Niner RLT RDO Carbon vs RLT 9 Alloy: Gravel Bike Review with Shimano GRX

2020 niner rlt 9 rdo rlt 9 review

“We are a group of passionate riders and adventurers. We are lucky to be based out of beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. When we aren’t making some of the best bikes in the business, we can be found riding in the foothills just down the road or on the gravel roads a stone throw away from our office. And when we’re too tired to ride, you might find us out fly fishing, relaxing on the patio of one Fort Collins’ craft breweries or coffee houses.” –

2020 niner rlt 9 rdo rlt 9 review

2020 Niner RLT 9 RDO Carbon 4-Star Build:
“Rather than designing a no-fun, no-frills, uber-light and too-stiff carbon chassis for our newest RLT 9 RDO, we built you a bike that you’ll want to ride all the time, to any place. With extra tire clearance, multiple fitments for accessories and cargo, plus slick frame features and a smooth ride, you can pedal it and be happy – anywhere and everywhere, not just on your Strava segments.”

2020 niner rlt 9 rdo rlt 9 review

2020 Niner RLT 9 Alloy 4-Star Build:
“The unmatched versatility of this gravel bike gives its rider pure, unfettered freedom and access virtually everywhere. Sprint from asphalt to cinder path, swerve onto some singletrack, cut across to a gravel road, unspool a few miles, hop a gutter, cut through the alley, and back into the bike lane.”

2020 niner rlt 9 rdo rlt 9 review

In this video, JOM of Gravel Cyclist and his very capable assistant put these two bikes to the comparison test. Gravel Cyclist is breaking from our mold as comparison reviews aren’t usually our thing, and can be quite subjective. However, Alloy / Aluminium / Aluminum is often poo poo’d as a frame material, so we wanted to dispel that notion and see how the 2020 RLT 9 alloy bike stacked up against the 2020 RLT 9 Carbon bike.

2020 niner rlt 9 rdo rlt 9 review

The builds of both bikes are identical, only the frames differ, but we did try other wheel and tyre combinations. Both bikes are kitted out with Shimano GRX 2x mechanical and Grail S1 wheels with Schwalbe G-One 700c x 40mm tyres.

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4 comments on “Niner RLT RDO Carbon vs RLT 9 Alloy: Gravel Bike Review with Shimano GRX

  1. Nice report, thanks for doing the comparison. Really enjoy my Niner RLT Alloy, and totally agree about how a different wheel set makes all the difference. On fast sweeping descents, it is super stable, but nimble enough when it needs to be. Niner had it figured out pretty good with the earlier models, I just wish I had that machined chainstay yoke for a little more clearance!

  2. I got into cycling 16 months ago after learning about gravel. My bike choice was the Niner RLT Alloy 3 star Sram Rival 2x build and it has been a super bike. As mentioned I above I too upgraded my bars and wheels to carbon and the carbon wheels made a difference in my speed and endurance. I have never run larger than 40mm tires so clearance has never been a issue for me. If I had known how much I was going to take to gravel, I would had gone with the 5 star carbon build but honestly Im likely getting 90% or more of my ability out of the alloy build.

    1. The review was Alloy and Carbon, not steel. Niner kindly supplied these bikes because the point of the review was, alloy is always getting a bad name. The ride was in no way punishing.

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