Niner RLT 9 Steel Review: Gravel is the new dirt.

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Whether labeled gravel, all-road, adventure, or a jumble of those terms, it’s hard to ignore the wave of genre-blending cross bikes that have slammed into the marketplace recently. One such rig, the Niner RLT 9 Steel, seems to do each of those words justice…

While hotfooting uphill on a crushed rock road north of Morganton, NC, I couldn’t help but admire how much ground I’d covered in just a few hours. Granted, part of that morning was a blur in the form of a 20 mile gravel descent. But for a bikepack, I was moving at an abnormal pace… really quickly. Sure, I’ve been serenaded by the fast crackling sizzle of gravel plenty of times, but never on a bike made specifically for it. Speed is what lured me onto this purpose-built bike in the first place — or more specifically, the ability set out from virtually anywhere, quickly find some forgotten stretch of pisté, and revel in an overnight sojourn — quickly and find being the key words there. For me, this type of riding was a Road Less Traveled; so it was only fitting that the RLT was my hook, line, and sinker…

Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Croatan Vanish, Croatan National Forest Gravel Grinder, Cycling, Bikepacking

A Heart of Steel

A few months prior that trip, I was browsing the latest crop of ‘adventure’ bikes. Just a few seemed to possess all the proper bones—underpinnings such as the capacity for beefy 42mm (AKA 42c) tires, braze-ons in all the right spots, and a finely tuned geometry that’s stable on long rides, yet hearty enough to have a little fun on singletrack. The Road Less Traveled (RLT) 9 ticks all those boxes and one more. While Niner launched the RLT platform with a flagship Alloy model, it’s successor, the RLT 9 Steel forged the last linchpin. Honestly, it never ceases to surprise me when an aluminum frame is released that’s slated for adventure, gravel, or any other type of high-mileage off-tarmac riding. Steel is, in my opinion, is the most comfortable and versatile frame material made. Needless to say, Niner had longer rides, more terrain, and heavier loads in mind for this bike—evidence that more and more companies are turning back to the timeless material for this ‘category’.

Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

More explicitly, the RLT 9 Steel frame is constructed of high-grade oversized Reynolds 853, considered by some to be amongst the most desirable cycling tubesets out there. Reynolds actually states that the “strength to weight ratio of 853 is close to that of quality titanium”. I can’t claim to have proven that statement, but after months riding the RLT, I can claim that an 853 frame can be surprisingly stiff, extremely compliant, and still do a damned good job absorbing the chatter that gravel roads can dish out.

Not all the applause goes to the frame material though. The performance of the RTL 9 Steel is no doubt due to a thoughtful design. Niner clearly paid homage to the time-honored material through classic lines, but they also embraced current tech. While the frame has a straight-tube layout, the seatstays have an elegant lateral curve which allows the steel’s vibration dampening to shine through at the bike’s rear-end. A tapered headtube serves to increase stability and tracking over rough terrain. And Niner added a carbon fork to smooth it all out. In addition, the dropouts on both ends are thru-axle—142mm x 12mm rear and 100x15mm front. On the one hand, thru-axle hubs add stability and responsiveness to the RLT, as well as a nice modern touch. But on the other, it means any older wheelsets hanging in your workshop won’t be of any use.

  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

For added versatility, Niner employed a Pressfit 30 bottom bracket shell which can also run Niner’s BioCentric (eccentric) BB for either fine tuning the geometry, or chain-tensioning duties when paired with a singlespeed or internal gear hub. Another nice modern utility, but some might complain about Pressfit. The arguments for threaded-type bottom brackets abound, but two are the most relevant: 1. threaded cups can be serviced with wrenches and drivers that are fairly prevalent; 2. threaded type bottom brackets seldom creak, while at present, press-fit bottom brackets often creak. Although, the RLT developed no such creaks during my time with it.

