Despite the growth in popularity of gravel bikes, the two 2018 Dirty Kanza 200 winners both rode cyclocross bikes to win their respective races. When Amanda Nauman first won the race in 2015, she too rode a cyclocross bike.
Last year, Nauman made the switch to Niner's RLT 9 RDO gravel platform. When I spoke with her earlier this year, she said her switch to the slack side was her doing a solid for her sponsor. "I have the luxury of having Niner as a sponsor, and sometime a few years ago, they decided they were going to make a gravel-specific bike," she said. "The really short answer is that Niner wanted me to ride their gravel bike last year."
Nauman went on to explain that inspiration can come from many sources. Since switching to the RLT 9 RDO, she has found it the perfect bike for the long days in the saddle at Land Run 100, Michigan Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder, Dirty Kanza 200 are more. Last year, we even saw her give it a run with the Fox Step-Cast AX Adventure Cross suspension fork.
"For me personally, in terms of the way Niner set up the geometry on the RLT, it's made to be more comfortable," Nauman said in March. "I tell people, yeah I could race my BSB [cyclocross bike] and set it up to be a little bit more comfortable for gravel, but the things that aren't going to change are bottom bracket height, the angle of your head tube and the height of your head tube. Those three points are kind of what set it up geometry-wise for why people would want to buy a gravel bike. It's because it's more comfortable."
"It's your Cadillac, and your BSB cyclocross bike is your race car," she added.
Last month at the Dirty Kanza 200, I checked out Nauman's 2018 DK200 gravel bike during the Everything Gravel Expo the day before the race. SDG team manager Dave Sheek gave me a tour of what's new and returning on her RLT 9 RDO Cadillac for this profile of Nauman's gravel bike.
Amanda Nauman's "Cadillac" Dirty Kanza 200 Niner RLT 9 RDO
The RLT 9 RDO is Niner's carbon gravel bike platform. The company replaced last year's black and yellow paint scheme with more muted choices of black and orange and black and blue.
Nauman rode a 47cm frame with the black frame and orange decals—as well as some green for her sponsor SDG. The flat mount, 12mm thru-axle frame comes with Niner's corresponding flat mount carbon fork. Although the bike is billed as a gravel racer, it still comes equipped for adventure with rack mounts on both the frame and fork.
As Nauman said, the RLT 9 RDO "Cadillac" is a bit slacker than its BSB 9 RDO cyclocross counterpart. Her 47mm gravel bike has a 70 degree head tube angle that is 0.5 degrees slacker than the cyclocross model. The resulting wheelbase is a bit longer at 100.0cm versus 99.3cm for the BSB. The RLT 9 RDO bottom bracket is also lower, with a drop of 7.5cm versus 6.8 for the BSB 9 RDO.
When I asked Nauman during our interview about her tire choices for gravel races, she was proud to highlight her tire nerdom and the thought she puts into choosing tires for her races. At Dirty Kanza, Nauman opted to run a Vittoria Terreno Dry in the front and the minimal profile Terreno Zero in the rear. Both the front and rear tires were Vittoria's 700c x 40mm models.
"We decided we were going to try [the Zero] for DK this year," Dave Sheek said about Nauman's tire choice. "It has zero tread, it's got a super fast center and is puncture resistant for the Flint Hills. In the front, we wanted a little bit a of a side knob in the loose turns. Then with the Zero in the back, it has almost zero side knobs, but the same snakeskin sidewall."
The last two years, Nauman suffered the wrath of the Kanza gravel gods, but this year, she escaped with no flats en route to her second-place finish.
Nauman joined her fellow Easton-sponsored athlete Craig Richey with an array of components from the company. Nauman mounted her Vittoria tires to Easton EA90SL alloy rims wheels with the company's new Vault hub.
For her drivetrain, Nauman started with Easton's EC90SL crankset with an Easton power meter in the bottom bracket shell. She ran Easton's new 47/32t Gravel Shifting rings paired with a Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 front derailleur and R9150 Di2 rear derailleur. Sheek said "probably in the future," when I asked if Nauman has plans of running the new Ultegra RX805 clutch-based derailleur.
Nauman rounded out her Easton components with a 40cm flared Easton AX adventure bar wrapped with camo tape on the drops. Sheek said Nauman has been tempted to run the flared bar for cyclocross, "We always joke that we want to race ’cross with them, but we don't want to get people hooking on her handlebar. It's a super-fun bar for descending down mountain passes in California."
Although Nauman did not use any front or rear suspension, she did have a little extra squish in her saddle. She ran a prototype saddle from her sponsor SDG called the Radar HC. According to Nauman, the last to letters stand for "Happy Canyon."
Sheek described (and demonstrated) the saddle prototype: "You can see in there the way we designed the base is with a stiff center bridge so you can get power through to the pedals, but we tapered off in the design of the base so there's more wing flex."
Prior to Dirty Kanza, Kogel Bearings helped sponsor a contest to guess Nauman's finishing time at the 206-mile race. Not surprisingly, Nauman ran some parts from the Texas company, including Midas Gold Aluminum 12-tooth derailleur pulleys and a PF30-386L bottom bracket, the latter of which comes Wyman-approved. "We generally run Kogel BBs," Sheek said. "Kogel did a great job with the ’cross seals. I can't say enough. I'm sure if Helen Wyman is running them, they have to work because she always rides in crap conditions. During the season with power washers and standard maintenance, I can go a long way on a set of bearings."
For more on Nauman's DK200 RLT 9 RDO, see the photo gallery and specs below.
For more gravel bikes from Dirty Kanza and Lost and Found, see our extensive bike profile archive.