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Tuned for adventure.
We've ridden more than our fair share of ultra-stiff, lightweight carbon frames intended for competitive road and cross racing. These carbon frames definitely have their place when every second is absolutely crucial to standing on the podium, but they're outshined by tried-and-true steel frames when the path veers into the woods, is lined with dirt, or strewn with bumpy gravel. Now don't get us wrong, this bike is still plenty competitive for gravel racing and fondos, however, Niner's Road less Traveled inspires the type of stoke to ditch the confines of civilization for remote wilderness trails and bucolic back roads winding through the countryside. If these adventures off the beaten path sound like fun, the Niner RLT 9 Steel Rival 22 Complete Bike is your two-wheeled dream machine for exploring more than you ever thought possible.
The frame's geometry blends the numbers from Niner's mountain frames and that of its barrier hopping, mud bogging 'cross-specific BSB frameset. For better performance outside the tape, the RLT 9 features longer chainstays, a lower bottom bracket, and a slacker head tube angle. This provides a lower center of gravity that yields more confident cornering and improved stability, both of which you can never have too much of while bombing down rut strewed, chunky gravel descents at speed. The longer wheelbase also affords improved tire clearance that lets you run rubber up to 1.75in (just over 44mm). This helps the bike float over washboards while still agile enough for quick line changes on mellow trails. This RLT is so versatile, you'll find yourself navigating the urban jungle on it as your commuter bike too.
Niner gets it and is one of few brands that still constructs frames from Reynolds 853 steel, which provides a compliant ride over bumpy surfaces, yet it doesn't sacrifice much in the way of stiffness, so it still accelerates swiftly. The ride is simply superb, but the RLT 9 Steel Rival 22 build does choose a carbon fork to drop some weight without detracting from that magic carpet ride. The Carbon RDO fork helps soak up the hits and smooth out road vibrations. Don't get confused thinking it's a lightweight spindly road fork as it has disc flat mounts, an MTB approved 15mm thru-axle anchoring the hub in the dropouts and rack mounts that are happy to carry its fair share of packing duties or trips and commutes. Niner has constructed rigid carbon trail forks for years so we're not worried in the least about durability.
This build is customized with a mix of in-house parts, including a Rival 22 groupset for crisp shifting across a wide range of usable gears when you're grinding it out over bumpy gravel roads and touring across varying terrain types. This groupset includes Rival 22 hydraulic disc brakes, which represent the best in entry-level hydraulic discs for reliable stopping power, even in the wet and nasty conditions you're bound to encounter while exploring off-road terrain. It's finished with Mavic Aksium Allroad Disc Wheels with 24 spokes for reliability when you're tracking over bumpy back roads, as well as 17-millimeter internal width for supporting tires in the low 30-millimeter range, which strike a nice balance for gravel grinding and road riding.
- Niner's adventure machine for back roads, gravel, and dirt
- Reynolds 853 steel is lightweight, supple, and rugged
- Endurance geometry for comfort across long, rough roads
- Niner carbon fork for precise tracking, vibration damping
- Rival 22 drivetrain maximizes its range of usable gears
- Rival 22 hydraulic disc brakes for consistent stopping power
- Mavic Aksium Allroad Disc Wheels ensure off-road reliability
- Item #NNR009I
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
I have only taken this bike out for a couple rides but it felt incredibly stable. Yes, it is heavier than its carbon cousin but it gives you a sense of security in it's ride and performed very well on both regular and gravel roads. The bike climbed and descended well, if you are looking for a reliable worry free adventure bike this could be your ride.
Does it all
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
What a fun bike to do multi surface adventures on. This bike truly can handle just about any discipline of riding well. It isn't meant for conquering one expertise of riding , but can be taken out for any sort of adventure and be fun.
Steel is real, but on the heavy side as expected. For someone thinking of a race bike, this won't be the best option, but is suitable for many other riders. I did a few mixed surface rides starting out on pavement and on to gravel and singletrack and the fun factor was there. The compliance of the steel frame was noticeable and cornering felt relatively springy and had some pop. I rode it like my hardtail and it can get down some loose and rocky technical trails no problem. And, the classic and clean look of the thinner tubing looks great.
I found myself in the drops on the singletrack descents for the extra leverage and the 160 rotors with Rival brakes stopped me on a dime even for not being the best out there. The loose and rugged singletrack was not as bad as I anticipated for only having 33mm tires, but would suggest going wider if you plan on doing significant singletrack miles or steep descents.
One of the best and most unique things about this frame is all of the rack mounts for the true adventure rider. With mounts on the fork, top tube, and seatstays, it's ready for week+ long self supported tours with the right accessories and gear. If you ever think you might be interested in that, its nice to know the rack mounts are there.
For the price, you get so much value and versatility in the bike. It won't break the bank and has the ability to do just about anything. At 5ft10in, the 56mm frame I demo'd was too big, so I would go with the 53 if I were to buy the bike. Who doesnt like a handy Swiss Army Knife added to their collection.