Niner has launched a carbon fibre version of its gravel bike, called the RLT (Road Less Traveled) 9 RDO. The new carbon frame weighs a claimed 1,100g and provides 40mm tyre clearance, and features full rack and mudguard mounts.
The RLT 9 has existed in the company’s range for a few years, in aluminium and steel flavours, but with the growing appetite for high-performance gravel and adventure bikes, the time was right for a carbon version.
Although sharing a similar name to the previous bike, Niner says the new carbon frame has been designed from the ground up.
“So, when we set about designing the RLT 9 RDO we talked to riders. They wanted a bike that could go the distance but perform when pushed. They wanted a bike that was stiff yet compliant. A bike that transferred power instantly but absorbed rough terrain. And, a bike that wouldn’t weigh them down but be durable,” says the company.
There are some key differences, most notably in the geometry. The wheelbase is shorter on the new RLT 9 RDO due to the chainstays being chopped in length. The bottom bracket is a full centimetre lower, providing a 65mm drop below the wheel axles. Meanwhile, the stack and reach are taller and shorter respectively on the new bike.
Niner started off as a mountain bike company and it has poured its carbon fibre experience into the new RLT 9 RDO. The frame, constructed using what the company calls Carbon Compaction process, and weighs a claimed 1,100g. That should certainly make for a much lighter build than the aluminium RLT 9 we previously tested. It has adopted thru-axles, 142x12 at the rear and 100x15 on the fork, common on its mountain bikes and increasingly so on gravel and adventure bikes. It’s also using the flat mount standard to affix the brake calipers to the frame and fork.
Niner says it spent a lot of time working on getting the shape of the tubes and layup around the seat tube and seatstay junction right, in an effort to provide just enough flex to deliver a comfortable ride. The frame features full internal cable and hose routing, and it’s compatible with Di2 electronic groupsets. There’s even a window in the bottom bracket to make installation of cables and wires easier. The carbon-sleeved bottom bracket is compatible with PF30 or a BioCentric II eccentric bottom bracket, so you can run it as a singlespeed if you wanted to.
The final detail is one that will get a lot of fans, because, despite its high phigh-performancentials, Niner has added rack and mudguard mounts, increasing the practicality of the bike.
The new Niner RLT 9 RDO costs £2,300 for a frameset with a choice of two colours and six sizes (47 to 62cm) or three builds: £3,800 for SRAM Rival; £5,000 for Ultegra and £8,800 for Ultegra Di2. That top-end build consists of Enve SES 4.5 AR Disc wheels and Easton carbon finishing kit, which ramps up the price. While there’s space for up to 40mm tyres, the stock bikes will come with Schwalbe G-One 35mm tyres.
More details at www.jungleproducts.co.uk/niner/rlt9rdo
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.