We’ve been having a blast on the Niner RKT 9 RDO RS, and we’d like to give you a quick review on our experience so far. First, let’s talk a little about Niner’s naming convention as it can be slightly confusing. The RKT is Niner’s cross country bike. The regular RKT has 120mm of travel in the front and 90mm in the rear. We’ve been testing the RS, or race spec, which is their full on cross country race rig. This bike features a 100mm Fox 32 step cast in the front and a 90mm Fox Float DPS factory rear shock. There is a dual lockout which locks out the front and rear, although we have found that with the CVA linkage on this bike, there is very little reason to lock it out as it doesn’t noticeably bob or bounce even on climbs.
The geometry on this bike is a nice mix of steep angles and quick handling that you want in a cross country bike while still being forgiving. The RKT has a 71 degree head tube angle, 439mm chainstays. The seat tube angle is 74.5 degrees. This comes into play in faster sections of trail and uphill where instead of being behind the bottom bracket, you’re up and forward over the pedals and able to put down power.
We’ve been riding the 3 star build which features a GX Eagle groupset. The bike comes with a SRAM Descendant crank with a 32t chainring and a 10-52T cassette. This gearing combination offers as much climbing gear as you’ll ever need while still being plenty fast on flat stretches of trail.
The 3 star package comes with SRAM G2 R brakes. A 180mm rotor in the front and 160mm in the rear provide light weight with plenty of stopping power. While historically Shimano has been known to make better brakes than SRAM, I feel that SRAM has really caught up in the last few years and these brakes offer great performance - they stop on a dime and provide good modulation. I generally prefer the stiff lever feel on SRAM brakes.
Where the bike differs from Niner’s spec sheet is in the wheels. Although Niner originally spec’d this bike with DT Swiss wheels and Schwalbe tires, the bike is being shipped right now with Stan’s Arch wheels with their Neo hubs and Maxxis tires. The wheels are sturdy, lightweight, and set up tubeless as easy as anything on the market. We’ve had great luck with these wheels. The Recon 2.4 provides plenty of grip, and the Recon Race 2.25 rolls super smooth in the rear where rolling resistance matters most.
The cockpit on this bike is Niner branded carbon. The bars are carbon fiber and are very comfortable. They come in a 780mm width, although we prefer to cut them down to our desired width. The seatpost is also carbon and provides a little extra bump absorption. The saddle is a Niner-branded Selle Italia. I originally thought the saddle was maybe a little narrow, but once out on the trail, it provided plenty of support while still allowing me to move around on the bike.
The ride quality of this bike is absolutely fantastic. I am primarily a road and gravel cyclist, but I built up one of these for myself a few weeks ago on a Saturday night and raced it the next morning. No one would ever accuse me of being the smoothest rider on a mountain bike trail, but I felt this bike cornered great while keeping me out of trouble. Being a roadie, I probably tend to rely on pedaling over rough stuff instead of being smooth and choosing the best line. The Fox suspension soaked up the rough stuff on a pretty challenging course. I found myself not needing to lock out the suspension even on the fire road sections as the linkage doesn’t allow the bike to bob or squat.
My overall impression of this bike is that it’s a great value at $5449. You’re getting a frame that would cost a few thousand dollars, plus Fox Factory suspension, great wheels, a groupset that offers all of the features of the highest end groups out there, and a carbon cockpit. There is nothing on this bike that NEEDS to be upgraded for you to be out there on the trail and winning XC races.
If you have questions about this bike feel free to leave a comment below and check out the Niner RKT here. If you're still deciding on the right mountain bike for your riding style, check out our blog: All Types of Mountain Bikes Explained.