Niner’s new RLT e9 RDO e-bike further blurs the line between gravel and MTB

by James Huang


Niner easily could have just pegged its new RLT e9 RDO as a straight-up e-gravel bike, but the Colorado company is instead touting its versatility by calling it an “overland adventure vehicle” — and as much as it pains me to admit this, there seems to be some merit in the description.

The new bike features a carbon fiber frame and fork, and Bosch’s latest fourth-generation Performance Line Speed motor unit with 250 W of nominal power, 85 Nm of torque, and a 28 mph governor in the US (European models get a Bosch Performance Line CX motor with a 25 km/h power-assist cutoff). Combined with the 500 Wh PowerTube rechargeable Li-ion battery that’s integrated into the down tube, US users should see about 32 miles of range on average, while European-spec models should get about 60 km or so.

All of that is pretty standard e-bike stuff, though. What’s more interesting in how Niner is further blurring the lines between MTB and gravel.

Niner has made the conscious decision to use MTB-style post-mount disc brake tabs for the new RLT e9 RDO so that buyers have more freedom to mix and match components. Custom adapters are used on stock bikes to accommodate the flat-mount calipers.

Almost without exception, gravel bikes are built around road component dimensions, with flat-mount disc brakes, 12 mm front and rear thru-axles, and 142 mm-wide rear hubs. The RLT e9 RDO, however, uses mountain bike standards throughout, including 148×12 mm rear hub and 110×15 mm front hub spacing (more commonly known as “Boost”), and post-mount disc-brake tabs that allow for easier mixing and matching of mountain bike parts (albeit with custom post-mount-to-flat-mount adapters to accommodate typical drop-bar components). The seatpost is also oversized to a MTB-typical 30.9 mm diameter to more easily accommodate a dropper should you desire one, with internal routing ports to match.

Niner is even quick to point out that the RLT e9 RDO’s geometry is not only suspension-corrected up front (for up to 40 mm of travel), but is also flat-bar-friendly should you decide you’d like a little more leverage.

The 1×11 drivetrain is a mix of bits from Shimano and Praxis.

Further contributing to the adventure-minded vibe are custom front and rear racks, dedicated mounts for Niner’s collection of bolt-on frame packs, clearance for tires up to 50 mm-wide (in either 650b or 700c diameters), accessory mounts on the fork blades, drillings for a top tube feed bag, and front and rear fender mounts. Bottle mounts are limited to just two, however, in the usual locations on the down tube and seat tube.

Claimed weight for a complete 53 cm bike without pedals is around 18 kg (39 lb).

Retail price is US$5,695, built with a Shimano GRX 800 1×11 mechanical groupset with Praxis forged aluminum crankarms, and Stan’s NoTubes Arch tubeless aluminum mountain bike wheels. European pricing is still to be finalized, and bikes are scheduled to be available beginning October 15.

www.ninerbikes.com

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