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Niner RLT 9 2-Star 105 11 Speed Complete Bike - 2015

Frame Material: aluminum
Fork: Niner
Fork Material: carbon
Shifters: Shimano 105 5800 11-speed
Front Derailleur: Shimano 105 5800 11-speed
Rear Derailleur: Shimano 105 5800 11-speed
Crankset: 46 / 36 t FSA Gossamer
Bottom Bracket: FSA PF30
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Niner's RLT 9 2-Star 105 11-speed Complete Bike incorporates an initialism of Road Less Traveled into its name to make clear what, exactly, this curious blend of mountain, 'cross, and road tech is meant for. Our initial reaction to such a bike is that it's obviously a cyclocross machine, because, well, what else could it be? But it turns out that, just like with new technologies in all facets of life and science, the reason we can't easily classify the RLT 9 is because it defies categorization under our current, restrictive bicycle taxonomy. Like the tragically comical platypus (mammalian, duck-billed, egg laying), the RLT 9 constitutes a category of its own, moving between disciplines with an ease that one of our reviewers describes succinctly as "stable and capable" across gravel, dirt, asphalt, and any other terrain.

For the RLT 9 2-star, Niner uses the same hydroforming process and materials that we've seen in the shaped tubes on their proven Air9 mountain frames, so you know that you're getting a lightweight, absurdly durable, and efficient construction. Indeed, the bike is tested to the same standards as the Air9, even though it is not meant to see the same level of abuse.

The frame's geometry is a compromise between Niner's mountain frames and the aggressive disposition of their cyclocross race-oriented BSB frameset. Compared to the latter, the RLT 9 features a longer chainstay, a lower bottom bracket, and a more relaxed head tube angle. This translates into a lower center of gravity that still affords clearance while cornering and on obstacles, a wider wheel base for stability, and tire clearance that lets you mount tires of up to 1.75 inches. We find that it eats up washboard and is nimble enough for mellow singletrack, so, if you're keen on making the RLT a durable single track speedster with zero suspension, then throw on some knobby tires and get to it. This bike's only limit is you.

Niner tops the RLT 9 off with a handful of less apparent but greatly appreciated details. The bottom bracket accommodates 30 millimeter spindles and simplifies singlespeed conversion projects thanks to Niner's BioCentric design. An integrated Di2 wiring port means the RLT 9 is future-proof. You can make the jump to electronic shifting when/if you're ready, or just stick to the internally routed Shimano 105 11-speed shifting that it features stock. The seatpost boasts a healthy 27.2 millimeters of girth, which eats up the imperfections of riding surfaces from gravel to dirt to chip seal. This complements Niner's carbon off-road fork, which is the latest in the line of what Niner claims are the best rigid trail forks in the world. After testing this claim on both the BSB and RLT 9, we're not prepared to second guess them.

The RLT 9 2-star's drivetrain is spec'd mostly with Shimano's durable workhorse, the new 105 11-speed, which is yet another indication that it's built to withstand long commuting or touring miles on all surfaces and provide a punchy platform for all of your cyclocross moonlighting needs. Fender mounts are incorporated on the frame, the headset is a Cane Creek IS42/IS52, and proprietary Niner offerings for the saddle, wheelset, bars, and stem fill out the rest of the kit.

The Niner RLT 9 2-Star 105 11 Speed Complete Bike - 2015  is available in six sizes (47, 50, 53, 56, 59, and 62cm)and three colors: Black/Niner red, Fresh Mint, and Industry Grey.

Average rating: 5.0
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