED FOR CVA – FOX FLOAT DPS FACTORY REAR SHOCK WITH 3 POSITION REMOTE LEVER
- INTERNAL CABLE ROUTING FOR A CLEAN SETUP THAT IS DI2 READY
- CUSTOM FORGED 6066 ALLOY SUSPENSION LINKAGE IS LIGHT AND STIFF
- BOOST 148MM X 12MM REAR SPACING
The World Cup ready Niner RKT was intended to pedal fast. It was clear in the design and ride that Niner wanted a bike that would pedal with scientific efficiency yet rip up the singletrack when it’s time to take care of business. The 71° head tube angle allows for a slighter aggressive front end which translates to a bike that can and does climb more efficiently. You really notice this when you leave the saddle on a climb.
The RKT is the first Niner to feature Boost 148mm x 12mm rear spacing and has clearance for up to 2.4” tires. The tires on the 3 Star spec came with Maxxis Ikons 2.35 in the front and 2.20 in the rear. Niner is clearly on track with the wider is better theme for rubber.
Niner specs the RKT with the new Fox Float 32 FIT4 fork. This 100mm fork was equipped with some new updates. The new FIT4 moves away from the traditional CTD adjustment and now has three new setting labeled as; Open, Medium and Firm. I loved how I was able to complete my whole ride on open and the fork performed amazing while climbing. The stiffness of this fork allowed me to track corners with ease and put the bike where I wanted it to go. You can really feel it when getting off the saddle on a steep climb. More importantly, the front end felt stable and consistent throughout the whole ride which can’t be said for many Fox forks in the past.
How does the Niner RKT Ride?
It’s 6 AM on a Saturday morning and I just had my morning cup of Joe and I am ready to hit the trail. I leave my driveway and it is already apparent how efficient this bike is going to ride. I tend to do ride a mile or so of pavement/fire road to my local trail and doing it on a XC bike is always more pleasant. It almost makes me wish I was on my road bike… just kidding.
The RKT was put to the test immediately as the local trails start with a gut busting ascent before the fruits of my labor were awarded through twisty singletrack and oak covered flats.
Once feature that can’t go unnoticed is the aggressive race geometry with the lowest standover height within Niner’s entire family of mountain bikes. Not only did this provide confidence in the rough sections of the trail but it truly allowed me the freedom to lean the bike from side to side without contacting my knees or thighs. It’s race ready details like this that provide just enough of an edge to cross the finish line or mark your next KOM.
To really test the CVA linkage design I set the fork and rear suspension to open mode and noticed the traction immediately. I was able to climb over bumps and roots with ease while my tires stayed planted. When off the saddle on some punchier sections of the ascent I noticed all my energy being transferred throughout the stiff frame without tracing a loss of energy into the shock. The lateral stiffness on the RKT is impressive beyond explanation.
The sun is starting to creep and the marine layer is fading and I finally make it to the highest peak of the trail for a much needed rest. Not so much from fatigue but more so from the fact that my heart was pounding through my chest as adrenaline raced through my body. I said it before and I will sat it again, the Niner RKT is fast! I situate myself, drink some water and down a banana that somehow managed to remain in one piece.
I finally start my descent and let the CVA suspension do the work. The RKT was ultra-responsive while cornering and railed the shoulders far better than you might expect from a World Cup bike. Even though the RKT is a low travel frame it still felt comfortable on the light chunky sections with its RDO carbon. Used in the front and rear triangles, this material can withstand the punishment from a marathon race as well as provide knife life precision on a short track course.
Nine RKT 9 RDO Recommendation
I would recommend the Niner RKT 9 RDO to anyone who is looking to add a lethal cross country mountain bike to their quiver or someone who wants an efficient marathon race bike that will charge uphill yet rip the descents. To our surprise, the Niner RKT 9 RDO is also a great bike to throw on some packs to take for a backcountry tour. Although it’s a purebred race machine inside and out, the superior carbon construction and CVA suspension design allows it to stand up to rough trails.