RLT 9 2-Star GRX Gravel Bike
The peloton may be where many cyclists aim to spend their time, but we prefer life that's a little less crowded. Somewhere beyond the tarmac you'll find a different kind of adventure, with country roads that lead to ghost towns, and grueling gravel grinds that soar to high elevations, and skirt along the edge of steep, unforgiving canyon walls. While you may encounter the odd road steed off-road, beefier tires more akin to those on mountain bikes are better suited for the road less traveled, offering a bit of pneumatic suspension to keep things comfortable while we push beyond the last cell tower, and into a land of seemingly endless possibilities. Niner's RLT 9 2-Star GRX Gravel Bike offers stretched out geometry, and massive tire clearance that's built to take on lofty hoops, and rough and rowdy trails. It takes cues from Niner's mountain and 'cross bikes to offer all-road capability that's confident, powerful, and capable of diving down long and dusty roads simply to see what's on the other side. And that's quite fitting for the RLT, as its name is short for Road Less Traveled.
The hydroformed aluminum tubing does a tremendous job of bringing high-performance to a price point that makes saddling up on this build completely attainable. Niner's construction process allows it to be drawn thinner with walls that don't compromise stiffness or impact resistance in key areas. Proprietary forged dropouts are designed to reduce weight and integrate the low-profile flat mount with the chainstay. One ride on the alloy RLT and the old myth that aluminum rides harshly will soon be dismayed. Niner's experience in building alloy mountain frames shines through on this design, and a surprising amount of responsiveness, quick handling, and bulletproof durability quickly come to surface shortly after clipping in. The decision to spec a 27.2mm seatpost helps reduce vibration on rough roads causing fatigue that builds up over the hours.
This frame blends Niner's mountain geometry with the barrier hopping 'cross-specific BSB frameset. Compared to the BSB, the RLT 9 is built with longer chainstays, a lower bottom bracket, and a slacker head tube angle. What you will notice is a lower center of gravity that still has plenty of pedal clearance while cornering and a slightly stretched wheelbase for stability. Tire clearance is plentiful letting you clear 44mm wide tires with ease. The bike is composed on washboard descents and a hoot on singletrack, whether riding loaded down for a multi-day mission or out for a sunset rip.
Niner constructs RLT frames in 3 different materials, but they all feature carbon forks. This fork matches the demeanor of the frame and is no lightweight road model. The 15mm thru-axle securely anchors the front hub over the roughest roads and the stiffness prevents any rotor rub. Rack mounts are able to carry their fair share of the load and get the weight of bikepacking gear on the bike and off your back. The fork shares the same DNA and safety testing standards with its legendary MTB version so we are certain of its durability. Including the fork, the RLT boasts 26 threaded mounts, enough for even the heaviest packer to all the mount water bottle cages, bolt-on bags, and racks you could desire for the longest trips to far off destinations.
Shimano's GRX400 level groupset delivers the gravel-specific design at a price-point that leaves room in the budget for all the other supplies you'll need to get out on a bikepacking venture. The ergonomic shift levers keep hands comfortable over rough road and multiple long days, while the derailleurs are built to handle the undulations of the terrain. Niner spec's this 2-star build with a suite of Niner custom parts, keeping the aesthetics dialed and maintaining the overall comfort of this long-haul rig.
- Explore beyond the beaten path with Niner's quintessential gravel bike
- Aluminum frame is light and plenty durable
- Endurance geometry keeps you comfortable for the longest rides
- Niner carbon fork with thru-axle for precise tracking
- Flat-mount brakes powerfully control speed, even when loaded down
- Shimano GRX drivetrain is purpose-built for off-road riding
- Niner wheels and cockpit keeps price-point low and ride quality comfortable