Here are a couple of the full profile shots that Chris Sugai of Niner Bikes sent me yesterday. This is the new R.I.P.9 full suspension 29"er that should be available mid-summer. These two bikes are production protos.
With that in mind, here are my initial impressions of the platform.
Clearly, Chris and steve have been very busy with this bike. The proto-type shown at Interbike back in October of '05 is vastly different than this bike. The overall design is similar, but all aspects of the design have been refined a great deal.
It would appear that the design is reminiscent of the recent offerings by Giant, Iron Horse, and Intense. The suspension is a multi pivot affair with cartridge bearing pivots for longevity. I can also see that the top and down tubes have been placed to give maximum clearance to the rider and suspension fork crowns respectively. The planned travel is 4.5 inches which should be right inbetween the current "XC-ish" and "All mountain" 29"er offerings. The original proto was meant for six inches of travel, but they retracted that. Perhaps when a truly long travel front fork for 29"ers becomes available we will see that idea resurrected? Hmm.......
Chris at Niner has indicated to me that they would rather not release any details on the R.I.P.9 until it's actually available. Their may be a few minor tweaks yet before actual production begins. Also, they are very concerned about piracy, which I feel is legitimate considering these bikes are breaking new ground, being 29 inch full suspension bikes and all. So, all my meanderings are merely observations, okay?
Okay, so what we have here is a great platform for all day rides and endurance events. Probably not a hucking machine. No, more of a fun trail bike, can do the minor drops, catch some air, and give you greater control over your riding experience. Hmm......isn't that the type of riding most of us do? If this bike performs as such, has a reasonable light weight, and is affordable then Niner will have hit a home run here, in my opinion. Tall order to fill, but I know that Chris and Steve are up to the challenge. I can't wait to see these bikes hit the trail! It'll be interesting to see how they perform in real world conditions.