They haven’t exactly kept it a secret, but now it’s official. The all new Niner WFO9 changes everything about the original to turn it into a true enduro machine. The head angle slackens out to 67° with a 160mm fork, the top tube gets snipped by 20mm on all frame sizes, and the chainstays cut off 11mm to come in at 444mm (17.4″). All that happened with a bump in travel from 140mm to 150mm in the rear.
Where the original suffered from a bit of personality confusion, the new is something that’s more purpose built for today’s riding.
To get the increased travel alongside shorter stays, they changed a number of things. First, it gets a longer shock and stroke length. Then they made the seatstay brace thinner and reshaped seat tube and steepened the seat angle to 75° (one degree steeper than before). But the biggest change was removing front derailleur mounts. This gave them room for the wheel to come up further toward the frame, but it means this bike is for 1x drivetrains only.
Check all the facts, pics and actual weights below, plus their gorgeous new ONE9 RDO carbon frame and more below…
The entire frame is new and gets their air formed tube shaping. Not only does that make it 11% stiffer torsionally from front to back, but it drops 0.7 pounds from the frame. It’s coming in at 7.3 lbs for frame and Monarch Plus RT3 shock. All head tubes get shortened to allow for lower cockpit heights. Small and medium are just 100mm tall, 110mm and 125mm on the Large and XL. The dual cable guides shown here will be replaced with single guides on production frames and are intended for standard dropper posts. Production frames will also have stealth dropper routing on the non drive side of the down tube, popping into the bottom of the seat tube like the ROS9.
Standover height drops an average of an inch or more, which is double impressive considering the bump in travel.
The shock lengthens to a 216mm eye-to-eye can with 63mm stroke. This maintains the desired low leverage ratio with the increased travel.
It’s the first Niner to get color-matched hardware as stock, which just happens to match the Monarch’s blue lever perfectly. The other option is a Niner Red frame, which will get the standard red hardware. It’s rocking a revamp of their glow-in-the-dark Atomic Blue, which is also on the new ONE9 RDO. The WFO also gets a new matte black paint scheme. The blue is painted underneath, then masked and over sprayed with black.
ISCG05 tabs are tucked behind the crankset in case you’re not running a wide/narrow chainring or plan on getting really nasty. Bottom bracket drops 7mm from the original version.
12×142 rear thru axle, natch. It comes with a standard derailleur hanger, but a Shimano Direct-Mount hanger is available aftermarket.
It comes with a 2.35 Nobby Nic, which is the maximum recommended width. The brace between seat- and chainstay yokes is twisted, like the new JET9 and RIP9, and offset for better tire clearance.
The build shown here with X01/X1, Stan’s Flow EX wheels, Nobby Nic tires, Avid Elixir 9 Trail brakes and dual position Pike fork comes in at just $4,999.
One 9 RDO is born out of the Air9 RDO molds but adds the EBB bottom bracket shell, 12×142 rear axle and loses the front derailleur mount.
It was designed to be a pure singlespeed race machine, but they figured out it would be killer as a 1×11 geared bike, too. So, you can swap in their derailleur hanger dropout and CYA BB inserts that allow you to run any major BB standard by simply pressing it in.
Frame weight is 1235g, a bit more than the Air9 RDO because they had to add alloy shells for the BB and threads for the Maxle.
$3499 for the singlespeed bike with their Biocentric II EBB, and $5,899 for an XX1 build.
Thru-axles front and rear. The torsional stiffness on the new frame is improved by a whopping 26% thanks to all the changes, but the rigidity mainly comes from the addition of the Maxle and increased BB shell size. Their head badge doesn’t change, which means you can use the front derailleur port as internal routing for a stealth dropper post.
Bike weight is 16.78lbs (7.6kg) for a size Medium with a rather custom build of Shimano XTR cranks with Niner chainring and cog, XTR carbon tubular wheels and a Niner RDO cockpit.
The Air 9 gets a new carbon model. It’s based off the latest Air 9 RDO, so it has smaller tube shapes, and replaces the old model entirely. Similar to how there’s the Jet 9 RDO and Jet 9 Carbon models, the latter gets a slightly lesser spec carbon to save a bit of coin, but uses the same molds. In this case, it’s $700 less to be exact, with frames going for $1,399 rather than the RDO’s $2,099. An X7 build goes for $2,699 and an XT build is $3,899. It’s about 200g heavier than the 1150g Air9 RDO, putting it at about 1350g for the frame.
Lastly, the Jet 9 Carbon now comes in Niner Orange.
They also have a new saddle made for them by Fizik. This is the second sample, so details are still being finalized. The new grips are featured on all their complete bikes and is 100% silicone. It’s 126mm wide and feel pretty good – both grippy and squishy, with a decently thick diameter that should please most, particularly those who favor rigid forks.
Check out build specs at Ninerbikes.com.
A NINER DOWNHILL MOUNTAIN BIKE?
As the enduro scene heats up, Niner’s been testing the WFO at the races. So has BMC, both with 150mm bikes and 29″ wheels. And Specialized’s Enduro 29er takes it to 155mm. Which begs the question: As suspension and geometry continues to be refined, why aren’t more companies jumping in with longer travel 29ers and testing downhill 29ers? We’ve asked it before and received a lot of answers from the industry, but that was four years ago. Now, Niner’s asking again and making it clear they’re testing a downhill program that’ll see top-level race support. To support the concept, they tested their bikes against five different bikes -two 650B- and found that in every instance the bigger wheels meant faster times:
They’re putting this out there:
A question to ponder: “Why aren’t pro DH racers on 29 if it’s so fast?” – When we first started building 29ers we were asked the same questions about the Pro XC field. It took YEARS before these same riders completely switched over, largely due to the lack of World Cup-quality equipment to race on. Even though a few innovative companies have dabbled with big wheels in downhill and 29ers are currently winning Enduro races, the same lack of equipment hinders 29er adoption in downhill racing. We plan to change this with our developing 29er downhill program.
This is just a starting point. Admittedly, the 650B bikes weren’t 150mm travel, and it’s an internal test. For us, the takeaway is two fold: First, if you have the chance to demo a long travel 29er back to back with other wheel sizes, go for it and form your own opinion. The truth is on the trail, and it’s up to you if beating the clock is more important than a slightly more flickable bike. Second, we’re just excited to see any company push the boundaries of what’s possible and carry component manufacturers with them. In the end, that means more choices for the rest of us and more R&D opportunities to lead to better products all around. And that’s a win for everyone. We’ll keep you posted.