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jmart

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Reply with quote  #1 
Need some bike advice and hoping to get some input and feedback.

Info:  I'm 53 year old male.  Live in Dallas, TX.  Our terrain is mostly flat with some low rolling hills.  Lots of gravel, farm to market roads,  converted railroad trails, riverbank levee systems and mountain bike trails that are perfect for a gravel/adventure bike.   We have a growing gravel community here as with many events each year.   I love to ride and currently have Road (Willier Cento Uno), Mountain (Niner Jet 9) and Urban (On-One Pompino).

I'm looking at 3 bikes in the $2500 - $3000 range:

Jamis Renegade Expert
Niner RLT 9 3 Star
Niner RLT Steel 3 Star

I think that I would choose the RLT Steel over the Alum. version, but am having a hard time choosing between the Jamis and the Niner.   The Jamis seems to have put together a good package for the money,  but the reviews on the Niner are pretty solid (maybe some brand loyalty on my part). 

Any feedback would be much appreciated. 

Jay




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Enoch

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Reply with quote  #2 
THis is my opinion,

  I think the Renegade Expert is the best deal out there right now of ANY bike. It checks all the geometry boxes, is speced well, and has room for 40c tires. who ever laid this bike out really thought about the "Gravel Bike design" thoroughly. The only miss, and it is a small one, would be it uses a 31.6 seat post oppose to a 27.2. THey are also now specing it with Shimano Hydralic 105 brks. THey originaly had TRP hybrid brakes.
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jmart

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Reply with quote  #3 
Enoch  -  Have you ridden either bike?   Just curious. 
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Enoch

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Reply with quote  #4 
I've played around on the Niner but  no extended rides on either.
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Glades Rat

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Reply with quote  #5 

I narrowed it down to the same three choices about 6 months ago for my riding in Florida.  Sounds very similar to yours with the exception of no rolling hills.  Mostly gravel (with a few rocks) Everglades levee riding with a little paved roads mixed in.

I was ready to order the Niner but my local shop convinced me to give the Jamis Renegade Expert a look first.  I'm glad I did.  Love it so far.  Components are about equal between the Niner and Jamis but with the Jamis youre getting carbon. 

Niner makes great bikes but I question the RLT.  I notice some discounted by a couple on-line retailers. Are they not selling?  I also happened to be riding with an experienced gravel rider recently on a 100 mile Everglades trip that had the new RLT Aluminum.  Same price point as my Jamis.  He was happy with the overall performance of the Niner but said the ride was harsher than he expected.  This seems to be a common opinion on many of the online reviews I came across when I was doing my research. 

Ive done a couple 100 plus mile days with the Renegade and use it a couple times a week for 30 mile gravel rides and am very satisfied.  (I did find that I needed to swap the saddle for a higher end model and also switched out the stock 700x35 Clement USH tires for 700x40 Clement MSO's.)

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rocthrower

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glades Rat
Niner makes great bikes but I question the RLT.  I notice some discounted by a couple on-line retailers. Are they not selling? 


I believe the online discounts you are seeing are for the 2015 frames, as they are limited sizes and colors and the stores are probably getting ready for the 2016 models.  The new frames have thru-axles front and rear, and the fork has mounting bosses on it.  They also have 2 new color schemes, which I'm not sure I'm crazy about.

I've also really had my eyes on the RLT 9 Steel, but after reading your review, I want to give the Renegade a try.  There is actually a Jamis dealer in my town, whereas I had to drive 2 hours to test a Niner, and it wasn't the steel model I'm interested in. 
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DrSpoke

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rocthrower
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glades Rat
Niner makes great bikes but I question the RLT.  I notice some discounted by a couple on-line retailers. Are they not selling? 


I believe the online discounts you are seeing are for the 2015 frames, as they are limited sizes and colors and the stores are probably getting ready for the 2016 models.  The new frames have thru-axles front and rear, and the fork has mounting bosses on it.  They also have 2 new color schemes, which I'm not sure I'm crazy about.

I've also really had my eyes on the RLT 9 Steel, but after reading your review, I want to give the Renegade a try.  There is actually a Jamis dealer in my town, whereas I had to drive 2 hours to test a Niner, and it wasn't the steel model I'm interested in. 


