The Niner RLT 9 RDO has been a few years in the making, but has finally arrived and is ripe for gravel grinding fame and fortune. It’s a bike at home under the performance-minded gravel grinding competitor or the discriminating mountain biker looking to get out and pedal when the local trails are closed. The new RLT 9 RDO offers comfort, performance and playfulness.
The latest iteration of Niner’s much lauded RLT 9 series brings, not only a high-end carbon build, but also a tweaked geometry to make this a true race machine. The classic RLT 9 aluminum and steel versions earned their praise as bikes that held their own on long haul adventures, and big days in the saddle. Now, the RDO version adds an RLT 9 version that is aiming to take podiums in CX and adventure races. The geometry changes aren’t so fierce that you lose the all-day comfort and rowdy demeanor of its siblings, but allows you to shave some weight, increase some stiffness and efficiency, and power this thing across the finish line just that much harder.
Rebecca Rusch is one of the ultimate testers for the new RLT 9 RDO gravel bike.
Product Design and Build Quality
Built using Niner’s carbon compaction process, the RLT 9 RDO keeps the ride compliant where it counts and stiff when the racing action is serious. At under 1100 grams, this frame can be built up as a super light race bike for rides such as the Dirty Kanza or as a long haul tour bike with the capacity to load it with racks, bags and gear for a ride into the great unknown.
Niner offers the same attention to detail and design found in the carbon versions of the AIR 9 RDO on the new RLT in order to withstand the arduous rigors of third-party, industry standard mountain bike stress testing. The frame features thru axles, front and back, an RDO gravel fork with mid-mounts as well as flat mount disk brakes. It also accepts tires up to 40 mm offering the rider a range of options and the ability to adapt the RLT to various riding conditions.
- Accepts up to a 40mm tire for maximum adventure
- Flat mount disc brakes make for clean lines and easy adjustability
- Niner’s RDO carbon compaction delivers comfort and dependabilty
- Super thin profile seat stays and top tube deliver all day comfort
- A massive down tube and chainstays keep power transfer in check
- Tried and true geometry designed for competitive all-condition riding and multiday adventures and everything in between
- NMF internal cable and housing guides means no more fishing for cables
- PF30 BB shell works for 1x, 2x or singlespeed setups and is compatible with the Niner Biocentric 30 (Biocentric not included)
- 12x142mm rear and 15x100mm front spacing resists twisting in the frame/fork and maintains precise disc brake adjustment
|Fork||Niner RLT Carbon RDO, 15x100mm Thru, Flat Mount Disc Brake Compatible, One set of bottle cage mounting bolts on each leg.|
|Headset Included||Niner IS42/28.6 IS52/40|
|Headtube Diameter||1.125” X 1.5” tapered integrated (campy style)|
|Front Derailleur Clamp||34.9mm|
|Bottom Bracket||68mm PF30 BB shell (adaptors required for Threaded BSA BBs), Compatable with Biocentric 30 for singlespeed use|
|Seat Clamp||31.8mm (Included)|
|Rear Dropout Style||12x142mm Thru|
|Accessory Mounts||2 Bottle Cage Mounts, Rear Rack Mounts|
|Cable routing||Internal, Di2 Compatible|
|Weight||1100g (frame only), 1850g (56cm frameset, fork, axles, headset and seatpost collar)|
RDO stands for Race Day Optimized, and holding to that theme, the new RLT 9 RDO’s geometry is refined for that purpose. The numbers are strikingly different from its aluminum and steel siblings, but you will see a few millimeters and a few degrees nudged and adjusted here and there to give the RDO carbon version a slightly more aggressive and race-oriented feel. Most of these tweaks will be noticed in the shorter chainstays, lower BB, and slightly steeper head tube angle. We think that this is a smart move, as it opens up the options of the RLT 9 to be built around what suits your personal riding needs the most. Looking for a budget weekend masher to go explore bi-roads and beyond? Pick up the aluminum frame. Want to escape on long, self-supported adventures? Time to find your steel steed. Hoping to crush PR’s and climb atop podiums? RDO looks like it is in your sights.
“Gravel bikes, I think, are the road bike a lot of people should have bought…” ~Barrett James~
The family of RLT 9 frames and bikes is aimed at a massively broad audience. The addition of RDO expands that even further. Gravel and cyclocross bikes perform quite admirably in standard road riding conditions, but offer up the ability to confidently step off the paved roads, and into a world of adventure and exploration. We find that most people who want to get into road riding are well-served by bikes like the RLT 9 for their comfort, confidence and capability through a wide mix of terrain, and for their ability to take you beyond the concrete world. Many of us have exchanged our road bikes for these types of bikes for that very reason. So, while a gravel/cx bike may not be the perfect fit if your goals are to hit your local crit races, they are a great option for road riders looking for comfort and more options of roads to see, or mountain bikers looking to keep the pedals turning when trail conditions are not fit for riding.
Upcoming Build Options
The RLT 9 RDO will come in 4 different complete builds in 2 color options, and as a frame only option so you can build your dream bike from the ground up. The elite level 5 Star build is clearly aimed at racers who want the absolute best kit possible, and will be produced in a limited-run of 8000 units. The other build specs are aimed at bringing solid options of varying price to performance ratios, but are all built with dependable components that will deliver solid performance. If none of the builds quite suit your needs, you can start with the frame-only option, and pick exactly the right parts for your riding style, terrain, and budget.