Niner Air 9 RDO - 2012 - $1,365.00

The Air 9 is a highly respected tool of the hardtail trade, and it's difficult to believe that Chris Sugai and his band of overachieving engineers could improve on that platform. But, not surprisingly, it happened. In fact, Niner actually developed a completely new chassis, worthy of Niner's RDO designation -- an acronym for 'Race Day Optimized.' Now, the Air 9 RDO has been transformed into an entirely different animal that's clearly aimed to place you on the podium. While this frame shares the Air 9 name with Niner's versatile carbon hardtail, that's about all that they share. Niner eliminated all excess on this frame, and instead, focused solely on making it as light as possible. For example, the rear brake mounts are now cleanly located inside the stays in order to reduce the amount of hydraulic line needed. Not only does this shave gimme' grams, but it makes the Air 9 RDO look lean and mean, as well. Also, this frame doesn't use Niner's CYA bottom bracket system. And while the CYA is renowned for its versatility, it would've added complexity and heft to this purpose built race machine. So, Niner went with the lighter PressFit 30 interface instead. However, the RDO does retain the clean internal cable routing and titanium chain-slap protectors that're found on the Air 9 Carbon. The Air 9 RDO isn't just cosmetically and physically different from the Air 9 Carbon, it's structurally different, too. At the core of every Niner frame is extensive computer-based finite element analysis, and here, it was used to develop a high modulus carbon fiber structure with optimized weaves, lay ups, and tube shapes that produced the lightest Niner to date. We should also add that the RDO's fluid form is no accident. In fact, it was designed in order to dampen chatter and guide impact forces to the stronger parts of the frame. Now, chain torque goes directly to the rear wheel via the large bottom bracket shell and shapely chainstays. - $1,365.00