The Good: Every damn bit of it
The Bad: No dropper post, not even a quick release post
Thought I'd add my review to give people some additional feedback. First off, I've been riding a Rocky MountainSlayer for the past five years. While the Slayer is a great bike, I've grown tired of slogging 34 lbs uphill. The Slayer has treated me well otherwise. Once at the top, it always rules the downhill. It handled three days at Whistler just fine (with a downhill wheelset). But, for everyday riding, it's just a mental killer on the climbs.
I'm a bike shop employee, so I had access to Niner, Pivot, and Norco. I poured over reviews, rode a few bikes, talked to a bunch of people, and ultimately decided on the RIP 9. My size medium, 4-star build showed up two days ago. I built it up and took it up Emerald Lake that night. Emerald Lake is a classic Bozeman ride, 4 1/2 miles of climbing to an alpine lake, then back down. The trail is slightly wider than standard singletrack, presenting multiple line options most of the way. Bigger rocks at the top lead to a wicked fast, mostly dirt with some roots/rocks, remainder of the downhill.
The climb started well - the 27ish lb weight was immediately apparent. I started the climb with the shock wide open. Contrary to most reviews, with sag set to 30%, I was getting a fair amount of bob. I quickly locked the shock for the rest of the climb. With the SRAM X01 1x11 setup, I comfortably made my way to the top, though the 32T front is a bit too much. I never walked, but the steeps at the end were a bit of a grind. I'm swapping to a 30T tomorrow. One big difference coming from a 26er to a 29er - you cover more ground with each pedal stroke. What would have been a quad-exploding, too-slow cadence on the Slayer turned out to be fine on the RIP.
Once at the top, it was time to answer the big question - how well will the RIP 9 really downhill? After all, the 68ish degree head tube angle is definitely steeper than the 66 degree head on the Slayer. And, the 80mm stem is the longest stem I've ridden in at least 15 years. I'm no slouch on the downhills; I used to race DH a bit, I spent a lot of time on the lifts at Big Sky, and it's by far the most fun part of the ride. Well, after the first quarter mile, I knew I had chosen wisely. The RIP 9 flat-out rips. With the shock open and the 140mm Talas 34 set to Descend, the RIP 9 ate up everything in its path. Tracking was dead-on through off-camber, root-covered corners. Where the Slayer was sometimes a bit twitchy steering, the RIP was perfectly (surprisingly) stable - it went exactly where I was looking the entire time. There have been a few comments about 29ers being difficult in tight switchbacks. I never experienced that one bit, and there are some tight ones on Emerald. I did notice that I couldn't angle the bike quite as much under me around the switchbacks. That will probably come in a few rides as I figure that out, but really, I was holding just as fast a line through them as I would on the Slayer.
Bike fit - I'm 5'10", with oddly long arms, long legs, short torso. Contrary to the Vital review, I found the Medium bike layout long, definitely longer than my Large Slayer. I'm a bit leery of swapping to a short stem since the handling is so spot-on, but I may try it for kicks. The seat post is up a bit high out of the frame, but there was still 30mm left before the minimum insertion mark. As for the curved seat tube, there's plenty of depth in there for dropping the seat to DH height - not an issue.
Overall, I couldn't be happier with my bike choice. The Slayer is for sale. The RIP 9 blew my mind. The suspension design and geometry are superb - Niner truly nailed it. I was initially worried about jumping to the 29" wheel, and I heavily contemplated a 27.5. After riding the RIP, I have zero, and I mean zero, doubts that I picked the perfect bike for me. I don't plan on riding chairlifts with this bike - I made a decision to give up a bit of versatility in that regard to have a bike better for everyday use. If (when) I make it to Whistler again, ill demo a DH bike.