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EDR
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Not a rant, i promise.

Got an opportunity to make a buy on a Niner RLT 9 3 star Rival build but don't know anything about this bike other than apparently it's a gravel bike. Yeah I've read up on the specs and all but has anyone owned one and what are your thoughts for everyday pavement riding and mixing it up on canals and easy gravel?

Does it lean one way or the other towards gravel or road? (I'm looking for more relaxed, comfortable position vs. fast/race-y)

Thoughts on comfort for longer say 25 to 30 mi rides on the road?

Thks

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Own a 2020 RLT 9 RDO for about 600 miles so far and really like it. Is it the most relaxed frame? No. Is it setup to be racy? No. Good mix between comfort and power transfer for a gravel bike.

What I like about this bike:

Tire clearance is specified at 50c but ive had 53c fit in the frame with clearance for non-mud, dry days. Knowing you can fit large tires just adds to the comfort and confidence on gravel.
Frame is solid and overbuilt- Is it the lightest gravel bike out there? No way. But im a BIG guy (6'2" 240lb tight end) and when I get down the power, it responds and just goes. No flex, no wired sounds, it handles weight well.
With the right tires, will hang with road bikes no problem - Swapped to 32c Conti 5000 tubeless road tires and it just moves. Still, love the stock G-Ones, Rambler or Byaways for mixed terrain rides that are not too slow on the road.
Design and paint job is killer, people always giving me comments how different it looks compared to other gravel bikes

What I dont like about this bike:
Stock wheelset is trash - Heavy, not very wide (only 20mm inner), and sometimes tough to setup tires tubeless. Do you need to replace right away? No, great for someone just needing durable wheels that wants to run up to 40c. Since I wanted to run larger than 40c tires and wanted to drop rotational weight, picked up nice carbon wheels for $800, dropped almost 1lb.
Handlebar is a love/hate relationship - Easton bar has nice flair on it, excellent when off road in the drops but dont find it comfortable on long road stretches.
Niner the business - Been a Niner fanboy for a VERY long time, owned 6-7 bikes from them but in the last 2 years their quality and customer service has really fallen off. 2 failed MTB frames in 12 months and been waiting 8 months for a replacement with no communication updates. I do worry if this frame fails how long will it take to get a new one.

Do weekly 30-50 mile road (or mixed terrain) rides and its just awesome. Im never beat up because of the bike didnt do its job. Again my comments are on the carbon RDO model, not the steel or aluminum models so dont know if my feedback holds weight.
 

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EDR
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Otta, I went ahead and pulled the trigger on an aluminum rlt 3 star with rival 1groupset. Pretty sure I'm going to love this bike and for once in my life I fell smack dab in the middle of the sizing chart so that eliminates my usual concern when buying sight unseen.

As long time mountain biker and someone who hasn't had a drop bar bike since I was 12 years old I'm looking forward to getting out and putting some miles on the road and gravel on something different. Options are good.

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Otta, I went ahead and pulled the trigger on an aluminum rlt 3 star with rival 1groupset. Pretty sure I'm going to love this bike and for once in my life I fell smack dab in the middle of the sizing chart so that eliminates my usual concern when buying sight unseen.

As long time mountain biker and someone who hasn't had a drop bar bike since I was 12 years old I'm looking forward to getting out and putting some miles on the road and gravel on something different. Options are good.

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
Awesome - Also long time MTB rider but after seeing my friends go on crazy adventures on their gravel bikes, I had to get one. The RLT 9 is my 2nd gravel bike after I realized I loved it to upgrade to something nicer. Its now my favorite bike even more than my mountain bikes.
 

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I have a 2021 carbon RDO and have ridden in the past (and currently have at my house for some maintenance) my friend's 2019 Aluminum. Both Apex trim levels with stock AL seat posts. Differences include bar tape, saddles and he upgraded his rear derailleur to Rival. (think the original was damaged in some way?) Fit, finish and function are all the same.

I'm coming from a MTB background since 1991. BMX before that. Have never owned a drop bar bike or really even ridden one more than in a parking lot. Steel, AL, carbon bikes and rigid to FS and 2.1-4.8 tires. Basically my purchase in January was a whole new world. Drop bars and skinny tires.....eek.

The AL bike is far more stiff than the carbon version. This may or may not matter to you depending exactly how you ride it. He takes it on proper gravel adventures 40-60-100 miles and complains that it rattles him to death. It's at my house currently to have a few mm dished in the wheelset so that he can use the absolute maximum width tires in hopes of providing more cushion. On tarmac or the really fine packed crushed gravel used for some toepaths the frame material difference would be unnoticeable. Dropping off a curb, repetitive joints in a sidewalk, rutted or washed out B-road? Yes you feel it.

25-30 miles on the road? Again depends on the roads and your bike fitness. That could be like a 3-4hr MTB ride and only 1.5-2hrs on the road. Based on saddle time alone you might be fine riding absolutely anything.

