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Interbike 2008 – Niner Mountain Bikes

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Niner unveiled their 5.5″ travel WFO-9 full suspension 29er mountain bike, the longest travel production 29er bike ever.  According to Mike in the video, WFO stands for “Wide Full Open”, although my hunch is it’s really Wide F’in Open, but we’ll keep it clean.

As he says, this is a lot of travel for a 29er, with most others topping out around 4 inches.  The inherent problem with long travel on a bike with such big wheels is making room for the rear wheel to use all that travel without bumping into something else while keeping the chainstay and wheelbase at reasonable lengths.  Niner seems to have achieved this using their own unique suspension design.  I can’t speak to how this bike rode, but I did sample their Jet 9 at the demo day.  Thoughts, pics and more info on this and their other models when you read “more”…

They had two models of the new WFO 9 on display.  Above, with HammerSchmidt, and the closeup below with normal three-ring gearing.  The closeup shows the detail of the bottom linkage and nicely forged pieces.  If there’s one thing that stands out about the frames, it’s the beefy welds.  They give the bike a quality, overbuilt look.  In particular on this frame are the side gussets near the headtube and the oversized shape of the downtube where it meets the headtube.  All that extra contact area welded to the headtube keeps the front end stiff…and you’ll need it on a 5.5″ travel bike with 29″ wheels!  Helping keep that stiffness all the way down to the axle is a proprietary Marzocchi fork made just for this bike.

A close up of the drive side and complete linkage above and below (with slightly different angle).  The tiny HammerSchmidt lets you see into the frame much better.

This bike is available with either a 135mm or 150mm (axle width) rear triangle to suit your riding style, and the 135mm is $1,899 for frame/headset/Fox RP23 shock.  The 150mm is $2,099 for frame/headset/Maxle QR/Fox DHX Air 5.0 shock.  It comes in “Anodized Milk Dud” and “Anodized Milk Dud” only.

Next down the line in terms of travel is their RIP 9 (Roll In Peace) with 4.5″ of travel.  Like all their bikes, it uses forged linkages and full complement sealed cartridge bearings for strong, friction free travel.  It’s got a tapered 1-1/8″ to 1-1/2″ headtube surrounding a Fox F29 fork.  It comes in Milk Dud, Licorice and Moondust Gray and retails for $1,799 (frame, headset and Fox PR23 shock).

For the “racer”, there’s the Jet 9, a 3.1″ travel 29er.  It has a custom CNC’d aluminum derailleur hanger that they claim is stiffer and stronger than standard hangers found on most bikes.  This is the bike I demo’d at the show, and while I don’t ride a lot of 29″ bikes, I could tell Niner knows what they’re doing when it comes to making bikes.  They focus on building for the 29er platform and that concentration comes through in a ride that was quicker than I expected for a big bike.  My test ride came at the end of the 2nd demo day, so the fact that it felt quick under tired legs (and that this was the one test ride I forgot to leave my 15lb camera backpack at the tent) says a lot.

It retails for $1,749 for frame only with Fox RP23 shock and comes in Vanna White, Kermit Green or Anodized Licorice.

Now, for the racer that likes to keep it simple, they’ve got the Scandium ONE 9 single speed.  Note the jersey hanging from the seat…this bike propelled three of their team riders to national championships this year.  “Fuzzy” rode one to win the NUE (National Ultra Endurance) Series single speed class, and Dejay and Rebecca used it to win the 24 Hour National Championships in the Mixed Duo category.  The frame uses a custom Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB) design and SS-only dropout.  They claim their EBB design prevents common EBB problems such as creaking and shell ovalization.  Frame-only price is $849 and comes in Raw or Electric Blue.

(NOTE: They also offer the AIR 9, a Scandium hardtail made for gears, which retails for $799 frame only)

The MCR 9 (Magic Carpet Ride) is their geared Steel 29er frame with a new S-bend seat stay to give it a little more mud clearance and vertical compliance.  They offer the SIR 9 (Steel is Real) that’s essentially the same, only can be run as either a single speed or geared bike and has their EBB built in.  The MCR retails for $799 and the SIR for $849.  Both are frame only and available in Solid Gold or A&W Root Beer.

Last in the line up is their $499 7075 Al hardtail for those just looking to get into 29″ wheels without upsetting the significant other.

Just a quick shout out to these guys…they gave me a ride back from Monday’s Dirt Demo and went out of their way to drop me right at my hotel, which was on the complete other side of the strip from theirs.  Thanks!

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