It’s worth adding that the carbon fork on the RLT is one of just a couple currently on the market with integrated bottle cage mounts. Kudos to Niner … there’s simply no reason why any bike branded for adventure should have a fork without cage mounts. All accounted, Niner included a bevy of bosses that’s more than enough for bikepackers, and likely sufficient for most touring folks. Three additional sets of bottle cage bosses are at the triangle, and the frame features both front and rear rack mounts. The aesthetics of the RLT frame aren’t too shabby either. While I usually lean toward minimalist graphics, the dark red and off-white grew on me. And although it’s a really unique look, I’d probably be torn between it and the gray and orange model.

Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

All-Day Adventure Ride

My first ride on the RLT was a 20 or 30 mile road loop I’d ridden way too many times. I expected to be bored. On the contrary, that usually mundane flat stretch of pavement was quite fun that day. The RLT felt fast, confident, and just plain good. I settled into it readily and found myself out of the saddle sprinting and admiring its stability and quickness. Ultimately I rode it on countless afternoon road rides, a few century day trips, and several gravel overnighters, a couple of which had a significant singletrack component. On gravel, even with 35mm (35c) tires, the RLT Steel feels dreamy. Its ‘All-Day Adventure Tuned Geometry’ sports a slightly longer chainstay, lower bottom bracket and slack(ish) head tube angle. Niner touts this as an ideal combo for extended hours in the saddle without compromising ride control. Honestly, the bottom bracket isn’t that low with a 65mm drop, the chainstays aren’t too long, and at 72° the headtube angle isn’t that slack, but I found it to to be a pretty magical and well thought out geometry. It tracks fairly well, soaks up long days, and is still playful enough to prompt a few grins from time to time. On singletrack I was even more surprised. I primarily ride drop-bars on the hoods. The wide 44cm Niner bars paired with meaty RS685 hoods make a solid enough cockpit to toss the bike around rooty singletrack.

Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

The RLT was set up tubeless, out of the box. Why aren’t all bikes stock tubeless these days!? While loaded I ran the pressure between 25-30psi, which also helped subsidize the comfortable ride. I found the 35mm Schwalbe G-One tires to be fairly versatile. They are great on the road, pretty good on gravel—depending on the grade—but bad on the steep and crumbly stuff. Ultimately I’d swap them for 40mm (AKA 40c) tires, probably WTB Nanos. I actually have a new pair in a box, but ended up leaving the G-Ones on for the duration, just to get a full evaluation. Niner suggests 42mm as the maximum tire width for the RLT; based on what I’ve read, 45mm rubber fits comfortably in the rear stays but may be tight in the front fork, depending on the tire brand and model. The NoTubes’ Grail rims are good too. The seal was broken somewhere in transit so I had to reseat the bead after the initial unboxing… it was quick work with a floor pump. Running lower pressures I did skull a few rocks here and there, but the Grails show no dents, contrary to expectations.

  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

Build Kit

The RLT 9 Steel comes in a few kit options, ranging from their 5-star, Di2 Ultegra model priced at $6k, down to the 2-star 105 build at $2,500. You can also purchase the frame alone for $1,500. Niner sent us the 4-star Ultegra Hydro package and it seems to strike the perfect balance. While some the lesser models are equipped with BB7 mech brakes, I was more than happy to see hydros on this one. It offered more than adequate stopping power which allowed me to remain confident on the hoods, even during tricky descents. That said, if you plan on getting this bike for long-term travel, mechanical disc brakes might be a better option. Other standouts in this kit included the aforementioned Grail rims, a notably comfy Niner Saddle with Ti rails, and an Ultegra 2×11 drivetrain, which was probably one of the most buttery smooth derailleur drivetrains I’ve ridden to date. Although I was hard-pressed to find negatives in the kit overall, the gearing was one of them. For loaded steep climbs, the 11-32T cassette paired with a 46/36T rings in the front, wasn’t nearly enough. I suspect a 32 in the front with a slightly wider ratio MTB cassette would be better for bikepacking purposes.

Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Frame: Reynolds 853 steel, Dirty White/Ringer Red, 59cm
  • Front Fork: Niner Full Carbon Fork, 15mm thru-axle
  • Wheels: NoTubes 3.30/ZTR Grail, 15mm Front, 142X12 Rear
  • Tires: Schwalbe G-One Evo SS, Folding, 700 X 35
  • Brakes: Shimano RS785 Hydraulic With 160mm Rotors
  • Crankset: Shimano Ultegra 46X36T
  • Derailleur (rear): Shimano Ultegra GS 11Sp
  • Derailleur (front): Shimano Ultegra
  • Shifter Rear: Shimano RS685 11Sp
  • Shifter Front: Shimano RS685 2Sp
  • Cassette: Shimano 105 11Sp 11-32T
  • Chain: Shimano 105 11Sp
  • Handlebar: Niner Drop Top Alloy/Niner Bar Tape
  • Stem: Niner Alloy
  • Headset: Niner sealed
  • Bottom Bracket: Shimano BBR60
  • Seatpost: Niner Alloy, 400MM
  • Saddle: Niner Custom With Ni-Cro Ti Rails
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking
  • Niner RLT 9 Steel Review, Gravel Bikepacking

Pros

  • Great all-around geometry that’s comfortable on long stretches yet maintains a nimble feel for singletrack as well.
  • Finally, someone put cage mounts on a carbon fork.
  • Tire clearance for 1.75″/45mm rubber.
  • Downtube bottle bosses; in my opinion, any adventure bike should be equipped these… but many don’t.
  • The graphics aren’t so bad; I am typically a minimalist when it comes to paint, but the off-white and dark red grew on me.

Cons

  • Terrible gearing for loaded bikepacking on steep terrain.
  • The Schwalbe G-One Tires are actually a really nice tire, until you get out of the saddle on steep loose gravel; I have a pair of WTB Nanos 40c and plan on popping those on next mountain trip.
  • The 4-star model isn’t cheap; but for $2,500 you can get a 2-star build with a lesser Shimano 105 drivetrain and mechanical BB7 brakes.
  • Model Tested RLT 9 Steel 4-star Shimano Ultegra Hydro
  • Size Tested 59″
  • Sizes Available 47, 50, 53, 56, 59, and 62cm
  • Weight (as tested) 23lbs (10.4kg)
  • Price $4,000
  • Contact Niner Bikes
  • Recommended Uses Gravel riding, all-road bikepacking, touring… and even some singletrack.

niner-rlt-9-steel-review-30

Wrap Up

No bike can be perfect. There are always flaws. Usually they rear their ugly heads on the first few rides. Some of them you learn to live with and may even blow off eventually. Others might just be fit issues. Some are more technical. On the RLT 9 Steel, I actually had to dig deep to find any such gremlin. On my last brutally steep S24O trip (6,500’ of climbing in a day) I did take issue with the gearing and its limited range for loaded bikepacking; out of the saddle hammering was no match for those hills, and the tires couldn’t keep traction. The tires are a quick fix, and considering that the gearing is specific to bikepacking on steep hills, I can’t fault Niner too much; although with adventure in it’s description, they should have fitted it with an MTB cassette and maybe a few less teeth up front. A few might worry about the Pressfit bottom bracket, and I might if I were to court this bike for multi-month overseas odysseys. But for what the RLT is, it’s fine.

All told, the RLT 9 Steel is a bike that’s damned near perfect for what it’s trying to be—a go getter rig destined for weekend adventures, a gravel grinder that begs for all-day rides, and a light touring bike that offers a ticket to lesser used tracks. It’s carefully conceived bike that can cross genres and be fast, nimble, and just as happy on dirt roads as it is on tarmac. But more importantly, it seems like the ideal tool for quickly getting out there on overnight trips using roads, gravel and tracks that at your disposal. I like to test bikes, a lot. And of course there are few I’d like to keep, but only a few that I’d buy. This is one of them.

Rider’s Background

Between big trips, I can usually be found riding my favorite trails in Pisgah, NC, or tacking together 4 or 5 day bikepacking trips throughout the eastern US and beyond. This past winter, Gin and I designed and rode the Trans-Uganda and Altravesur bikepacking routes.

Height: 6’0”
Weight: 170 lbs
Inseam: 33”

Disclosure

The Niner RLT 9 Steel was loaned to me for the duration of the review period.

