NINER ROS 9 UPDATE
IT’S BEEN A busy few months for the ROS 9. After a long time off the bike due to the usual array of injuries/health issues, I was hanging to get back on the trails again and also test the few new mods I had done to it before the Christmas break.
The first change had been – for the first time in my bikeowning life – opting for a custom wheelset build. It was nothing fancy, but was built specifically with my riding style and the mix of trails I usually ride on the steel-framed hardtail. To that end, I went to Summit Cycles and chatted to wheel-builder extraordinaire, Joe Dodds, about what would work. Joe had built numerous trail/all-mountain oriented wheelsets using Stan’s No Tubes ZTR Flow EX rims, fitted with DT Swiss Competition double butted spokes and Hope hubs. The wheelset turned out fantastic, with the wide rim making my new Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35/29 rubber look seriously wide. The wheels ride brilliantly and the extra contact from the wider footprint has helped plenty when cornering.
The other major mod to the Niner has been the fitment of Shimano’s XT 1X11 drivetrain. This has been a revelation; I had been running the cool Praxis wide-range cassette as a 1x10 setup but having the even wider gear range (albeit at a higher price than the bangs for your bucks Praxis cassette) has been very welcome as I try and ride my way back to something resembling fitness. It is not only the wider 11-42 range at the rear that has helped here – I also dropped back to a 30T ring at the front; most of the trails I ride are full of steep climbs and short, fast descents, so outright speed isn’t as important.
The shifting is well taken care of via Shimano’s near-legendary XT shifters which are, as usual, super-crisp in action and, in combo with the XT Shadow derailleur, make for a hassle free ride every time.
The final mod was a slight lengthening of the Rockshox Revelation RCT3 to 140mm of travel. Initially, before I had the Revelation fitted, I had been pretty keen on a Rockshox Pike up front, figuring the beefier stanchions (35mm as opposed to the Revelation’s 32mm) would work best, but have been very pleasantly surprised at the strength and performance of the Revelations.
So, besides this rider’s never-ending battle with fitness and bouts of man-flu, the Niner ROS 9 is pretty much done in terms of how I wanted it to be. Steel-frame trail/all-mountain hardtails such as this have an always growing fan base and it is easy to see why: the frame material’s ride qualities, combined with the simplicity of a hardtail (no real worrying about getting grit/grime in pivots, moving parts, etc.), plus the fact you can fit the latest, greatest components to them, make them a great addition to the bike shed. Plus, they really are just a huge lot of fun – something that was rammed home to me again when I rode this thing flat-out at Tathra over the Christmas break. No matter the trail (steep climbs, steep descents, flowing sandy singletrack) this monster-truck of a bike crushed it all. And it was serious fun the whole time.