Truth be told, CC helped me build this bike up from the frame. So, this review is more on the niner frame than the build shown, but wanted to give Niner some respect. I race a Felt Carbon Road and Santa Cruz Carbon Highball. Since moving back to Wyoming, I needed something to lay down the gravel miles and race. A friend who builds recommended steel. Steel? So I settled for the Niner RLT Steel.
People describe steel has having a 'buttery' smooth ride. Maybe it's a combo of the 40cc tires, but it's so comfortable on road and gravel bumps that it begs to be ridden more. Smiles while punishing yourself? Yes. But, don't equate 'buttery' with 'floppy'. Steel is steel, and it's freakin' stiff. Your power goes direct to the tires. I can't wait for next summer's gravel race season. Race bike? Niner makes a carbon equivalent, but honestly I'll take the strength and comfort of steel and commit to training a bit harder. Those training miles are so pleasant. I'm finding myself doing road training miles on this bike more and more. It's a bit slower with 40cc tires, but heck, who cares when you're having fun.
I haven't weighed the bike yet, but with carbon seat post, cranks, Force cx1, Mercury wheels, I'd wager I'm right around 20-21lbs.
The frame (also on carbon) has dropouts for bike touring... which is nice, because the continental divide is on the bucket list. Reports say some of the rubber plugs fall out and are difficult to find replacements, but this is in no way structural, and mine are all still there.
The geometry is fantastic. 3 hours is comfortable. If you're hauling down some loose gravel you have to watch that rear tire. I don't race cx yet, but the wheelbase is reported to be a bit longer. I don't see why it wouldn't work.
Zane helped me get this set up. Everything my wife and I own is SRAM, so we did a CC custom build. The process was smooth, and the price was within budget. Would definitely go with a competitive cyclist build again. We included a Syntace carbon seatpost, zipp cockpit, Mercury wheels, Force cx1 groupo, mavic tires (orange seal is my go to sealant), and a Stages power meter.
After 2.5 months of summer/fall abuse, I highly recommend this frame. The build above looks awesome, and there is also a SRAM Apex build available as well. I'm a 1x guy, hence the custom build. Either way, custom or pre-built, give this bike some serious consideration!