NINER WFO 9 RDO Review | 4-STAR SHIMANO XT BUILD

NINER WFO 9 RDO REVIEW

4-STAR SHIMANO XT BUILD

Words by Drew Rohde
Photos by Dusten Ryen

After some good times aboard the Niner WFO and RIP eBikes, we could not wait to see how the lighter, more playful analog version would compare. When it came time to review the newly redesigned Niner WFO RDO, we knew it was going to need some proper terrain to make use of that 180/170mm of travel it is packing. We were pleasantly surprised however that despite its big bike appearance, it is plenty of fun on mellower trails too.

THE LAB
A lot has changed since 2009, the year the first Niner WFO was released. There is a ton more long-travel 29ers on the market now and geometry, suspension technology and rider expectation have all grown by leaps. The new WFO may carry over some namesakes and familiarity, but the differences are plentiful.

Niner WFO 9 RDO Review

Available in five different build specs, the pricing on Niner’s WFO RDO ranges from $4,800 to $10,100. We tested the 4-Star Shimano XT build and feel it is a great blend of performance without too crazy of a price point. This build features Shimano’s 12-speed XT drivetrain, XT 4-piston brakes, Fox Factory suspension in the form of a 38 Float Factory Grip 2 EVOL fork and Float X2 Factory rear shock. Race Face Next R and Turbine R bars offer a solid cockpit feel with Race Face’s Next R carbon 170mm cranks help drive power. DT Swiss EX 1700 wheels are wrapped in Schwalbe Hans Dampf/Magic Mary (r/f) tires and give a nice blend of all around performance.

Geometry on this aggressive enduro/park bike is certainly right in the ballpark with others on the market. Our size large sports a 487/480mm reach depending on High/Low mode settings. The headtube angle sits at 64.7/64 degrees with a stack height of 630/635mm. Niner is not yet using size-specific rear ends so all riders will see 433mm rear end beneath them. The seat tube angle sits at a nicely balanced 77.7/77 degrees and helps blend efficiency with staying out of your way on playful or super gnarly terrain.

Niner WFO 9 RDO Geometry

Frame features include Niner’s RDO (Race Day Optimized) carbon fiber, which is aimed at reducing weight and increasing stiffness. Fully sleeved cable guides eliminate your cable fishi0ng expeditions, which is a plus for sure. Sticking around is Niner’s CVA suspension platform. The Constantly Varying Arc, or CVA system aims to offer a stable yet supple ride feel while going up or down. Designed around two co-rotating links, Niner’s lower link gets positioned under the bottom bracket, which can draw some criticism, but has yet to cause us any issues out on the trail. Niner uses a progressive leverage rate until the last third of the WFO’s travel, at which point it sees a slightly regressive curve. The goal here was to help the bike use full travel with air shocks. Niner does say the WFO can also work with a coil, although we did not get to try one out on this bike.

Other noteworthy features include a lifetime warranty of the frame, Enduro Max Black Oxide cartridge bearings, a SRAM UDH, threaded bottom bracket and a water bottle mount. Not a bad list for those in the market for a complete bike or custom-build ready frame option.

Niner WFO 9 RDO Review

THE DIRT
During the course of our testing we spread the Niner love around. We had testers with a jumping background put time on the bike, a recovering XC-nerd and a former downhiller turned eBiker. We also rode the bike on everything from super gnarly, steep and shuttle accessed DH runs to flatter, pedal rides around Bend, OR. With 180/170mm of travel, it is certainly not as snappy and fast on the flatter stuff as it is shorter travel sibling, the RIP, but it was quite happy putting in the miles.

While some long travel 29ers are very purpose-built, the new Niner WFO RDO is pretty impressive all around. It does a good job juggling the demands of riders who do not just live in Squamish but may occasionally take a trip to BC while riding week in and week out on mellower trails back home.

The downside to that all-around versatility, is that it is not the best at any one thing, other than maybe being able to do it all well. If you are looking for the slackest, race ready EWS rig, this may not be the dream machine, but that’s a much slimmer audience than those who want enough travel to handle rowdy trails while not making life suck on the pedal back up.

Suspension feel on the Niner can be varied, depending on your sag and set up. It can very easily be set up to run like a trophy truck, sucking up the chatter and feeling deep and plush. If you want to ride like Kirt Voreis, add some volume reducers, a bit more air and pop this thing off the lips for a good time! It is surprising how well this long-travel 29er can jump. We had a lot of fun riding it on flow trails and finding natural features to pop.

Niner WFO 9 RDO Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

Niner has done a great job with the new WFO RDO. If you are looking for a well-rounded 180/170mm 29er that is not just a dedicated point and shoot EWS race bike, Niner’s WFO could be a great option. It’s got a stiff frame, nice suspension feel, pedals well for such a long legged bike and comes with a lifetime warranty. Plus, we think it looks really good too.

Whether you are looking to build up a frame or buy a complete bike that is ready to shred, the WFO could fit the bill for a rider looking for that aggressive 29er that isn’t too long or slack to be fun on their weekly rides. Our testers all had a lot of fun aboard the WFO RDO and were sad to box it up and send it back.

Price: $6,950
Weight:
32.38lbs
Sizes:
S, M, L
Website:
Ninerbikes.com

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SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: Niner RDO Carbon Fiber | 170mm
Fork: Fox 38 Float Factory Grip 2 EVOL
Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory EVOL

COCKPIT
Brakes: Shimano XT M8100
Shifter: Shimano XT M8100 12sp
Handlebar: Race Face Next R 800mm Wide, 35mm Rise
Stem: Race Face Turbine R 40mm
Saddle: Niner Custom Tr With Crn-Ti Rails
Seatpost: KS LEV Si (S-125mm, M-150mm, L/Xl-175mm)

WHEELS
Wheels: DT Swiss EX 1700 Spline 30mm
Front Tire: Schwalbe Magic Mary Evo Super Trail 2.6
Rear Tire: Schwalbe Hans Dampf Evo Super Trail 2.6

DRIVETRAIN
Derailleur: Shimano XT M8100 Sgs 12sp
Cassette: Shimano XT M8100 12sp, 10-51t
Chain: Shimano XT M8100 W/ Quicklink
Crank Set: Raceface Next R Carbon 12sp, 32t | 170mm
Bottom Bracket: Raceface BSA Threaded

Niner WFO 9 RDO review

We Dig

Well-rounded
Climbs well for category
Playful
Suspension feel
Looks

We Don’t

Slightly long reach
Lack of size specific chainstays may bother some

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