Niner’s new steel hardtail, the ROS 9, really took our testers by surprise. It comes with geometry and parts that suggest it is more about fun than racing performance, and it had one of our testers forgetting all of her troubles and simply frolicking on the trails of Sedona, Arizona. Watch this ‘Roundtable Reels’ video to find out why.
Final Take: A fun, quirky hardtail sure to be coveted by a specific set of steel loyalists.
If you favor fun over featherweight, are a reformed single-speeder, or a person for whom the words 'racing' and 'capes' go hand-in-hand, move in a little closer—we've got a bike to chat about.
Niner's ROS 9 is decked out with a component spec that might confuse riders whose main focus is slaying invisible Strava racers. It's not the lightest bike. It's not the cheapest bike. But it might be one of the most fun 29er hardtails around. It's blinged out with SRAM's X01 1×11 drivetrain, offering a wide gear range and plenty of chainring clearance for riding over Sedona's ledgy rocks.
Niner's BioCentric bottom bracket gives the flexibility of running gears or being set up for masochistic singlespeeding pleasure. The steel frame may be heavier than its panty-waisted carbon-fiber cohorts, but that additional weight comes with an exceptionally smooth ride. Wide Stan's NoTubes Flow EX rims and beefy 2.35-inch Schwalbe Nobby Nics make tubeless conversion an easy choice, and one that's rewarded by tires that soak up bumps and grip the trail like a honey-covered glove. Aggressive geometry, front and rear through-axles, beefy gussets and the ability to run up to a 140-millimeter fork set this bike apart from 'racey' high-zoot scoots. Incredibly short chainstays and a stupid-wide 780-millimeter handlebar create a playful feel whether cruising downhill or praying your legs have enough in them to get through another day of Bible testing.
From small details like stealth dropper-post routing and a color-matched 130-millimeter RockShox Revelation fork to the shimmery blue paint job, this bike is so pretty you almost don't want to scratch it up. Almost. With a price tag nearing four grand, this isn't entry-level unless you're one lucky bastard. However, the ROS 9 starts at $2,500 and can be purchased frame-only for $900. –KB