Niner WFO is ready to the battle it out for 29er All Mountain Supremacy

29er News

The Niner WFO was ahead of its time when it came out many years ago, Steve Domahidy and Chris Sugai showed off their all mountain 29er to us at Sea Otter with great pride but it was always a struggle to get the best forks and the best tires in this category of 29er.

The old WFO was decent but it was nothing like this new bike. See: for info on the outgoing model. It was steep with a 70 degree head angle, tall, long and it looked like a complicated behemoth frame for a bike with 140 mm of travel and 17.9 inch stays.

That’s why we were pumped to see the new WFO. It has 150 mm of rear travel and it sports a 67 degree slack head angle. It is lower to the ground and the top tube is shorter for better all mountain fit. The frame now looks small, compact and playful.

And here’s the kicker, the chainstays are short at 443 mm or 17.4 inches. Since the CVA is not the most space efficient rear suspension out there and since Niner likes to allow for very big tires, Niner pulled off this feat by making the hard but brilliant decision that this bike will be 1×11 compatible only. This means no front derailleur can ever be installed on this bike. The rider has to live with SRAM 1×11 drivetrains or custom 1-chainring system in the front with guide. Niner is among the first in a wave of companies to do away with the front derailleur. Specialized Epic World Cup Edition is another. Does Mtbr feel this is a sound decision? Why yes. If the performance gains are significant such as in a 29er with short stays, this is a worthy move since the SRAM 1×11 system is an A+ game changer of a drivetrain. It works and it has range. The only downside is the XX and XO 1×11 systems currently available are quite expensive.

The chainstays are short at 17.4 inches compared to last year’s 17.9 with less travel. However, these are not the shortest as the other dramatic entries in this field are the Specialized Enduro 29er with 16.9 inches with 155 mm of travel. And the new BMC TF01 with 17.1 inch stays with 150 mm of travel.

Having ridden the competition, we can say that this category of bike really has something to offer beyond those newfangled 27.5 rigs even. When the going gets loose and chunky, a well-built high travel 29er can plow through obstacles and still carve the corners and play in mid-air. We can’t wait to try out this new WFO.

Niner did some studies btw comparing descending speeds of 29er and 27.5 all mountain Bikes. The venue was the lift-assisted trails of Keystone Bike Park in Colorado. This is a true all mountain course with chunky rocks and raucous descents. Of course the source may be biased given that Niner is a 29-inch wheel sized only company. But we don’t doubt their general findings that in these conditions, a well designed 29er is faster.

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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  • Mike says:

    I’m sure it’s a great bike but it seems overbiked for norcal – i’ll stick with the tallboy 2

  • Mike Curiak says:

    17.4″ chainstays are short…

    …if it’s still 2006.

    Swing and a miss.

  • Scott says:

    “The rider has to live with SRAM 1×11 drivetrains or custom 1-chainring system in the front with guide”

    I do not understand this, specifically the “with guide” part. There are plenty of narrow wide chainrings available that work flawlessly and do not drop chains with no guide of any sort.

    • Kurt says:

      Pretty sure it’s just to satisfy the NW holdouts and the people who would rather port over their existing 1x systems from old bikes. Also draws attention to the mounts, which, if you’re going to go as ball-out on this bike as it seems you could, is a necessary feature in the eyes of many.

  • g3rG says:

    Finally, a bit of improvement in the WFO!
    For a few years my WFO was my alpha bike. I disagree with Francis on the fork limitations. The Dorado has been just amazing.
    However, the WFO got kicked off its pedestal early this year when I built up a bike with 27.5 rear and 29 front. Much better cornering, although I gave up a bit of climbing ability. I gained more rear travel and better handling in loose chunk.
    I assume the new frame has iscg tabs? I ditched front derailleurs long ago, but I am not ready to give up my Hammerschmidts just yet.
    Also hoping for a 150mm rear hub option. Narrow hub (135 = 142) rear wheels are too flexy.


  • Nathan says:

    There Test is a complete joke the 29″ bikes have 150mm of travel and the 650b 125mm and 140mm! Not saying 29″ isn’t faster but that is by no means a comparison Test.

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