Cable-phobes rejoice, your cockpit prayers have been answered. This MCi Conceptbike from Magura has one of the cleanest cockpits we've ever seen with no handlebar cables and only the only visible cable on the bike being a front brake cable emerging from underneath the stem to route down the fork.
So, how have they managed this? Well, most of the cables are taken care of thanks to Magura's own wireless dropper post, the Vyron eLECT, and SRAM's AXS drivetrain. The brake cables are then hidden using Magura's MCi system.
We've first learned about this system
back in January 2019 with a bike that had 2 visible cables (if you looked very closely) but Magura have now made an even cleaner bike with a few updates to the system on this XC hardtail.
The MCi functions in the same way as a retrofit hydraulic clutch for motorcycles and uses a cylinder in each end of the handlebar that includes the piston and the reservoir. Cables are then fed down the handlebar and into the proprietary stem. The front brake hose drops through a hole in the stem and down the fork leg to the caliper, but unlike the last version of the concept we saw this time the rear brake hose doesn't route through the steerer tube and out again. It now travels alongside it and straight into the frame.
The upper headset bearing is oversized, which allows the cable to be guided between the tapered steerer tube and the bearing, then into the frame with a reducing sleeve providing a guide hole for the tubing. This type of routing does require an oversized steerer tube with room to fit a larger cup, but Magura say that this is already available in production from some headset and bicycle manufacturers. This particular frame was made by Müsing-Bikes with the prototype handlebar coming from BikeAhead.
The front hose now drops out from the bottom of the stem and the rear hose runs parallel to the steerer tube and into the frame.
What about maintenance? Well, the brakes can be bled from each end of the handlebar and the cables can be split using Magura's Easy Link that connects the cockpit unit to the tubing and allows them to be separated without oil pissing everywhere.
While this system does definitely make for a clean looking cockpit and, Magura claims, "better aerodynamics and greater protection for the hydraulic components", we can already see a few drawbacks. First, your brake levers are locked in place, Magura says it will set the lever angle based on "each bicycle model and optimized for the best possible seating position," but it's something we're sure a lot of riders won't want to lose; second, adding holes into components like a handlebar or stem probably isn't ideal, and finally, EasyLink or not, this definitely isn't going to make working on your brakes any easier.
So, will this system ever see the light of day or is it simply a COVID curio? Magura says this particular bike is "almost ready for serial production" and that they would be open to producing the system for OE manufacturers, however an aftermarket version is off the table for the time being.