Niner MCR 9 RDO Full-Suspension Gravel Bike
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Niner’s MCR (Magic Carpet Ride) full-suspension gravel bike was on display at the Sea Otter Classic last weekend. Here’s a full photo gallery and the official flipboard presentation with a detailed look at when, why, and how Niner created it. What do you think? Full-squish curly-bar bikes for bikepacking? Tour Divide, anyone?
Niner’s full-suspension gravel bike has been in the works for a few years now. And for the third year in a row, Niner shocked Sea Otter Classic onlookers with their latest prototype. In 2017 they brought a working alloy test model to show off. Last year, they displayed a 3D-printed proof-of-concept version. For 2019, the Niner booth featured a complete (and very close to final) model that was arguably the talk of the festival. Check out the scrolling gallery below to see Niner’s flipboard presentation that takes you through the company’s thought process, specs, and details behind the yet-to-be released MCR 9 RDO (Magic Carpet Ride). Then, scroll down for a full photo gallery of the bike and a few more details.
The MCR features 50mm of rear suspension via an X-Fusion shock and a 40mm travel Fox AX fork. The suspension is fully tunable and is designed around Niner’s own CVA—Constant Varying Arc—which is tuned for gravel surfaces, such as rutted dirt roads, small bumps, and washboards. The system allows a complete lockout; the rear does so via a handlebbar-mounted lockout switch (see photo below).
While a short-travel, full-suspension gravel bike may not be for everyone—and many of you might even frown at the idea—the concept offers a lot of interesting possibilities. And, this particular bike could provide a few things that some bikepackers (racers in particular) might really like. As shown in the white-boarded presentation above, Niner had longer rides and less fatigue in mind with the platform. In addition, Niner suggested that introducing suspension provides the ability to run higher tire pressures, which, depending on who you talk to, might offer lower rolling resistance, not to mention better tire durability. Niner also makes the case that having a little bit of suspension helps keep the tires glued to the terrain, which may offer better control. Plus, it keeps the rider in the saddle, increasing pedaling opportunity/efficiency.
Another hidden perk with the MCR’s suspension design is that Niner was able to maintain a pretty large frame triangle. That doesn’t come easy on bikes with rear suspension. The only other bike that comes close is the Moots Routt YBB softail that we showed the other day. Also note that the MCR has quite a few bottle mounts and extra eyelets in the frame triangle, making it well suited for a bolt-in frame pack.
The MCR 9 RDO’s geometry features a bit longer reach and wheelbase than the RLT 9 Steel, Niner’s other gravel bike. The MCR also has a little slacker 71° headtube angle and half-degree steeper 73.5° seat tube angle. It has a slightly more tire clearance than the RLT 9, too. Niner states that it can clear a 700c × 50mm or 27.5 × 2.0″ tire with the fender; that likely means it could fit larger rubber without the fender. One other feature to note is the integrated shock/front derailleur mount, which is also removable for a 1x build.
Niner had a couple of pre-production MCR 9 RDOs on hand, including another in black. Even so, the colors and graphics aren’t finalized, nor are its retail price or exact specs. However, a production model release could happen within 2019. Apparently they are expecting the final production model to weigh around 22 or 23 pounds.
What do you think? Are full-suspension gravel bikes nothing but hype, or could they have a place in races like the Tour Divide, DKXL, or TNGA? Let us know your thoughts below.