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Niner AIR 9 RDO - 2012

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Gear Merchant
Jun 3, 2008
Niner AIR 9 RDO - 2012

The AIR 9 is a highly respected tool of the hardtail trade, and it's difficult to believe that Chris Sugai and his band of overachieving engineers could improve on that platform. But, not surprisingly, it happened. In fact, Niner actually developed a completely new chassis, worthy of Niner's RDO designation -- an acronym for 'Race Day Optimized.' Now, the AIR 9 RDO has been transformed into an entirely different animal that's clearly aimed to place you on the podium.
While this frame shares the AIR 9 name with Niner's versatile carbon hardtail, that's about all that they share. Niner eliminated all excess on this frame, and instead, focused solely on making it as light as possible. For example, the rear brake mounts are now cleanly located inside the stays in order to reduce the amount of hydraulic line needed. Not only does this shave gimme' grams, but it makes the AIR 9 RDO look lean and mean, as well. Also, this frame doesn't use Niner's CYA bottom bracket system. And while the CYA is renowned for its versatility, it would've added complexity and heft to this purpose built race machine. So, Niner went with the lighter PressFit 30 interface instead. However, the RDO does retain the clean internal cable routing and titanium chain-slap protectors that're found on the AIR 9 Carbon.
The AIR 9 RDO isn't just cosmetically and physically different from the AIR 9 Carbon, it's structurally different, too. At the core of every Niner frame is extensive computer-based finite element analysis, and here, it was used to develop a high modulus carbon fiber structure with optimized weaves, lay ups, and tube shapes that produced the lightest Niner to date. We should also add that the RDO's fluid form is no accident. In fact, it was designed in order to dampen chatter and guide impact forces to the stronger parts of the frame. Now, chain torque goes directly to the rear wheel via the large bottom bracket shell and shapely chainstays. Meanwhile, trail vibrations are thoroughly quelled by the swooping seatstays. Niner ties the bottom bracket to the strength- and precision-enhancing tapered head tube via a large down tube in order to ensure that the frame tracks true and responds to every input.
The RDO uses a 31.6mm seatpost and a high-mount, bottom-swing, and bottom-pull front derailleur with a 34.9mm clamp. The rear triangle provides clearance for tires up to 2.4in, and staying true to its XC nature, the AIR 9 RDO only uses 160mm rotors, with the caliper attaching via a post mount. Niner recommends a maximum chainring size of 26/39 for SRAM or 28/40 for Shimano for two-by applications in order to avoid interference issues. Any traditional triple setup will also work fine.
Niner recommends 80 to 100mm suspension forks, or for the lightest setup possible, a rigid unit with a 470mm axle to crown length and 45mm offset. Perhaps, not coincidentally, Niner's award-winning carbon fork shares those exact dimensions. The tapered head tube comes equipped with a Cane Creek IS42/28.6/IS52/40 integrated (Campy style) headset.
Niner dresses the AIR 9 RDO in the color Licorice and in four sizes from Small to X-Large.

Price: $1199.99 (42% Off!)
Regularly: $2098.95

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