Niner WFO-9: Review

Jun 3, 2014
by Richard Cunningham  

Niner WFO-9 2014 review test

Billed as a 29er that is dedicated for gravity parks, enduro racing and the boldest of the all-mountain breed, Niner’s second version of the WFO-9 is lighter weight, has a slacker head angle, a lower bottom bracket and a more compact cockpit than its predecessor. In fact, forget that Niner ever had a WFO previously, because this one is an entirely new animal. It is the first bike to emerge from Niner’s new-school, long-travel design team, and its DNA is not replicated from the false god of some 26-inch cult. Contrarily, the new WFO-9 may be the first long-travel 29er designed exclusively to showcase the unique performance attributes of the 29-inch-wheel format, and to largely ignore any pretense that the storied history of the small-wheel mountain bike could provide it with any benefits, beyond a benchmark to remind us when its inevitable extinction was first recognized.

Bold talk perhaps, but history shows that, when presented with new technology, it is human nature to adapt the new technology to older, more accepted and familiar formats. The first bicycles were carved to look like horses, the first automobiles were crafted to look like carriages, and carbon fiber bicycle frames still mimic the profiles of their metal counterparts - so it should come as no surprise that the first long-travel 29ers intended for the sport’s most advanced riders were designed to closely emulate the qualities of their 26-inch predecessors. Niner’s new WFO-9, however, leaps beyond those evolutionary confines and presents all-mountain/gravity riders with the option to experience the largely undiscovered potential of a 29er that is designed specifically for the task. If that sounds like you, a WFO frame, shock and rear axle will cost $2099 and the complete bike, built with Niner’s Four-Star SRAM X01 build, with RockShox suspension, will run you around $5000.




Niner's CVA dual-link suspension is designed to clear big wheels.

Details:

• Airformed aluminum chassis, 150mm dual-link rear suspension, ISCG 05 mounts.
• 142mm x 12mm rear spacing
• Not compatible with front derailleur
• Accepts 150 to 170mm forks
• Transmission: SRAM X1 crankset, X01 drivetrain
• Brakes: Avid Trail, 160mm R and 180mm F rotors
• Shock: RockShox Monarch Plus RC3
• Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3 Dual-Position, 160mm stroke
• Colors: Atomic Blue, Niner Red
• Sizes: Small, medium, large and X-large
• Weight: 28.8 pounds (13.1kg), as tested
• MSRP: $4999 (Four Star Build - RockShox Reverb seatpost is a $300 option)
• MSRP: $2099 USD (frame, shock, and Maxle through-axle)


Construction

Niner chose to construct the WFO-9 chassis from aluminum, bucking the recent industry trend to debut new flagship models in carbon. Niner’s skill at manipulating aluminum, however, may negate the need for carbon, as its medium-sized frame weight is reported to be only 7.3 pounds (3.318kg), and our medium-sized test bike came in at only 28.8 pounds (13.1 kg). Those are competitive weights in the upper atmosphere of the all-mountain world. Some of the WFO-9’s weight savings can be attributed to Niner’s extensive use of ‘air-forming’ – a method of flaring and shaping heated aluminum tubes inside of a mold using compressed air. The WFO’s tubing diameters are engineered to be only as large or as thick as required for each specific area of the chassis, and Niner’s sparing use of aluminum in the frame’s forged rocker pivots and journals also saves weight. Finished with color-anodized aluminum hardware and reversed graphics, the WFO-9 is a beautifully crafted and clean looking frame design.

Familiar profile: The WFO’s chassis bears a resemblance to all of Niner’s suspension bikes, using its patented Constantly Varying Arc (CVA) dual-link rear suspension and a rocker-driven shock mounted to the bottom bracket junction. Those expecting a fresh look for Niner’s ante into the high-stakes AM/gravity game, may be disappointed, but if you fully compress the fork and rear suspension, there is very, little real estate available between two massive wheels, shod with gravity-sized tires to squeeze a frame and its suspension components into. Niner’s proven frame layout allows for industry-leading stand-over clearance and a long-stroke, low-leverage reservoir shock – and most frame sizes will accommodate a water bottle.

Short top tubes: Niner reduced the actual length of the WFO-9 top tubes by about 17 millimeters, compared to its trailbikes, like the RIP-9. The logic is to give the WFO a more compact, DH style cockpit and to position the rider in a more aggressive stance between the wheels. The change comes as a surprise, because contemporary AM/enduro designers have been migrating towards top longer tube lengths. Our medium-sized WFO test bike’s actual top tube length measured 22.8 inches, while the RIP-9 is stated to be 23.7 inches.

Niner WFO-9 2014 review test
  (clockwise) Niner's flush-type headset helps minimize the handlebar height of the WFO-9. Forged, post-type caliper mounts are integrated into the left dropout. To make room for 29-inch wheels and 150-millimeters of suspension travel, Niner squeezed the chainstay bridge as close to the tire as possible. A dog-leg bend in the seat tube provides tire clearance at full compression and also puts the rocker-link pivot in the center of the seat tube, to conserve aluminum.


Seat tube angle: To make room for 150-millimeters of rear-wheel travel, the seat tube is angled dramatically in its center, which gives the appearance that the seat tube angle is quite slack. There are two reasons this is done: one is to clear the rear wheel when the suspension is at full suspension; the other reason is to align the tube with the center pivot of the suspension’s rocker link to add strength to that junction. The actual seat tube angle is around 68 degrees, but the effective angle - measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat post - averages out to 74 degrees, depending upon saddle height.

Seatpost notes: The location of the rocker pivot blocks the use of internal routing in the seat tube for a ‘Stealth’ type dropper post. Another seatpost related detail is that bend midway down the seat tube restricts the insertion length of the post. Niner says that the maximum seat post insertion for a Small frame is 150 millimeters, a medium is 200 millimeters, a large is 250 millimeters and the X-large is 305. Consider this before making a purchase if you like to slam your saddle for descents, or if you need to be sure that the dropper doesn’t exceed your optimum saddle height at maximum insertion.

