If you spend some time in the evenings or even at work watching things like GCN on YouTube, you might be tempted to try and convert one of your road bikes into a gravel bike. What’s the big deal, right? Don’t you just need some thicker tires and maybe MTB pedals and shoes? Well, yes, if all you want is to roll through some vineyard trails, maybe. But if you really want to explore the best parts of your gravel backroads, then the Niner RLT 9 RDO will have a transformative effect on your experience.
There is a reason that a seriously well respected experienced pro like Rebecca Rusch uses a Niner for her off road racing including her own Private Idaho gravel race and festival. It’s because Niner have somehow managed to figure out how to balance the needs of off-road with the snappiness of on-road riding to make this a responsive road bike when it’s on the road and a comfortable, aggressive gravel bike when it ventures off the pavement. Niner started out as a purely mountain bike brand, and indeed its heart is in rough and dirty riding, so there shouldn’t be too much surprise that the RLT 9 RDO performs so well on gravel. But then again, there are lots of brands out there with similar backgrounds that somehow miss the mark. One thing to keep in mind is that Niner builds and tests its carbon RLT to the same exacting standards that it does its pure mountain bikes. That’s pretty rare, if not unheard of in the gravel world.
They manage to make sure the frame will live up to these expectations by using the same production process called RDO Carbon Compaction System to make a super lightweight carbon frame that can take a beating. They have also designed it so that it will be able to fit up to 40mm tires to help mitigate the beating you’ll take over rough roads. With the special 27.2 seat post, Niner has deflected a lot of the rough chatter that can rattle up to your backside. And the thin seatstays intersecting with the elegant top tube will add a pleasant level of springiness without sacrificing a solid feel when you need to accelerate. You can thank the huge down tube and the PF 30 bottom bracket for holding the whole thing super solidly. And as an aside, this is a BB that is compatible with Biocentric 30 if you are keen to switch it over to singlespeed.
Once you swing a leg over the RLT 9 RDO and give it a go over some gravel paths, you’ll start dreaming about the trips and trails you can find for multiday packing. Fortunately, Niner have anticipated your daydreams by providing rack and fender mounts on the frame and fork. In fact, the forks have three mounting bolts on each leg, which will give you all sorts of options. Just be sure you’re not weighing it down with more than 45 pounds of gear. And the rear mounts can handle up to 55 pounds. And if you want to build this up with some Di2, there is a neat little removable window at the underside of the bottom bracket which makes it super easy to install and service the cables and wires internally routed.
Whether you are looking to join some gravel races or just want to strike out on your own adventures, the Niner RLT 9 RDO offers the comfort and performance to give you the ride you need.
Frame: Niner RDO carbon compaction
Fork: Niner full carbon RDO fork w/ rack mounts
Rear Stay: Carbon
Fork Axle: 15mm Thru x 100mm
Headset Included: Yes, integrated Campy style
Steerer Tube: 1 1/8” - 1 1/2”
Bottom Bracket Type: PF30 Press Fit
Cable Routing: Internal, mechanical or electric
Front Derailleur Mount: 34.9mm clamp
Front Derailleur Pull Type: Bottom pull
Front Derailleur Swing Type: Bottom swing
Wheel Size: 700c
Max Tire Clearance: 40mm
Brake Type: Disc, flat mount, 160mm rotor max
Seatpost Diameter: 27.2mm
Seatpost Included: No
Seat Collar Included: Yes
Rear Axle: 12mm Thru x 142mm
Sizes: 47cm | 50cm | 53cm | 56cm |59cm | 62cm |
Colors: Blue Gray, Black Orange