I agree re the old RLT models.  The upgrades to both the fork and the thru axle in the rear are big.  That said, there is no Niner gravel bike in carbon as yet.  So far, I've only read good reviews on the RLT Steel.  I think most of the harshness relates to the aluminum frames.  If looking at aluminum, I would suggest the Salsa Warbird as that's a 2nd generation frame w/what looks like good technology in the design.  That said, the price is very close to some of the new carbon models, below.

I've said it elsewhere a few times on this forum but I'm a very satisfied owner of a Ridley X-Trail.  I received it in mid-November and have over 1,000 mi so far on a variety of surfaces.  It's very dialed now and I love it.  I purchased the CR1 (equivalent to the Ridley C30) model through Performance Bikes.  The price was and is within your price range and I would suggest you take a look. 
I bought mine when they were offering 20% of the purchase price in Performance Points worth an additional $560 for a net of $2,240.  I bought some accessories, some Di2 parts and finally a fluid trainer with the points.  Even though it's carbon it is a little heavy - mostly due to average components.  The wheels though are of medium weight and are high quality so don't need replacing - at least for a while.  The could be supplemented w/a 2nd set of course.

In addition, Performance has a GT Grade in carbon for $2,000.  This model differs from the GT version in that it has SRAM Force level components including hydraulic brakes.  A friend of mine bought one on my recommendation and he's very happy with it.  It's a very nice bike.  He also purchased his during a 20% promotion, worth $400, so a net of $1,600.  He used his points for some clothing, an extra set of wheels and some tubeless tires.

Finally, I'm about to become an owner of a Niner RLT Steel.  I got a wild hair and bid on one of the IMSA Special Edition models that were auctioned on eBay in mid-December.  I really didn't need another gravel bike and was rather hoping/expecting to not win the auction.  But I did - and at the lowest price of the 10 bikes offered.  So I have the only 50cm in the world.  I just received an email yesterday that the frames have arrived at the factory and are being built up now.  When I called a couple of weeks ago, the wheels were being built up so I'm hoping the complete bikes will be done this week.  And with a little luck I'll be receiving it next week.

The cool thing is that it comes with a set of Blackburn bags so is ready for some bikepacking adventure.  It also has room for some pretty big tires.  I've got a set of Nano 40c ready to put on.  Actually, that was my biggest disappointment with the Ridley in that the Nano did not fit on the back as was advertised.  It went on but with very little clearance at the chain stays - not enough to even consider riding them that way.  Finally, it comes with a SRAM 1x system so I'm eager to try that out too as I've not ridden a 1x bike as yet.

So it looks like the Ridley may become sort of the gravel race bike along w/road duty for centuries and rides with a lot of climbing.  And the Niner will be more for heavy duty adventure riding and bikepacking duties.  I really hoping to like the Niner though I expect it to be on the heavy side.  And I already really like the Ridley - it's a great bike.  It's the bike of choice for the Belgian Waffle Ride coming up in April.




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wanderer

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Reply with quote  #8 
I am 62, ride in mostly flat areas (coastal NC), but after joining in some Roubaix-style and gravel rides, I wanted to get a bike that would allow larger tires than my old Specialized SL2 would allow (as an aside, I used this for quite a few dirt/gravel/cobble rides, and was suprised how much you can ride just on 28s).  I researched and pondered and read and finally decided on a Renegade Elite, and bought it sight unseen; it checked so many boxes that were important to me, and it came with hydro discs (I understand that the Expert does now). I have been riding it since May 2015; from the beginning, I changed out the standard crankrings. Why they did not spec this with compact gearing is beyond me. I also swapped out the seat and post to accommodate my favorite seat. And it is superb for my needs. I ride it in the mountains on skinny tires (28s), and it climbs (and descends) well. I have competed in several ultra-cross and singletrack races, did some longer charity rides, and went to Richmond for the conquer the cobbles. I'm taking it to the assault on Mt Curahee in a couple of weeks. I take it on group rides, dink around the back roads locally, and look for dirt to explore. I unfortunately could not make any cyclocross races this year so I can't give an opinion on that. I have collected a few different tires for different courses, but all this bike needs is an appropriate set of "shoes" and it is ready for anything. I generally keep the Clement X'Plor USHs on unless there is a need for a more specialized tire. I really like the carbon frame and relatively light weight, which is helpful for an old guy in the mountains. I was surprised how touchy the American wheels were in crosswinds.

