Weight: 18.0 pounds (56cm)
Overall Star Rating: 3.5/5
We like: Versatile geometry, comfortable cockpit.
We don’t like: Creaky bottom bracket right out of the box, not a true ‘cross race machine when it comes to handling.
The BSB 9 RDO is clearly gravel-inspired, though it’s not a gravel bike. Nor is it exactly a race bike. It’s a Jekyll-and-Hyde crosser that’s good for gravel grinders and cyclocross races, but master of neither. Slack enough for all-day comfort, but a bit too relaxed for quick steering, it bridges the gap between elite racer and epic cruiser.
While spec’d well with Ultegra Di2, the BSB 9 has a problem common to many Niners we’ve tested: a creaky bottom bracket. Normally we’d diagnose a need for maintenance, but creaky BBs have been a storyline for Niner in the past, and it doesn’t seem to have been remedied here. Even the best bike is no fun if it’s in the mechanic’s work stand all the time.
The cockpit felt just right in terms of width, and the frame geometry has a race-inspired fit that still felt comfortable enough for hours-long grinds. Small bump chatter was occasionally noticeable, but on a 50-minute racecourse you’re not likely to complain.
While the head tube angle measures 72 degrees, the fork felt like it had more rake. The BSB can feel a step behind in tight turns, requiring a bit of coaxing to really bullet out of the apex. Our impression? This bike is less of a true racer and more of a gravel bike with an itch for racing.
A middle-of-the-road sprinter, the BSB 9 responded when we punched the pedals, but not in grand fashion. Big legs could win a race on a fast sprint to the line; mere mortals might not get everything they need out of those first few pedal strokes. Considering how stiff the bottom bracket was in testing, we expected a bit more punch.