Niner came out with their “all-road mountain bike”, the RLT 9, one year ago. RLT, meaning Road Less Traveled, is a testament to what this bike can handle. Niner’s first dive into the road bike world can handle much more than pavement. This gravel-friendly off road machine holds a very unique stamp in the new gravel grinder frenzie, specific to races like the Trans Iowa, Dirty Kanza, or even a day away from heavy traffic on the road. The Niner RTL 9 is a great option from a pretty rad brand. Specs The RLT 9 was designed by the Niner crew out of passion, as all of their bikes are. They love to mountain bike, but also love getting on the road every so often. They take pride in their product as each bike is tested by their crew. We had a chance to ride the 3 Star Rival Hydro RLT 9, a nice blend of components that won’t break the bank. Niner RLT 9 The drivetrain is Rival across the board from the shifters to the derailleurs and crankset. As Niner has mountain bike roots, they stocked the RLT 9 with disc brakes, also of the Rival variety that can fit up to 160mm rotors. The 3 star RLT comes with Niner’s proprietary rims and Schwalbe Sammy Slick tires. Niner topped the specs off with their own seatpost, stem, and drop bars. Geometry The frame is specifically built around off road traffic, yet it does not sacrifice when you really need to stand and crank down on the pedals. Niner’s Hydroform tubing provides a smooth vibration dampening ride, resulting in a more comfortable ride. Niner complemented the RLT 9 with their carbon fork – a narrow, more road specific version in comparison to their mountain fork. Lower bottom bracket height, a slacker head tube and longer chainstays make this bike rip gravel on the descents. Not to worry, the Niner RLT 9 passes EN mountain bike standards. The RLT 9 is also set up with the Niner Biocentric 30 BB system, which gives you the ability to rock the bike geared or switch over to single speed.Niner RLT 9 The Ride Overall, the bike surprised me. As I climbed the loose gravel road up Bootleg Canyon, the bike handled well, and was very stable –  the rear tire tracked pretty well. Although the bike accelerated very well at times, going through some soft patches of gravel with the 700 x 35 rear tires proved difficult at times. Descending the bike proved to be a bit more friendly, I felt very comfortable taking on the descent as the elongated chainstays and slacker head tube gave the bike more stability on the loose gravel. Niner RLT 9 Bikepacking Friendly? If you plan on participating in a race like the Oregon Outback, or just plan on riding some B-roads in the middle of America, this bike is a great option. Although the shorter drop bars create less space for cargo up front, the large frame space allows for plenty of options for a custom frame bag or even a half bag and the use of the two water bottle cages.. The Niner RLT 9 would be a great rig for pavement, dirt, and even some mellow singletrack. Niner RLT 9 The Niner RLT 9 is available in 4 models as well as a frame set. 5-Star – $5,499 4 Star – $3,399 3 Star – $2,499 (tested) 2 Star – $1,999 Frame set – $1,048  

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