All in all, it has been a great ride; I would buy it all over again in a heartbeat.

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Jfkbike2

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Reply with quote  #9 
I have both an aluminum RLT with Ultegra Di2 and custom wheels running X'Plor 40's and a body float post and love it for my gravel bike. Even before the body float I was impressed with the ride, not harsh IMO but then I am a big guy at 240 lbs. and maybe I can just flex it enough. I do prefer it with the body float though. I also have a carbon GT Grade with Ultegra and love it for my training/all purpose bike but not for heavy gravel as it does not take wide enough tires for me. That said if I was going to buy a new bike I would probably get the Renegade Elite as it looks really well spec'd to me, is carbon and geometry is great... not crazy about the loud graphics though. [wink]
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jmart

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks for all the input.  It has been very helpful and really is giving me some great insight on the Jamis.   I went through the specs again today and you really are getting a pretty big bang for the buck.   Probably need a wheel upgrade in a year or so with the expert.  The elite would be nice, with the better carbon frame,  Ultegra components and the AC wheels, but I really don't want to spend that much. 

Not crazy about the bike graphics,  someone else mentioned that.  But other than that I'm having a hard time finding much fault in the bike.  It was pretty well thought out. 

Now I just need to find one. 

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Glades Rat

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Reply with quote  #11 
The Jamis graphics are more subtle in person than they look on-line.  I'm not saying the paint job can match the Niner (few do in my opinion) but when its got mud sprayed on it you don'te really notice it anyway.  The current RLT's have caught up to the Renegade on some of the features like the front and rear through axels but why not go carbon if you can for the same price?
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Brian K. BikeRider

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Reply with quote  #12 
My wife and I both own 2015 Jamis Renegade Experts and love them.  Have ridden them on some pretty challenging routes and absolutely love the way they ride.  Could not be happier with them.  One of the little things that I really love about this bike is the extra bottle cage mount on the down tube.  That third bottle sure comes in handy on longer rides in the backcountry.  When I was deciding which gravel bike to buy I thought the Jamis Renegade Expert provided great value at that price point and I have not been disappointed.  Hope this helps!  Best of luck with your buying decision.


IMG_20151231_104323319_HDR.jpg 

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Tripintiger

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Reply with quote  #13 
Sorry, no first hand experience here, but I wanted to pass along something I read. For both the RLT9 Alloy and steel, reviewers mentioned a pretty stiff ride. Concerning the Steel, the Niner rep explained this was due to the frame being built and certified to Euro mountain bike strength standards.

Some of the harshness may be alleviated with big, soft tires relative to road bikes. Just beware if you are planning to add 1-2lbs to get the magic carpet steel ride.
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jmart

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thanks for all the replies.   Now on to the question of sizing on the Renegade.    I'm 5' 6.5"   My inseam is 28.5.   I think I fall right in between a 48 and 51. 

Anyone riding either of these sizes?  
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RobF

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Reply with quote  #15 
Bumping an old thread... did you make a decision?  I'm another rider in DFW, and can comment on the RLT 9 steel.

I bought a frameset and built it up 1x11, and am very happy.  I test rode the aluminum version at Mellow Johnny's and confirm it was very stiff... far too much for me to ride for hours.  Steel, however, is a different story.  I'm not sure what reviewers were comparing it to, but it dampens road chatter a lot compared to my Surly.

The BB could be lower.  Note that Niner's PF30 eccentric bracket doesn't come standard on most (if any) builds, but running that BB lets you lower your BB height 8.5mm.  It made a big difference in handling on mine.

Are you going to the Red River Riot this weekend?  If so, we can shake hands and you can have a look at mine.
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jmart

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Reply with quote  #16 
RobF,    Sorry just saw this.  Had to hold off on the purchase due to job hours and lack of time to ride or even look at bikes.  Heard the Red River Riot was great.   Hope we can connect soon on the trail or road. 

