Descending: Two words best describe this steel steed
barreling down a steep descent: fully capable. It doesn’t hug
the ground and eat obstacles like a full-suspension all-moun-
tain bike would and therefore required us to tactfully pilot our-
selves down rocky descents at the peppy speeds it allowed us to
reach. It created a sense of reckless accountability that kept us
on our toes but provided us with a unique riding experience that
had us ripping from one obstacle to the next. With the front-center
distance of the bike being fairly long, we quickly adopted a point-
and-shoot technique where commitment was key and minor line
WHAT CAUGHT OUR EYE?
Style isn’t everything, but we’re suckers
for the purple/green color scheme of the
frame we received. The ROS 9 is also available in Forge Grey, but we like our all-mountain ripper to show
a little pizzazz. At first glance, it’s hard to determine if the bike
would be more comfortable climbing a technical out-of-the-sad-dle ascent or being thrown sideways over a trail feature. While
dropper posts aren’t as common on hardtails, the slack geometry makes it apparent this bike can be hurled down descents
that would require the seat being out of harm’s way.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Eccentric personality: When we
open a box with an eccentric bottom
bracket, we have a natural tendency
to reenact the potential creaks
and post-ride adjustments that
dot the path to a perfect riding
geometry. Fortunately, with
Niner’s BioCentric II bottom
bracket, the creaks were
nonexistent and the adjustments were simple to perform. All that’s required is
loosening up two bolts and
rotating the bottom bracket
to the desired position.
While we didn’t utilize the
bike as a single-speed, the
BioCentric II system also
enables riders to reach the
proper tension with a larger
variety of gearing combinations. We tried the bottom
bracket in numerous positions
and found the stock all-the-way-forward position to be the most
desirable. That being said, there
were advantages and disadvantages to
each position. The best setup will be specific to each rider’s style and needs.
Climbing: Let’s face it, the ROS 9 is held together using steel
tubing and sports meaty 2.35-inch tires, so it certainly required a
bit more effort to get up the hill compared to most of its hardtail
counterparts. By no means does that put it in the “tank” category, though. Its 67-degree head tube angle and long wheelbase
delivered climbing prowess that struck a middle ground between
a 5-inch trailbike and an upright cross-country hardtail. The stout
2.35-inch Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires kept rolling resistance high
but provided the traction needed to bite into the rocky climbs an
all-mountain hardtail is designed to conquer.
Cornering: Lean this bad boy over! The RockShox Pike RCT3
fork kept the front end glued to any corner, whether it was drizzled
with loose sand or best ridden by railing through a rut. For further
confidence, we found ourselves using an aggressive stance and
pushing our weight into the fork rather than hanging off the back.
Trailing out 45. 7 inches, the wheelbase may not be ideal for tight
corners, but the slack head tube angle and 780-millimeter handlebar created a high-speed cornering experience that left us feeling
closer to the ground than Michael Dunlop in a final corner at the
Isle of Man time trial.
All snugged up: While it’s certainly becoming more common
across manufacturers, we’re happy to see the brake caliper
tucked in between the rear stays and out of harm’s way.