Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Bike Lane -

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.

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