What it does well: Here’s a modern XC race bike that’s learned some life lessons from the all-mountain world. There’s a dropper post for one, which makes any XC bike that much more trail friendly. Second, up front you’ll find a 120mm RockShox Pike instead of the 100mm forks you see on most race bikes. Third? The Jet 9 RDO features modern cockpit geometry thanks to a longer top tube and a shorter stem with wide (780mm) bars. All those features mean the RDO is capable of handling the more rugged courses you’ll find at today’s endurance races—and realistically 90 percent of your local trails unless you live on Vancouver’s North Shore. But even with all those trail features, this RDO is totally raceable. Niner’s patented CVA suspension takes advantage of the increased bottom bracket height of 29-inch bikes and places the main pivot beneath that point. The result is a hyper-efficient suspension while climbing. We never thought we needed to lock out the rear shock. The resulting acceleration is worthy of a race bike. “Everything I do to soup up my XC bike, Niner already did in the RDO,” said one tester.
What it does poorly: The more gravity bent riders among our test crew thought the head tube angle (over 70 degrees) was a little steep for trail riding. The XC folks disagreed. But it’s a point worth making. As fast as the RDO is on rough singetrack, it can get outgunned in bigger terrain where slacker angles help keep a bike from getting hung up.
So who’s it for? We see a lot of people out riding what we think of as XC trails on heavy long travel bikes, but you should only accept that weight penalty if you are indeed using all the suspension you brought. That’s where the Jet 9 RDO comes in. It takes you from a rowdier XC racecourse to a seven-hour trail ride with 6,000 feet of climbing—fast. 24.5 lbs.