If you've ever caught yourself daydreaming deeply about the perfect bike on your way home from a ride, building one in your mind from the ground up with XC energy, a spirited disposition, but the ability to crush lines most assume are off-limits for the XC set, you're in luck. Sometimes, dreams do come true. As an plush XC bike with a podium-chasing attitude, the RKT 9 RDO 3-Star XT is a shining example of what pushing the limits of XC looks like. Let us clarify. In the case of the RKT 9, that means combining an energetic carbon frame, 120mm of squish for technical race courses or weekend exploration, and the proven efficiency of Boost spacing. Whether you're venturing onto shady, root-encrusted trails or putting it all on the line on raceday, trust the RKT 9's disarmingly playful attitude to match your enthusiasm at every turn.
The Queen of Pain herself, known simply as Ms. Rusch off-trail, has summarized the RKT 9 RDO as the answer to her dreams, which means that Niner's goal of blending a twitchy race bike with a fearless bruiser of a trail beast wasn't too much of reach. On the contrary, the RKT 9 RDO fulfills that description uncannily well, using a short head tube and longer top tube to provide line cleaning confidence up front, and Boost spacing with the lowest standover height in Niner's line for a boundless supply of snappy aggression in the rear. Boost spacing allowed Niner to chop the chainstays to a stubby 439mm, which when paired with that low standover height, results in agile cornering and power-transferring stiffness. When the opportunity to spend a weekend chasing your armor-clad pals and their 5-inch monsters around rugged singletrack presents itself, one look at the RKT 9 RDO will be enough to tell you the answer is yes.
Though geometry is a big part of the RKT 9 RDO's story, its carbon frame cannot be overlooked. Niner uses its RDO Carbon Compaction System (CCS) to ensure details like wall thickness and material distribution are flawless, eliminating unnecessary weight and structural imperfections like resin pooling. In terms of suspension, Niner fine-tuned its own CVA linkage was specifically for a low-travel XC bike for the RKT 9 RDO, so it encourages speed above all else. It maintains a firm, responsive pedaling platform even when you throw the shock open entirely, resisting harsh bottom-outs when you're surprised by a steep uphill roller on an otherwise chunky, enduro-leaning descent. Back all of that up with Shimano's second-from-the-top XT one-by drivetrain, and you're going to have a hard time getting much of anything done off-trail this season.
- Challenge the limits of XC on this race-worthy dream bike
- 4.7in fork absorbs bumps with 3.5in shock for backup
- Long cockpit delivers line-cleaning confidence
- Tight rear triangle is snappy and quick through techy spots
- Flawless carbon frame feels weightless on-trail
- Frame compatible with internal or external dropper
- Boost axles increase tire clearance and wheel stiffness
- Kitted with Shimano's workhorse racing groupset
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
If climbing, descending, repeat are your wheelhouse, this is your bike. If dissecting single track and having a bike that feels as nimble at the end of an epic ride as the beginning, this is your bike. While many XC type riders will pick a hardtail as their go-to ride, offering a short travel rear suspension without giving up the snappiness that a hardtail gives has been elusive, look no further. Niner has given XC riders the combination of a quick steering short travel platform that is just at home on a short-track themed event to an all-day up and down epic ride. Whether you are making the switch from a XC hardtail or looking for a lighter faster full suspension rig, the RKT 9 does not disappoint. The 90mm rear travel actually feels longer than it is while riding, taking the edge off rock gardens and trail noise to keep you grounded. My switch from a carbon hardtail to the RKT has rekindled the lust for longer rides with just a much climbing and looking forward to what the descent can throw at me.
With multiple build platforms available and the choice of a either a 100mm front fork for a quick, responsive ride or 120mm that slackens the head tube angle to give the bike a more trail feel. Add a dropper post on the 120mm fork and you have an epic/marathon bike. Keep the rigid seat post and 100mm front end and you’re riding an XC racehorse. Your choice.