Big-wheel geometry: Bucking the super-slack 29er trend, Niner specs a head angle that falls between 67 and 66 degrees, depending upon your choice of forks – which is a good thing. Larger wheels are, by nature, more stable in a straight line and more forgiving in the turns. A smaller-wheel, 26-inch design may need a super slack head angle to produce those handling qualities, but the WFO-9 does not. The WFO also benefits greatly in the corners and when hitting rough lines with over an inch (29mm) of bottom bracket drop, which keeps the rider’s weight well below the wheel centerline when attacking out of the saddle. Big wheels, the WFO’s steep seat angle and 17.4-inch (443mm) chainstays all add to the wheelbase, which ranges from 45 to 47.7 inches (1144 to 1211mm ) depending upon frame sizes. Its near-DH-length wheelbase and short reach, 15.1 inches (384mm ) for the medium size we tested, place the rider midway between the wheels and naturally weights the front tire. Looking at the numbers, the WFO-9 is very gravity oriented, but looking at the bike’s profile and spec, it would appear to be a classic AM/trailbike.

Niner WFO-9 2014 review test

External routing: As mentioned, the WFO-9’s dropper post hose is externally routed, and so are all of the other hoses and housings. The practice make sense if you need instant access to them - like, for a quick brake-change in the race pits - but it looks a bit dated in light of the current internally-routed trend. (Note: Niner has made a running change to accommodate internal dropper post routing.) The rear derailleur housing is full length and there is no provision for a front derailleur at all.

Chain guide, yes: With no provision for a front mech, Niner is casting a huge vote in favor of SRAM’s XX1 and X01 one-by eleven drivetrains, and justifiably so. Shimano is still struggling to embrace the 29er’s need for lower gearing, and the industry-wide desire to eliminate the left shift lever. That said, SRAM’s narrow-wide chainring has proved in battle that it can keep the chain on better than 99-percent of the time, but for those who need a 100-percent guarantee, Niner includes an ISCG 05 chainguide mount. Two of the ISCG bosses are machined to the frame, while the third is incorporated cleverly into the forward suspension rocker pivot. To facilitate a classic gravity chain guide, Niner offsets the lower suspension rocker and swingarm yoke to provide extra clearance.

Threaded bottom bracket shell: Niner began by selling framesets and as such, has not forgotten that its customers may have a specific bottom bracket that they prefer and that most of those will be threaded. With most bike makers switching to press-fit types, Niner’s choice to provide the WFO-9 with a threaded shell may seem old school, but when the topic arises in PB forums, most riders prefer threaded types.

Niner WFO-9 2014 review test
  The Pike's Dual-Position dial drops the front end 30 millimeters. Stan's ZTR Flow EX wheels were surprisingly tough. Niner's aluminum Flat Top handlebar began life at 780 millimeters.


Component Check

Niner erred to the lighter side of the WFO-9’s theater of action when it selected its Four Star build kit. The heart of the bike is all SRAM, with an aluminum X1 crankset powering an X01 rear derailleur and eleven-speed cassette. WFO-9s originally did not come with a dropper post, which was an avoidable mistake on Niner’s part, but a running change and a corresponding price increase is planned, so all future WFOs will come with droppers. Our test bike was upgraded with a RockShox Reverb (a $300 Up-charge) with the remote button set on top of the left brake lever. Brakes are Avid X01 Trail models with a 150-millimeter rear and a 180-millimeter front rotor. Wheels were PB favorites – Stan’s ZTR Flow EX – set up tubeless with large-volume, 2.35-inch Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo tires. The cockpit is all Niner-logo components, including their trademark, 780-millimeter-wide flat handlebar. Considering that the many of the WFO’s components are standard fare on XC trailbikes, it should come as no surprise that, in spite of the fact that the WFO is billed as a gravity-oriented AM/enduro bike, its component selection keeps its total weight competitive with many high-profile carbon trailbikes.



Niner WFO-9 2014 review test

bigquotes The WFO-9 is such a capable straight-line descender that it is no problem to push the bike hard enough to use up every millimeter of its suspension.

Pinkbike’s review of Niner’s 150-millimeter-travel WFO-9 ran six months – twice as much saddle time than we normally require to write a fair bike test. Niner’s WFO-9 is far from a normal bike, however, and as it turned out, the aluminum-framed, big-travel 29er required a long-term relationship before the beastly descender would let us experience its intimate side. Based upon first impressions, the new WFO felt too short in the cockpit and its long wheelbase and stable steering strongly suggested that the bike was intended to turn corners only when necessary and to ignore danger and take a straight-line approach to all technical situations. Getting acquainted with the WFO-9 was like being invited to a fancy dinner and being seated across from a man wearing a tartan kilt, with a bristling red beard, and who eats with his own bone-handled knife and fork. We skipped the light conversation and started with pertinent questions. The WFO-9 has a much broader personality than we expected.

How did we set it up? Because of its 29-inch wheels, the WFO’s front end already stands three inches taller than a 26er and if you throw in a 160-millimeter-stroke fork, even with its flat handlebar, the height of the grips approach that of a DH bike. Using spring pressures in the Pike fork and Monarch Plus RC3 shock that worked well on smaller-wheel bikes, turned out to be too stiff for the Niner. Using 20-percent sag in the fork and almost 30-percent in the RC-3 shock turned out to be the magic combination, producing a firm riding suspension that had enough travel in reserve to suck up landings to flat or Hail Mary moments in the boulders.

Niner’s 780-millimeter aluminum Flat Top handlebar is fashionably wide, but leaving the bar at full width slows the bike’s steering response, which is already an inherent problem for 29ers. We cut the bars to 760 millimeters, which provided a similar feel to a 27.5 or 26-inch-wheel bike with the full-width bar. If we were to use the WFO-9 exclusively for enduro competition or for shuttling gravity trails, the wider bars might make more sense, but shortening them a bit made a noticeable improvement on trail.

Niner WFO-9 2014 test review
  Jumping to flat will use up the WFO-9's suspension in a hurry, but there is enough progression in the Pike fork's and Monarch Plus shock's compression damping to prevent harsh bottom-outs. Harold Preston launches off the boulders in East-County, San Diego.


