Compare-O Bottom Line: Niner’s WFO 9 eats big trail—and convention—for breakfast and still gives you change for lunch

29er Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014

Though functional, the gentle bend of the cables play into the WFO’s aesthetics, which were universally praised by our testers.

“Niner seems to have a finger on the pulse of the market when it comes to design,” said one rider. “The red-on-matte black frame finish is tasteful and complimented by the black and red SRAM XO components, the Niner-branded bars and stem and even the wheelset.”

Speaking of components

Niner doesn’t phone it in with their “house brand” cockpit parts. The aforementioned bars and stem are well thought-out, purposeful and beautifully constructed. The flat, 780mm-wide carbon handlebar might seem overly broad, but it helps toss the WFO side-to-side, and can easily be cut down if desired.

Where the Niner spec really shines, however is in value. We don’t know of any highly-reputable—dare we say “boutique”—brand that gives you a top-shelf frame, along with a RockShox Pike and SRAM 1×11 drivetrain for under $5k. And with Avid’s capable Avid Elixir 9 four-piston brakes, Stan’s ZTR Flow EX wheels and Schwalbe 2.35-inch Nobby Nic tires there’s no sleight-of-hand going on here—it’s all solid kit.

The one concession to hit that price point—the absence of a stock dropper post. A RockShox Reverb Stealth or comparable model will set you back another $300, and is—as we’ve said time and again—among the most worthwhile upgrades you can make to a mountain bike.

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Who is this bike for?

Though the WFO 9 appears to deliver on its gravity promises, we frankly didn’t have the terrain—nor the gonads—to give ‘er Whistler Bike Park-style. Maybe in extremely skilled hands this bike can go mano-a-mano with a DH sled, but for mere mortals, we’re gonna peg it as an aggressive all-mountaineer. If you like to race or ride big and rough—and are willing to trust a 29er for the task—the WFO 9 will reward and delight.

The Last Word

Niner has done it again. The brand that evangelized the wheel size in the first place, continues to push the envelope and buck convention to stunning results. No carbon, no tweener wheels and half the price of some of our test bikes, the WFO 9 might just be the “get real” bike of the test.

Pros
  • Very capable rough trail performance
  • Fun to ride and playful
  • Great value package
  • Excellent cornering and handling
  • Good looking bike with functional components and cable routing
Cons
  • Rear plushness doesn’t match front
  • Lacks compliance on smaller bumps
  • Pedal strikes can be an issue on rocky climbs
  • No carbon version yet
  • It’s really a $5,300 bike when you add a dropper post

2014 Niner WFO 9 Key Specs
  • Bike MRSP: $4999
  • Frame MSRP: $2099
  • Weight: 28.85 pounds (size medium)
  • Wheel size: 29 inches
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3,160mm
  • Shock: RockShox Monarch Plus RC3
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XO1 1x 11spd, 10-42t
  • Brakes: SRAM Elixir 9 trail, 180/160mm
  • Seatpost: Niner carbon
  • Wheels: Stan’s NoTubes 3.30/ZTR Flow EX
  • Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin TL, 2.35-inch
  • Bars/Stem: Niner Flat Top alloy 780mm, Niner Alloy stem
  • Bottom bracket type: SRAM GXP Threaded
  • Head tube angle: 66.5 degrees (with 160mm fork)
  • Seat tube angle: 74.5 degrees
  • Chainstay length: 17.4 inches
  • Bottom bracket height: 13.1 inches

For more information visit www.ninerbikes.com.

This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.

Compare-O Bottom Line: Niner’s WFO 9 eats big trail—and convention—for breakfast and still gives you change for lunch Gallery
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Mtbr Best Value - WFO 9

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Niner WFO 9 Bottom Line

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Niner WFO 9 Corner

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Niner WFO 9 Profile

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Niner WFO 9 Haulin

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Niner WFO 9 Cockpit

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Niner WFO 9 Cables

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Niner WFO 9 Climb

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Niner WFO 9 CVA Suspension

Photos courtesy of Niner Bikes.
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Niner WFO 9 Bottom Line Thumb

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • DaveG says:

    “If you like to race or ride big and rough—and are willing to trust a 29er for the task—the WFO 9 will reward and delight.”

