Niner Pushes Envelope With W.F.O.9

Niner Bikes, who are totally committed to selling only wagon wheeled rigs, have often been at the forefront of 29 inch technology. Pushing companies to do 29 inch related components and taking those and building some pretty classic bicycles like the R.I.P.9 which is a highly regarded full suspension 29″er trail bike. Now with the introduction of the W.F.O.9, Niner Bike’s own Steve Domahidy wasted no time in putting together the slickest looking 29 inch wheeled down hill oriented frame yet.


To be fair, other down hill 29″ers have been done before, WaltWorks comes to mind as well as a couple of others. This; however, is definitely the best looking package yet, and with the technology on board, it promises to be a good performer as well.


Featuring the ultra rare- ultra expensive Manitou Dorado fork, the W.F.O.9 pictured here has the fork limited to address the bigger front wheel. The Dorado is an “upside down” design, with the sliders at the wheel’s axle and the “lowers” being on top and attached to the triple clamps. This eliminates the need for a fork brace and therefore allows the use of a larger diameter tire with only a travel limiter to keep the tire from bottoming out on the lower triple clamp.


The travel on this Dorado was reduced from 203mm to 175mm and apparently it is easy to do. Is the Dorado available from the factory as a 29″er fork? Possibly. It is a semi-custom product. For $2750.00 you can find out. (That’s just for the fork mind you.)


According to Niner Bike’s Facebook page, Steve is playing with a Rock Shox Vivid damper now. The rear end of this W.F.O.9 is the 150mmOD version and the travel is 5.5 inches. This bike also features the WTB Kodiak tires which should be available through Niner Bikes in a few weeks.

It will be interesting to see what the performance of this bike will be on true DH type courses. Time will tell. Stay tuned for any updates we get. (Editor’s Note: All images were forwarded to me by a reader via our e-mail link. Thanks!)


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No Responses to “Niner Pushes Envelope With W.F.O.9”

  1. Jonathan Says:

    More Kodiak!

  2. AC Says:

    Thats awesome!!! Love the flat bar on a DH rig too… That’s got to be the only one right?

  3. grannygear Says:

    Only 5.5 inches rear travel? And 7 up front? Hmmm. That will not make certain folks happy. All mountain rear and DH front.

    That is what else I need…a 3K$ fork. Wow.

  4. Rob from Ottawa Says:

    That bike is amazing. Colour me impressed! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. t0m Says:

    I’d like to know more about the wheels. People are always talking about a bigger wheel being weaker, but they don’t talk about using 36 spokes for heavy duty 29er rims. And what rims are on it? Salsa Gordos? Gusset Halo ultra heavy things? The wheel is where this 29″ DH thing will succeed or fail.

  6. Lee T Says:

    Heavy is not a big concern for DH – the shuttle doesn’t care. Mr. Curiak has something going on on the 29er forum with what he’s hinting is a Lenz DH project.

    Gotta love the 29er options that seem to be opening up.

  7. t0m Says:

    The shuttle may not care but the rider does. Heavy has increasingly been a concern for DH racing, which makes sense for all their sprinting out of starts, corners, and through flats. New DH forks and frames are coming out lighter. 29er wheels are both heavier and less strong than equivalent 26″ (inherently by being larger), so this is where it all will hinge. In wheeled racing, uphill or down, increased wheel (unsprung) weight is a disadvantage, for acceleration, deceleration, cornering, suspension performance, basically everything.

  8. Cloxxki Says:

    Any increase in required energy to accelerate a heavier wheel, is won back twice over or more via reduced rolling resistance (which matter every second you are not braking or flying), grip+traction (important every second you’re not casually coasting straight on.
    If weight were more important that wheel size, 24″ would have caught on more in the racing scene. Same goes for longer travel vs. shorter wheels. Just, the large wheel and max travel at that has rarely been explored.

    I hope there will be a pro rider who has the sponsorship freedom to give this bike a serious go, and compare with with a similar tire equipped 26″er.

  9. jncarpenter Says:

    “I hope there will be a pro rider who has the sponsorship freedom to give this bike a serious go, and compare with with a similar tire equipped 26โ€ณer.”

    …precisely what I was thinking Cloxx.

  10. t0m Says:

    No question about the 29″ reduced rolling resistance, improved cornering due to bigger contact patch, better bridging over obstacles, better at keeping momentum, more gyro stability at speed, etc. I don’t need to be convinced about the 29″ size, but there is a lot of skepticism that 29ers will work in the DH world. I think this will be the most interesting trial for the 29er wheel in the MTB world. I quote Dave Turner, who knows a thing or two about winning DH bikes- 2 years ago, upon considering a weaker and heavier wheel for DH: “No fcuking way.”

    DH would be good place for 29″ carbon rims… and I hope we see some good DH pros riding some good 29ers so it gets a fair shake.

  11. Davidcopperfield Says:

    Only that frame is unbecoming of the fork. The fork needs at least 175mmm on the rear.

  12. MG Says:

    well sonofabitch… i knew this day would come. search the history on and you’ll see it’s true. look back on my blog too, and you’ll see that in the fall of ’05, i said that, mark my words, we’ll be riding 29-inch wheeled downhill bikes within 5-10 years. well, here it is, less than four years after i said that, and we’re very near that reality.

    don’t question whether 29 inch wheels might happen, only question when they’ll become the dominant size. i predict they’ll win a top-level downhill race (at least one) by the end of the 2013 season. that’s my prediction.

    ok big wheel rippers… don’t let me down.

    that fork is awesome…

  13. MG Says:

    let me clarify my second paragraph…

    don’t question whether 29 inch wheels might happen — for downhill. only question when they’ll become the dominant size.

    that’s what i meant to say. i forgot the “for downhill”. sorry about that. those were two important words.

    i agree with tom though — after talking with jason and joe from salsa and guitar ted this past weekend, i think carbon rims and downhill 29ers are actually going to happen… those not ‘in the know’ might not believe it, but it’s true. carbon rims are amazingly tough, light and abuse tolerant. they fail in a pretty cool manner as well when they do fail too, so the application is a good one.

