The Niner WFO e9 is a bit of an eMTB monster, with a full 180mm of tavel front and rear, rolling on a mega mullet set up of 29×2.6 front and 27.5×2.8 rear tires. Ebikes have come a long ways, and a big part of this is due to the tech behind the motor and drive systems- in this case, the Bosch Performance CX4 motor and 625wh battery. This drive system has great power and very good battery life- and you can even swap these Bosch batteries while on the trail.
Let’s be clear about one thing- I’m not testing this bike on mountain bike trails. I have exclusively brought this bike to motorized riding spots- that is to say, motorcycle legal trails or even roads. I mention this because it also describes my usage for an e-bike- it’s on super rough and steep terrain that rarely resemble the kind of flow trails that most folks ride with their traditional bicycles.
But that’s also part of why I like this bike so much- it’s just got a bit of raw grit to it that just makes me feel like this bike belongs in these types of trails.
Learn more about the WFO e9 here via my affiliate link over to Jenson USA: https://bit.ly/NinerWFOe9JKW
Weighing in at 59lbs, the WFO e9 is no lightweight. I’m totally OK with that weight, as here it means there’s a great motor, good battery life, and plenty of suspension. Also, for the kind of rough backcountry riding that I’ve been doing, that means better durability when random rocks and sticks impact the bicycle.
While the main theme of this video is how good this platform is for the type of ebiking that I do, but there were some part spec pain.
The bike’s weight- all 59lbs of it, is substantial. And with 180mm of travel, the bike needs to be ridden hard. These two factors require a solid build. On the first ride, I flatted the rear Maxxis Minion DHF EXO casing tire. The EXO casing tires are simply not suitable for an eBike, or any bike with long travel. I swapped over to a Double Down Maxxis Minion tire up front, which worked well, and eventually to WTB Tough Casing tires. WTB was kind enough to set me up with some tires for the build, so thanks WTB- I really like the aggressive pattern of the Vigilante. I haven’t done a ton of research into this, but it’s surprisingly hard to find 2.8 sized tires with a double ply casing.
The heavier your vehicle gets, the more important good suspension is, as you have to rely on the suspension to help find traction and forgive any rider mistakes. This is why suspension adjustments matter far more for motorcycles and cars than they do on bicycles.
The stock Yari fork had a lot of flex to it, and doesn’t have adjustable low speed compression damping. The Yari is a good fork, but the stock damping would be better suited to a traditional bicycle, and not to an ebike- especially one that’s begging to be SENT.
I’ve had a great relationship with Fox suspension, and I very politely asked them for some new suspenders for this bike. While they were all out of stock on rear shocks, luckily they did have a 38 Grip2 180mm travel, 44m offset fork that they were so kind as to sponsor me with for this bike.
I’ve added some volume reducers, and have dialed in quite a bit of compression damping. Ironically enough, Fox also offers an ebike specific 38 that has a LIGHTER damping tune, as Fox observed that many ebike riders stay seated for longer than regular bicycle riders. We could do a whole video on the subtle differences of riding an ebike vs a regular bicycle, but I’m personally looking for my suspension to be tuned for the “oh my gosh” moments than for the rest of the ride. As a result, I am appreciating the more aggressive damping of the non e-bike 38 fork.
The rear spring that came with this bike was a 450lb unit. At my 170 lbs, this was too soft, especially when hitting any jumps, and I would bottom this easily. Niner recently changed the stock spec on the size medium to use a 500lb spring. However, I ended up going with a 550lb spring. I still bottom the bike out on awkward landings, but the spring rate feels appropriate.
I really do wish I was able to get an X2 rear shock on this bike. The stock Rock Shox Super Deluxe R rear shock has no adjustable compression damping, and the bike does need some more control to the suspension. This is a heavy beast, and I could use all the help I can get to control landings and impacts.
One quick note- when I went to install the spring, it turns out that the shock hardware also needs to be removed, so if you want to go to a firmer spring, expect to make the swap in a shop and not trailside.
My own Niner WFO e9 build- and any purchases from these links will help me out!
- Frame: Niner WFO e9 size medium https://bit.ly/NinerWFOe9JKW
- Fork: Fox 38 Grip2 180mm: https://bit.ly/Fox38JKW
- Shock: stock Rock Shox, with 550lb spring http://bit.ly/RockShoxSpringJKW
- Seatpost: PNW Rainier (gen 3, I mistakenly said v 2 in the vid) https://bit.ly/PNWRainierJKW
- Handlebar: PNW Range cut to 760mm http://bit.ly/PNWRangeBarsJKW
- Grips: PNW Loam grips: http://bit.ly/PNWgripsJKW
- Dropper lever: PNW Loam Lever https://bit.ly/PNWLoamLever2021JKW
- Stock wheelset (normally I use Industry Nine) http://bit.ly/IndustryNineJKW
- WTB Vigilante 29×2.6 Tough High Grip front tire: https://bit.ly/Vigilante26JKW
- WTB Vigilante 27.5×2.8 Tough High Grip rear tire: https://bit.ly/Vigilante26JKW
- Shimano XTR brakes: http://bit.ly/XTRBrakesJKW
- WTB Pure saddle: http://bit.ly/WTBPureSaddleJKW
Thanks so much to Niner for loaning me this bike, and thanks to Jenson USA for their support!