Back Issue | Niner WFO 9 – Pedal, Damn It!
At Niner Bikes, WFO stands for “Wide Full Open,“ meaning something like ‘let it roll, whatever comes.’ With 150mm of rear travel and an option of 150 or 170mm at the front as well as big 29” wheels the WFO 9 should destroy anything the pilot points it at. A bike for everything except nasty surprises.
“Pedal Damn It“ is emblazoned on the top tube. This sentence is as much a tradition at Niner as the CVA rear suspension system, which has the pivot linkage fixed underneath the bottom bracket. This aims to free the suspension system from drivetrain influence regardless of chainring size.
You can see that the Americans have a lot of experience with big wheels in the parts fitted to the bike. The 30-tooth chainring and SRAM X01 drivetrain pair perfectly, while a travel adjust for the 160mm RockShox Pike is not present (but is also not necessary). Even steep, technical climbs don’t present a problem for the WFO 9. The switchable compression damping on the RockShox Monarch Plus rear shock is only needed for the wildest sprints–otherwise the back end stays quiet, just as Niner promised.
On paper the Americans appear to have given the bike a very steep seat tube angle of
75°. If, however, the saddle is set higher than the stem, the reality is actually a more flat angle. We never found this this to be particularly troublesome, and never had the impression that we were pedaling from behind the bike.
At 443mm, the chainstays are average length for a 29er/ whilst the short top tube
(418 mm reach on our medium frame) make the WFO 9 a precise and agile curve-hunter.
The extra wide 780 mm flat bar and short 50 mm stem – both Niner parts, give the rider full control if your shoulders are wide enough. Otherwise the pilot feels like they are pulled too far forwards over the bars. In such a situation we’d recommend cutting the bar width down somewhat.
If it gets steep and techy, the bike reveals its true strengths: the slack (for a 29er) head angle of 67° and big wheels give excellent stability, whilst the Kenda Nevegal tyres offer astonishing grip. The only negatives for the big picture are the poorly modulated Formula T1 brakes and the too-short 100mm adjustment range of the RockShox Reverb seatpost. Speaking of big picture: the external cables are super-practical, but spoil the looks of the otherwise elegant frame.
The RockShox Monarch shock and Pike fork harmonize perfectly with the CVA suspension system. It is responsive, plush, and uses the whole available travel without sagging excessively. The suspension also offers good feedback from the trail, while a useful end-stroke progression prevents any bottoming out.
This American trailbike dream comes at a price, however:
€ 2,306 for frame and shock, and € 5,499 for a complete bike are certainly not a big bargain.
– The external cables on the Niner WFO 9 are super handy for servicing, but make an otherwise beautiful bike look cluttered
Difficult to modulate – Visually the Formula T1 brake is a real highlight, but unfortunately on the trail it is difficult to modulate. The rider really only has a choice of “on” or “off.”
Masterpiece – With Niner’s CVA suspension system, the WFO 9 positions the main pivot underneath and in front of the bottom bracket. This effectively minimises all drivetrain influences. The suspension is responsive and plush over the smallest of impacts.
Elegant – The chic Niner-brand stem and bars fit in well with the looks of the bike. At 780mm, however, the flat bar may pull some riders too far forward. We recommend you trim the bars to 760mm.
Conclusion: pedal damn it! With the Niner WFO 9 your next adventure is just a stone’s throw away. Regardless of where you ride with the Niner, there are no nasty surprises. With its big wheels, great geometry, and well-balanced suspension, it is made for long, demanding rides.
Price: 5.499 €
Weight: 13,2 kg
Geometry: (size M with 150 mm fork):
Alternative Models: Frame w/shock (RockShox Monarch Plus) 2.306 €
Text & Photos: Christoph Bayer