Tags

  • http://www.theironlyportrait.com Their Only Portrait

    Hola Logan,

    Gravel/all-road/adventure bikes are starting to get my attention… while the snow covers the Andes & Ruta 40, I’m planning to ride 1500+ miles through Argentina’s Northeast (Iguazu falls) on gravel/pavement roads (no mountains or singletrack in this area).

    Were you able to take the RLT in longer bikepacking trips? If so, how did it handled with a full set of bikepacking bags (more weight)?

    Saludos,
    Federico
    http://www.theironlyportrait.com

    PS: I wish I could try Advocate Cycles’ Lorax soon :)

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Hi Federico. The photos above show it about as loaded as it ever got. However, with 3 liters of water, the full compliment of Ortlieb bags, and a few other things strapped on, it wasn’t super ultralight. It handled really well, to be honest. Withe the front loaded (DSLR and two heavy lenses, plus 2 liters of water) it did pretty well, although I never like that much weight on the front of any bike.

  • http://www.theironlyportrait.com Their Only Portrait

    Hi Logan,

    With “the full compliment of Ortlieb bags” you meant a set of their new bikepacking ones, right? A DSLR & 2 lenses doesn’t sounds that heavy to me :)

    I’s thinking in a handlebar bag (sleeping system), a big frame bag (spare parts & tools cooking & food), a seat bag (clothing, toiletries, 1st aid kit), water in the forks and maybe a small backpack with camera gear!

    Saludos,
    Federico
    http://www.theironlyportrait.com

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Yep, handlebar roll and seat pack and Revelate Tangle. That is a sleep system, tent, kitchen, tools, clothes, and everything else. Only 2 nights [dehydrated] food though.

  • http://www.theironlyportrait.com Their Only Portrait

    Great, thanks!!!

  • Barrett Hoover

    Yet again, N+1…. Thanks for the write up Logan!

  • rocketman

    It’s amazing how much varied terrain these kind of bikes can cover, from paved roads to moderate singletrack. Personally I prefer the low trail designs like the Elephant NFE or Rawland. With a front Rando bag and frame bag/seat bag they can easily handle a 2-3 day self supported trip. I also like the bikes that can handle a full 2.1″ tire like the Schwalbe Thunder Burts. Just as fast on the road and much better than a 40c tire off-road. My custom is nearly identical to the NFE and is my favorite bike.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Thanks Barrett!

  • Andy Long

    Geometry is VERY similar to the Straggler (bb drop is actually lower on Straggler, chainstays 10mm shorter, and headtube angle are = ). My custom build totaled about $2300, with 105’s, BB7’s, wtb nano rubbers, brooks saddle, salsa cowchipper bar, and few little pieces of bling (BB, headset, etc.)

    All things considered, this is a really cool, albeit similar bike to the Straggler, but, is a carbon fiber fork really great for “long hours in the saddle”? I mean, a well swooped steel fork will soak up road chatter than carbon, not to mention better tire clearance, and more payload capacity. Just some thoughts I had.

  • Will

    Now, if only they would make that fork available aftermarket… Carbon thru-axle cross forks are rare enough as it is (aftermarket anyway), let alone one with cage mounts. Last time I checked, only their MTB carbon forks were available…

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Yeah, great point.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I’d love to compare. We’ll probably be testing a Straggler in the near future, so we shall see. But yes, steel forks do a nice job as well, especially when they are raked out a bit.

  • Harley Raylor

    Great review! Questions: will this fork accept low rider rack like a Tubus? Does it have a single mount on the fork crown for mounting a porteur rack of some sort in concert with the fork mounts? Thanks!

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Thanks! I believe it will fit a lowrider based on the lower mount and the photos from the slideshow here: http://www.ninerbikes.com/rlt9steel … There is also a bolt on the back of the fork crown, a fender mount I presume. It doesn’t pass all the way through.

  • Josh Winer

    Great review, thanks for sharing. I picked up one the IMBA edition RLT Steel’s last December. It came with a SRAM CX1 drive train with a 42t ring and 10-42 mountain cassette. The gearing is fantastic – haven’t found a hill I can’t climb around Boulder, CO. Niner used to offer the CX1 as a 4 star build kit, but it doesn’t seem to be offered anymore… Not sure why. I swapped out the G-Ones for Nano’s.

