When your brand is seemingly built around mountain bikes of a particular wheel size, how do you grow beyond that? Sure, Niner’s teased a downhill program during the release of the WFO, but otherwise they have a bike that fits virtually every major category.
The answer is to simply turn left. To take a new road, the RLT 9 gravel pathway to be exact. One that may be less traveled but is becoming more and more popular. All of us continue to seek new adventures (or at least I hope you do), and sometimes you’ve got to stretch your perceptions of yourself a bit to cover new ground.
I asked what led the decision to branch off from mountain bikes, and Niner’s cofounder Chris Sugai had this to say:
“Not every cyclist has great access to the best single track right out their back door, but many people have vast arrays of gravel roads to explore and train on. They want to contribute to making that experience as fun as possible. Niner is about making the best off-road bikes available – they’ve applied all their longstanding experience making great carbon forks and high end alloy frames directly to the RLT 9 project – and feel riders are going to be very ecstatic with the high quality and functionality alongside the key Niner signature ideas like the geared and single speed functionality.. to name a couple”
What he left out was that everyone at their office totally wants one. See what the RLT’s all about in the extensive article below.
The RLT 9 is quite simply an “all road mountain bike” that’s designed to tackle epic cyclocross races like the Iron Cross and Southern Cross as well as endurance gravel grinders and monster cross showdowns. The hydro formed frame uses a tubeset similar to the AIR9, giving it aesthetically pleasing structural shaping.
Shift cables run internally, entering the frame through new entry port grommets that’ll work with mechanical and electronic drivetrains. There’s an auxiliary port on the seat tube near the front derailleur for Di2/EPS systems, otherwise the front shift cable pops out just under the bottom bracket and comes around to meet the front derailleur.
The rear shift cable pops out at the same spot and runs housing all the way back to the derailleur. The new RLT 9’s design offers reasonably easy installation and safekeeping from mud and grit. If you’re running Di2/EPS, wires will run internally to the rear derailleur, and frames ship with plugs installed on all wiring holes not shared with mechanical drivetrains.
Rear brake housing runs externally along the bottom of the down tube.
Niner even integrated fender mounts on the ride, built right into the front and back of the rig, letting the bike double as an aggressive commuter…assuming you commute without racks.
The setup also uses a Pressfit 30 bottom bracket. What’s not shown here is a new BioCentric 30 bottom bracket. Built similar to their two-bolt BioCentric II EBB, it allows you to run a standard 24mm or 24/22mm GXP crankset in the PressFit BB30 frame and adjust chain tension when set up as a single speed bike. That keeps the rear dropouts much cleaner:
The RLT dropouts are custom forged pieces with hollowed out sections to save weight. The non-drive side integrates a minimalist brake mount. Note the fender mounts set back and above the rear axle, which is all built around a standardized 135mm style rear quick release axle.
The new full carbon rigid fork is also built around standard quick release axles. It, too, builds in fender mounts just above the dropouts and behind the crown. Both the fork and frame have a max clearance for 700×45 tires, meaning you should be able to cram a 29×1.8 semi-slick in there…that’s something we’ll have to test when we get a demo bike in for review..
Tube shapes and wall thicknesses are all designed to provide a fast but lively ride. It’s also designed to use a 27.2 seat post for a bit extra compliance, and they recommend using their own RDO carbon seatpost for maximum comfort since it has intentional aft flex to soak up the bumps. I’ve ridden them and they work.
The RLT will also be available as both the frameset shown above or the (complete gravel bike options listed below), in two colors. Mint, shown above, and…
…Industry Gray, which has a slightly bluish tint. Claimed frame weight is 1395 grams for a 53. Available sizes are 47, 50, 53, 56, 59, and 62cm. Framesets include the fork and will retail for $1,049 (we’re double checking on whether that includes the headset and seat post collar, stay tuned).
Complete bikes will come in two specs:
Click image to enlarge. The 4-star build uses SRAM Rival 10-speed with the S-700 series hydraulic disc brakes and retails for $2,999. The 2-star build uses Shimano 105 and comes in at just $1,999. They both also include a new product from Niner by way of drop road bars with logo’d foam bar tape.
They are also ready for purchase at the Jensonusa links below..
Pricing is $1999.00
While the SRAM 4 star ride is slightly more at $2,999.00 USD, they both come with free online shipping and a very high quality service and pre-build.
The geometry shows the bottom bracket’s a bit lower so you’re more “in” the bike rather than “on top of it”. In other words, they’re designed to let you power through the rough sections but not feel skittish on the loose stuff.
Ready to take the road less traveled with Niner? Then get your RLT order in now, they start shipping this fall.