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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.