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…
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.
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:
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.
It’s also their first bike with flat mount brakes, designed around a 140mm rear rotor.
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).
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.
Front and rear, there’s 40mm tire clearance. It gets the same fork as on the metal bikes.
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.
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!