Interbike '07: Niner's WFO 9 Prototypes

Niner WFO Prototype in red

Niner Bikes, the company that continues to impress with it’s all 29 inch wheeled mountain bike line up is at it again. Here’s a sneak peek look at what they are cooking up for ’08. Niner’s Steve Domahidy says this about the new project:

“The W.F.O. 9 we’re showing at the show is a newer generation prototype frame of a 6â€? travel bike we built two years ago (when developing the CVA™ suspension). It features 6.5â€? (165mm) of fully active CVA™ travel with many upgrades to the original design.”

Niner's WFO 9 Prototype in white with proto WTB tire

Certainly by looking at these pictures it’s easy to see that Niner has been refining the six plus inch travel platform to a high degree, but they are not done tweaking and refining just yet. Steve stressed to me that more time is needed adding, “No production schedule has been set yet, we are still working on the design and so pricing and geometry are nowhere near being ready.” What has been done so far is ground breaking and will put 29″er long travel suspension on a much higher plane.

Several things had to be addressed to attain the travel and performance goals Steve and the rest of the Niner crew set for the project. One of these challenges involves the head tube length. Running a long travel fork was going to raise the front end height and a short 1 1/8th” head tube wasn’t going to cut the mustard. In order to keep the head tube both short AND strong, Niner used a 1.5â€? head tube. Although no fork exists yet that uses that size steerer tube, it still offers many benefits for the frame including increased weld diameter for a wider, larger downtube which increases strength at the head tube, and the ability to run a zero stack headset, also keeping the front end down.

Detail of the WFO proto shock tower

Another design challenge is how to integrate modern rear damper assemblies into an ever smaller space. Steve explains the situation with the design so far and gives us a glimpse of what the final production bike will have for an arrangement for the rear damper:

“The frame was built around the FOX DHX Air shock, which fits snuggly within the sidewall plates and allows for access to the reservoir for adjustments. In its current form, a coil shock will not fit within the enclosure but production frames will absolutely be compatible with a coil shock. We also understand that the front wheel will kick dirt into the shock body in this configuration, but it was more important to us to test this method of supporting the bottom bracket. We are still in the initial test phase of this frame and are uncertain whether this style design will make it into final production.”

There is a lot of thought and effort going into this bike but Niner didn’t stop with the frame design. Recognizing the extreme conditions and high level of expectations that a frame of this nature would be subjected to, Niner also looked at challenges relating to the rear wheel’s strength and how it would integrate into the frames design as a whole. Once again, Steve explains it best:

“In order to increase wheel strength, the rear end is designed around a 150mm hub shell with a 12mm Sram Maxle system built in. The SRAM Maxle is almost faster than a standard quick release system while still maintaining all of the benefits of a thru axle. We didn’t just stop there, however. We still found that most 150mm hubs had some amount of dish to the drive side due to the length of the cassette body (The disc brake side is still shorter and so the rear wheel still had some dish). In order to make the strongest wheel possible, we offset the rear triangle to the drive side which means the wheel can be built completely dishless, which will increase strength. In addition, the bottom bracket is 83mm to improve the chainline AND help to give critical tire clearance between the derailleur cage and the side of the tire.”

Then getting all of that to swing up and down to attain 6.5″ of travel was another big challenge. Especially to keep the chainstay length and overall wheelbase length in check. Niner managed to work it out so the chain stays came out to an incredibly short 17.6″! (Most 3-4″ travel 29″ers are sporting 18 plus inch chainstays) The rear triangle had to be supported by a fender-like strut that curves around the rear tire and connects the “seat stays” and chain stays of the bike to provide a solid rear end. To allow for a front mech to operate freely, this plate was trimmed back around that area. It seems that the Niner guys have thought of every detail on this new bike!

Niner WFO 9 proto shock linkage detail

This bike is designed for extreme riding and will certainly be a very popular bike when it becomes available. It’s still in it’s prototype phase and the final version will definitely be somewhat different than what we are looking at here. A couple of these bikes will be on display at Interbike and are sure to be getting a lot of drool producing stares from anxious 29″er freaks. I can’t wait to see it up close myself!

Thanks to Steve Domahidy for the sneak peak and all the detailed information on this new project. You can keep up with the progress and check out some other super cool 29″ers at Niner Bikes website.


No Responses to “Interbike '07: Niner's WFO 9 Prototypes”

  1. Cloxxki Says:

    Most excellent. Thanks for the write-up!!

  2. random drivel Says:

    They should have named it the UFO, very different looking. Love the short chainstays. Love that 150mm WB fork.

  3. al Says:

    Yes, UFO is quite appropriate as in Un-Friggin Obtainable!!

  4. Jason Says:

    What about the Jet? We look fwd to additional Jet details!

  5. Grith Says:

    Constructive criticism; learn the difference between It’s and its.

    It’s = a contraction for ‘It Is’

    Its = used to show ownership of an object.

    Maybe if you have the time, I’d recommend studying they’re/their/there as well.

    Don’t want this to get negative, but thought is was worth mentioning.

  6. al Says:

    Wow Grith, maybe you should study the meaning of NOT being negative since you so clearly are opposed to being so, without any success I might add!

  7. Grith Says:

    Please forgive me if anyone’s feelings were hurt.

  8. Guitar Ted Says:

    Grith: No worries! I try not to mix up the “it’s” and “its” but I get my wires crossed all the time on that one. Sorry if it is a “fingernails on the blackboard” thing for you. I know it gets on peoples nerves sometimes. That said, in my defense I never really got a good education in English. One of those “slipped through the cracks” kids you here about all the time. Except I’m a big, old kid now! 🙂

  9. Grith Says:

    Keep up the great work!

    twentynineinches posts an incredible amount of content, and I’m grateful for it.

  10. Craig Says:

    I’ll own one as soon as they are released. I better sell my 26″ Ellsworth Moment right about now. BTW, loving my Niner RIP.

  11. Drooler Says:

    That`s the bike I`ve been wanting all my life…….. What a fine piece of Engineering/Art.

  12. 6.5" Travel Niner On the Way | Mountain Monkeys Says:

    […] super exciting to see Niner getting close on their 6.5″ travel freeride 29er! While I don’t see picking one of these up myself very soon, I could in fact see ditching my […]

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