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Teton Tested: Niner’s Super Capable Jet RDO Trail Bike

Once upon a time, the Jet was Niner’s full suspension XC race bike, and with this new and improved iteration, the Jet 9 RDO is more fun and versatile than ever. Niner aimed to make a super fun trail bike, and with modern geometry numbers and several build kits to choose from, the Jet delivers without forgetting its past as a great climber.

Boost spacing means this bike can be set up as either a 29'er or a 27.5" plus-sized bike, giving it multiple personalities. The Jet 9 features Niner’s CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension, which is designed specifically for 29-inch wheels, and is meant to be efficient but still very reactive to terrain changes.

Niner's Jet 9 RDO ON PAPER

Niner's revamped Jet 9 RDO in all its glory. Ryan Dunfee photo.

Seat Tube Angle: 74.5 degrees

Head Tube Angle: 67.5 degrees

Wheelbase: 46.4 inches

Chainstay length: 17.1 inches

Front Center: 29.4 inches

BB Drop: 1.3 inches

MSRP: $5500

Those with prior experience on Niner’s bread-and-butter bikes know that the brand’s racing pedigree tends to shine through, making their bikes incredibly efficient and race-oriented, but the new Jet 9 RDO leaves a little more room for creative interpretation (read: fun!) out on the trail. 

At 67.5 degrees, the head is angle is proper for a 29'er trail bike, and with a long toptube and ridiculously short 17.1" chainstays, this bike did its homework in becoming a modern trail slayer. But do the numbers translate into the wild ride the Jet is supposed to be?

You gotta love Niner's little touches. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The Jet was tested in a size large, which fit the needs of most testers in the group, who averaged 5’10” and none of which had abnormally long or short limbs. Niner recommends sizing up for stability and sizing down for a more maneuverable ride if you’re stuck between sizes on their chart.

The 3-star XT build kit had an awesome blend of parts. Ryan Dunfee photo.

With the 3-star XT build, you get an excellent mix of parts including a Shimano XT 1x11 drivetrain and XT brakes, Stan’s new Arch MK3 wheelset, while suspension is handled by RockShox with the Pike up front and a Monarch RL Debonair in the rear, serving up a well-balanced 130mm and 120mm of travel respectively.


Like you'd expect from a brand with a strong XC race pedigree, this Niner climbed excellently. Ryan Dunfee photo.

This bike climbed exceptionally well. It definitely benefited from having a climb switch on the rear shock when hammering out of the saddle or on fire road climbs, but for most of the technical and loose climbing in Big Sky, it was nice to leave the shock open to make climbing less of a chore as this helped the rear tire maintain better traction over roots and rocks.

The anti-squat characteristics of the CVA suspension were readily apparent when climbing technical terrain. The bike remained composed and efficient yet allowed me to tackle difficult uphill line choices and make it though without losing traction or confidence.

The CVA suspension really held its own on technical, chunky climbs. Ryan Dunfee photo.

Niner did an excellent job with the climbing performance of the CVA suspension design. The idea is that when you pedal, the chain tension pulls the lower link down and away from the bottom bracket, while the upper link wants to follow its regular, upward path. 

But since the rear triangle is one piece, the two forces oppose each other and create an efficient pedaling platform that’s still supple and ready to eat up obstacles.


The Jet 9 RDO tracks the ground well and gives off a reassuringly planted feel. Ryan Dunfee photo. 

The Jet felt extremely grounded on descents, and it did an excellent job of eating up rough trail. Throwing my leg over the bike and pointing it down some of Big Sky’s steep and rough trails felt natural. The CVA suspension tracks the ground well and didn’t cause any unwanted or chattery movement.

That this bike feels planted and secure, however, doesn’t mean that it isn’t lively. Aided by ultra-short chainstays, the bike was easy to quickly pop over unexpected obstacles. The geometry strikes a nice middle ground between being jibby and skittish, and being looong and straight-line oriented.

The geometry of the Jet strikes a nice balance between jibby and skittish and straightline stability. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The Jet 9 RDO did a great job of filling the gap between two of the other 29'ers I tested: Ibis’ Ripley LS, which is a very capable, playful and jibby bike, and Evil’s The Following, which is already well known for its remarkable downhill capabilities.