How does it roll? Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires are some of the fastest rolling and lighter weight 2.35-inch tires made, so once the WFO-9 is up and running, it pedals efficiently and maintains its momentum over a wide range of trail surfaces. While Stan’s ZTR Flow EX wheels and tubeless Nobby Nic tires may be the lightest affordable option, there is no escaping the difficulty of accelerating their large-diameter mass from slow speeds. Once up to pace, though, its laden feel under acceleration disappears, and the WFO-9 takes its place among the better pedaling bikes in the AM/enduro category.

How does it climb? Surprisingly well, would be the short answer. Negotiating a 29-pound bike up a steep, technical incline isn’t easy, but Niner’s CVA suspension keeps the tire’s search for traction a successful one, and the steep seat angle makes for seamless transitions from seated to standing. Extended climbing requires the use of the Monarch Shock’s middle “trail” position to firm up the pedaling feel and to keep the rear suspension from settling, and though we rarely use the option, we discovered that reducing the fork travel made a noticeable improvement in the WFO-9’s climbing performance – especially when we were working our way up smoother, more steady grades. Niner’s choice of a 32-tooth chainring is a compromise towards its descending performance, where 15-percent added to the bike’s top speed could pay dividends at an enduro race. Uphill, however, we often prayed for a lower climbing gear. We’d prefer a 28-tooth chainring for climbing steeps, but for its role as a descender, a 30-tooth would give the big-wheeled WFO ample top speed, while making the steeper climbs ‘less worse’ for sore legs.





How does it corner? Learning how to get the WFO around a fast turn was our first wrestling match. Riders who finesse their bikes through the boulders and use a light touch on the grips while cornering will have the hardest time adapting to the WFO-9. I fell into that category and as the primary test rider, I spent some time trying different lean angles and weight positions in an effort to discover the bike’s sweet spot in the turns. All was for naught, though, because the secret to riding the WFO at speed is to give it firm and precise commands.

A light grip on the bars and a deep lean is usually enough to get a good handling trailbike to hold a fast line around a turn. Try that on the Niner and it feels like it never locks into a line and you will usually end up in a wider apex than desired. Exaggerate your counter-steer, then push the WFO around the corner with your outside shoulder, and it will tear into the dirt and hold a tight line. The recipe works equally well whether you are riding singletrack or sessioning a DH trail. The extra authority that the Niner requires to change direction or to ride a line through section of rocks or roots may be a turn off for some riders, but the reward is substantially higher exit speeds.

How does it steer? Experience with other Niner models led us to expect the WFO-9 would have the same light and balanced feel the handlebar, but it doesn’t. The WFO’s gravity-oriented steering geometry causes the bike to steer with a slightly heavier feel, but with more authority. You won’t want to wave the bars around unnecessarily, because the WFO goes where you point the front wheel. Steering the big Niner requires more concentration than other AM bikes, but once we got the hang of it, we could put the front tire precisely where we wanted it when climbing a technical section, dropping down a deeply rutted trail, or pounding our way down a sketchy patch of rocks. It is a double-edged sword: get sloppy and an errant twitch of the handlebar can toss you off of the trail; stay focused and you can pull off some hero moves.


How does the suspension measure up? The WFO-9 is such a capable straight-line descender that it is no problem to push the bike hard enough to use up every millimeter of its suspension. The bike’s big wheels and large-volume Schwalbe tires doubled up to keep the Niner from diving into bomb holes and they helped the bike to roll over just about anything in its path. Set up at 30-percent sag, we compressed the Monarch reservoir shock to full travel on every ride, but because the rear suspension ramps up smoothly at the end of it stroke, we did not register that fact until we had checked the shock’s O-ring. By now, its supple action of RockShox's Pike fork off the beginning of its travel and its excellent mid-stroke support are well known. The WFO used the 160-millimeter, adjustable-travel version, which gave the bike additional versatility. Dropping the fork travel for select climbs helped to compensate for the WFO’s tall, gravity-specific feel up front.

Niner WFO-9 2014 test review
  Once test riders learned to commit to a corner, the Niner responded by carving a tighter, more predictable apex.


Is 150 millimeters enough? Reading to this point, one may get the impression that the WFO-9 rides like a magic carpet over the roughest ground, but big tires and 29er wheels cannot always mask the fact that there are only 150 millimeters of rear-wheel travel back there. This is most noticeable when landing to flat or hitting G-outs. Fulfilling Niner’s claim - that the new WFO is a gravity-oriented all-mountain bike that can take on anything at a bike park - will continuously run the rear suspension to the stops. With a suspension tune set to suck up mid to large-size hits, while being just soft enough to keep the tires on the ground around rough corners – we drove the fork and shock low enough in their travel when riding at pace to make the suspension feel firm all the time. The trade-off is that the 29-inch wheels will get you up and over nasty stuff that would normally require more suspension travel for a small-wheel bike, but when you are carrying that kind of speed in the rough and then hit a really hairy section, the WFO-9 has no suspension travel left the bank and you will be left wishing for more.


Component Report

Most WFO-9 customers will not need to make any significant changes or upgrades. For the most part, Niner’s Four-Star build kit reads like a trail rider’s wish list. Who can argue with a SRAM X01 eleven-speed one-by drivetrain? Same goes for its RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air fork and Monarch Plus RC3 shock. While you may be able to buy fancier hoops, Stan’s ZTR Flow wheels have been put to task on the World Cup DH circuit and are still are lightweight enough for trail use. Those not up to speed on 29ers may want to dump Niner’s 780-millimeter flat handlebar for a more official looking riser model, but that would be a mistake, as the steering deck of the WFO-9 sits as tall as may DH racing bikes. After six months on the bike, only a handful of complaints surfaced from test riders regarding the Niner’s parts.

More aggressive tires: Granted, Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35-inch tires are some of the fastest rolling and lightest in the all-mountain category, but the macho-man of Niner’s fleet deserves better. Moderate cornering pressure quickly overwhelms the Nobby Nic’s minimal edging blocks. We can only wonder how much harder we could have pushed the WFO in the turns had it been shod with real rubber.

