As the bike industry barrels further down the road of specialized steeds and situation-specific frames, Niner's 2016 RLT 9 Frameset stands out as a veritable jack of all trades that's a blast to ride in almost any terrain. It's built, as referenced in its initials, to take the Road Less Traveled. Featuring what Niner dubs "fire road geometry," the RLT 9 is a bit slacker, longer, and has a lower bottom bracket that it's race-bred cousin, Niner's BSB 9. This combination lends the RLT 9 more stability and comfort over rough roads while still maintaining the agility to rocket through a 'cross course should you decided to take a break from adventuring and toe a start line.
If you’re looking at the RLT and getting déjà vu, it may be because the tube set borrows heavily from the one used on Niner’s aluminum AIR 9 frame. The tapered head tube accommodates a matching tapered fork, which is unsurprisingly similar to Niner’s beloved RDO mountain fork. The dropouts have integrated rack and fender mounts, which only add to your setup options, and the burly replaceable hanger means that even if a catastrophic derailleur-related incident ends your ride, your RLT will live to roll another day.
The hydro-formed tubes are designed to neutralize chatter, helping the RLT maintain a smooth ride. Additionally, the shaping process makes the frame much stronger than it would be had round tubes been employed. And to enhance the smooth ride, the RLT has a 27.2mm diameter seatpost, which adds an element of give to absorb bumps and chatter. It’s designed to be paired with Niner’s RDO post, which has extra flex built in. The combination of the smaller diameter and more forgiving post means that you won’t be getting beat up as much as you’d expect, especially on washboard roads.
This frame kit includes the requisite Cane Creek IS42/IS52 headset. The 73mm PF30 bottom bracket shell accommodates today’s larger-spindled cranks as well as being backward compatible through the use of adapters. It has the added benefit of being compatible with Niner’s BioCentric eccentric bottom bracket, for a no-fuss singlespeed setup. Or if you want to take the high-tech route, there are internal wiring ports for Di2 electronic drivetrains. It will accept tires up to 29 x 1.75in, although due to variances in tire sizes, some options may require downsizing.