Gravel riders seem to fall into one of two general groups: adventurers or racers. The adventurers choose stable, sturdy gravel bikes with sensible gearing, ample cargo fitment, and durable tires. The racers -- not so much. It's all about speed and efficiency.
Case in point: this RLT 9 RDO build by sales rep and racer extraordinaire, Josh Saxe. Let's join Josh for a tour of his exotic, rally-ready RLT!
Josh Saxe (@jackalopesports) here, rider and co-director of Jackalope Northeast Cycling in Collaboration with the Richard Tom Foundation (@jackalopenortheastcycling). I am also the Principal of Jackalope Northeast, the independent rep force behind Niner in the Northeastern United States since 2017.
Who am I, you might be asking? Well, I have spent the better part of the past 16 years of my life deeply present in everything from the rigors of high level competitive skiing and cycling to owning and operating a small boutique bike company from my apartment in Burlington, VT where we did everything from individual assembly to designing our bikes working closely with manufacturers and suppliers in Taiwan. For the better part of the past 10 years, I’ve raced a lot of bikes. Mostly on a local basis, to some decent success even winning the second stage of the Green Mountain Stage Race. Now is a balance and sometimes juggle of family, work, and self care… which is usually riding a bike.
Why do I ride and love bikes oh so much? You wouldn’t guess it now, but in my younger adolescence I wasn’t much of an athlete. I was told my asthma would prevent me from most strenuous activities much less athletic activities, and I would be attached to a rescue inhaler for most of my life. As a teen, I did Taekwondo and managed to be three-time New England Grand Champion. It wasn’t until college did I discover cycling as a way to get myself to work faster. The more I rode, the more I could breathe, and the longer I could go without an asthma attack. Eventually racing was suggested to me by my former biology teacher and the rest is history.
I’ve never taken too much time to explain why or dive into the details of how or why I build my bikes the way I do, but every component is selected for a reason. Perhaps fit, perhaps speed, perhaps tuned to where and how I am riding. Every part is a customized selection attributed to the rigors of riding dirt roads in Vermont and New England. I stand at a lofty 5’8” and weigh in at 160lbs most days. I’m a laughable site to bike fitters at a glance. I’m told my torso is fitting of someone who is 5’11”, where my legs with their 28” inseam are more suited to someone who is 5’2”. The laughing stops when the position comes in to play. I get to ride bikes with the bad-assery of the pro peloton. Slammed, long, and low. So, let’s dive in:
Frame: Niner RLT 9 RDO 53cm Olive Green/Orange
Wheels: Corima G30.5
Stem: Enve Aero Stem 110mm -17
Handlebar: Enve AR Aero 400mm
Handlebar Tape: Silca Cuscino
Seatpost: Enve 27.2 0mm Setback
Saddle: Specialized S Works Power 155mm
Drivetrain: SRAM Red AXS
Cassette: 11-36 Rotor 12 Speed
Crankset: Rotor 2INPower 165mm
Chainrings: Rotor Q-Rings 50/34 (finished by Cycloretro in Victoria, AUS)
Bottom Bracket: Kogel PF30-386 RAW with CX Seals
Pulleys and Derailleur Cage: Kogel Kolossas AXS
Pedals: LOOK X-Track Carbon Ti
Weight: 18.0lbs as photographed.
If you’ve never ridden in New England; the summer months are often hard packed dirt roads with speed matching that of our paved counter parts. Slick high volume tires are often the weapon of choice, with brief stints into a class IV section of road in which a semblance of tread is ideal for survival. There’s no way around it, most rides average about 1000 vertical feet for every 10 horizontal miles of travel. Gearing to climb is a must.
The rest of the year is borderline bike abuse. Reliable and durable equipment is a pre-requisite. That’s why I ride a Niner, and it’s always outfitted with Rotor and Kogel to stand up to the abuse of New England and Vermont riding.
Thanks for reading. See you on the dirt!