Dump the grips: The stock Niner grips are, um, not so good. Riders probably exist who like the feel of a deep sea fishing rod in their hands when they attack a downhill trail, but that’s not us. We installed quality lock-on grips after one ride.

What, no dropper? What was Niner thinking when they launched its first ground-up gravity design without a dropper post? Niner says that, at the time, it was launched, the expense of the 300-dollar up-charge for a RockShox Rerverb was a concern, and the alternative dropper options were unreliable. We’d have to agree with that logic, but no dropper equals no AM bike. Happily, Niner will be including them on future WFO-9s.

Lower gearing: We wager that there will be many more WFO-9 customers who would be better served if the bike came with a smaller chainring than those who would be happy with the existing, 32-tooth sprocket. Twenty Nine inch wheels cover a lot of ground per revolution, so pushing a 32 is like pushing a 34-tooth chainring on a 26-inch-wheel bike. We’d like to see at 28 tooth – or down-sizing to a 30 at the least.

Niner WFO-9 2014 test review
  Niner's WFO-9's straight-line stability encourages its rider to the chunky stuff and concentrate on better line choices.



Pinkbike's Take:

bigquotes Niner has been building, racing and riding 29ers long enough for its people to have forgotten exactly what a small-wheel bike feels like, and that may be a good thing. The WFO-9 has very little in common with 26-inch-wheel all-mountain or park bikes that it is intended to compete against, but it can run shoulder to shoulder with the best of them. It can carve, drift, jump and drop with conviction, but it does so in its own, 29-inch way. Like-minded riders - those who drank the 29er Kool-Aid long ago - will need no transition to the WFO-9's direct approach to line choice and its ability to ignore the trail's smaller features. We who cut our teeth riding 26-inch bikes, and who speak reverently about 'pop' and 'nimbleness' may judge the WFO-9's handling to be crude and unrefined, but that would be a mistake. There is a distinct possibility that different diameter wheels would require learning different riding techniques in order to unlock their true potential. The Niner can dance, but it has its own style. Riders who learn to keep in step with the WFO-9's broader, more powerful moves will be the ones who unlock its potential for speed, and there can be no doubt that it likes to go fast. Niner's new WFO-9 diverges from the contemporary notion that all great-performing trailbikes should emulate the noble 26er, and for those who like 29-inch wheels, that represents a big step in the right direction. - RC



124 Comments

  • 56 21
 I will never understand why would you go half way if 29ers can be made so good. I mean save marketing and profit needs of companies, why would a logical, informed person wanting larger wheels go half way? Who enjoys a sandwich with a glass of juice thrown together into the blender?! Long travel 29ers yeees, Godly traction giving a sense of impunity. Plow through sht with filthy smile shouting ArrrrrRRRR! And if it is a particularly good one, you can send that sht too!

Good analogy with horses RC, 29ers are finaly getting read of the 26" super ego, time for id to play Big Grin
  • 6 2
 My primary rides are 29ers: Scott Scale 29, and a Scott Spark 29 Team (both have completely awesome geometry btw). I also have an ol 1999 Spec's FSR Comp...and that thing kicks total a$$ on the trail when I ride it.

I personally find the handling of the smaller wheels to be easier and more fun, they actually "wake me up" quite a bit. I just rented an Anthem 27.5 when traveling and had a blast with it's playfulness. I also like how the bikes feel smaller, stiffer, not as tall, and more responsive. In addition, I like how you can feel the trail more and I got a kick at intentionally riding over obstacles.

After returning home and riding my Spark, I felt that to be a blast in its own way. Actually, I really enjoyed the Spark's geo much more than the Anthem's. Scott knows how to dial it in, I mean it's just very pleasurable from the start and all the way through. The Anthem felt meh at first, however after settling in with it on the trail it made a lot of sense and I found it to be a really nice short travel trail bike. My only issue is that I'd probably like the Spark 27.5 better, that and it has 120mm of travel. I would totally be happy with an Anthem 27.5 though if I ended up with one!

There are times where I just don't like how big the wheels are and their negative side effects. I'm not hating on them as I'm a 29er owner myself. I have seen the light of the 27.5 bikes and in my opinion it is ideal and healthy to ride both regularly...while not favoring one over the other.

The interesting thing is that it seems like I become numb on a 29ers after a while, and the smaller wheel bikes wake me up and I relearn how to really thrash around a bike, which then I can apply to my 29er.

So why would I get a wheel that's only half way? Because they are awesome.
  • 18 21
 Totally agree I have no need for 27.5. 29ers are coming into there own
  • 11 6
 "So why would I get a wheel that's only half way? Because they are awesome."

zephxii - the trouble is that you will be able say that to 27" and 28.5" as well, if someone made them. I am for instance, I am surprised why is no one making money on 32" road bikes yet.
  • 20 1
 WAKI, how does it feel to be on the positive side of the comments?
  • 34 3
 Hahaha - thank you for asking - not good really... mainstream is extremely uncomfortable, I am suffocating with conformity!
  • 11 3
 WAKI - To be honest with you... I think 29 feels too large and I would more prefer something between 27.5 and 29.

