The new Niner eRLT e-gravel bike is a monster, and it introduces some big, bold ideas to the gravel bike category, motor or not. Built around their RDO-level carbon fiber frame and fork, the Bosch-powered system powers through just about anything with massive 700×50 tires, Boost mountain bike hub and pedal spacing, and one of the most robust frames we’ve ever seen.
In fact, the full carbon frame is tested to ISO mountain bike standards. Niner created a custom alloy motor mount to hold the 4th generation Bosch Performance Line Speed motor, with integrated but externally accessible battery. Here’s what you need to know…
Leading it out is a chunky head tube that wraps around the steerer with a boxy front end that looks almost like a battering ram. We have one in for long term testing, so some of our description here is based on seeing this beast in person.
The downtube juts backward before turning downward, and that’s to clear the crown of a Fox gravel suspension fork. The geometry is already suspension corrected, so you won’t mess anything up by adding some squish.
Niner seems to have not gone ahead and spec’d one of the current crop of short-travel gravel suspension forks, because they are thinking they would like a tiny bit of extra plush than current forks for this adventure-ready e-gravel beast.
But you might not want to replace that carbon RDO fork, as it gives you three accessory mounting bolts on the front, and a rack mount bolt at the crown…for their sweet custom fork rack (shown at bottom of post).
The brutish looks continue along the top tube, ending in a similarly flat and thick seatpost clamp section that’s integrated into the frame. Unlike wedge-based integrated clamps, this one’s a straight-forward slit-clamp that simply closes around the post.
The seatpost is 30.9mm, and there’s internal routing available for stealth dropper posts.
Inside the carbon frame is a one-piece alloy motor mount that’s bonded into the frame. The latest Bosch Performance Line CX motors are smaller, yet deliver 75Nm of torque with quiet, lag-free assist up to 340% of your effort. For US customers, it’ll assist up to 28mph. For EU, the limit is 25km/h.
That’s a big difference here in the world or e-gravel. Our own typical gravel rides spend a lot of time above 25km/h, but below 28mph (45km/h). Having ridden e-gravel bikes alternatively back to back with EU & US pedal assist speed limits, the 28mph ones feel like they are rocketing you up even the slightest inclines, while the 25km/h only feel like they really kick in to support you on sustained, steeper climbs.
Niner specs their 500Wh PowerTube batteries to give the bike about ~50km range, depending on how you use it (Bosch’s rating, not Niner’s claim).
Like their eRIP 9 e-mountain bike, the charging port is easily accessible from the top of the bottom bracket area. The entire section is spaced for Boost mountain bike chainring offsets, and get Bosch’s ISCG chain guide mounts. There’s room for up to a 44-tooth chainring.
Two of the most unique features of Niner’s e-gravel bike are the Boost mountain bike hub/axle spacing, and clearance for 50mm tires. Whether you choose to install 700c (included) or 650b wheels, it’ll fit the same wide rubber.
Axles are 12×148 in the rear, and 15×110 up front. That means your favorite mountain bike wheels will fit here, too (probably better suited for the tougher life of an e-gravel bike). Even some 2.0 mountain bike tires (50mm = 1.97″, just FYI) should fit, as long as they’re not too knobby. But wait, there’s more…
While the bike comes with flat-mount Shimano GRX calipers, they’re attached to standard post mounts with spacers. So, you could always easily swap to a flat bar and mountain bike brakes and use the same 180mm rotors that come on the bike.
(And we wouldn’t be surprised to see a stock flat bar build of the eRLT from Niner in the future.)
The chainstays are thick, without looking ridiculous. Taken as a whole, the bike comes off as both grossly overbuilt and yet sleek. Basically, it’s growing on us the more we look at it.
An Easton AX gravel bar with flared drops pairs with an alloy Niner stem, carbon Niner seatpost, and Niner saddle. (Oh… and don’t forget that Niner YAWYD top cap, because you are what you drink.) The Bosch Purion display gives you control over the modes and shows speed, distance, battery life, etc… plus, the Purion uses an ultra thin mount on the bar to leave plenty of space for other bar-mounted accessories like a regular over-the-stem GPS or phone holders.
Niner eRLT geometry chart, specs & pricing
The 2021 Niner eRLT comes in one build, as shown, for $5,695 (EU pricing TBD). That includes:
- Praxis e-bike chainrings
- Shimano 1×11 GRX group & brakes
- Cane Creek headset
- Schwalbe G-One 700×50 tires
- Stan’s Arch wheels
- 2x water bottle mounts inside front triangle
- Top Tube “Bento” mounts
- Frame bag mounts
- Fender & rack mounts
The bike goes on sale October 15, 2020.
Niner’s eRLT custom front & rear racks
Adding the bike’s versatility are new custom front and rear racks, along with Niner’s existing front triangle frame bag. Sold separately, all of the accessories bolt onto the frame for a clean, sturdy addition.
It’s worth mentioning that the frame bags are sized to match the non-electric RLT gravel bikes, and for this eRLT model, you need to size down one for proper fitment.
The racks are tubular aluminum and have a 40lb (18kg) load rating each, with stays to support pannier bags from the sides. The rear rack fits (and includes) a custom accessory bag, just big enough to hold your tube, tools, and other repair items.
They’re designed to handle those loads off-road, but along with the mostly slick tires they give the bike a lot of urban utility, too.
With or without the racks, the bikes will also fit fenders around those big stock tires, too.
Stay tuned for a review with actual weights and more details. Check out the full line of regular RLT gravel bikes -available in steel, alloy and carbon fiber- for non-motorized options.