Jay
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Jpeg

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Reply with quote  #17 
I'm bumping this.
Because im new to 'gravel riding'. I owned a cannondale synapse 105 carbon endurance road bike about a year ago, loved it. Then got out of cycling, sold it, etc.

Options are
Giant TCX SLR 2
Niner RLT 9 1 star(found online for 1,000$) not sure if old model or not)
Jamis Renegade Expat

I really love the fact that the TCX has front and rear thru axle, renegade has front.

Renegade has rack and fender mounts, tcx has rack (according to website)

I'll still be doing 70-80% road, but mainly to get to trails that i find online and/or finding a random trail on the side of the road.
Any opinions are appreciated! [smile] thanks
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shoota

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Reply with quote  #18 
Depends on what your trails look like that you will be riding. 80% road is quite a lot. If your trails are rough then you would need the appropriate tires for the trail and the 80% road riding on those tires to get there wouldn't be ideal. But if the trails are pretty chill then it's whole different story.
Rough trails = Niner or Jamis
Easy trails = TCX
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gravelfan

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Reply with quote  #19 
I rode almost a 1000 miles this winter on a RLT9. The California winter is great for reiding in the foothills and there are lots of dirt roads to explore in the Central Valley.   For an aluminum frame it is not overly stiff with the carbon fork.  Tire pressure is key.  I would dump the pressure when I found myself on bumpy road and inflate when I got back to the pavement.  
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Jpeg

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Reply with quote  #20 
@shoota.
My trails would most likely be not so rough. I haven't looked online yet to find any near me, but i'm interested in trying out singletrack and more jagged rock hard terrain type of riding.
Though the few 'trails' i've been on in the past were just dirt roads and/or grassy fields/grassy trails that my road bike handled "fairly" well.
TCX is looking like my best bet [smile] 
Plus, if i do come across a more difficult terrain trail i could always re-visit it with bigger tires and less PSI and that should handle it right?
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Jpeg

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Reply with quote  #21 

@gravelfan
which RLT 9 do you have? The 1 star I'm guessing?

It looks really nice, and according to what shoota said, the Niner would suit more rough terrain. I'll have to see which feels better when I test ride them(albeit, the test ride will probably be on the road)
Do you ever have issues with the Quick release on the RLT if you're in really rough terrain?

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Soundwave

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Reply with quote  #22 
I have an RLT 9 Steel and I'm a big fan so far, probably 1000 miles total, mostly paved with some dirt/gravel thrown in.  It feels really solid out of the box, and the tubeless pressures feel like a dream compared to tubes (I went from 75 psi on 32mm tires to 40 psi on 35mm).  I think you should go with whichever bike feels best, they all seem like great options.
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Jpeg

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Reply with quote  #23 

@Soundwave
Which RLT 9 do you have?
I've taken the Jamis renegade expat off my list because I can't find any place that carries them and I want to test ride before I buy.
One shop that I test rode a few backs at on Saturday put in an order for a TCX SLR 2 in Small(what they think is my size - I'm 5'7") because they were placing an order anyway.
Said I can come test ride when it's in and no obligation to buy if I don't like it [smile]

..Also said It'd only be 60$ to change the RD to medium cage and cassette to 11-32. Not sure if that's a good deal or not but, meh.
But, I think that will be my best bet based off the research I've done.

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Soundwave

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Reply with quote  #24 
I have the 3-star version, 59cm (6'2") 2017 model.  I liked the orange better, but my bike shop gave me 10% off if I got the 2017, so I went with that.  

I'm extremely happy with everything.  The 2017 geometry differences aren't enough to worry about.  The biggest difference is flat-mount brakes and a bolt-able top tube bag.  It's not just tubeless-ready, it actually comes tubeless from the shop.  The 2-star was tempting because of the 1x drivetrain with big cassette, but I would recommend the 3-star for the wheels.  The tires are great, handlebars are awesome, hydraulic breaks work perfectly, etc.


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gravelfan

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Reply with quote  #25 
@jpeg

I have one of the original RLT 9 with Sram Force and Stans Wheels. No issues at all with the quick releases even on mountain singletrack. 
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