However since I don't have that option. 27.5 will work just fine. One of the things I really like about 27.5, is how invisible the wheelsize feels, that's really nice. (26 feels smallish, 29 feels too large). Something just slightly larger than 27.5 would probably feel really good too.
  • 4 2
 so...now too large is a bad thing?
  • 2 1
 I rode my first 27.5 bike on vacation recently too, also an Anthem, and was able to try it side-by-side with the 29" version. All I could notice about the 27.5 was how 26-like it felt. I really wish we had had a 26 bike there to try too, I would have been really interested to see the difference. That said, lots of the marketing literature says 27.5 is supposed to be closer to 29 in many ways, but I honestly didn't pick much of that up. Compared to teh 29er there was still a huge gap in rollover, climbing, COG, and steering from what I was able to feel, and I walked away thinking the 27.5 felt a lot like my 26 back home. Overall the bike felt nice, definitely something I would consider owning. I was pretty surprised how un-29er it felt though.
  • 6 0
 I thought that's the whole point of the 27.5... in that it doesn't feel (handle) like a 29er.
  • 2 0
 Giant has been saying it has the rollover and traction of a 29er, but with 26er COG, acceleration, etc. Felt like 26 all the way to me though, which is what was surprising. Again, I didn't have a 26 on hand to compare to though, so maybe the "in-betweenness" of it was lost on me.
  • 7 1
 technically they're beach cruisers but walmart is making money already on 32ers.
  • 3 1
 Built for gravity parks? April fools have long pass, stop messing with our emotions RC lol
  • 7 0
 pink bike history: WAKI gets his first comment with actual up votes.
  • 2 0
 Wow a 24" would be like an expresso to you zeph.
  • 9 0
 Oh freaking hell! Now the debate is 27.5 vs 29??? Are you serious? Just pick your weapon and ride damn it. Who gives a shit anymore about wheel sizes. JUST. RIDE.
  • 7 0
 Reignonme: pinkbike comments section is where the happiness from our hobby comes to die.
  • 1 0
 So this is the bike to have if all of the trails you ride are straight. Brilliant. It's the 69 Chevelle of the mountain bike world.
  • 1 0
 You mean '70 Monte Carlo.
  • 1 0
 ^^^^zaff--roger that.
  • 2 0
 71 Hemi Cuda
  • 1 1
 MOPAR \o/
  • 28 2
 Has the reviewer ridden the Spec enduro 29? Any comments for comparison? thx
  • 3 1
 THIS^^^
  • 1 0
 i agree. no other 29er out there has been tested and competed on a world cup level other than spez's enduro 29er so a comparison should be in order.
  • 8 0
 Also throw the Intense Carbine 29 in there ! I smell a shootout
  • 4 0
 There is a review of the WFO9 on Vital and I asked the guy that reviewed the bike how it compared to the Enduro 29. He said the suspension felt more plush on the enduro 29. That sealed the deal for me and I went with the Enduro. Plus the short chain stays on the Enduro are what really makes the bike handle so well. However the WFO9 may have a better pedaling platform. I LOVE my Enduro 29. I thought I would never buy a 29er too. It is the most capable bike I have been on in terms of an all mountain bike.
  • 1 0
 I rode both and would disagree with that assessment JetBenny. The front of this bike feels super light. The enduro never felt like that. Maybe the cockpit wasn't set up right for me. My friend who rides a carbon enduro 29 says the WFO is more nimble. Go figure.
  • 1 0
 Just going off of what the reviewer told me. The short TT of the WFO9 will defiantly contribute to its handling and give it a light feeling. There are more reasons I went with the Enduro over the WFO9 that don't have to do with the bikes themselves. Im not saying the Enduro is better. The WFO9 is a sick bike with different characteristics. I'm glad there are becoming more and more long travel 29ers. It keeps all the bike companies on their toes. I do think you get a pretty good deal with the the WFO9 and the components.
  • 22 0
 so get to the point!
Is it better or worse that the Specilized Enduro 29er?
  • 5 0
 This review can easily have been 1 sentence. This is the only fact that matters.
  • 4 2
 It's worse, but you knew that already.
  • 11 0
 I was in the market for a new trail/AM bike and I ended up with a WFO. So far it's been an absolutely brilliant bike. I did add a dropper post, swapped out the Avid brakes for Shimano XT's, added a blackspire taco bash, and tossed the grips after 2 runs at Highland for some Renthal lock-ons. For trail only, I think some may like the grips, but when you point it downhill, those chunky grips are horrible.

For some reason the WFO I bought, came with a 90mm stem. I'm guessing they just threw it on as it left the factory, but now I've got a 40mm Chromag installed. I have a medium as well and agree that the reach/cockpit may feel short, but I don't have long arms or broad shoulders so it feels good for me. I left the bars uncut at 780, but I've been debating cutting 10mm off each end. The front is tall with the Pike 160 so I have only 1 spacer under the stem and lowering the fork for long climbs definitely helps. I also run quite a bit more air than the fork recommends for my weight (around 175#) at about 140 psi. I've got it set up for the harshest landing, but it still feels incredibly plush. I've also realized that the 2012 Fox Float 180 on my Kalula is nowhere near as good. Not even close.

Berms are a little different on a 29er and this bike is no exception. I've only had it for 2 months now and it's a learning curve to really get it through berms at speed. I'm getting better, but you have to force it a little more. Get lazy and it'll bite you.

Overall, I jump, drop, send and pedal this thing everywhere. It's very playful, FAST, and very rewarding. I wasn't considering a 29er for an AM bike, but I'm glad I went with this. If you get a chance to ride/demo one of these, don't hesitate.
  • 2 0
 it came with a 90mm stem because it has a 23" tt
  • 1 0
 Interesting, but they tested a medium and look at the stem in the pictures above. Doesn't look like a 90mm stem to me. Also, why spec a 90mm stem with 780mm wide bars on a very aggressive 29er? Wouldn't the resulting steering be slow and awkward and not act as this bike is intended?
  • 1 0
 ^^^so.... I was wondering about that. I don't ride 29, are the TT ususally that short? Even the XL is only 24.4. Most large 26 are over 24.4... Is that normal?
  • 1 0
 I did the same thing as you... Coming from a Pivot Firebird, I wanted something faster that could still take a big drop and ride technical trails aggressively. I demoed a lot of bikes and ended up with a WFO. Even though I did not know much about Niner, I'm so glad I did! This thing destroys pretty much everything I throw at it. Here on the East coast trails are quite tech with lots of roots and rocks. This bikes loves this stuff. And it is so poppy and playful, I have a blast riding familiar trails again. I can manual everything. I put a dropper with internal routing. Works great. I ride the medium and I tried putting a short 50 mm stem but hated it. The longish stock stem works fine but it has a rise so may switch it to something slightly shorter with zero rise. Although i love the big BMX feel of this set up. I demoed a large WFO with a stubby stem and liked the cockpit but not the stand over height. The carbon Enduro I demoed wasn't nearly as fun as this thing. It felt fast but it wasn't set up right. Not playful. Overall I'm super happy, this bike slays rough trails! Thanks for the fork set up, my Pike feels very soft right now. I'm about your weight so I'll try that. By the way, I too had a 2012 180 Fox float that kinda sucked. I was always trying to make it smoother.
  • 1 0
 The top tubes usually aren't, and I do think it strange they went with a shorter TT on the second iteration of the WFO. Feels good for me, but if you want/need a longer TT maybe ride a size up. Unless you need something longer than 24.4", then buy something else I guess.

