Niner, a 29er mountain bike brand, have launched their first cyclo-cross bike, the RLT 9 (Road Less Travelled), combining an aluminium frame with their own carbon fibre fork and disc brakes.
Disc-equipped ‘cross bikes and ‘gravel racers’ - popular over in the States - are growing in popularity with riders who want a versatile bike that can handle a bit of smooth with the rough. With its rack and mudguard mounts, huge tyre clearance and disc brakes, the RLT 9 ticks all the boxes. You could race it, commute to the office, throw in some mixed terrain touring and adventuring, or just blat around the local woods like a hooligan. The only limit is your imagination.
Niner have lots of expertise in aluminium and they’ve designed a clean and smart frame, using hydroforming to shape the tube profiles. There’s a 27.2mm seatpost to tame some of the vibrations, a PressFit30 bottom bracket for use with regular cranks or Niner’s own BioCentric 30, which would let you build a singlespeed drivetrain, and the head tube is tapered with a 1.5in lower bearing.
Niner also produce their own carbon forks and have developed a new disc fork specifically for the frame. There’s post mounts front and rear for the disc brakes. The rear triangle is built around a 135mm rear axle with regular quick release skewers at both ends. Their own proprietary forged dropouts have been designed to be light and cleanly integrate the brake mount with the chainstay.
All cables are routed internally, using full cable housing to ensure there’s no way for dirt to get inside and ruin the shifting. The seatpost is Shimano Di2 compatible with a wiring port ready for one of Shimano’s new internal batteries.
Niner describe the geometry as being long, low and relaxed to introduce stability on rough roads, but is a bit slacker than a true race-ready ‘cross bike.
There’s six sizes from 47 to 62cm available. No UK prices yet, but in the US it costs $1,049 for the frame and fork, with builds starting from $2,000 for a Shimano 105 build. They will also be a SRAM Red build with hydraulic disc brakes.. More at http://www.jungleproducts.co.uk/
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.