    Anyway, love the bike!

  • http://www.paddlinglight.com Bryan Hansel

    Great review. What camera bag are you using?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Thanks! That’s a Porcelain Rocket DSLR Slinger… mounted improperly :)

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Ooh, nice… love the colors. Have you ridden it loaded up for bikepacking with that gearing? One to one (42×42) is a bit more tolerable, but still seems like a 38 up front might be a little easier on the knees for loaded climbing.

  • Brandon

    I saw that you used a 59 size bike, I went to one shop and told me that I was more of a 56 but I am about the same size you are, did you fee you could have gone smaller or did the bike feel like a great size

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I really liked the size of the frame. But if I kept it, I’d switch to a shorter stem. It did feel a little long. I have been comfortable on 58cm frames in the past…

  • Doug M.

    Respectfully, ‘c’ is not a unit of measurement. You meant ‘mm’ for millimeters.

  • Josh Winer

    Hey Logan, I haven’t done any bike packing. So can’t comment on gearing with weight. Swapping a chain ring is easy though, so good to be able to dip lower if need be.

    I put some 44cm Salsa Cowchipper handlebars on last week and they are money! For reference, I’m 6′, ride a 59cm. Great fit for me – stable and agile. I use it for a 21 mile commute (each way, paths), climbing dirt roads in the foothills west of Boulder, playing on single track, and pulling my toddlers chariot. Does them all with ease!

  • Josh Winer

    Im the exact same size as Logan and also ride this bike in a 59cm. I tested a 56, reach felt a little short and I wanted a stable platform. I had Niner build it with an 80 mm stem and recently changed to 100mm. I think 90/100mm would be perfect. Very happy with fit. For reference, I ride a 58cm road Bike.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Hmm, are you refering to the tire references? As in 35c/40c/45c?

  • Doug

    I’ve got an IMBA Edition too. I swapped the 42t for a 38t and like it here in SoCal. I also installed a pair of Easton EA70 XCT w/WTB Nano 40c TCS. The rest I believe I will leave stock. Even the seat is quite good. No overnights as yet but hoping try it later this year. Need some more gear first.
    I also have a Ridley X-Trail w/2×11 Ultegra. I’m running 50/34 w/an 11-36 (SRAM) and like that gearing as well. It worked fine stock but put on a RoadLink in order to get a little more chain tension. Also a great bike.

  • rocketman

    even though it’s not a measurement using the “c” is a very common method for describing tire width.

  • Mike Anderson

    Thanks Doug. Trivial, I admit, but this common error grates.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Sure, I get it. However, that’s what the companies actually used to brand those tires… http://www.wtb.com/products/nano-40c / http://www.schwalbe.com/en/road-reader/schwalbe-g-one.html

  • Jim Wood

    All my bikes have relatively low bottom brackets, and I’m pretty convinced that the low bottom bracket adds a substantial amount of stability to the ride. I’m no bike designer, so my question is, “What is the benefit of a higher bottom bracket on a gravel road/adventure bike?”

  • Doug M.

    Yep, WTB (whose tires I dig and whose tubeless system is the best IMHO) is the worst offender and uses it improperly. They even mark it on 650b tires now, lol. It’s an artifact of the weird old French system; Uncle Sheldon explained it best: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html. We commonly understand road and cross tire width in millimeters it’s what they/we should be using.

  • Doug M.

