Ultimate gravel race bike.
Disenchanted road cyclists are seemingly flocking to gravel events en masse, seeing the immense challenge of grinding it out across long stretches of unpaved roads, the welcoming vibe of these events, plus the breathtaking scenery experienced along the way. This shift to gravel riding and racing has introduced a demand for high-end, carbon fiber machines that can handle the abuse of long-range format and gravel events. For those of us seeking to push ourselves off the beaten path, Niner's RLT 9 RDO Ultegra R8020 Complete Bike is the ultimate gravel racing machine that blends lightweight carbon construction, endurance geometry, and responsive handling that'll have you swiftly riding over a mixture of bumpy back roads, jarring gravel, and light-duty singletrack.
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. This makes the RDO carbon frame both lightweight and highly efficient, but without compromising structural integrity and stiffness demanded for gravel racing and adventure pursuits. 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.
This particular build uses a mixture of in-house parts that make it astonishingly capable, lightweight enough for its intended racing purpose, and reliable enough to grind it out over miles of rugged gravel and bumpy back roads. The Ultegra R8020 2x11 drivetrain provides a wide range of usable gears and precise shifting, so you can push across expansive stretches of terrain with thousands of feet of elevation change. Ultegra ST-R8020 STI Disc Brakes outfitted with 160-millimeter Ice Tech rotors disperse built-up heat when you're descending over thousands of feet. This means you'll be able to stop powerfully and reliably in a myriad of conditions, ranging from hot, dry, and dusty to soaking-wet and muddy. Another stand-out part of this build is the Zipp Contour SL Carbon Short Bar, which balances a shorter overall reach in the drops with just enough vibration absorption to reduce fatigue over bumpy terrain.
- Niner's ultimate machine for gravel and long-range races
- RDO carbon frame for stiffness, strength, and efficiency
- Endurance geometry for comfort over rough roads and gravel
- Niner Carbon Fork tuned for smoother feel over jarring roads
- Zipp Contour SL Carbon Short Bar absorbs fatiguing vibration
- Shimano Ultegra R8020 2 x 11 drivetrain offers wide gear range
- Shimano Ultegra ST-R8020 STI Disc Brakes for powerful stopping
- Rack mounts at rear and mid-fork for bikepacking versatility