Compared to MTB I thought the drop bar/hoods reach was a bit long on the "correct sized" bike so I got a shorter stem. Have like zero saddle to bars drop. Now the distance from my sit bones to the proper position on the hoods is the same reach as seat to grips on MTB. I'm sitting up a little taller than intended this way. Going into the drops though I'm back to a more aero position that isn't overly compromised from what I'm used to. The stock steerer has maybe 20-30mm of adjustment spacers but you can always get a stem with rise or drop too.

It's not overly fast/racey. Can build it and ride it that way though if you choose. 3-4 hours and 30mi is within the range of my typical MTB rides so that distance on the RLT on roads is nothing.
 

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EDR
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
^^^
Appreciated the in depth feedback. I just did a complete 180 though and canceled my order. The wheelset spec and the fork (15 TA) do not match this current model year so I was uncomfortable with the purchase. What pushed me over the edge was a brand new Spec Diverge E5 happened to just come in to a lbs right up the road. I just did a test ride and really liked it and it's cheaper so I went with that since I know I like it's feel.
 

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It appears as you have already purchased the bike. Well, done! So, this post is a little late. I'm still posting my response as it may help others.

I have the Carbon Fiber "RDO" RLT 2x 4-star build. It took me months to settle on a bike after reading every gravel bike review and article I could find. I do have to admit that I did (and still) do lust after the Pinerallo Grevil, in red. However, three things about the Pinerallo shifted me into buying the Niner RLT instead: The availability or lack thereof the Grevil. The price, which was beyond what I'm able to spend. Finally, this will seem odd, a lack of frame mounting points. I want to go on an epic ride and need a place to carry my stuff - the Grevil had none.

I ordered the Niner in February of 2021 and got the bike delivered to my home in late July. It took only 151 days. Which some will consider way to long of a delay, while other understand how the pandemic has affected the bike industry.

I originally ordered the Steel 1x 3-star build and during the long delay in getting the bike I was able to upgrade to first a 2x setup, and then to the 4-star build, until I finally asked for my order to be changed from the steel frame to the RDO. I was lucky that all these changes add little if anything to the delay in getting the bike I wanted. My reason for the upgrades was simple - this is the only bike I will have for the next four to five years - I better get the best bike for me I can afford.

I ride my Niner RLT on the paved roads or what can be called "paved" bike paths 99.98125% of the time. Some paved paths like the bike path in Waikiki is rougher than many "true" gravel road I once rode in West Virginia. Like it was designed to be upsetting to its users, but in ways one can't identify. (sorry, rant about the roads and bike paths here)

The bike is light, well-made and a joy to ride. Material wise I don't know how it compares to the alloy frame. Geometry wise I understand they are the same. The bike rides very well, it feels stable even when pushed, handles faster bit as easily as any 'fast' bike I've ridden. Its more relaxed than a race focused. It would compare favorably with endurance bikes. I've pressed my RLT into service as a commuter and long Sunday morning rides, with hopes of epic road adventures in summers to come (after the pandemic).

The frame is overbuilt as other have posted. I'm no feather weight and trust it. The frame has dozens of mounting points making it an idea starting point for building out a bike-packing rig. I fit a rack for the ride to work, and the bike handles it well. The paint work looks to be quality, and the color is nice. I do have plans to wrap in vinyl later in the fall (stay tuned).

Every budget friendly bike cuts cost somewhere, with Niner it's the wheels. The wheels are junk (see other's posts). I had recognized this when researching the bike and spent the money to order up some Chris King hub, Belguim R45D wheels. In the past I've had Chris King wheels on two of my most beloved bikes and decided to spend the money (again) this time. This might not be 'rational', but I still spent the money. A review of the wheels is beyond the scope of this post, so I'll just say they are great; I'm very happy with them.

Tires. As I'm riding roads, I went with the Rene Herse Bon Jon Pass. (on sale here) They are 700Cx35 and would fit under the fender I have purchased but not installed. I have the extra light casting, and they are magical. I have found the tires to be the best riding tires I have had. They smooth out the rough bit of road and paths, ride well in the rain, and have refused to puncher. There was a point before the bike arrived, I considered replacing the handlebar, because I can't stand road buzz, and worried the alloy bars would not be comfortable for me. I'm keeping the bars and crediting the tires, for the smoothness of the ride.

The guys I sometimes ride with are all riding racing bikes from the last 25 years and are on so crazy narrow tires (19mm?), they pump up to levels that would give a cardiologist a heart attack. So, the 35mm tires seem huge by comparison, but they look good on the frame and ride amazingly well. I'm still using tubes, as I'm just not ready for tubeless (that's another thread).

I like the OEM saddle for about 30-minute-long ride but nothing longer. I decided to go with something different. This is a person choice, and everyone will be different.

My current longest ride has been 42 miles. It was planned as a 30-mile ride, but they bike just was so easy to push a little further and a little further still, I ended up adding 12 miles, beyond the planned route. It could have been even longer if the tailwind stayed with me… I hope to be clocking in 60 miles ride by the end of September. By Christmas 100 miles on any giving Sunday.

Overall. I love the bike. If you have a chance to buy one you should. For me I was looking for a bike that could handle long road rides and be pressed into service as epic touring. Its stable, well-built and joy to ride.

1946182
 
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