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Niner Introduces the 2021 WFO 9 RDO


-170 millimeters rear travel, 180 front
-Carbon frame only
-CVA dual-short-link suspension

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Back when 27.5-inch wheels were taking over, things looked a little precarious for the brand so committed to the 29-inch platform that they literally made it their name. But like all trends based on common sense (working from home, high-waisted jeans, the cronut) 29-inch wheels have reclaimed their rightful place as Queen. And for Niner, that means a reincarnated WFO.

The WFO is Niner’s well-loved long travel 29er. No, it doesn’t stand for Wholesome Flying Object— WFO stands for Wide “Full” Open. Or at least that’s what the press release says. Maybe when the WFO was introduced more than a decade ago, ambiguously vulgar acronyms were more acceptable. Basically, what you need to know from the name is that it’s a bike for going down hills, fast. 

In 2009, the WFO boasted some then-head-turning tech, such as a tapered head tube, asymmetric chainstays, and available 150mm rear dropout spacing. Hard to believe, but at the time, the 150mm-travel bike felt like a bit much to those of us who were reviewing bikes back then. Turns out, it was just ahead of its time. Today it offers similar innovation with a flip chip, modern 77-degree seat tube angle, clearance for 2.6-inch tires, full-sleeve internal cable routing and deep seatpost insertion.

Niner built the WFO on their Constant Varying Arc (CVA) linkage. The dual-link four-bar system claims to maximize chain growth in the first 25-30% of the travel, meaning it’s got a high anti-squat value leading into the sag point to keep you upright while pedaling. Deeper in the travel, the axle starts to tuck in, reducing chain growth to near zero and decoupling the drivetrain from the suspension for unhindered bump absorption.

The most noticeable thing about the CVA linkage is that the lower link is positioned directly under the bottom bracket. While perhaps subjecting the bearings to more direct wear and tear, this puts the instant-center well forward of the bb at all points in the travel and allows for shorter chainstays. And anyway, Niner uses Enduro Max Black Oxide pivot bearing, which it claims adds durability to their linkage. Plus, that lower link placement essentially eliminates the need for a bash guard, using instead a skid plate that extends below the chainring for extra protection and a little bit of motocross cachet. 

Unlike the RIP 9 released more than two years ago, the WFO gets a trunnion mounted shock, which allows for a longer stroke shock in a smaller space and adds stiffness to the chassis. And it had damn well better. This is the platform that the Fox 38 and RockShox Zeb were made for. Very few 29ers out there offer as much travel as the WFO. 170mm in the rear and 180 out front are the unapologetic numbers of a single-crown downhill bike, so the whole frame is designed to withstand some serious force. The forged rocker link, Niner’s rib cage struts across the front triangle, and a widened, flattened top and down tube all lock arms to brace for any torsional load. 

It may have taken over a decade to arrive, but the new WFO from Niner looks like a contender in the long-travel 29er category. Outfitted with modern advancements and a serious pedigree to back it up, the WFO promises to live up to its name. Stay tuned for ride impressions coming soon. In the meantime, below are all of the build options available in the new WFO.

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