I'm in MA too. The bike is unbelievably capable and I'm really trying to push the bike and myself. I've been having a blast on it- does everything I've asked it to. I started 10psi over my weight as it felt soft and kept adding more pressure. Still doesn't feel super stiff. Unlike my Float 180. Sigh. Kashima coat marketing and all. It's no good. Rock shox has introduced the Pike in DJ form, but what they need to do is introduce it in a 180mm travel single crown to replace the Totem. And do it yesterday.
  • 12 2
 The 2 things that stood out to me.
1) Is NOT compatible with a front derailleur, thumbs up.
2) The typo that states the bikes weight is 2.8 lbs haha.

Other than that, the new Devinci Spartan has my brain so clouded that I couldn't possibly desire any other bike at this point.
  • 4 0
 Speaking of weight, props to RC and pb for incorporating peoples' requests for both imperial and metric measurements
  • 16 6
 Does not uphill, does not downhill very well. Handful in corners and you run out of travel midways. Big wheels get into the way of having fun. Under raked for serious use. No carbon plus. Cunningham delivered endless prose, putting lipstick on a pig.
  • 4 0
 hahaha! " There is a distinct possibility that different diameter wheels would require learning different riding techniques in order to unlock their true potential." which means--this bike kinda sucked at the beginning but ride it for a bit and you should end up liking it I guess.... cus it feels like a dump truck coming down the mountain... it's not nimble or quick, or playful... but man! it sure rolls over shit. Just keep riding and one day you'll enjoy it. hahaha!
  • 4 1
 Lipstick on a pig? More like whipped cream on shit.
  • 3 1
 How about, a "pretty" pig with lipstick on who just took a shit covered in whip cream?
  • 3 1
 It was also strange how a short reach and top tube bike is suddenly good enough... Especially considering most other reviews.
  • 1 0
 Twist and spin...Review? Hardly.
  • 16 5
 ''no dropper equals no AM bike.''
really?
  • 11 2
 YES. Dropper posts are the most useful invention since suspension. In fact, droppers are the reason I'm considering a hardtail again for first time in about 15 years(not counting DJ bikes.)
  • 1 1
 good thing that my AM bike has no suspension then. it's not what your bike is or has. it's how you use it. I know dropper posts are quiet useful but stating a bike is not an AM bike because it does not have one, equals stating it cannot be ridden in AM terrain. and that is just wrong.
  • 1 0
 Lol no. I could ride a dirt jumper on easier downhill or xc trails but that doesn't make it a downhill or xc bike. Defining bikes has a lot to do with marketing and can get annoying as in the current e word trend but if you can call a bike whatever you want then the words have no meaning.
  • 3 0
 pyromaniac, You're taking their statement too literally. They're using hyperbole to make a point about what's expected when you buy a NEW bike designed for climbing, then making aggressive descents, essentially: an AM or E-word bike. In 2014, if you're selling that kind of bike, and not including a dropper, you're doing it wrong, and that's the point they're making. Or they specifically hate you, and are trying to condemn your particular riding proclivities. yea, it's probably that.
  • 1 0
 from that point of view, I agree.
  • 8 1
 "External routing: As mentioned, the WFO-9’s dropper post hose is externally routed, and so are all of the other hoses and housings. The practice make sense if you need instant access to them - like, for a quick brake-change in the race pits - but it looks a bit dated in light of the current internally-routed trend"

So if I understand, non-sense is the right trend?!
  • 1 0
 Well, yes most of this article is nonsense, based on the "fact" the cockpit is "17mm shorter"- reach is 418 on the wfo, 419 on the rip. They are almost identical- neither is more compact really.
  • 12 2
 this may possibly be a 'cool' 29er
  • 6 0
 Tallboy LT , Carbine 29 and now this , they would have to be in the top 3 bikes all going in the right direction . Wow what a RAD looking bike from niner , angles , lengths and travel look really exciting .
Not sure if many people have tried the RDO Flat 780 Bar as pictured on the bike above but they are truly amazing on a 29 . I have TB LTc and a V10 C thinking i was getting two bikes so different i now know if the TB was 150 travel i would only need one bike . LT 29`s i feel are the future in bikes there crazy fun . If you can ride a bike these new bike are just better bikes .
  • 6 2
 Rotors are too small... I'm still trying to figure out why so many 29ers are being spec'd with such small brakes when a larger wheel will require a larger rotor to achieve the same stopping power. On top of that, this bike is supposed to be gravity oriented... with a 160mm rear rotor?
  • 4 0
 I agree with you. 200 front and back is what's required for this program!
  • 3 0
 "Niner chose to construct the WFO-9 chassis from aluminum, bucking the recent industry trend to debut new flagship models in carbon."

That's what they'll keep telling you.. Until the carbon version comes along anyway.

I was really looking forward to this as my old wfo is starting to feel... well a bit old with the stupidly steep headangle(70deg) and the low-ish lower link that tries to catch every rock on the trail. But they really ruined the bike imho: shorter TT as just about everyone else is going for longer (it's about 2cm shorter than the enduro29), lower link seems to be even lower so more mangled metal and the less room for the rear tire (that's the best part with the old frame: you can run what ever tires you want and there's still plenty room for shit in the stays).

I'm sure it's a great bike if it suits your frame, but i'll be lookin' for something longer and lower thank you.
  • 3 0
 @RC More commentary like this, please, in your reviews. Speaking as someone who is not a professional rider, without access to chat with or ride with professional riders, this is great insight as to how to improve ones riding. I was going to even copy the next paragraph too, but it'd be too much. Good stuff!

