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Lighter than air.

While this frame shares the AIR 9 name with Niner's versatile carbon hardtail, that's about all they share. The AIR 9 RDO Carbon Mountain Bike Frame - 2014 is an entirely different animal, and the RDO designation, an acronym for "Race Day Optimized," clearly states this 29er's purpose — to place you on the podium. Niner eliminated all excess on this frame and focused solely on making it as light as possible. For example, the rear brake mounts are now cleanly located inside the stays, which reduces the amount of hydraulic line needed, while making the AIR 9 RDO look lean and mean. Also, this frame does not use Niner's CYA bottom bracket system. While the CYA is renowned for its versatility, it added complexity and heft to this purpose built race machine, so Niner went with the lighter PressFit30 interface instead. The RDO retains the clean internal cable routing and titanium chain-slap protectors found on the AIR 9 Carbon.

The AIR 9 RDO isn't just cosmetically and physically different; it's structurally different, too. At the core of every Niner frame is extensive computer-based finite element analysis, and here it’s used to develop a high modulus carbon fiber structure with optimized weaves, lay ups, and tube shapes to produce the lightest Niner to date. The RDO’s fluid form is no accident, and is designed to dampen chatter and guide impact forces to the stronger parts of the frame. Niner Air 9 RDO DetailChain torque goes directly to the rear wheel via the large bottom bracket shell and shapely chainstays, yet trail vibrations are quelled by the swooping seatstays. Niner ties the bottom bracket to the strength- and precision-enhancing tapered head tube via a large down tube to ensure the frame tracks true and responds to every input.

Niner recommends an 80 to 100mm suspension fork, or a rigid unit with a 470mm axle to crown length and 45mm offset. Perhaps not coincidentally, their award-winning carbon fork shares those exact dimensions. The tapered head tube comes equipped with a Cane Creek IS42/28.6 | IS52/40 integrated (Campy style) headset. You’ll need a 31.6mm seatpost and a high-mount, bottom-swing, bottom-pull front derailleur with a 34.9mm clamp. The rear triangle offers clearance for tires up to 2.4in. The AIR 9 RDO stays true to its XC nature in the brake department — 160mm rotors are the only option, and the caliper attaches via a post mount. Niner recommends a maximum chainring size of 39/26t for SRAM or 40/28t for Shimano for two-by applications to avoid interference issues. Niner does not recommend running Shimano XTR two-by cranksets to avoid the same interference issue. Any traditional triple setup will work fine. For those of you who intend on running a one-by drivetrain, such as SRAM’s XX1, the AIR 9 RDO will clear up to a 32t ring, with a 168mm Q Factor crankset.

Niner dresses the AIR 9 RDO Carbon Mountain Bike Frame is available in four sizes from Small to X-Large and in the colors Licorice Black or Niner Green.

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Niner AIR 9 RDO Carbon Mountain Bike Frame - 2014

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Here's what others have to say...

Unanswered Question

I have a SC tallboy, w/ 2x10 xtr- the description reads not recommended, what is the interface issue w/ 2x xtr cranks. Is it not compatible at all.

Unanswered Question

I own a Trek X - Caliber, which is a 15.5 frame. Would like to swith to the 15.5 Niner Air 9 RDO. Would like to use as many components as possible...I am using a Rockshox Reba RL, and mostly Sram components. Thoughts?

What is the seat tube length for the XS? What is the head tube length for the this frame? How much does it weigh? I am very interested but will not buy until I get this info.

Responded on


All this info is available in our size chart but I have pulled that for you. ST is 15.5", HT is 4.2". A medium is 1150g and an XS will weigh just a bit less.

Handled the Whole Enchilada!

Handled the Whole Enchilada!

This lightweight hardtail survived a full weekend in Moab.

Including the Whole Enchilada.

This puppy is durable!

Responded on

Very nice bike . Considering getting on. What travel is the fork? 100 or 120 . I'm 63 and considering going back to hardtail to save weight . It's an idea anyway .

Responded on

Hi Hugh. It's a great hardtail and I've had a blast on our office demo bike. We have a 100m fork on ours but you could go with 120 as well. If you have any questions or would like to get started on an order, please shoot me an email at Would love to work with you.

5 5


  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

i recently had the pleasure of riding this bike for several hours and I must say I was very impressed with it. The RDO stands for Race Day Optimized and it has one goal-to get you across the finish line first! i found the bike handled extremely well over varied terrain. It definitely excels in out of the saddle climbing as it has a stiff bottom bracket giving the bike an unmistakable feeling of surging forward with every stroke of the pedal. It also felt very grounded when decending and i was able to really let it go as the balanced geometry gave me a very confident experience. The bike is very comfortable too which sometimes is the downfall of a stiff hardtail. I rode the bike for 3+ hours and did not feel beat up when i got off of it. All in all this bike is a steal for this price. If you are looking to up your game with one of the fastest,most comfy hardtails on the market, the Air 9 RDO is definitely the bike for you.

***if you need guidance in building one online please reach out to me direct at or 801-736-6396x4074

5 5

Race Day Optimized

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

As we all know, the carbon 29er hardtail is the fastest race machine you can buy for most types of offroad racing. Niner has taken their famous Air 9 Carbon a step further and created the ?Race Day Optimized? model for those of us that want the fastest of the fast.

Of the 3 carbon 29? hardtails( Trek Superfly, Santa Cruz Highball, and this bike) I?ve owned lately, I?d have to describe the Niner Air 9 RDO as the quickest handling and most nimble-perfectly suited for the east coast and those tight twisty trails everywhere. It doesn?t have that sluggish 29er feels plaguing most 29ers and quickly responds to any input from the pilot. I also have to say the green is one of the best colors I?ve ever seen on a bike.

Let me know if I can help with a custom build, check inventory, or get you a quote on a complete.

Cheers, Adam

5 5

My go to bike for the past two years

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The Air 9 RDO is a real deal, race-oriented hardtail. It loves to go fast. Unlike similar hardtail offerings from other companies, the Air 9 RDO holds up to serious everyday use. It is not a one season and done carbon frame, nor is it a race day only kind of bike.

I've ridden and raced nearly 10,000 km on this frameset and it's still looking great and holding up extremely well despite all of the hours. It's light, plenty stiff, and handles just about any terrain I've put it through - and that's been a lot over the past two seasons.

Choose a high quality PF30 BB (such as the Chris King PF30) to go with this frame and be sure to properly route your full length internal shifter housings so that you can maximize the performance of your shifting and minimize any service requirements specific to this frame with it's full length internal routing. It builds up looking super clean and you'll go for long periods of time without having to change cables and housing.

For XC racing and everyday riding you can't go wrong with the Air 9 RDO.