The gravel bike

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
2,532
2,210
133
Asakadai, Saitama
#1
Now I do love my road bike but coming from MTBing, I'm always looking at the gravel roads/trails with curiosity when riding in the mountains. Where do they go to? Would my road bike stand up to the rocks if I went exploring? With only 25mm tyres, it wouldn't be too long before I got a puncture.
I decided I needed a new bike. After a bit of research, I came upon the Niner RLT. They did a steel version which really appealed to me as I had just taken delivery of my steel road bike. The road bike rides so nicely that I decided to stick with the same material. I ordered the frameset from Jenson USA and three days later the courier was attempting to deliver it to my house. Out of the box it looked great. I turned the frame over and that's when I saw a big scratch/gouge on the bottom of the downtube. Pretty damn disappointing of you ask me. I contacted Jenson who said they could either give me a discount or a new frame. Sending the frame back would be a royal pain in the backside so I told them I would be interested to hear how much discount they would give me. The guy promised to call me back with an answer before the end of the day. Over a week later I was still waiting for his response. They finally got back to me and offered $50. I emailed them back and told them it was an insult. I said I would accept $350. The useless guy emailed back saying that $350 was more then their profit. Yeah right!!!

I then called their customer services and the guy on the phone agreed with me that $50 wouldn't cut it and said he would ship me out another frame. It would be with me the next morning. I then asked him if he realised I was in Japan. "Ah! No". So back to the drawing board. I told him that I would accept $350 discount. He told me to call back the next day and speak to the manager and said it would be resolved far quicker if I spoke to the manager directly. The next day I called and within 1 minute the manager agreed to refund my credit card $350. The gouge sucked but I was happy with the discount.
Next up was the groupset and parts. I ordered almost everything from a German online website. I wanted the flat mount disc brakes and checked with them FOUR times to ensure they would be sending out the flat mount, not post mount brakes. Once sent, I checked again and the customer services guy proudly told me they had sent out the post mount brakes. I emailed them and asked them why they had done that. They tried to blame me but luckily I had taken screenshots of the conversation I had with their customer services rep whilst I was placing the order where I asked him to confirm that the order showed flat mount brakes. After I sent them the screenshots they changed their tune and accepted it was their fault. They tried to stop DHL shipping the order to Japan but it arrived in Narita. At customs the package was stopped and returned to Germany. The online shop said they would need to wait for the package to arrive back in their warehouse before they could send out the correct order. Two weeks later and still no sign of the package at their warehouse. They contacted DHL and were told the package was lost. They said they would have to wait 3-7 weeks for DHL to do an investigation and they couldn't do anything until they heard back from DHL. I called them and told them I wasn't happy. Finally they agreed to send out a new order as long as I promised to not sign for the original order if it arrived back in Japan. Almost two weeks later and the parts arrived. The bike was built up and ready to ride.
This bike is really fun. I've only done a couple of gravel rides so far but I'm looking forward to getting out on it some more. The 38mm and 47mm tubeless tyres feel like I'm floating on clouds compared to the 25mm road tyres (although they are obviously noticeably slower).

Here are a few photos of the build




 

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
2,532
2,210
133
Asakadai, Saitama
#4
What's the dog's name?
Mocha. English pointer. She can't keep up with me on the bike but she makes for a great running partner (not in the summer though). Whenever I think I'm going fast, I look at her and she is hardly trying, even sniffing the floor as she shuffles along at around 3:30/km pace.
 

Karl

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
315
135
63
Yokohama
#6
...This bike is really fun. I've only done a couple of gravel rides so far but I'm looking forward to getting out on it some more. The 38mm and 47mm tubeless tyres feel like I'm floating on clouds compared to the 25mm road tyres (although they are obviously noticeably slower).

Here are a few photos of the build




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Beautiful bike. Looks like it would make a great randoneur/touring bike as well. Love the steel frame. Now you have me thinking how I'm gonna be able to justify getting one.