The real deal.
Carbon frames have their place in aggressive race venues and the quest for marginal gains, but when we're out in the wilderness in search of serene scenery and gravel-filled adventure, no frame material fits the bill quite like the springy responsiveness and durability of steel. And perhaps no bike embodies the Road Less Traveled ethos more thoroughly than Niner's RLT 9 Steel 4-Star Ultegra Complete Bike, which has Reynolds 853 steel tubing, a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain, and just the right balance of carbon accessories to soften the bumps without overshadowing that prized steel ride. It lives to escape the concrete jungle for the dirt-strewn wilds of coastal mountain ranges, never ending seas of prairie, and country B-roads that may never see the attention of a grader.
The frame's geometry is a compromise between Niner's mountain frames and the aggressive disposition of the 'cross-specific BSB frameset. Compared to the latter, the RLT 9 features longer chainstays, a lower bottom bracket, and a more relaxed head tube angle. This translates into a lower center of gravity that still affords clearance over obstacles and while cornering, a wider wheelbase for stability, and tire clearance that lets you plush-out to the tune of 1.75in (just over 44mm). In our own test rides of the geometry, we found that it eats up washboard and is nimble enough for mellow singletrack, so, if you're keen on making the RLT a durable singletrack speedster with zero suspension, then throw on some knobby tires and get to it. This bike's only limit is you.
Despite Niner's love of steel, the RLT 9 Steel does make a reasonable concession to carbon by including snappy CX Carbon wheels, carbon cockpit components, and a Carbon RDO fork to further soak up and smooth out road vibrations. The fork is no delicate road race specimen, though—as evidenced by its 15mm thru-axle anchor—and the inclusion of rack mounts means it also doesn't shy away from carrying its own weight. Niner claims its rigid trail forks are the best in the world; after testing this claim across varied terrain on both the RLT 9 and its stablemate, the BSB, we're not prepared to second guess that claim.
- The ultimate adventure machine for gravel and touring
- Endurance geometry is purpose built for long miles
- Reynolds 853 balances weight, responsiveness, and durability
- Stiff, responsive, carbon fiber wheels roll fast and smooth
- Hydraulic disc brakes deliver powerful stopping and modulation
- Three bottle cage mounts carry extra hydration
- Carbon fiber cockpit components absorb road vibrations
- Niner goes gravel and Shimano's venerable Ultegra drivetrain goes disc
More RLT 9 builds
View more Pre-Configured Cyclocross Bikes
RLT 9 size by rider height
Effective Top Tube
Head Tube Angle
Seat Tube Angle
Bottom Bracket Drop
Reviews & Community
Are these rims tubeless compatible?
Hey Michael - The Niner CX Carbon Rims have Stan’s BST rim profile for an easy tubeless set-up. I can have our Bike Shop set the rims up tubeless before shipping. Feel free to contact me directly and I will get you set-up with your next bike. - Kyle L. - Expert Gearhead - email@example.com - 801-736-4337