When it gets gnarly, the Niner held its own with a balanced feel. Ryan Dunfee photo.

One of my favorite things about things about this bike is how well balanced it feels when tough line choices or scary terrain lay ahead. The bike let me maneuver quickly and make my own line choices, but it was still forgiving when I made a poor line choice and riding over the occasional rock garden or gnarly root was the only option. This feat was achieved no doubt by the combination of 29-inch wheels and well designed geometry. I’m sure the amount of suspension travel helped as well!

The bike’s higher center of gravity and long wheelbase made it feel a bit slow to change directions in tight, twisty terrain, but it was marvelous on long, swoopy turns and off-camber sections of trail riddled with roots.


The Jet's frame is noticeably stiffer than it's ever been. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The parts spec on the Jet 9 RDO is great for the price, and didn’t leave any of the testers wanting for anything based on performance. The bike isn’t race-weight, but it’s damn close, and it impressed due to the sheer stiffness of the frame, which is noticeably stiffer than previous frames. This increase in stiffness comes from Niner’s Carbon Compaction System construction, which squeezes excess resin out of the carbon and maintains tight manufacturing tolerances, creating a frame that’s lighter and stronger than one would expect.

ISCG-05 mounts were a welcome sight on the Jet. Although I didn’t affix a chain retention device to the bike, this was a smart move on Niner’s part because it’s likely to attract riders of a more aggressive riding background and it’s yet another feature that proves that this bikes means business out on the trail. And hallelujah, wrench monkeys rejoice, the Jet has a threaded bottom bracket. Nuff said.

The external routing of the Reverb dropper post was one of our few knocks of the 3-star build kit. Ryan Dunfee photo.

Another feature I was happy to see on the frame was internal cable routing for the dropper post. However, the 3-star build kit tested comes with an externally routed dropper post, and my qualm with this is that beyond looking messy, the cable and housing are much more prone to damage and thus requires more frequent replacement.

My only complaint about the bike’s aesthetic is the cable routing along the front triangle. Yes, it’s external and makes your mechanic’s job much easier, but the long, exposed sections of housing detract from the bike’s otherwise sleek look.

The Jet comes with a good mix of tires, with a Maxxis Ardent up front and a Maxxis Ikon out back. While a great tire combo for most riding, I’d likely switch to a slightly meatier combination should my average ride entail more than smooth singletrack.

While we tested the Jet 9 RDO with 29" wheels, it can also roll with 27.5" plus wheels. Ryan Dunfee photo.

Let’s not forget that this bike can be purchased as a 27.5+ bike with a 140mm fork. But the wheel size conversion is so much more than that. Adjusting tire and suspension pressure in unison can further widen this bike’s sweet spot, making it an extremely versatile trail bike. My favorite benefit of the Boost spacing actually lies in the use of 29'er wheels, as the extra tire clearance means that this bike gets ultra-short chainstays, making it more nimble than many comparable 29ers.

The Bottom Line

The new, revamped Jet 9 RDO is a plush, controlled trail slayer. Ryan Dunfee photo.

I expected this bike to be tame and even a bit lackluster, resembling its XC past of being stiff, skittish and race-oriented, but as soon as I started pedaling, I realized I as on a whole different beast altogether. This thing is a plush, controlled trail slayer.

Whether you’re into riding all-day epics, or smashing out a couple of laps on your favorite techy singletrack, Niner's revamped Jet 9 RDO will put a smile on your face and make you want to wake up early tomorrow and do it all over again.

The new Jet strikes and excellent middle ground for riders of all abilities. It’s stable and confident enough for a beginner to have fun, but efficient and fun enough to satisfy the airborne aspirations of even the most experienced rider. Niner did a stellar job of mixing fun, efficiency and reliability, making for a bike that makes all aspects of riding enjoyable.

From The Column: TGR Tested

About The Author

I rode both the 29 and 27.5″ plus versions and can tell you that they both had different characteristics…didn’t have much issues with medal bashing but definitely could tell a difference with the smaller(ish) and fatter tires. I did a quick video review…