The road less traveled is now accessible by steel, a steel-framed bike that is.
On Monday, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based maker of all things 29er lifted the curtain on the RLT 9 Steel, a gravel grinder-oriented drop bar bike constructed in part with much-revered Reynolds 853 steel. This bike joins the alloy-frame RLT 9 that launched around this same time a year ago.
“Whether you’re doing a super long gravel road race like the Dirty Kanza, or if you are looking to do some bike packing, this bike can handle it,” explained Niner associate brand manager Brad Cole, during RoadBikeReview’s recent visit to company HQ. “We really designed the bike with adventure in mind.”
Features of the RLT 9 Steel include a Niner carbon fork, tapered steel headtube, PressFit BB30 that can be set up geared or singlespeed, and geometry that’s deigned for the rigors of riding off road. Chain stays are stretched (435mm), the bottom bracket is lowered (BB drop 65mm or 70mm depending on size), and the head tube angle is slacker (from 70-72.5 degrees depending on size). This all conspires to deliver stability on rough terrain, claims Niner. A 27.2mm seatpost helps smooth that the ride. Claimed tire clearance is up to 44mm/1.75”.
The new bike comes in two colors, Forge Grey and Safety Orange or Dirty White with Red Ringers, and there are five build options: Shimano 105 ($2,500), SRAM Rival Hydro ($3,000), SRAM CX1 ($3,900), Shimano Ultegra mechanical ($3,900) and Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic ($6,000). Frame, fork, and headset run $1,500. Sizes include 47cm, 50cm, 53cm, 56cm, 59cm, and 62cm.
The disc brake-only (post mount) RLT 9 Steel can accommodate single, double or triple chainrings. The tig-welded 853 tubing is claimed to absorb road chatter, yet still provide feedback without feeling dead. Other frame features include rear rack pannier braze-ons, and three water bottle mounts. Rotors are 160mm front, 140mm rear. The rear wheel is held in place with 142x12mm thru-axle, helping maintain caliper tolerance. The fork is set-up traditional QR style.
“We’ve already been riding it a bunch,” said Cole. “A little while back, we took it out for some bike packing and did an overnight trip up the Poudre Canyon. The supple ride of steel is really ideal for those kinds of rides.”
For complete spec details, geo data, and more photos, check out the gallery below. For more information visit www.ninerbikes.com.