Niner RLT 9 Steel

MTB specialists delve into the rough-and-tumble of adventure bikes

Not content with making their name in the mountain bike market, and subsequently entering the cyclo-cross scene, American brand Niner then threw their hat into the adventure ring – and have taken that by the scruff of the neck with the RLT 9 Steel.

RLT stands for Road Less Travelled, and that tells you all you need to know about the new Niner range, which contains one alloy frame and this steel version.

And it’s not just any old steel. Niner have called on Reynolds’ 853 tubing: one of the Birmingham-based steel specialist’s strongest, lightest steel tubesets, perfect for gravel and adventure. It’s light enough to provide a lively ride, but will take plenty of abuse too.

The traditional steel frame is offset by modern thru-axle disc brakes (obviously, given Niner are a mountain bike brand at heart), and a tapered headtube, alongside a carbon fork.

The geometry is unmistakably more relaxed than a road bike, with longer chainstays, eye-catching curved seatstays, a lower bottom bracket and relaxed headtube angle – all designed to offer day-long comfort in the saddle and handling ready to tame the unknown. Essentially, Niner have taken their vast knowledge of mountain bike geometry and tweaked it for the gravel scene.

Versatility is another key aspect of the RLT 9 Steel, with brazed-on detailing incluing bosses for three water bottles (this is a bike made for adventure, remember), mudguard mounts, and eyelets for a lightweight rack. When we say go-anywhere with the Niner RLT 9 Steel, we mean anywhere.

The RLT 9 Steel is offered in three builds, from £2,799 with SRAM Apex to £4,799 with Shimano Ultegra. It’s also available as a frameset only for £1,599, if you want to put together your own build.

Our mid-range build costs £3,499 and comes dressed in a SRAM Rival groupset with hydraulic disc brakes and Stan’s Grail rims, which have a super-wide 21mm internal width, ideal for the superb 35c Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres – which have a spot of their own in the RCUK 100.

RCUK 100 2017 - Niner RLT gravel bike
RCUK 100 2017 - Niner RLT gravel bike

Niner RLT 9 Steel

One important point to note is that, while the bike we shot for the 100 has post-mount disc brakes, the frame has since been updated to accommodate flat-mount discs, making for a much cleaner look.

The Niner’s steel frame does mean you’re giving up weight to lighter carbon and aluminium bikes, but if you’re looking for a machine which can stand up to the rough and tumble of adventure riding, then Niner’s venture into the market is worth taking note of.

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Selected for The RCUK 100 2017

View the full 100
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