    It may have meant something in France in the 1960s; it no longer means anything but a misused stand-in for millimeters.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Uncle Sheldon always puts things in perspective, for sure. I’ve probably crossed paths with that article at some time. Point taken and change made (save I left in a few ‘AKA’ Cs, for search engines) ;)

  • Daniel Lemke

    I use my RLT9 mostly as a commuter (which it’s brilliant as) but I also have done long road rides and long gravel rides on it. I haven’t done any single track but its amazing at how versatile this bike is. Sure its not some lean aero road bike but thats ok because I’m not training for the Tour de France, I’m just cruising around going on adventures.
    About a month ago I went on the longest road ride I’ve ever done (73 miles) and then a week later I changed the wheels and went on a 50 mile gravel ride. Didn’t change anything else just the wheels and the bike was brilliant. Its comfortable and fast and didn’t beat me up.
    One of my favorite things about the bike is the fork. Why don’t more companies put cage mounts on the fork legs? Seems like wasted space without them there. On the left leg I’ve got a Velo Orange cage that fits a 40oz Klean Kanteen bottle and on the other leg I’ve got a Blackburn Outpost cage which means I can strap odd shaped things or whatever to it. Its great.
    I love the RLT9. I have a history of going through bikes pretty quickly. Just getting bored with a bike and moving on to something else but the RLT9 is a bike I’m going to have for a long time. I’m really enjoying my time with it.

  • http://www.theironlyportrait.com Their Only Portrait

    Hey Logan, please let me know if anything changes when you’re able to ride it (loaded) with the Nanos or wider tires :)

    Saludos,
    Federico
    http://www.theironlyportrait.com

  • Jared

    I have the gray and orange version but I am pretty jealous about these IMBA edition color schemes.

  • Smithhammer

    I’ve been eying the RLT 9 for some time. Great looking bike. If it had just a little more clearance for a 45c tire, I’d be all over it.

  • http://www.paddlinglight.com Bryan Hansel

    I knew I should have bought one of those when they were available.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Yeah, they are oretty cool. Shouldn’t be a hard DIY project though…

  • Bill

    I also wanted a wider/lower gear range on my RLT. I solved that with a Jtek Shiftmate pulley, allowing me to run an 11-40 cassette w/XT rear derailleur while keeping the Ultegra front end. It is a very clean, smooth solution.

  • Smithhammer

    Hey Logan – would you happen to know the A>C length of the RLT fork? Thanks in advance.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I do not… and I already sent it back, unfortunately…

  • Smithhammer

    Cool. Seems like a hard detail to track down. I’m surprised they don’t list it on their site. From the pics it looks like it might be shorter than the typical Niner RDO fork.

  • JM McGill

    Logan

    Great review which got me to hand my Ritchey SwissCross down and place an order.

    I get my frame next week and will start my built thereafter !

    I also spotted this :
    ( http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/bikepacking-south-africa-western-cape-passes/ )

    I loved the write-up and the photos of the trip you and Gin did in my home country of South Africa and am considering tackling a lightly packed 4 day ride through the Klein Karoo over the Swarberg pass.
    As I have not yet ridden the bike I don’t know its capabilities. If I resolve the gearing (34t Ring x 11-36) and fit 40mm tyres, would this bike be up to that kind of trip ? Or would I be better served by a HT Steel Niner MCR with front suspension and 2.1″ tyres?

  • JM McGill

    Logan

    Great review which got me to hand my Ritchey SwissCross down and place an order.

    I get my frame next week and will start my built thereafter !

    I also spotted this :
    ( http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/bikepacking-south-africa-western-cape-passes/ )

    I loved the write-up and the photos of the trip you and Gin did in my home country of South Africa and am considering tackling a lightly packed 4 day ride through the Klein Karoo over the Swarberg pass.
    As I have not yet ridden the bike I don’t know its capabilities. If I resolve the gearing (34t Ring x 11-36) and fit 40mm tyres, would this bike be up to that kind of trip ? Or would I be better served by a HT Steel Niner MCR with front suspension and 2.1″ tyres?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Thanks! Yes, this bike with 40mm tires would do well on that route; although there are a few rough sections that would be preferable on a mtb.

  • Eric Chatham

    I just bought a clearance 59cm and it had a 90mm stem, which I thought odd. My endurance road bike is a 61cm, and has a 120mm stem. I suspect it was swapped out for another customer. The shop put on a 100mm Bontrager stem, and it was a lot more comfortable…but wanted to charge me $90.00 for it! Does anyone know what the original spec is for the 59cm bike? Two star 105 build, if that helps.

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