How sweet this one is.

Niner Jet 9 RDO Review

The Niner Jet 9 RDO is one of the most coveted full suspension race bikes on the market. RDO means “Race Day Optimized”, and genuinely it is. The Jet 9 RDO is full carbon, specced with top of the line components and ready to rule any trail. Let’s take a look at the spec’s from the XT loadout of this awesome bike.

Specs from Niner’s Website

FrameNINER JET 9 RDO C5 Carbon Frame
ForkFox Float CTD FIT, Kashima coating, tapered alloy, 100mm, 15mm Maxle
Rear ShockFox Float RP23, Kashima Coating. But I'm not actually sure. They don't list what rear shock is used anywhere on their website.
ShiftersShimano XT M780
Front DerailleurShimano XT M785 10spd, Direct Mount Bottom Pull
Rear DerailleurShimano XT M786 GS Shadow Plus 10spd
BrakesShimano XT M785 with 180/160mm Rotors
Brake LeversShimano XT M785
CassetteShimano XT M771, 11-36, 10spd
ChainShimano XT HG-95 10spd
Crankset Shimano XT M785, 38/26, 175mm
Bottom BracketShimano XT BB-70
WheelsStan's NoTubes 3.30/ZTR Arch Ex, 15mm Front, 142x12mm rear
TiresSchwalbe Rapid Rob EVO TL 2.4 front, Schwalbe Racing Ralph EVO TL 2.25 rear

The bike that I rode at the Interbike Dirt Demo was very different from the one listed above. The ride I had was full Sram XO drivetrain and brakes instead of the Shimano XT seen on the Niner website. The fork was a RockShox SID, not the Fox Float listed on the website. Further, the wheels on the bike I rode were American Classic’s not Stan’s NoTubes and it had Racing Ralph tires on both front and back.

Good grief, about the only thing that does seem to be the same between the bike I rode and what I see on the website is the rear shock… but I can’t even be sure because I can’t find what shock comes standard specced on the bike… it’s not listed anywhere.

Sidenote. I think Niner has not updated to their 2014 models yet like most of the big bike companies have. Another sidenote, my guess is their specs on the website were copied and pasted from a hardtail bikes template and they didn’t add in the field for rear shock. But from all pictures I can be sure that it is a Fox shock, and I’m guessing an RP23 most likely, but I could be wrong.

Update: I received this message from the National Sales Manager  over at Niner explaining why everything was so different with the bike I rode at the Dirt Demo. 

“Hello Shawn,

Thanks for the write up on our JET 9 RDO.  I wanted to shoot you a quick message to let you know a bit about how Niner Bikes works in regards to model year etc and why you are not seeing the specifications of the Dirt Demo Bike on our website.  Simply said, we do not do model years.  This means that there is no set 2013 or 2014 specification.  The best rule of thumb for what you get with a Niner Complete bike is to reference the website as you have.  The “Star” builds you see there are indicative of what we feel are the best builds on that frame platform at that moment.  We try not to change these too much and they coincide with the release of certain groups from either SRAM, SHIMANO, or even forks etc.
Also, frame platforms change from time to time and this will also entice a new Star Build to be born.
One of the things we feel is a strong point for Niner bikes is that a Rider can choose to buy a frame only, a Star Build (made up of 5 “members”:  Frame, Fork, Wheelset, Build Kit, and a Frame specific kit to make the Build Kit work with a particular frame), or to do a “Craft Build” by mixing any of those 5 members as they wish.  That means, for example, if you wanted to get the same bike you rode we could still build it for you.  Or, if you wanted a Rockshox instead of a FOX, or SRAM instead of SHIMANO…we can do that.
The Demo JET 9 RDO’s were an older Star build from the beginning of the year and were part of our van fleets from our two demo vans that were at Dirt Demo.  Just about every other bike at Dirt Demo were actually current star builds.
The rear shock on the build you rode is a FOX CTD Kashima.
I hope this helps.  
Thanks, Joe”

How It Rides

I’m going to start off by saying that I may sound a little crazy while describing this bike, but it is the God’s honest truth. The “In vs. On” section that follows will be something that you just understand when you ride a bike and notice it. I can’t begin to praise this bike highly enough. It is amazing. Along with the Felt Edict Nine it was the best bike I rode at the dirt demo.

I’ll start here. I’ve never ridden in a bike like this before. Pay close attention, I said in, not on.

For years I’ve heard people ask the question “Do you feel like you’re riding in or on it?” I’ve never really understood what that means until I rode this bike. Somehow the geometry of this bike actually makes you feel like you are enveloped inside the bike, cocoon-ed away in safety, like you’re not sitting on top of the bike at all but deep inside of a protected layer. Weird I know. The Felt while still lovely, definitely had an “on” feeling, and though it was a great “on” feeling it was very different from this. This had a magical feeling to it, something that I couldn’t place because it didn’t make sense how “in” the bike I felt.

This “in” feeling becomes exceedingly apparent when you start ripping a berm or transferring through a dips section. The bike just has an overall different feeling than one where you are “on” the bike. You feel more connected, more fluid, more in “one-ness” with the bike. Really, really cool and I wish I could explain it better.

So as I mentioned, corners, berms, downhills, and dips sections are amazing. That connected, one-ness feeling that you get just gives you this hyper-confidence and leaves you pushing for more without realizing it. Not because you want to go faster, but you just feel so confident that this bike will respond to every movement you make.

My ride along the Dirt Demo XC demo course was faster on this bike than it was on anything else I rode, a testament to the ride quality and the XC racing ability of this bike. And this really was without purposefully pushing the pace, it was just as I said prior, a confidence in the bike that had me riding faster and more fluidly with less overall braking.

There was one area however where the Niner Jet 9 RDO didn’t match the Felt Edict Nine in terms of ride quality. And that was suspension stability. As I mentioned in the Edict Nine review, the suspension platform on that bike is unbelievably stable and you really can’t feel it working much underneath you. The Jet 9 does have a little bit of pedaling sag, which is normal for a FS bike. It is by no means a bad amount of pedaling sag, but it is there and is definitely more than the Felt.

That said, the Niner is more fun to ride than the Felt because of that one-ness you feel. Having more confidence while riding berms, dips and all manners of other obstacles is a fun feeling.

Overall Thoughts

Fun, fast and unbelievably confident. The Niner Jet 9 RDO is among the best bikes I have ever ridden in my life and I seriously miss how it rode. As far as which is better between the Felt and Niner, that’s a toss-up. I couldn’t choose after just one ride on each. It is a great recreational bike, but without a doubt it is meant for XC racing. There is no going wrong with this bike in my opinion.

As I’ve said with every one of these reviews, I definitely recommend you get to a local dealer or a Niner demo in your area to test ride one for yourself because your ride may be massively different from mine. There are so many variables that go into the best bike for each individual. While I personally felt like I was “in” the bike instead of “on” it, you may feel the exact opposite. You won’t know until you get on a bike and try it, so treat yourself to a fun days demo and get out there to test some bikes.