Niner MCR 9 RDO gravel bike sneak peek

Terrain tamer to be spec'd with suspension front and rear

Road Bike Sea Otter Classic
Niner MCR 9 RDO Gravel Bike

Graphic designer Nate Adams shows off the MCR at Niner’s booth.

Showing off a prototype of a new full-suspension gravel bike, Niner is making clear it’s back in the game at Sea Otter. “Not only have we not gone away, we’re moving full speed ahead,” said company co-founder Chris Sugai.

A three-month-long refinancing effort culminated with Niner’s purchase last month by UWHK Limited, laying fears about the company’s future to rest. The capital injection is evident in Niner’s high-profile booth on Sea Otter’s main concourse, alongside the big names like Shimano and Fox.

Niner MCR 9 RDO Gravel Bike

An elegant custom-fitted fender graces the rear triangle.

Dubbed the MCR 9 RDO (as in magic carpet ride), the gravel grinder is a versatile steed that’s happy on pavement, dirt, and everything in between. Cautioning that the spec is still evolving, Niner says it will be light but rugged, short travel but comfy, and capable of running 700x50mm or 650b wheels and tires.

While the spec is still in flux, suspension was eyeballed at a couple inches and there were whispers of a target weight of 20 to 21 pounds. The MCR on display also had 140mm rotors, a custom fender to guard against pebble spray, and a protected chainring aboard a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. Niner wouldn’t give a price range.

Niner MCR 9 RDO Gravel Bike

A pared-down RS-1 inverted fork provides front suspension.

The suspension will be Niner’s familiar CVA (Constant Varying Arc) with a modified leverage ratio to accommodate shorter travel. A prototype X-Fusion shock and reduced-travel version of RockShock’s inverted RS-1 fork provide cushioning.

Why full suspension for a bike that’s not going to get rowdy? “You can run higher PSI for the road without having to air down on gravel for fear of pinch flats, and you still have the comfort factor off road,” said Nate Adams, Niner’s graphic designer. “For long rides on multiple surfaces, suspension is a big plus.”

However it winds up, the MCR package is slated for release in 2019.

Niner MCR 9 RDO Gravel Bike

Final travel length has yet to be set on the simple-but-sufficient shock.

For more information, visit www.ninerbikes.com. This article is part of Mtbr’s coverage of the 2018 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.


About the author: Paul Andrews

Dividing his time between Seattle and Santa Cruz, career journalist Paul Andrews has more than a quarter century of mountain biking under his belt, which he wishes had a few less notches.


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