First Look! All-new Niner RLT 9 RDO is an adventure ready carbon gravel race bike

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

Sometimes Niner launches their carbon bikes first, sometimes their metal ones. But, eventually, most of their bikes end up offering both within a short time frame. Except the RLT. It debuted all the way back in 2013 as an alloy model, then gained a steel sibling in 2015. Now, finally, in 2017 we get the RLT 9 RDO, a top-end carbon fiber model using their Carbon Compaction process to produce a light, fast and comfortable do-it-all drop bar bike that’s tested to mountain bike standards.

The RLT 9 RDO also brings new features you’ll soon see on other models, tweaked geometry from the alloy version and this amazing limited edition Ultegra Di2 model with ENVE AR wheels…

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

The key differences between this carbon RDO model and the alloy original are shorter chainstays, lower bottom bracket, and steeper head tube to give it a more performance oriented ride. We’re talking minimal changes, a millimeter here and there, but they add up.

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

They also lowered the top tube slope more, which created a shorter seat tube to expose more seatpost to enhance comfort. Longer post extension typically means better compliance since the post is more likely to flex, which is enabled thanks to their newer RDO 27.2mm setback seatpost:

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

Up front, the headtube gets shaping similar to their AIR 9 RDO, which makes it torsionally stiff enough to keep it tracking true on the rough stuff.

A huge first for Niner that starts with this bike is full length internal guide tubes for housing so it slides into the down tube and pops out of a hatch on the underside of the BB (or reverse, actually, so you’d start from the back of the chainstay for this particular model). Look for that feature to trickle into all carbon Niners as they’re revised. This one has routing for front and rear derailleurs and rear brake hose. The front brake hose runs outside the fork leg.

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

It’s also their first bike with flat mount brakes, designed around a 140mm rear rotor.

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

Up front, the rotor mount is slightly recessed for a very clean look. The bikes will all ship with stealth Maxle front and rear thru axles to tidy up the other side, too (our test bike was shipped with a standard Maxle on the fork).

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

The AIR 9 RDO’s tube shaping is also mimicked at the downtube, keeping all of the power transfer sections stiff. The PFBB30 bottom bracket shell is EBB compatible, letting you set it up as a single speed with their Biocentric 30.

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

Front and rear, there’s 40mm tire clearance. It gets the same fork as on the metal bikes.

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

These ENVE AR rims push the tires out fairly wide and there’s still adequate clearance. Unofficially, if you’re rims are a little narrower, you could probably get 42mm tires in there safely (at your own risk, of course). It’ll also take 650B x 40mm wheels and tires, but comes stock with 700c wheels.

The bike is built for speed, but it’s also fully capable of light touring or multi-day adventure rides. There are dedicated rack mounts on the inside of the seatstays since there’s no bridge, and it comes with a rear fender adapter for the mount just behind the BB shell.

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

2017 Niner RLT RDO carbon fiber gravel race bike

Those, plus multiple fork mounts, means the RLT 9 RDO can be packed out for multiday trips, but the geo is more targeted to performance riders. Like, say, a roadie that wants to race gravel. That said, it’s perfectly at home under a mountain biker that wants something else to do in the winter or the adventure rider that wants to be comfortable but fast on an all day (or multi-day) ride.

Or, it could just be a bike that’s comfortable and inspires confidence under more riders than the Pro Tour type road bike that’s really only appropriate for a handful of people.


Claimed frame weight is 1,100g. The 5-Star build shown here will only be a limited run of 50 since it’s an $8,800 bike. Other models and full specs for each are:

Click images to enlarge.

Color options are Carbon Blaze (with the day-glow yellow) and Carbon Silver (above).

Available now through Niner dealers. Stay tuned for first ride reviews and actual weights!


45 thoughts on “First Look! All-new Niner RLT 9 RDO is an adventure ready carbon gravel race bike

  1. Am I seeing this right? A lightweight road bike with clearance for wide tires? Fender mounts front+rear? Rack mounts on the fork?? It’s about time a company woke up to the actual needs of its customers. Niner you’ve just got yourself a fan, because there is NOTHING else on the market that ticks all those boxes.

        1. The Diverge only has fork rack mounts on the carbon models (no rear) and only rear rack mounts on the alloy models (no fork mounts). No Diverge models and have both front and rear rack mounts. The new Sequioa now fills the gravel/touring nice for the company.

      1. Rodeo Labs Traildonkey has all that, was developed first, is a great bike and can actually take up to 2.25″ tires. Their bike has been on the podium in crits, won CX races, won a mountain bike race, and was ridden in he Leadville 100 by Jared Gruber.

        I own one, and absolutely love it, you should give the bike a look.

    1. Are you being sarcastic of have you not been paying attention to the market? Plenty of bikes out there that tick all those boxes.

      1. I wouldn’t say “plenty,” exactly. I can’t think of other bikes that tick those boxes apart from those already mentioned (Warbird, Diverge, Renegade CF).

        That really isn’t a lot.

        Played and engineered right, such bikes might have an outside shot of promoting CF as a material for riders other than weight-weenie racer wannabes.

        1. I might be wrong but I don’t think the warbird has fork rack mounts. The diverge does, but has limited tire clearance and can be disregarded due to idiotic scs hub spacing. The Domane doesn’t have fork mounts. That leaves the jamis renegade, starting at $2700 and the diamondback Haanjo. Not exactly plenty right? I’d say the miner is much more desirable than either of those and starting at $2,500 actually attainable for those of us who don’t want to pour so much money into a n+1 bike

        2. One more for the list: Traildonkey 2.0.
          Carbon, rack mounts front and rear. 45mm clearance (52:56mm openings). Dropper routing. 3 bottle mounts on frame. And it’s been proving itself from Leadville to Kansas to Belgium to multi day tours for over a year.

  2. Curiosity question: with rack mounts becoming the norm on new fangled carbon gravel bikes, have manufacturers made any statements as to the max weight the mounts can support? Most I’ve seen that mention rack mounts are photographed with standard issue bikepacking bags (sans rack…)

  3. lots of BB drop with somewhat long head tubes – definitely more of an endurance setup, which I suppose is the point. Certainly looks nice. But hardcore roadies will have a hard time getting the stem low enough.

    1. Low stem doesn’t make you a hardcore roadie. Just makes you a slave to fashion. Most PBP riders don’t slam their stems down low but they do ride a ton more miles than most riders.

      1. Maybe. But this is the same co throwing knobby tires on super aero wheels. So apparently aero counts for someone. As for being a slave to fashion, well, you could make the argument about just about anything bike related.

    2. Some of us have need a bike fit like this actually so for me its perfect. That the category is the kind of bike I need and ride is just extra perfect.

    1. Well, I suppose when you throw a $2900 wheels set at an already top of the line bike you will certainly get a few extra decimal points on the sticker price… Bike looks sweet, I dont have that kind of cash but I’ll keep my eye on the lower specc’ed versions

    1. I’m going to guess that the number of people that will actually put a rack on this bIke will be pretty tiny. If you want to rack up with a Niner RLT, get the alloy or SO version.

  4. Like a lighter duty version of the salsa cutthroat. Interesting. Will they offer a frameset only option? Not a fan of sram and I don’t wanna pay 5k for a Shimano variant…

    1. RDO is “race day only” in Niner-speak. Usually marks out their high-zoot stuff – you’ll notice that the aluminum and steel RLT9s don’t get the same designation.

    1. Or, Man niner! Those dropouts look similar to the dropouts used on the RLT alloy that was released years before the rodeo-labs frame…

Leave a Reply