Niner BSB 9 RDO review

Fast but unforgiving ’cross racer

BikeRadar score3/5

Niner was born from a love for mountain bikes with 29in wheels, though in recent years the company has ventured off the trail and onto gravel roads and ’cross courses with a couple of drop bar models. The BSB 9 RDO is the company’s flagship cyclocross racer. Like the sport itself, the BSB 9 RDO is fast and unforgiving.

Fast, not forgiving

Cyclocross is a merciless sport. One misstep, misshift or miscalculated corner will leave you in the dust.

Related: The best cyclocross bikes

The BSB 9 RDO can be an equally harsh mistress. When you’re on your game, this bike is a superb companion for out-of-the-saddle pedal mashing and is a willing accomplice for your holeshot machinations. The full carbon frameset corners with precision and the geometry occupies a Goldilocks position that will suit just about any rider. The BSB 9 RDO is neither too low and slack nor too high and tight; it’s just right. The BSB 9’s middle-ground frame numbers make it a well-rounded competitor on any course.

The bsb 9 rdo has a stout front end:
The bsb 9 rdo has a stout front end:

For better and sometimes for worse, there's not much give from the BSB 9's front end

But the stiff frameset that helped you feel superhuman at the beginning of a race can work against you near the end when your legs and lungs are burning and you’re redlining with one lap to go. On rough, hard-packed courses the BSB 9 RDO can be jarring. The fork in particular has a tendency to rattle the rider.

It requires a bit more focus to keep the front end tracking through rutted turns. This is likely due to fact that the fork uses a full 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in tapered steerer, rather than the more slender and forgiving 1 1/4in or 1 3/8in tapered steerers found on several of the other ’cross bikes we tested this season.

To Niner's credit, the company tests the BSB 9 RDO frame and fork to the more stringent EN mountain bike safety standards, which few other companies do. 

Contemporary carbon frame

When we first spotted the BSB 9 RDO last summer it sported a carbon fork with a 100x15mm thru-axle and a 135mm quick-release rear end. Niner gave the frame a minor refresh for this season by adding 142x12mm Maxle thru-axle to the back of the bike.

BSB 9 RDO’s carbon frame has internal cable routing for the shifters but keeps the front and rear brake lines routed along the outside of the frame and fork for ease of maintenance.

The fork and frame are compatible with 140mm or 160mm rotors. Niner chose to spec a 160mm rotor upfront with a 140mm disc in the rear.

The rear brake line runs along the left side of the down tube in the seven o’clock position, so it’s out of the way when shouldering the frame. Both the top and down tubes have hexagonal profiles that make them very easy to grip for run-ups.

The bsb 9 rdo has top- and downtubes with a hexagonal profile that's very easy to grab:
The bsb 9 rdo has top- and downtubes with a hexagonal profile that's very easy to grab:

Grabbing the top or down tube of the BSB 9 RDO is like clutching a tennis racquet 

Like many modern carbon frames, the BSB 9 RDO uses a PressFit 30 bottom bracket shell. Thankfully, it stayed silent during our testing.

Quality kit, minus the brakes

I tested the BSB 9 RDO outfitted with Niner’s Two-Star build. In its stock form, the 53cm bike I tested weighed in at 8.97kg / 19.78lb.

The shimano 105 rear derailleur shifts through an 11-speed 11-32t cassette:
The shimano 105 rear derailleur shifts through an 11-speed 11-32t cassette:

A double crankset and a wide-range 11-32t cassette provide all the range needed for ’cross racing

The Niner’s entry-level build includes a rugged and reliable 11-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain with a 46/36t crankset and an 11-32t cassette. While SRAM’s 1x drivetrains are nice, there’s something to be said for having the ability to drop to a low gear in a hurry.

The bsb 9 rdo use shimano 105 levers mated to avid bb7 r mechanical disc brakes:
The bsb 9 rdo use shimano 105 levers mated to avid bb7 r mechanical disc brakes:

Shimano's 105 group delivers excellent shifting, but the SRAM BB7 R brakes don't pack much value for the price

The big letdown of this build was the inclusion of mechanical disc brakes. The SRAM BB7 R brakes are decent – light years better than cantilevers, in fact – but they’re not on par with Shimano’s hydraulic offerings, which have more stopping power and significantly better modulation.

I would give it a pass if the BSB 9 RDO was on the market well below its asking price of £2,799 / AU$4,850; but in this bracket a bike really needs hydraulic brakes in order to be competitive with its peers.

On the bright side, Niner’s house-branded alloy wheelset is tubeless-ready, as are the Schwalbe X-One tyres.

More Niner-branded alloy components round out cockpit. They might not be the lightest items, but they get the job done.

A bit of hometown pride from the fort collins, colorado-based company:
A bit of hometown pride from the fort collins, colorado-based company:

Niner's clever top cap cover reminds you why you race

Verdict

Niner’s BSB 9 RDO is a race thoroughbred with a build that doesn’t quite pack as much value as its competitors. If, however, you like wrenching on your own equipment and would rather not fuss with bleeding hydraulic disc brakes then you might find the build appealing.

Josh Patterson

Tech Editor, US
Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Age: 35
  • Height: 170cm / 5'7"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 72cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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