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.
- 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
- 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.