Just before the 2017 Cyclocross World Championships, Cyclocross Magazine’s contributor Hannah Caproon attended the 2017 Winter Press Camp to check out new gear from two dozen brands that might be of interest to our cyclocross and gravel-riding audience. Niner Bikes recently announced a full carbon version of their RLT (Road Less Traveled) gravel bike and we got a close-up look at the bike and all its details.
The sun peeked out after heavy rains in Westlake Village, California, just in time for Niner to show off their new baby, the RLT 9 RDO, a carbon fiber gravel endurance speed machine. Riders were all smiles as they returned to the expo, after ripping rowdy, grippy singletrack, showing that Niner has pleased at least a few of the early testers.
After a few years of development, Niner has brought a mountain bike ISO-certified rig, geared specifically toward the performance-inclined rider, and the company hopes it will climb atop the podium at many gravel events this year. The RLT 9 RDO (Road Less Traveled Nine Race Day Optimized – say that ten times!) builds on the RLT 9 aluminum and steel line, which have proven to be completely able, long-haul options.
While the steel RLT 9 features wider tire clearance and additional rack and pack wingnut mounting options, the new carbon RLT 9 RDO shaves some weight without sacrificing the performance features that have already made the line incredibly popular from high-end racers to all-day adventurers.
Mike Gann, President of Niner Bikes, flew out to the event to promote the bike, which spoke to the dedication he has to expanding into performance endurance bikes. Some of the main talking points he walked us through included attention to the balance of stiffness, stability, and comfort, all made possible by Niner’s Carbon Compaction Process, which allows for precise and low-weight builds.
Though there’s no under-downtube mounts, the frame does feature a significant amount of bottle and rack mounts, including mounts on the inside of each seat stay, for a rack or fender. The absence of a brake bridge means more flexibility, and better mud clearance.
Niner also chose to make builds easier, and more sleek-looking, by using their NMF internal cable routing guides. There’s a small plate at the base of the bottom bracket to ease the struggle of routing.
The RLT 9 RDO has clearance for up to 40 mm tires, which should be more than enough for those who are using this for its “true” intention – racing or being otherwise speedy. The stealth axle is another nod to a sleek look. SRAM E-Tap is not easily compatible due to front derailleur movement and a lack of clearance.
The Niner RLT 9 RDO is available now from your local Niner dealer. It is available in two colors: Carbon/Silver and Carbon/Blaze (yellow) and comes in six sizes (47, 50, 53, 56, 59, 62cm).
Suggested retail price for the frame and fork (includes: headset, YAWYD top cap, seat collar and maxle) is $2300 USD. Complete bike builds are also available.
Main feature round-up:
-Tire clearance of up to 40 mm
-Stealth axles -12x142mm rear and 15×100 front
-Flat mount disc brake compatibility
-Bottle and rack mounts throughout, including on their carbon fork
-NMF internal cable/housing guides, with easy access at the bottom bracket shell
-PF30 bottom bracket shell
-1x and 2x compatibility
-Carbon compaction process with attention to stability without sacrificing power transfer
Stay tuned as we hope to test this new model.
More info: ninerbikes.com