  14. AC Says:

    I wish Shawn Palmer would have made his come back on a W.F.O.9.

    Re: carbon rims. Get the cost down and I’m all over it! I just cannot afford 2k rims.

  15. B:S Says:

    I was a bit surprised at the 5.5″ number, too. Sure, it’s burlier, but just as $.99 isn’t a dollar, 5.5 isn’t a 6″ bike, ya know?

    I’m all about 29er for super techy riding, but 29er faces a challenge with the saddle interfering with the tire. Same problem with the rider’s ass… oh, you could run a rear fender, and that’ll make you look even cooler to the 26″ folk. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Dust Says:

    This looks great! Leave it to Niner – those guys are great. I look forward to hearing (and seeing) more about this bike. Niner, we need videos!

  17. Davidcopperfield Says:

    We need 180mm rear wheel stroke! not 140mm!!

  18. Cloxxki Says:

    DC, you should have ordered a BCD bike when you could.

    It doesn’t really technology IMO to get a good DH bike rolling. Just a commitment from one tire company. Forks, as we know, exist. Rims, exist. When the now dominant DH tire were replicated in 29″, that alone would guarantee high-end DH bikes to be build for it.
    Larger wheels don’t need as much travel, the natural roll-over ability helps a lot. Good riders can land a bike just bike without any travel. Legs arms offer a FOOT of travel, if not more.

    I tried to get a DH bike project going, but lacked funds to convince the required parties. Only White Brothers was really co-operative.

  19. Oderus Says:

    Everyone gets worried about the amount of rear wheel travel. You could have 8″ of squish on a crap design and nobody will ride it. 5.5″ of quality travel will get people on board. 15 years ago, some jackass made a 15″+ travel bike using 2 rear shocks in line and guess what…..nobody wanted it cause it rode like crap. Quality people, quality.

  20. MG Says:

    So true Oderus… You can do a lot with five and a half quality inches.

  21. Kid Riemer Says:

    29’er DH bike will someday exist. The racers will choose whether to use 26″ or 29’er based on the requirements of the course.

  22. Acess Says:

    Steve D’s DH ride report now on their FB page…

  23. Shop Mechanic Says:

    I am really interested to see how a 29er downhill bike will work because I think it is a good idea. There are some huge hurdles to overcome though as far as fit, geometry, and marketing go. Short chainstays are really in vogue with the DH crowd at the moment and that is not possible with the big wheel. For example; it has been said that Sam Hill and Brendan Fairclough tested a longer rear end for the Specialized Demo 8 but went with the stock 16.6″ one because it felt better to them. Those kinds of lengths are difficult to achieve on a single speed 29er hardtail! Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that short chainstays are the best but that that is a popular perception in the DH scene. There is also the problem with smaller sized bikes. For teens and women 29er DH bikes won’t be able to fit properly given the travel requirements but I suppose they can keep riding 26″ wheels. At the moment most teens involved in MTB are only interested in DJ and DH and 29ers aren’t going to work for them. That represents a significant portion of that market that will not be available to a bike company making a 29er DH bike. Plus there is a major perception problem that will need to change. Most people just don’t get the 29er thing and it is going to take many years to get people to wrap their heads around it. Even most shop employees don’t get it for the most part and if they don’t then the general public gets fewer opportunities to hear positive feedback on the idea. Hopefully the bike manufacturers will work out these problems because I would love to see it succeed, but it is going to take some very revolutionary thinking on the parts of designers, marketers, and riders along with some major persistence.

  24. MG Says:

    Shop Mechanic: For small riders, and/or riders who feel they “need” short chainstays, I’d put them on a “69er” with a big wheel up front. Although not my personal preferred setup (since I’m 6’1″ tall and can run big wheels at both ends easily), running a big wheel on the front gives you the guidance and endo-proofing of the big wheel, and the little rear wheel just has to keep up, basically. A lot of the traction benefits and what I call “rollability” happens at the front wheel, in my opinion, especially if you have a good working rear damper working with good downhill rubber. I’ve always run rear rubber on all my bikes that is smoother, and faster rolling, so I think it’d be OK to go kiddie wheel on the rear to get around clearance or perception issues…

  25. MG Says:

    … on small-frame bikes. Not on my bike. (Had to clarify that.)

  26. Shop Mechanic Says:

    Perhaps 650b rear wheels are the answer. I have tried 26″ 650b, and 29″ rear wheels with 29″ front and 20″ rear was my favorite because it just rolled over stuff so well. I really didn’t like the 69er. The rear wheel just seemed to get so hung up on stuff when compared to the 29er front wheel that just rolled over curb sized rocks. The 650b was a good compromise. Definitely not as smooth as 29 but pretty darn good. Plus using that format on the rear of a DH bike with a 29″ front would give it more of a moto look and the DH crowd are into that.

    BTW I am an avid downhiller and have owned a DH bike for years and done the whole Whistler thing but I find myself on the trailbike almost exclusively since DH is just too much of a hassle for me. I follow the WC really closely though. Go GWIN!!!

  27. Shop Mechanic Says:

    That last comment was number 26??? Oh the irony. Perhaps this site could skip that number like buildings with no 13th floor! ๐Ÿ™‚

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