Unsanctioned gravel races have seen a massive influx of disenchanted road racers fleeing from the current state of sanctioned events in search of a more welcoming competitive venue. In addition to boosting numbers, this shift in participation has introduced a demand for high end, carbon fiber race machines that can handle the unique abuse and long-range format of gravel events. For those of us looking to make the jump to gravel, Niner's 2017 RLT 9 RDO 4-Star Ultegra Complete Bike blends lightweight carbon construction, endurance geometry, and responsive handling that'll have you comfortably ticking off the multi-surface miles.
As expected from an RLT, this bike is a bit slacker, longer, and lower than its cyclocross cousin, Niner's BSB 9, but also sees a few tweaks compared to its aluminum and steel RLT siblings that boost its snappy profile. Shorter stays tighten up the rear triangle and work in tandem with a lower bottom bracket for a confidently responsive ride experience. This combination lends the RLT 9 more stability and comfort over rough roads while still maintaining the agility to rocket out of turns and carve loose, sketchy descents. The dropouts have integrated rack and fender mounts, which offer a versatile array of setup options, and the replaceable hanger means that even if a catastrophic derailleur-related incident ends your ride, your RLT will live to roll another day.
Niner uses its Race Day Optimized (RDO) Carbon Compaction System to mold this RLT's frame, fine tuning the placement of carbon and eliminating any material that doesn't contribute to the frame's structural soundness and ride quality. To further enhance the smooth ride, the RLT has a 27.2mm seatpost, which adds an element of give to absorb bumps and chatter so you won’t be getting beat up as much as you’d expect, especially on washboard roads.
Niner brings its RDO carbon to your next gravel ride
Endurance geometry blends responsiveness and comfort
RDO carbon construction balances stiffness and light weight
Thru-axles increase stiffness for a snappy ride
Rack mounts on stays and fork for bikepacking adventures