QUIRKIEST GRAVEL BIKE Built – Niner RLT 9 RDO Time-Lapse

QUIRKIEST GRAVEL BIKE Built – Niner RLT 9 RDO Time-Lapse


This bike build project started in the middle
of December 2018 when I bought this frameset. In the time leading up to that I have been
looking around on the internet occasionally for a frameset that was off-road-capable,
had proper tire clearance, was proven quality, featured rack mounts and looked good. I suddenly realized that the Niner RLT 9 RDO
had all the features that I was looking for in an adventure bike for use as my primary
or potentially only bike and so this is the bike build of the quirkiest Niner RLT 9 RDO
that you will have ever seen. By the point I bought the frameset I already
owned a Yoeleo carbon wheelset and so I purchased another customized tubeless-ready wheelset
off of them. For various reasons I was in possession of
the complete wheelset not before the end of April 2019. This was fine because it was mostly winter
time, but more important is that I ended up taking all of these months to frequently research,
revisit and order all the various componentry for the bike build. Furthermore, during this time I sold both
my road bike and mountain bike because I hardly rode them anymore, which also helped to fund
a part of this bike. After I had all the components ready, I started
building the bike over the course of five days starting with the wheels. Setting up the wheels tubeless was pretty
easy and I did not require any tire levers. I really love that these wheels don’t require
rim tape, because that eliminates the possibility of a leaking rim, which is often the reason
for a failing or leaking tubeless setup. I was not able to seat the tires without sealant,
which I am sure was partly due to the fact that I bought these tires used and at least
one tire had a hole in it that needed to be sealed. Alert Canyon-Fans will know these gum-wall
Schwalbe G-One Bite Tubeless Easy tires actually cannot be bought off the shelf, for they are
a custom product developed by these two companies and thy only come with new Canyon Gravel bikes. One owner of such sold these tires online,
which I happily acquired for a good price. The wheels have been equipped with the new
Shimano XTR brake rotors in 160 mm both front and rear and I upgraded the DT Swiss freehub
from 18 teeth to 36 teeth. I would have preferred a 180 mm rotor in the
front in order to have more brake force where it’s needed, however this is only possible
by using a Postmount brake calliper with a fairly unsightly adapter. There were a lot of parts and standards that
I had never worked with before. One such was SRAM components, and the cassette
installation ended up being the first major challenge I had to overcome. The cassette did not seat properly on the
hub when I thought I had torqued it down. But really, because the XD cassette type has
quite high internal friction, all it took was more torque and then the cassette seated
properly on the hub. 40 newton meters is a lot after all, and it
was my exacerbated cautiousness that cost me the better part of two frustrated late-night
hours which aren’t shown in the time-lapse footage. As one of the few things I accomplished before
I started building the bike was installing the crown race, which is the metal shim that
creates the contact between the fork crown and the bottom headset bearing. I found a conveniently sized PVC pipe at my
local hardware store with 50 mil outer and 46 mil inner diameter, so all it took was
One buck 50 and a good chunk of hammering until the crown race sat perfectly flush with
the fork crown. I cut down the handlebars from 780 mil down
to a generous 720 mil, which certainly still is very wide for a narrow-shouldered person
like me. As I think the saying goes, measure thrice,
cut once! After installing fork, stem and handlebars,
I adjusted the derailleur hanger with a derailleur hanger alignment tool. The hanger only needed a very minor adjustment
to ensure best possible shifting performance. Next, I installed the Wheels Manufacturing
Bottom Bracket, which features two aluminium cups that thread together and converts the
Pressfit 30 to a 24 mm spindle. The cups had a snug fit and could be pushed
in by hand, hence this installation was extremely easy and I was able to torque it down using
only one bottom bracket tool. I had previously routed the rear brake hose
through the frame with the help of the little red hose connector that came with my Rockshox
Reverb which I sold shortly thereafter. As you might be wondering about the brakes,
it is no problem to mix flat mount brake callipers with mountain bike brake levers. The bleeding procedure was straight-forward
and I find it much easier than bleeding SRAM brakes. Also, the use of corrosive and water-absorbing
D-O-T fluid in SRAM brakes is why I’m probably never using SRAM brakes again. There was never one detailed vision of this
bike build that I set out to create, in fact just hours before I purchased the frameset,
I didn’t even know I was going to buy a frameset anytime soon. Rather, the individual components chosen developed
and changed over time. At first, I thought this was going to be another
flatbar Gravel bike with a 2-by Shimano drivetrain just like my commuter bike, a modified entry
level Canyon Fitness bike. But, with new thoughts and arguments my ideas
changed and I am glad I took my time in making these individual decisions. As you can tell, being able to use SRAM Eagle
and furthermore mix the SRAM drivetrain with Shimano brakes is something only the use of
flat handlebars allows. The primary reasons, however, for why I opted
for a mountain bike handlebar setup is that I have had trouble finding a good fit with
the long reach drop handlebars necessarily create, and I also feel much safer riding
rough terrain with flat handlebars. The Shimano 105 crankset I used comes from
the Canyon Commuter. I have installed a narrow-wide oval chainring
by AbsoluteBlack. Though I have never used ovalized chainrings
before, I was easily convinced by this concept, smoothing the pedal stroke to increase efficiency
