Cyclocross Magazine - Digital Edition

Issue 26 - Cyclocross Magazine

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83 XXX CYCLOCROSS MAGAZINE – ISSUE 26 Niner is a different kind of bike company, staking everything on a wheel size that was not the norm when they started in 2005. The small company with fewer than 20 employees has at least four offices scattered worldwide, with all team members connected via the cloud. Final manufacturing is done in Taiwan. The new Niner BSB 9 RDO is the company's second nar- row tire offering, though they have kept to their original wheel size commitment. The aluminum RLT 9 gravel/adventure bike was introduced last year, and this year our own Andrew Yee was at the unveiling of the BSB 9 RDO during an unseasonal early-summer snowstorm in Utah. He gave us the lowdown of the Niner "Blood, Sweat, and Beers" 9 "Race Day Optimized" 'cross bike in a First Look article on cxmaga- zine.com. Race Day Optimized represents Niner's top- end design construction and finish, according to Carla Hukee, Niner's global marketing manager in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is a moniker shared with other four other models in Niner's line, each constructed with a carbon-compaction method that utilizes rigid forms, over which the carbon fabric is wrapped. The carbon-wrapped forms are then put into a mold, and during the curing process the rigid forms shrink for easy removal. In this method, both the outer and inner shape of the frame is determined, which, according to Niner, gives consistent wall thick- ness and maximum compaction, without fabric wrinkles or resin pooling. Niner is very proud that every frame, including the BSB 9 RDO, is able to meet EN standards for mountain bikes using this manufacturing method, a higher safety standard than required for road bikes. THE FRAME: The BSB 9 RDO is not a carbon version of a modified RLT 9, but is designed from the ground up as a cyclocross bike, with shorter chainstays, a shorter wheelbase, and steeper head and seat tube angles. The BSB 9, is a much lighter bike than the aluminum RLT 9. Though it has slightly less tire clearance, it can still fit a 38mm-tire with a squeeze, which points to some use overlap between the two bikes. While paint scheme and tube shapes can differentiate a bike's appearance, it's the un- seen details— like carbon layup and construc- tion—that create the ride characteristics. The BSB 9 RDO is mostly matte black, with some red accents (a Team Clif Bar scheme) and no round tubes, each having a unique shape that blends into the next. Most iconic of the shapes is the broad, flat, hexagonal down tube, integral with the chainstays and the massive head tube. Words of encouragement are painted on the top tube adjacent to that massive head tube, driving you on as your head hangs down from exhaustion in the 55th minute. Cable routing is internal, except for the rear brake hose, which is run externally along the down tube, avoiding the need to cut a hose to feed it internally. Because we received a "five-star build' for our BSB 9 RDO, it came with wire ports for electronic shifting, one on the down tube where the front derailleur cable might enter, one ahead of the front derailleur, and one at the rear of the right chainstay, where the rear derailleur cable would exit to the rear mech. The down tube hole for a rear derailleur cable was opposite the front cable port and came plugged. Though designed to be a race machine specifically for the CX hour, double bottle mounts are included so the bike can do double duty for long rides and gravel grinder as well. The BSB has a proprietary thru-axle fork with a tapered carbon steerer. The blades have a unique triangular cross section, with the acute apex pointing forward, so when staring down, the fork crown looks like it's swept forward. Included is a Rockshox Maxle that threads in from the right side. Niner stuck to tried-and-true cyclocross geometry with the BSB 9, only slightly tweaking what has become the norm. Our 56cm-example has a 56.5cm effective top tube combined with a 72-degree head tube angle to give a long 610cm front center. With the 42.5cm chain- stays, the wheelbase is set at almost 103cm. The drop of the PressFit 30 bottom bracket is a middle-of-the-road 6.5cm. THE BUILD: Our review bike was a top-of-the-line, five-star build, with Ultegra 6870 Di2 R785 hydraulic and Niner CX carbon tubeless clincher wheels. That would officially put this into super-bike category. The Ultegra 6850 Di2 is set up with a GS medium-cage rear derailleur and a 11-32 11-speed cassette paired 46/36 chainrings on the attractive 4-arm 6800 crankset with 172.5mm arms. The Di2 battery is within the seatpost, which has become the norm for OEM Di2 setups of late, though the junction box, without any alternative integrated mounting, is still strapped under the stem like an after- thought. R-785 hydraulic calipers are essentially the same as the M-785 (Deore XT) version, com- plete with finned pads, in a different anodiza- tion color to match the Ultegra-level compo- nents. The hose is attached to the caliper with a banjo, something that will be streamlined with the yet-to-be-released RS-785 model, with its "inboard straight-type hydraulic connector," as we reported online in April 2014. Thomson's carbon bar, with a very sharp ...continued on page 89

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