    If you did none of these things how can you make this statement?

  • Mtbr says:

    Well Dave, while we did not enter a formal race, we DID indeed ride the bike at race pace, in race style on several occasions…and DID ride trails–while not Whistler big–with big drops jumps and rocks. Not really sure what your point is.

  • Haggis says:

    Gotta be impressed with the 2lb/$5k difference to the Bronson C. Despite the wimpy tyres and carbon post; it’s still a full alloy kitted 29er and it’s only 2lb heavier…

  • barcolounger says:

    Thanks for the review, but why no comparison to the Specialized Enduro 29? As far as this whole compare-o series, I think your definition of “compare” is different than mine.

  • DaveG says:

    “Though the WFO 9 appears to deliver on its gravity promises, we frankly didn’t have the terrain—nor the gonads—to give ‘er…”

    Your words, not mine.

    • Mtbr says:

      You left out the critical “to give ‘er Whistler Bike Park-style” which makes all the difference when using that quotation. But point taken Dave–you didn’t like the review. We appreciate your feedback.

  • Peter Eibeck says:

    MTBR – Please due your readers a HUGE service and begin an actual compare as barcolounger says.

    You guys & girls are riding some of the most interesting bikes in the world yet we have zero feedback one to another. You don’t tell us about the rider who’s giving feedback. Are they big, small. Are they XC or downhill. Don’t you think this will have a big impact? If small riders think small bump is poor and heavier riders think it works well… don’t you think this is IMPORTANT?

    You have some crazy number like 100k worth of bikes on review. Please table this out. Give some details about rider type. Do something to give us some relative benchmarks.

  • Peter Eibeck says:

    MTBR – I’d also like to second that DaveG makes a valid point. I understand the spirit of what he is saying to be this… ‘Why is a person who is not the target rider reviewing this bike?’. This bike is a long travel gravity focused machine. The Rip 9 is a bit more all mountain. So why would the review not place this in the hands of someone who is very familiar with this style of riding?

  • RDO Shredder says:

    Climbing performance would have improved dramatically had the bike been equipped with a Fox suspension. RS is the pits and the pike is over rated mumbo jumbo.

  • Topher mc garry says:

    Gotta say, feel the review was pretty weak and lopsided. ” If you can trust a 29er wheel””, Really, I thought we’d moved past this. Way to dawn the black face and perpetuate the myths. Small bump compliance? ” No matter how much sag I dialed in I couldn’t find the “…. So you think only sag is going to “dial in” your ride? Well how about rebound? Roll any bike over a staircase and play around with above, end result? Plush magic carpet goodness. Take to the trail and spend a few more moments dialing in and “Presto” a $10k bike for half! Please take some time to dial in your bikes before putting pen to paper. Pedal bob while climbing? I really can’t figure out this one. For those RIP owners wanting an upgrade Im here to tell you, the WFO out pedals the previous generation RIP. Weight? Less again. Brilliant up and down? Yes, in spades. Giant gap jumps, crazy rock gardens? Check. Flowy buff trails? Check. Rolling to the pub ’cause you can’t belive you are so lucky to live in an age where a bike like this could come with anything but the most revered review? Check, but make sure she gets parked within hands reach, given any crack head will appreciate it more than our “professional testers” will:)

  • CO Rocky ride says:

    RDO shredder has been on FOX to long. I have Pikes on my Enduro 29 and I am happy to say I think that SRAM/RS has finally topped Fox with the Pike. If the WFO rides similar to that of the Enduro, I’m sure it will be Niner’s top seller. Think of Monster truck ability with climbing of a trailbike.

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