and grip and possibly gain in comfort. With 38 teeth it is the smallest oval chainring
you can buy for this crankset and allows me to ride up even the steepest sections with
a reasonable cadence. I live in a very hilly area and generally
do not pedal when I’m already going downhill fast, so the 38 10 high gear (which is equivalent
to a 50 13) provides plenty high-end range for me. The chainline is ideal in this setup, with
the chain being most straight in the middle of the cassette. The crankset also features a first-generation
Stages power meter I have owned since 2013. This power meter, although not without its
flaws, has worked well overall and I am happy to continue using it to pace efforts and get
accurate data about exercise intensity. That being said, ovalized chainrings do interfere
with power meter accuracy and I expect the Stages to consistently read a couple percent
higher than actual power. For shortening the steerer tube I did not
use a saw guide but instead helped myself with tape and a clamp. I had already done a test cut before and my
second cut was a lot straighter. Carbon dust is toxic and I did not shy away
from protecting myself vigorously. Besides cutting outside with gloves I protected
my breathing holes with a towel and was also wearing goggles. When cutting carbon with a regular 32 tooth
steel saw it is important to keep in mind that the blades blunt extremely quickly. After only half the steerer tube this small
saw blade is blunt and hence I swapped it for a new one to ensure a clean and straight
cut. The frameset came with an expansion plug but
instead I am using a plug by PRO that I can insert independently of where the steerer
tube is cut, allowing me to place the plug alongside the whole length of where the stem
clamps, which is especially helpful in the beginning when I keep the steerer tube extra
long. In case you are wondering about any of the
components, I have put all the details in the description. Naturally, this frame is not designed to run
SRAM Eagle, which is a 12 speed mountain bike drivetrain. In setting up the derailleur I encountered
the second challenge that I had to overcome. In shifting to the highest gear, the derailleur
would basically hit itself and have trouble shifting. Specifically, the derailleur cage would make
contact with the plastic arm that routes the shifter cable. This is because the derailleur is generally
too close to the cassette, because the derailleur hanger is much closer to the cassette than
on mountain bikes. The only real solution to this problem is
to bring the derailleur outwards, and so I ended up grinding a 1.3 mm thick washer that
I have laying around to the proportions I needed. This is only a bodge and not a perfect solution,
unfortunately, because torqued down to 10 to 12 Newton meters as recommended has the
derailleur not swing freely anymore, which isn’t a big issue, though, because the derailleur
itself does not swing in normal operation. What is also remarkable about this setup is
how close the chain runs along the inside of the derailleur hanger in the smallest sprocket. With less than a millimeter of space I could
imagine the chain rubbing against the hanger, but the hanger could be sanded down should
that problem ever come up. Finally, there were only pedals, seat post,
saddle and bottle cage left to mount. Regarding the pedals, I am using the Catalyst
flat pedals invented by Pedalling Innovations on all bikes for many reasons. Mainly, these pedals are large enough to allow
for a central positioning of the feet over the pedal, meaning they are mid-foot pedals. This creates a pedalling motion more like
squatting rather than sprinting, relaxing the calf and allowing better actuation of
the glutes. Furthermore, I only wear barefoot shoes and
riding flat pedals allows me to ride bikes with them, also allowing for easy off-the-bike
walking or hiking. Fellow Canyon-Fans will also recognize the
seatpost, which is a carbon suspension seatpost that diminishes road vibration through a spring
leaf design. This design was invented by Canyon and Ergon
and does not come with much of a weight penalty at all, however, it does come with a hefty
price of 250 Euros. Not least because I wasn’t even sure if
I needed a straight seatpost or one with setback, I ended up buying a Chinese replica of such
seatpost, which are available for under 40 Euros on AliExpress. I have used this seatpost already and am happy
with how it performs for the price. It is fairly well built, but mine came undersize. Luckily, the design of this seatpost allows
for a plastic spacer to be sandwiched between the carbon leaves to bring it up to a proper
diameter. I hadn’t yet found my ideal saddle so I
put a lot of research and thinking time into choosing the saddle. I opted for the Prologo Dimension NDR, which
is the mountain bike version of the regular and highly praised short-nosed Prologo Dimension
that features 3 mils of additional padding. I never understood why conventional saddles
have these super long noses that I cannot sit on comfortably, and I also knew I needed
a cut-out in the middle of the saddle in order to relief pressure on the soft tissue, hence
I felt this model was the right choice. Featuring titanium rails, it is also decently
light at 200 grams. Speaking of weight, the finished bike as shown
comes in at exactly 9 kilograms. If we left out the computer mount, bottle
cage, bell and the pedals which alone weigh half a kilogram, the weight would be 8.4 kilograms. Out of sheer curiosity about what proportions
make up a bike in weight I have created a detailed chart that you can find in the description. In case you think this bike does not deserve
the title of the quirkiest gravel bike, wait for the bike touring setup! It is going to feature the amazing and light
titanium rear rack by Tubus and clip-on aero bars. Naturally, I have ridden this bike quite a
bit since and it is amazing! I am very happy with all the components and
even thrilled by some, and am highly satisfied with how the bike performs overall. Let me know what you think and if you would
like to see a review in the comment section below. Thanks for watching!