Jossue’s Niner RLT9 All Road With a Slate Kit

The Slate was a gamble for Cannondale. My review of the bike generated a lot of controversies and it’s understandable. Questions along the line of “why?…” still pop up when I see photos of Slates online. Yet, there’s something about riding one that injected a bit of fun on even the most mundane dirt road rides. Jossue loved his Slate. I first saw him riding it on a TGSCIF Ride earlier in the summer, where he ripped the derailleur hanger off. Shortly after, he broke the frame. He was bummed out and wanted to assess his options.

After talking to Kyle at Golden Saddle, Jossue decided on a Niner RLT9 fork with a Lefty adapter for the tapered headtube. The entire Slate kit was easy to swap over and he even gained a little more room in the chainstays with the RLT9 to be able to ride a beefier tire. The Lefty Oliver didn’t alter the geometry too much, and in the end, injected the RLT9 with a bit more fun, perfect for this Cherry Canyon loop.

  • nothingfuture

    Six months ago I wouldn’t have given a bike like this a lot of thought.
    Then I build up an old Bridgestone into a 26″ x 1.95″ drop bar gravel bike… thing. It’s… amazing.

    So I look at this now and think: Yes. 95% of the performance of a dedicated road bike. All the freedom to explore and goof off. I’m not sure I see any sort of downside at all, honestly.
    I’ve ridden Lefties on mtbs, and they’ve been… ok. I like the look of them, but they were difficult for me to get used to. I’m sure that’s just a matter of time on the bike. But Fox makes a “road” fork too now, right? And there was the RockShox Roubaix back in the Mag21 era…
    This is all a long way of saying I like this bike and build a lot.

  • Warwick

    Very Cool. Always wondered if I could fit an Oliver on my RLT steel

  • recurrecur

    What’s the story with Niner?
    Lots of rumors floating around about the state of the company.

    • I dunno. I don’t really pay attention to stuff like that. I do know they’ve got some stuff on the way in the coming weeks.

      • recurrecur

        Just asking because I’ve been looking seriously at the RLT Steel, and the bankruptcy/sale/liquidation of RLT makes me wonder if RLT will still be around if I have any issue with their frameset.
        I’m asking here because I generally trust what I read here on Radavist.

        Good to hear they have new things on the way. Hopefully that’s a sign that all’s well.

        • Ryan Maynard Eames

          Its steel, stop worrying, buy it, any problems it can be fixed.

          • recurrecur

            Thanks – that is partly why 3/4 of my bikes are steel.
            I was thinking more about the CF fork. Very few forks like it out there.

          • Alex Hillis

            Rodeo Spork is a good replacement should anything happen to the stock one.

    • macatarere

      I’d never trust a rumour from an anomymous source ;).

    • JScriv

      They were purchased by some “insert correct financial group thingy” Not the group they had originally aligned with when news first dropped about their finances. Things remain the same internally though a few people left for greener pastures. Ian and Kirt are killing it! The RLT’s (can’t speak for the carbon, though wouldnt recommend regardless) are some of their best selling, most reliable great riding bikes. I’d get your hands on a RLT Steel if you can and throw some 27.5’s on there. * I worked there up until 2 years ago where I left on my own terms to be a bum. Both these photos are compliments of Hylands.

      • JScriv
        • That is wild and would explain a lot. We were supposed to review a bike and never heard back from the guys.

      • I rode and reviewed the RLT9 steel a few years back. It was / is a great bike.

      • recurrecur

        Thanks – that all makes me feel better about taking a dive on the RLT Steel.

      • nishars

        On the second pic, what is that small bag between the front panniers and helmet?

        • JScriv

          Part of the handlebar roll that’s not connected or rolled up. Holds my sleeping back and tent items. The little bag that you see on the front is awesome. Holds the drugs that don’t fit in my fanny pack.

  • singlespeedscott

    Front forks are the future of gravel bikes.

    • Ryan Maynard Eames

      Suspension forks* – not for everyone

    • Brent Kyono

      xc mountain bikes are the future of gravel bikes

      • ever ridden an xc bike for an hour on tarmac to gravel? then an hour back? it sucks.

        • I dunno. I do it all the time. Tire choice helps, but just about every GSC ride I’m on my rigid MTB with flat bars.

          • well maybe you are tougher or more relaxed about getting there than me. just saying that there are lots of advantages to having something in between a road bike and a xc bike. not a fan of the “gravel bikes are stupid” reasoning above

          • Oh, I get you. I’m not arguing against “gravel bikes”, just saying if I have to pedal a hardtail on the street, it doesn’t bother me that much. Also, driving / parking here in LA is sometimes not worth it and I don’t mind slowly pedaling / jibbing on the way to the trail.

          • seattle is the same way with driving/parking. just most of the ride to any trails is meh, especially solo. i guess i wouldn’t mind it so much with a group.

          • Yeah, for sure. I love taking over Glendale in the morning with a big group of people wearing plain clothes and riding bikes. Hopefully it inspires more to do so!

          • Brent Kyono

            It’s just a joke. The whole market is a spectrum. Ride what makes you happy

  • Brent Kyono

    Crossmarks on an RLT9 are neat to see! Adds a little more intrigue for this frame- though I wonder if the steel version can match that clearance.

  • Ben Team Chouffe

    Maxxis Crossmak wich size ?

    • Chris Lang

      is this a niner with 27.5 that isn’t a plus?

  • Daniel Smith

    This is a really cool build! It comes very naturally to the RLT frame. I’m curious how he broke the original frame, though.

    Agreed that the Slate is an odd-duck – but it is super fun. I took one for a test ride on the street and some dirt paths, and it was a blast. I’m sure it’s even better with some knobbies. I just think tire clearance is the frames Achilles heel.

  • Gordon M

    Does the Oliver fork limit the RLT frame size that it can be mounted on? Was looking at a Slate but in addition to limited tire clearance the stack was the same for both the L and XL frame, so was wondering if there were limitations on frame size. Loved the FireFly that was recently built up with the Oliver is well.

  • Peter Chesworth

    Lovely bike. Too much analysis. As GP says, just ride.

  • dkris2020

    Wait a sec: What size and width are those tires and what does the chainstay clearance look like? I remember seeing on WTB’s Road Plus compatibility chart that only the Steel RLT9 had clearance for 650b.