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Light and fast.
In a world of big-travel, full-squish whips that draw comparison to terrain-conquering tanks, it's sometimes refreshing to hop aboard a nimble hardtail and revel in the challenge of deftly picking lines through rugged, rocky terrain and ramping up to full flight when things get buttery smooth. Get light and technical on the 2017 Niner Air 9 RDO 2-Star GX1 Complete Mountain Bike, which features 120mm of plush RockShox front travel, SRAM's GX drivetrain, and fast-rolling Niner wheels.
The most notable changes to the frame include a lower handlebar height, giving the Air 9 a nudge towards the venerable RKT 9 RDO's aggressive positioning. Paired with a longer cockpit and slacker angles, the lower bar makes for a frame that handles deftly on knife-edge lines and jumps the second you need it to. Compared to the previous Air 9, the chainstays scrunched in by 4mm to 435mm for lightning fast acceleration and nimble handling without crossing over into jumpy, squirrely territory. The new Air 9 RDO also sizes down its seatpost diameter to 27.2mm to take advantage of that little bit of extra flex and resulting comfort found in a narrower post.
Out back, this year's model now boasts a 12 x 148mm Boost axle width, keeping in line with current trends for wider, stiffer wheelsets. Niner also tucks the brake caliper mounts on the chainstay, neatly within the rear triangle. This makes sense from a frame building standpoint, as the chainstay is generally the burlier of the two rear stays and the placement protects the caliper somewhat in the event of a crash. We also think that particular placement just looks better than an ungainly bump hovering above a seatstay.
As with Niner's other RDO offerings, the Air 9 RDO is constructed using Niner's Carbon Compaction System (CCS), which gives Niner complete control over tube wall thickness across the frame. CCS makes for tube walls that are virtually perfect, reduces the amount of materials required, and eliminates excess resin build-up. The result is a claimed 10% weight reduction, which is a nearly unheard of leap between model years.
- Lightweight hardtail for fast fun on the trails
- Updated positioning improves handling
- Short chainstays provide quick acceleration
- Front travel softens the ride
- Built with SRAM's blue collar one-by drivetrain
- Item #NNR004S