While suspension forks are almost ubiquitous, there’s a hardcore following for forks that don’t feature springs. The advantages? Well, precise steering and a weight that’s unrivalled by their bouncy cousins.
Niner’s built its reputation on crafting 29in-wheeled exotica, and the monocoque RDO fork is the stablemate of its AIR 9 RDO (Race Day Only) cross-country race frame, with a price to match. The RDO’s carbon construction is crazy light – with a cut steerer ours weighed 578g without the Maxle.
With a direct connection between wheel axle and stem, steering inputs are instant, no doubt helped by the RDO’s 15mm Maxle thru-axle, which keeps things tight and your wheel secure.
Nobody is ever going to say that a rigid fork is the most comfortable thing to use off road, as you’re relying on the inch or so give in the front tyre and whatever flex there is in the fork to dampen impacts. We spent time riding a titanium fork, which seemed to flutter and flex over bumps – the RDO is not like this. The carbon bladed fork and thru-axle are stiff, losing out on the comfort stakes, but winning on the control and accuracy that this stiffness affords.
We enjoyed riding the RDO fork, but it wasn’t perfect. Spacing between the dropouts was a little too wide, making wheel placement vague, and our steerer tube’s diameter was slightly over, so we had to do a little work to the internal diameter of our headset’s centring ring for a proper fit.