This is the first Niner I have ridden that felt comfortable at speed from the outset. It's stable in the corners and its feel at the handlebar is very steady, no wiggling around, just point and go. I like that. Typically, I run my fork about 20 percent stiffer than my shock, and the RIP 9 responds well in that configuration with no front end push and just the right amount of rear wheel drift when I overcook the turns.
Braking leaves a little to be desired. I am surprised that Niner didn't put SRAM Code brakes on this machine, or a 203 millimeter rotor up front. There is plenty of braking power available from the Ultimate brakes and 180 millimeter discs, but you have to ask for it. The Niner's light steering and smooth suspension would be better matched with a brakeset that required a lighter touch. Certainly not a deal breaker, but that's my two cents.
When I did need to brake in earnest, nothing bad happened. There is a lot of grip available from both wheels and the front tire is very predictable on and off the brakes; I can't recall a big push into a turn, ever. That pays big dividends when dropping into rock chutes or muddy descents (a rare pleasure in San Diego). I chalk up much of the bike's control under braking to the fact that I didn't have to shift my weight far to make something happen. It's a very intuitive handing bike.
Suspension performance is assured by Niner's choice of a Fox 36 fork and DPX2 shock. I never switched out the volume spacer in the DPX2 because the CVA suspension delivered such a gentle bottom-out that I could run the shock at 33 percent sag and let it fly. The mid stroke support was still strong enough to keep the bike up in its travel, even though the O-ring was always slammed. I rode some stupid boulders - long sections of them - at a pretty good pace and never got the "bounce of death."
When I handed the bike off to more accomplished riders, I thought the verdict would com back that the RIP 9 was too short and too soft to handle the big stuff. Instead, I got thumbs up and a similar report on the bike's cornering and suspension performance. In short, we all agreed it was an easy bike to ride in just about any situation.
How does it compare?
Let's compare Niner's RIP 9 RDO 29 with another famous Colorado brand: Yeti's 29-inch-wheel SB 130. The Yeti and Niner both share 150-millimeter forks, but the Niner sports 140 millimeters of rear wheel travel, while the Yeti has ten millimeter less. Not a big difference, but there are times when a little more can be a game saver. Both bikes have similar head angles, with the SB 130 at 65.5 and the RIP 9 at 66 degrees. not much difference there, especially considering you can run the Niner at 65 with the chip.