"A light grip on the bars and a deep lean is usually enough to get a good handling trailbike to hold a fast line around a turn. Try that on the Niner and it feels like it never locks into a line and you will usually end up in a wider apex than desired. Exaggerate your counter-steer, then push the WFO around the corner with your outside shoulder, and it will tear into the dirt and hold a tight line. The recipe works equally well whether you are riding singletrack or sessioning a DH trail. The extra authority that the Niner requires to change direction or to ride a line through section of rocks or roots may be a turn off for some riders, but the reward is substantially higher exit speeds."
  • 7 1
 I guess I am part of a cult now....
  • 14 8
 it'd be pretty sweet if it came in a 26r!! haha
  • 2 8
flag TheDude88 (Jun 3, 2014 at 2:20) (Below Threshold)
 As long as its not 650b. Smile
  • 7 3
 Let's see it bottoms out on g outs and does not corner well. It also took twice as long to get comfortable on it..Count me out.
  • 4 1
 I rode this at interbike right before riding the Spec Enduro. I have to say I liked this bike more. To me, I rode a medium, I was able to flick the bike around with no problem. It was fun a playful on the descents.
  • 3 1
 "Because of its 29-inch wheels, the WFO’s front end already stands three inches taller than a 26er"... that's not right is it? Wouldn't it only be an inch and a half since the axle is in the middle of the wheel? Or am I looking at this total wrong?
  • 3 0
 @Gtrguy,

You're thinking about the bottom half of the wheel. But you're forgetting the "other" 1.5" that the front fork has to clear on top of the 29" wheel.


I like the bikes price point and build spec, but the review seemed to confuse me about the bikes Turning:

At the beginning of the article RC mentions that the bigger wheels are more forgiving in the turns, then he goes on to explain how the bike isn't very easy/ intuitive to turn?
  • 2 1
 Just recapping the learning curve ^^^
  • 3 1
 I'm not convinced by this review it's a good bike, really, it took six months to figure out how to ride it? In my opinion the mark if a good bike is something you can throw a leg over it and crush almost immediately. I'm sure skill level plays a part in how quickly you feel comfortable as well but... Just sayin
  • 2 0
 I get that the industry is accepting 27.5" and 29" wheels as mainstream tech now, but why the flaming hatred of 26ers? I would guess that the vast majority of riders of all disciplines still enjoy the "old-fashioned" setup, along with fixed seatposts and 9 or 10 speed drivetrains. Just because there are new options doesn't mean that the tried and true standard needs to be immediately trashed! Just listen to what you are saying when making those aggressive comparisons.
  • 2 0
 This has been my favorite big 29er bike I've demo's so far. Fast line descending way more stable feeling than the Enduro, and a much better climber as well. I'd put this up against and beyond the Bronson and Mach 6 as an all arounder. It's a tremendous bike. Thought I wanted a 27.5 but the WFO9 has me second guessing.
  • 5 4
 Nothing wrong with a 32, if you can't push that aren't you better off with 2x rings? I'm still running a 36t up front with a 28t to drop into if the hill is steep and goes on for a while, although I'll be going to a N/W ring soon and I'm not the strongest guy out there power wise.
  • 9 1
 A 32t on a 29er is very close to a 36t on a 26er and a 34t on a 27.5er. Not quite what was stated in the article.
  • 2 0
 If you use both rings on your double and you're not the strongest, why are you going 1x? You're gonna end up hiking a lot more.
  • 1 0
 30T 12-36 on my 29er, very techy trails where i ride and then i let gravity do the rest.
  • 2 0
 That makes more sense, the 36 isn't for everyone, the 28 is only used for one hill on my ride and it's doable on the 36 no problem, I just recover in it to spin. I'm on the edge of a breakthrough from road fitness looking at my power data (yes I know, no I'm not going to put one on a mtb) so I figured I'd be fine with a 36 N/W and maybe swap to a 38 later on depending on how much the 42t cog helps. I meant I'm not the strongest lifting/max power wise, I'm still fit enough from road and xc to push the 36. Note: the 36 is on my 26er, for my 29er I run a 32t.
  • 1 0
 I'm a numbers guy who rides a 29er.... For each turn of the cranks here's what you get:
29er
2 ring config - 26f - 36r = 65.8" per rev
1 ring config - 34f - 42r = 73.8" per rev (12.2% harder!)
1 ring config - 32f - 42r = 69.4" per rev (5.5% harder)
1 ring config - 30f - 42r = 65.1" per rev

27.5
1 ring config - 34f - 42r = 65.8" per rev
1 ring config - 32f - 42r = 61.7" per rev.

26
1 ring config - 36f - 42r = 70" per rev.

Conclusion: yes, 32 / 36 / 34 are all very close, however pushing 70" per rev is difficult if your max HR should remain below 180 (ie your over 40). I absolutely agree with PB, pushing nearly 70" per rev via a 32t front is rough.

I'm no pro biker, but I'm not weak either. Pushing 65" per rev on a category 4 climb (so says Strava) pegs my HR at 180 after 100ft. IMO anything over 65" per rev places a bike into a race class or the rider into superman class.
  • 1 1
 And 36x36 with a 685mm diameter rear tire is how many inch per rev then?
  • 1 0
 Mathematically, highlander and panaphonic are right. Due to the variety of tire sizing (real vs stated, etc...), the easiest way to look at gear inches is to calculate the ratios. Doing that gives a 29 the same gear inches as a 26 with a 4 tooth larger ring, not 2 as stated in the article. In other words, pushing a 28T front 29 is equivalent to pushing a 32T on 26. A 32T 29 calcs out to a 36T 26. Not many riders can push a 36T ring on a 26er. I run a 28T on my SB-95c for most of my riding because most of my local climbs crank up pretty hard, whether here in Utah or next door in Colorado. For some predominantly downhill races (and when I use my Yeti as a DH bike instead of my M9) I swap up to 32T in the front for the extra top end. Even racing, I rarely end up spun out of the 28x10. Cunny is right about the bar height also. My M9 grips are within a 1/4 inch of the grips on the Yeti, and the Yeti's seat height with my LEV slammed is almost exactly the same as my fixed seat height on the Intense.

