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.
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.
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.