Niner Bikes headquarters tour

On our way to PressCamp, we swung by Niner Bikes’ shiny new Fort Collins, CO, headquarters to see how they’ve grown up since the last time we visited. While there, we not only got the tour, but also a private screening of Rebecca Rusch’s new Red Bull film, Blood Road, and an exclusive look at their prototype full suspension gravel bike.

C0-founder Chris Sugai walked us through their office, which now houses their entire operation under one roof. From R&D, testing, warehousing and shipping, to marketing, sales and everything else. Video below, along with pics of the upcoming gravel bike…

Chris introduces us to several team members in the video, who share a bit about what they do, too. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work at a big bike brand, this’ll give you a taste. Oh, and we get to watch them break a carbon frame in a test jig…in slo mo!

First shown at Sea Otter Classic as a modified RKT9, Niner had enough fun on that model to progress to an alloy test mule. Where the first iteration simply threw drop bars and skinny tires on an existing model, this one’s purpose built to test an all new suspension layout for them.

The front end of the test mule started out as an RLT9 Alloy triangle.

prototype niner full suspension gravel bike

This new model, as yet unnamed, still gets their CVA suspension design, but moves the shock location to make it look a little more like a road bike.

prototype niner full suspension gravel bike

prototype niner full suspension gravel bike

The shock will be driven by the chainstay yoke, and we’re guessing some sort of mud guard will come standard.

prototype niner full suspension gravel bike

No word on how much travel it’ll get, geometry or any other details. They use this alloy test mule to test angles, pivot locations and more. While we wait for this one to be a big announcement, expect some minor product news from Niner in August.

NinerBikes.com

27 COMMENTS

  1. Why Again? That shock location for looks? It’s not like it preserves the W/B on the seat tube. I just don’t get it.

    • @Chris- Then why show it at all? That is what Skunkworks, R&D departments are for and why they don’t allow cameras inside , until the details are worked out. I actually like the idea of a Gravel FS bike. But see lots of design issues on this mule that need to be refined for sure. I think a CF version could conceivable wrap this shock and “fix”the problem , but wouldn’t want to show the Proto which looks all the world like a work in progress.

    • Agree’d – I don’t see how adding suspension weight is significantly better than just running larger tires… so much power is going to get lost in that suspension. Cool to see them try something different but I don’t see the need?

      • It’s as though tires aren’t good at providing controllable damping or something.

        Bikes for recreation don’t fill a need, and this no different. Cool though, and it’s exciting to see something like this that uses a linkage driven design.

        • This. Tires don’t do as good a job (or anywhere close) as suspension designed for the riding conditions. This is why the f/f market is still huge despite the advent of fat bikes.

          Suspension doesn’t lose power, it saves it.

      • umm eBikes. May not have a motor on that one but it will be a thing. Sure there are positives and negatives regarding Electroads but it is coming

        • Ah, so suspension to help out with the high speeds of a motor. and then we can eventually put larger tires on to give more traction, and then a windshield, and then a gas motor and then we have a …. oh wait

  2. The RKT prototype at SOC looks simpler and lighter. The shock is in the main triangle where it’s more protected. Giving it a more level top tube would give it that road bike look. Just have to be creative with a 2nd water bottle location.

    I remember when gravel bikes first came out and people said cross bikes work fine. And then FS fat bikes, then plus bikes, etc. There’s always some bikers who think they need this. These brands keep trying until it doesn’t sell.

    • But where is written that the people saying that “cx bikes work just fine” were absolutely right in every case? Why is it that improvement has to stop when something works just fine for a portion of the buying public? Why is it that experimentation, R&D have to stop when some people say, “Nah, we don’t need that. Everything is fine the way it is?” I’d wager that those naysayers exist for nearly every development that’s happened, no matter the industry.

    • Truthfully, I don’t really get the idea of gravel bikes either and frankly cross bikes do the exact same thing. That said, “cross” doesn’t really sell as much so I guess inventing a “new” category is enough to get sales going again. It almost seems like mtn. bikes became too specialized (lol, no pun intended) with their low gearing setup and if they just turned around and put a 50 or 48 large ring on the drivetrain like there used to be, you’d end up with the same thing as a “gravel bike”, just without roadie bars.

  3. Moves shock location to look like a road bike. Puts rocker (?) arm halfway up seat tube, looks nothing like a road bike. smh.

    I think a soft-tail design would be better for this application. Or just put the shock under the toptube like Rocky Mountain and others do. But really how much travel do you need for this? (it’s not stated)

  4. If you don’t see the need for FS gravel bike, then you’re not rad enough to need it. It’s just a different type of riding and rider to utilize something like this. Why not?

What do you think?