Panaphonic, 84.72.
  • 2 0
 I find that a 30-tooth chainring on a 29er and a 32 on a 27.5 bike are about the same on the hills (climbing speed vs heart rate.) My 26er has a 34 to do the same, Mathematically, mrpowered, highlander and panaphonic are on the money, but after trying different chainring combinations, I found that the effort to make the bike go forward on the dirt, upholds those numbers. I'd like to hear from others who have ridden similar bikes with the different wheel sizes.
  • 6 1
 So, at the end, good but not as good as Enduro 29er.
  • 5 0
 First 29-er I've looked at twice. I like it.
  • 2 0
 If you can, demo one. I bought one and love it.
  • 6 1
 Forget the wheelsize - that's a tremendous spec for that price
  • 1 0
 I'm curious why the tester didn't throw on a Minion EXO or HD on the front of this rig. Seems like some more rubber would assist with the manhandling required in the corners. You mentioned that you "could only wonder" how much more you could push the bike, why didn't you make this happen?. This would have been some valuable insight and I for one couldn't fathom riding a bike with for six months with a so-so front tire.
  • 2 1
 Why are forks travel adjust features "seldom used"?

Maybe that's part of the reason you guys cant push a 32t chainring....

For me travel adjust is mandatory on any bike with 160mm that is going to be climbed regularly, especially on a bike with a front end as high as that....as someone who just switched from a bike with a 23"tt to a 25"tt I cant believe people are still designing bikes with such a short reach..
  • 1 0
 I have the older one and it rides way better with a ccdb coil on the back. Not sure why they killed the tire clearance. The old wtb 2.5" 29er dissent discontinued tires were awesome for downhill. Insane amounts of traction.
  • 7 7
 I don't think i quite buy your analogies to the first bikes and cars Mr Cunningham! The first bikes resembled horses because the dude making them was trying to make a man-powered horse (hence the nick-name "hobby horse" ), and I'd wager the first cars looked like carraiges because dudes were similiarly thinking "hey, we can use this sweet new engine thingy to make carraiges go without a horse! friggen' sweet!" again hence the name.

I get your point that we may inject our new technologies into existing ones, but I don't think it is particularly to do with a propensity to stick to the familiar or the accepted, but simply that we haven't thought of it yet. Cars evolved from carriages, and bicycles from horses. Imaginations can only do so much all at once.
  • 11 2
 We're on the same page. ^^^
  • 3 1
 I don't think he read the whole article... just a guess
  • 2 0
 bfe89, do you read the comments here very often? 90% of them are complaining about innovations LOL!!!!
  • 1 0
 skeuomorphism
  • 1 1
 So it works but takes a bit of getting used to. The frame contortions and high handlebar required to make a 29er with long travel work seem excessive and unnatural to me. I am tall but the high bar would be a problem - I already have a high seat on my 150mm am bike but still climb on it with the fork at 120mm.
  • 2 0
 How tall were the riders doing the review? Just want to get a feel for the size of the bike compared to the size of the person.
  • 2 0
 Five foot seven, two guys who are five foot, ten
  • 2 1
 I'm just sick of seeing bikes that look the same. I loved that design too. Until everyone jumped on the bandwagon. The new polygon may be ugly to some people but all I see is originality
  • 1 0
 Asked why I would go any less than a 29?...I prefer snappy steering and putting more thought into the trail. If I wanted to mindlessly plow straight through obsticals and level the trail I'd ride a road bike.
  • 3 0
 Nice review. Looks like a fun ride!
  • 2 0
 "Niner's CVA dual-link suspension is designed to clear big wheels." That's A LOT of clearance for the rear tire alright Smile
  • 2 1
 Niner's CVA suspension is ripped from the Balfa 2-step... the classic routine with of filing trademarks/patents with the USPTO for existing things. Like that guy who just got a trademark for the latin symbol for Pi.
  • 3 3
 funny how the bars had to be cut and suspension set up to make it feel more like a 26" bike...... Im still not buying the hype. Ill take my SB66C over any of these circus bikes any day.
  • 1 0
 I was the same as you until I rode an Ibis Ripley. Impressive.
  • 1 0
 They grow on you, I'm staying on 26 for am but they make semi-fun xc bikes.
  • 2 0
 The bars were too wide for Pinkbike?! The same Pinkbike that routinely asks for a wider bar than 750?
  • 1 0
 This review was quite a bit different from others on PB. I am not sure about what I just read or how the wfo9 stacks up against other options.
  • 2 0
 Needing a 28T ring when you have that massive 42T cassette cog is just lazy...
  • 2 4
 I just don't care for a bike company who shows no love for any other wheel size....like niner are far superior....seems silly.but 29" wheel is just plain and simply too big for my tiny body.FACT.i have tried one and way too big even a small frame 29er feels crappy.sorry but I'm sticking to 26 until they are dead with the dinosaurs
  • 1 3
 Same here!
  • 1 0
 Well, I'm anything but tall standing at 1.59m/5'3" . Surprisingly it felt right for me, but what REALLY surprised me was the standover. It's much lower compared to other 26" bikes.
  • 2 0
 Did you leave anyone stranded on the trail side for this review RC ?
  • 3 0
 Not today
  • 1 0
 Does this thing really only weigh 28 lbs? It's aluminum plus that fork is pretty beefy.
  • 3 1
 Pick a wheel size, then be a dick about it.
  • 1 0
 They are called Niners because you have to be at least 9ft 2inches to ride them
  • 1 0
 I'm no 29er hater but this is the first one I'd really like to get some trail time on!
  • 4 3
 Wow! That looks awesome! I'd love to ride that... ...trail.
  • 2 0
 nope
  • 2 1
 "when the suspension is at full suspension"
-Pinkbike
  • 1 0
 It's really weird to see PB do a review at a trail I ride lol
  • 2 3
 Didn't Hylands leave PB to work with Niner? Just wondering why this doesn't feature photos taken by him?
  • 2 3
 Really needs a Shimano 2x10 group set to make it efficient. That new XTR Di2 maybe....
  • 3 5
 Awesome looking bike, but bad review. Not looking for a easy read; skip to the facts.
  • 1 1
 STICK FIGURES IN LOVE!

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