Even though Niner is best known for its 29" wheeled mountain bikes, it's also taken interesting steps with its range of gravel bikes and most notably, its full suspension MCR. However, we've got Niner's more budget-friendly RLT 9 in for testing. Rich with neat frame details, we're keen to see how this bike stacks up.
Niner says that the RLT 9 is designed to maximise your freedom, pairing affordable, high-performance materials with elegant engineering. This bike built around a hydroformed aluminium frame with its tubes carefully shaped to boost strength and stiffness while keeping the frame as light as possible. This is Niner's latest version of the frame which benefits from a new forged chainstay yoke that's said to improve tyre clearance and stiffness.
It's not just that yoke that's new as the bike runs the brand's new RDO carbon fibre fork. It's made using Niner's Race Day Optimized carbon fibre that's built using the brand's unique process that's said to ensure complete compaction of the carbon layers by applying heat and pressure. This helps maximise the carbon-to-resin ratio, helping to keep the fork light and stiff while compliant over the rough stuff.
Along with three-bolt cargo mounts at either side of the fork, it's internally routed for a brake hose, it employs a 12x100mm thru-axle and can accommodate flat-mount brakes. There's also internal routing for a hub dynamo powered light.
The RLT 9 has space for up to 700x50c tyres but the big wheel can be easily swapped for 650b wheels with a width of up to 2". Our test bike comes with 700c wheels fitted as standard.
As for the rest of the frame's features, there are plenty of mounting points dotted around the frame, making this bike more than capable of bikepacking overnighters and there's internal cable routing. This bike can also become home to a dropper post if you're looking to get extra rowdy.
This bike also gets Niner's Biocentric Bottom Bracket, making for easy fitment of any drivetrain, whether that's geared or singlespeed. That's without the requirement of bolt on hubs, chain tensioners or adjustments to brakes and gears.
As for the RLT 9's geometry, it's shaped to remain comfy on the longest rides. As such, Niner says it gets a longer chainstay, low bottom brackets, and slacker headtube angles. So on a 56cm frame, it gets a 71.5° head tube angle, a 73° seat tube angle, and a 383mm reach. There's also a 430mm chainstay.
We've got the RLT 9 in its 2-Star SRAM APEX 1 build that's priced at £2,200. If its name hasn't already given the game away, it's equipped with SRAM's APEX 1 11-speed groupset. This bike rolls on a pair of Niner Alloy wheels with a 22.5mm internal width that are wrapped with Schwalbe's G-One Allround Performance Raceguard TLE 700x40c tyres.
Finishing the bike off is an Easton EA50 AX bar, Niner custom chro-mo railed saddle, a Niner stem, and a Niner seatpost.
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