Motor and battery: 4th generation Bosch Performance Line CX; 180mm travel; 64-degree head tube angle
Big suspension is forgiving and fun; super stable
Not the most lithe and responsive ride, particularly while climbing
When Niner included a 180mm-travel coil shock and 180mm-travel fork on the aluminum frame WFO E9, it built a downhill-focused bike that’s at home in the park and steep, technical descents anywhere, no lift service required. Extremely slack geometry —a 64-degree head tube angle most notably— and a long wheelbase make this bike the most stable, shock-absorbing e-bike we tested. It handles technical terrain like a champ, climbs well, and lends confidence to tackle any trail.
- Niner WFO-9 Review
- Pro(moter) Bike: The Niner RLT 9 RDO of Dirty Kanza’s Kristi Mohn
- Gear Issue: Performance e-bike basics
The WFO uses a mullet wheel setup. In front, the 29er wheel monster trucks over any obstacle, while a 27.5+ wheel in the back, coupled with short chainstays, makes the ride playful. It also provides a wide contact patch with the ground for maximum traction. A flip-chip lets you choose between higher and lower downhill oriented geometries.
Bosch pedal-assist motor
The bike is power-assisted by a 4th generation Bosch Performance Line CX, which sets the standard for the fastest torque processing speed, durability, and reliability. Bosch’s system uses the most energy-dense battery available, in this case, a 625wh battery, which stores more energy per pound of battery than others. It was also very good at torque management. When I applied power to the pedals, sensors detected the input, and there was no lag or delay in the assist engaging or disengaging when I stopped pedaling, so the bike didn’t feel surgey.
Niner says the battery will last up to 50 miles between charges. That range might be correct if you’re riding this bike on rolling terrain in eco, tour, or eMTB mode, but not Turbo. We put this bike to the test on terrain that took the best advantage of its massive suspension, railing uphill berms, gapping step-up jumps, and hammering down black and double black trails before climbing back up to do it again. It lasted for two-and-a-half to three hours.
The WFO e9 chassis is welded from a 6061 aluminum frame mated to a unique motor mount that houses upper and lower pivots, plus the lower shock mount. Forged frame end links and dropouts add strength to this hefty bike. So do the overbuilt pivots that ride on Enduro Max Black Oxide bearings for smooth performance over time, even with the extra impact of technical riding on a 54+ pound bike.
Instead of Niner’s signature CVA suspension, this bike uses four-bar Horst Link suspension. On an e-bike, uphill pedaling efficiency doesn’t matter as much, so, as Zach Vestal from Niner’s marketing team says, when it came to incorporating RDO, “the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.” Instead, Niner chose a trusted and proven suspension platform that could be tuned for downhill capability and suppleness.
The suspension uses a RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select R 205 x 65mm trunnion tuned to 350lbs in small, 400lbs in medium, and 450lbs in large. Instead of running the damper body and widest part of the shock low by the bottom bracket like most trunnions, Niner flips the shock right side up, which puts the trunnion mount at the high point where it’s bolted to the bike’s rocker link arms.
That allows the bike to sweep through 35 – 40 degrees of rotation as the shock compresses, and lets Niner put bearings between the shock body trunnion mount and the rocker link arms, which makes the suspension smoother.
In front, the WDO wears a RockShox Yari RC 180 fork. SRAM Guide RE brakes with 200m rotors control speed and stopping, while the SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, with a 36-tooth chainring, translates your pedal power into forward motion.
This bike isn’t for everyone, but it gives riders who want to push their downhill limits one more reason to “pedal dammit,” Niner’s tagline, and get to new zones, or lap old ones, at a fraction of the physical output previously required. The long wheelbase means the WDO isn’t as operator-friendly as other bikes in tight turns, particularly on climbs, but with practice, I was able to find the flow. Jumping a 54-pound bike is a different experience than airing on a 30-poundenduro rig. So is landing. So the extra suspension was much appreciated.