The Niner MCR full suspension gravel bike has been a work in progress for a few years now. It started out as an RKT XC bike with drop bars, then went into testing as an alloy mule to refine the suspension design. Last year they showed off a plastic prototype as proof of concept. Now, finally, they’ve got the final form factor and molds nailed down, putting them on the home stretch toward an end-of-year launch for the Magic Carpet Ride.

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Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike prototype

So, what’s left to do?

They’re still working on the shock tune, layup, parts spec and pricing. But some things are set. On the two prototypes shown here, there’s 50mm of rear wheel travel coming from an X-Fusion shock for now. But that, along with the 40mm travel Fox AX fork, could change. Not the amount of travel -that’s been finalized, along with the geometry- but the actual parts on it could change.

Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike tech details

The idea is having a proper full suspension on a gravel bike. As in, a linkage driven suspension with a tunable air spring and real damping, real Enduro Max Black Oxide cartridge bearings, and all built around their CVA platform. They want to keep the rider suspended and minimize unsprung weight, essentially keeping the rider floating over the terrain…as if they were on a flying magic carpet.

They tuned the CVA platform specifically for gravel-specific conditions like rain ruts, washboard dirt roads and other such things. As such, the shock is tuned to use all of its travel easily. Meaning, it’s OK to occasionally bottom out…it’s not tuned to handle big hits, huck-to-flats, and wheelie drops like their mountain bikes are. So, it has a more linear spring curve, but it’s also controllable with the compression and rebound damping. This isn’t a simple flex point on an otherwise rigid frame.

Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike prototype

They think this will keep the wheels tracking the ground better, whether you’re climbing, descending, or (most likely) just hammering along on rough roads. It’s made so you can just sit and pedal through stuff.

Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike tech details

And when it gets smooth, there’ll be a handlebar mounted lockout, shown here near the stem. For models with a dropper seatpost, they’re liking the thumb lever that mounts on the drops.

niner magic carpet ride geometry chart

The geometry is a bit different from their RLT rigid gravel bike in that there’s a bit longer reach and wheelbase, but with similar head and seat tubes. They say this will maintain the handling, but improve stability since riders are going to be able to go faster thanks to the suspension.

Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike prototype

The rear fender has two sections that can be removed – the tail fin, and a notch for front derailleur clearance depending on which model you have. And they’ll have a fender extension available separately that’ll offer more rear tire coverage. Tire clearance is rated at 700×50 with the fender attached, or 650×2.0. The front derailleur mount is removable for 1x builds.

Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike prototype Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike tech details

Cable routing for all the things is internal with full length sleeves to make routing super easy. It has three bottle cage mounting points, plus bolted mounts for frame bags and a Bento Box. And that’s a big benefit of this bike’s design, you have a regular front triangle but still get the suspension.

Niner MCR magic carpet ride full suspension gravel bike tech details

They’re shooting for a late 2019 release, offering three sizes: 53, 56, and 59. Retail pricing, final weights, and even the paint colors are yet to be finalized. As shown, the gray model is around 24lbs (their claim), but they’re shooting for 22lbs at most, so that’s likely going to come down to good spec choices, and potentially tweaks to the layup.

But, why?

Because some roads are rougher than others. And because as capable as mountain bikes have become, some singletrack has become boring on them, so this gives you another way to make simpler XC trails super fun again. But mostly, because options are always a good thing.

NinerBikes.com

20 COMMENTS

  1. It’s boring riding a 30lb bike with baggy everything and hip packs on simple xc trails. I don’t think they are too capable.

  2. I guess this is the drop-bar bike that invents “effective seat tube length,” since it’s no longer measured directly off the actual seat tube. Mildly curious about how this will be received, because the suspension concept on this bike appeals to my inner nerd.

  3. Finally some real gravel bike development that doesn’t involve “tuned flex”. If they can figure out the rear shock valving, or a tidy remote, this will be awesome. I’d almost prefer to have no remote and leave it in a light platform type setting all the time. Same for the fork, then there’s less cables to deal with, and adding a dropper remote won’t get in the way of handlebar real estate.

  4. (deleted) You lose all your watts into the shock as you pedal. No need for suspension more than a psi adjustment. Too heavy. Horrible placement for shock, it will get all the crap from road on it and seals will fail. I already have a 29er….duh. niner has been failing ever since their sell off…….

    • This, despite every measured test of rigid vs suspension showing that the suspension does not absorb energy that would otherwise be going to the pedals. Every test, even on pavement, has shown that being suspended is faster.

  5. Like any new product the cycling crowd will push it back. Talk crap about it and than accept it.

    Been like that for any new disruptive product launched for years. Do you want a list of example? ….

    Some people like kraft diner with mozzarella other with cheddar…

  6. At first( last year) when Niner showed a prototype, I was against it, but for the riding in my area, it makes complete sense. We have miles and miles of fireroads and singletrack right outside my door. Our area, Big Bear Lake, Ca., is pretty much decomposed granite and hard pack, which tends to get loaded with breaking bumps and bumps and ruts from being a popular Jeeping area.
    I currently ride a rigid, carbon cross/ gravel bike with 43mm tires and while this bike works great most of the time, I do tend to get beat up on long rides( maybe its my age, 57)
    I would like to see more FS gravel bikes, but they need to lighter and as efficient as possible.

    • My first thought was ‘perfect Big Bear fire roads’. FS mtn bike is overkill, but rigid endurance bike is rough, even with tubeless 40s. I’m 60. I want this bike.

  7. Where I live, this would be a dream. Kudos to Niner for once again going out on a limb and making something that combines my love for road and mountain. What I’d give to rage with this.

  8. There’s a big difference between being able to make it through back road (gravel) terrain in one piece, and being able to maintain power, stance, and path of travel through the same terrain. The most fun roads are almost always washboarded in the apex of bends and the ideal path of travel (ideal in this case defined as the most fun, not necessarily the most smart). In the interest of more fun and enjoying more of the road in more places, this is an exciting innovation to the drop bar category.

  9. I can think of many places and situations where a bike like this would be fantastic. I would really like to try how a bike like this – tuned for washboard type bumps feels.

  10. I like it. This would be ideal for somewhere like Las Vegas that is surrounded by hundreds of miles of epic dirt roads that climb into the mountains, but are almost all super rough due to the type of rock in that area. When I do all-day mixed dirt/road on a CX bike with 40mm tires at lower pressures, I still get beat up pretty badly on the dirt. And before you say “just get an XC bike”, many of the rides I do are more than 1/2 road since I prefer to start from my front door. Very niche product, but there are places where it would be perfect! Glad to support companies that are trying new things. Good job Niner.

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