Niner launches RLT 9 Steel gravel road bike

New adventure rig built around coveted Reynolds 853 steel

Niner RLT 9 Steel

The new bike comes in five builds (click to enlarge).

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.”

Niner RLT 9 Steel

Tire clearance is up to 44mm (click to enlarge).

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.

Niner RLT 9 Steel

The 27.2mm seatpost is designed to smooth ride (click to enlarge).

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

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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  • smiley says:

    Why no 15mm up front?!?!?! Does not make sense to me…I was ready to order, but a QR up front? Color me confused. So now Niner has the BSB9, which has 15mm up front and QR out back and the RLT9 Steel with thru-axle out back and QR up front….why cant you just put thru axles front and rear DAMN IT!

    • Jeff S says:

      Better yet, leave the thru-axles off entirely. I’ve already told niner that I’m not buying a 142 bike.

      This is niner though, and they’re all selling the spec sheet. I think you’re right. If you’re going to go 142 in the rear, and kill everyone’s existing road wheels, they should have gone 15 up front.

      I expect they thought about it, and then decided that this way they could release a “new” updated version next year.

  • Gregg Kato says:

    I wonder what the weight difference is between the steel vs. alloy versions.

  • Gears 4 Good says:

    @smiley – Frustration justified. It doesn’t make sense.

  • Agnieszka Ferhi says:

    Great bike! If only you guys would use different tires. Mine blew up, not even riding in first two days. Never had this happen before and I own numerous bikes.
    Now I have extra expense because will not take a chance using crap one you put on it. Honestly, i think.i should send a bill to you guys…Otherwise, I love the bike!

  • Steve says:

    Awesome, but
    1) why no 15mm front?
    2) from the cx riders out there, will this do light cx duty too?

  • Marshall Miller says:

    Press fit BB on a cross bike….ugh

  • conscience of a conservative says:

    I was interested until I saw the bottom bracket choice. Only English Threaded designs for me.

  • duder says:

    Agreed…once I saw the press BB I was out, and the QR front was salt in the wound. Otherwise I would be really tempted to swap out this for my current commuter/bikepacker/gravel grinder frame.

  • ken t says:

    From ‘ooh!’ to ‘oh well’ after seeing no thru axle.

  • Wasupwitdat B. says:

    Aren’t we forgetting something here? Steel rusts. No way I’d pay nearly $4000 for old technology revamped. I got a Ridley X-Fire for less.

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