Orange-on-Orange-on-Orange RKT 9

When Robert swung by and told us he wanted a bike he could enjoy pedaling up and ripping down for full day rides, we knew it had to be the Niner RKT 9. We went with an XO1 build for precise, poppy shifts, and upgraded from stock where it would make things better.

Stop one was a pair of i9 Ultralights. Carbon wheels are awesome, but not quite worth it in our book. For what Robert said he wanted to do, the 3-degree engagement on a Torch hub was going to be a better improvement, and the better day-to-day experience of an aluminum rim would let the bike get out on the trails whenever it was time. And colored spokes are always good, clean fun.

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When e came to the subject of power meters, we decided that the Race Face Cinch meter's weight, simplicity, and battery life were the end of that story. Combined with a burly, but light pair of Next R crank arms, there's not much more to ask for.

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Being the dirtbag struggle up, crash down goons that we are, we spec'd a pair of 800x35.0mm Chromag BZA bars and a meaty Chromag BZA stem on there in place of the race-spec 760x31.8's. And we threw a Reverb 1X on, which Niner clearly wasn't expecting most people to do. Andrew got it done, but the effort nearly killed him. Still, despite all the burly parts we used, it still weighs 25.4 pounds! Ridiculous! Ridiculous fun!

Seeing someone's excitement when they collect a bike that is perfect for what they want to do is the biggest reason we keep showing up. And that's why we love having Niner in our repertoire: these bikes are good, clean fun.

Squid! Paint! Cross!

Here's a sneak peak preview of the first Squid that we built. We're happy to have the good folks in Sacramento do a paintjob for you, or for you to DIYFS, but Riley is also very happy to design and paint for you. Like, really happy.

Look at how happy he is doing touch-up paint with his gross, dirty cast hand! The bike is built and complete now, so you'll be seeing it in the next couple days...!

The Dream RLT

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When Peter came to us to find a replacement for his ti Lemond, we knew it had to be an RLT. And when he said he wanted his bike to be able to do all the rides he wanted to and also make zippy zappy robot derailleur noises, we priced out a couple options, but it always had to be eTap HRD. The ease of use, liveability, and performance are unmatched, and it's not significantly more expensive than a Di2 kit.

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Not to mention that it just looks clean. It makes us dream of the days when we have wireless electronic brakes (dreams from which we wake up screaming when we reach the part where we've just turned around at the Hurricane Ridge visitor station to find we forgot to charge up the night before).

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It's really easy to spec out a bike with all the go-fast "look at me!" carbon bits you can find—that takes a deep wallet and the ability to discern which number is the least. And those bikes are cool, but not as cool as a classy and tasteful build with solid, reliable, and (more) beautiful aluminum bits.

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The eTap does make people pay attention, though.

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We've gushed over these wheels a lot lately, but they really are amazing when paired with a supple tire like these Barlow Passes. They really let the tire do its job and they're fantastic.

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Astral Buenos Aires Upgrade

These days, as you can tell, we look first to Eugene, Oregon for wheels. Rolf/Astral are making aluminum rims in-house, getting White Industries hubs, and building them by hand to order. Every set comes with a card with your builder's name.

So when Mitch walked in with this beautiful LeMond Buenos Aires and a pair of dangerous Bontrager wheels, we knew exactly what was needed. A 1370g wheelset that's stiff enough to let a Vittoria Corsa shine in all its suppleness.

And we were all pretty jazzed on how they look, too.

I Follow You MB, Baby

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Tadd wanted a bike to pedal up Master Link and grin down O.T.G. Was there ever any doubt? The Following v.1 was pretty damn good. Bottomless 120/120 bikes are nippy and fun. Then Evil decided to freshen it up with wider spacing and trunion-ier mounts and with plus tires it's stupid fun. With 29ers it's a stupid fast Swiss army knife and the perfect bike for Tadd.

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The new matte-not-black Evil paint offerings are ridiculously cool. Subtly badass.

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Tadd chose the X01 build for maximum shifting. And maximum shifting performance.

The OneUp Comp pedals are the best pedals out there, argue otherwise and you're wrong. or have a different preference for a very subjective bike component.

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Radiant Golden Suns

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You'll hear em before they come into view, and you'll see gold reflections on the trees before you see the wheels, but boy when you finally see em... they gold.

They really gold. Industry Nine makes some of the best mountain bike wheels in the game for a ridiculous price. Strong, stiff, and light. And customizable! These Trail 270s got a level two custom pack, but you can go level three and go crazy with multiple colors.

RLT Everything

Susan wanted a bike to replace her Scattante that'd be longer on long road rides, cruise the Iron Horse to Hyak, and take fenders. And the RLT 9 RDO does all that while still being fun.

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We put gunmetal grey PDW Full Metal Fenders on, and they look so smooth. It's always great when accents match, and the fenders are the same metallic satin as the stainless steel bottle cages we bolted on.

The RLTs come with fender hardware, but custom fab is always fun!

The RLTs come with fender hardware, but custom fab is always fun!

Susan's other big criteria was tubeless tires. The Compass Barlow Pass is a fabulous all-year speed cushion.

Michael's Utility Fishing Shred Sled

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Michael told us he wanted a bike that he would work for taking to Duthie with his son, Tiger when his son's older, and ride to the river with boots and a rod to fly fish. The Niner SIR 9 is the perfect tool for that. Modern, slack, and long, but compatible with plus tires, frame bags, rear racks, steel! The SIR 9 would be a genuinely great "a-bike" for Raging River and Tokul, but like the RLT, it can do so much more than just what most shreddin' performance bikes in its genre do

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The bike was a great starting point, and we passed the bag design off to Aaron at Big Tuna Bags. This frame bag is a full custom color-matched job. You'll never see two identical ones.

There's not much more to say, so enjoy the rest of these pics of the hand-stitched bag! This bike is gonna be extra-sick when we swap to some plus-sized wheels!!

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Another Fantastic Clean RLT!

Here are some snaps of the awesome RLT we built for our friend Paul. He wanted to have a bike that could crush a long road ride on Saturday and rip the Thrilla Route on Sunday morning. We outfitted it with a pair of Compass Barlow Passes set tubeless and heatshrinked (heatshrunk? heatshrank?) the cables and hoses for the cleanest look possible outside of eTap.

Riley's obsession with clean front ends (not to say that a clean rear end isn't important—it absolutely is) got us here.

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The nice thing is that Niner and Compass took care of the rear on this build. Clean!!

Breakaway, Bab-ay

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Our friend Steve made a plan to go to France and ride bikes and listen to music. It sounded pretty rough, so we were glad when he decided to build an awesome Ritchey Breakaway with a full R8000 kit.

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Upon his return, he reported that the steel frame smoothed out the already pretty smooth French and Swiss roads, and the handsome classic geometry looks good regardless of what continent you're in.

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There's something undeniably cool about the Breakwaway linkages. We like being able to see and feel the material of a bike, and this look does that. S&S couplers are fantastic and we love them as well, but they're a bit more modern and the process is lost a bit.

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There's nothing left to say about the new Ultegra. 6700 worked, 6800 was awesome, R8000 is nearly perfect.