My Niner WFO e9 Ride Review

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.  

The Niner WFO e9 is built for more rugged, mountainous terrain. This usage contrasts from the Norco Sight VLT 29 quite a bit- both are GREAT bikes, but they have totally different strengths. The extra travel of the Niner, combined with the more powerful motor, made it a tad better suited to these backcountry conditions. However, when applied to traditional flow trails, the Norco might have the edge.  I enjoyed both bikes, and interestingly enough, found the Intense Tazer to split the difference between the two very well.  

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

The industrial design of the WFO e9 really grew on me. There are a BUNCH of parallel lines going on- the seat stay and top tube have a nice continuation. The rocker link and the top tube near the seat tube have some nice parallels. Heck, even the “Z” shaped top tube has a great look.
The mullet wheel size set up is nice in rougher terrain, as this allows for some shorter chainstays. My riding style is to constantly loft the front wheel- out of corners, off obstacles, and on the faces of jumps. The 2.8 sized rear tire meant a lot of traction on rougher surfaces, but it also means a bit more tire roll on flow trails.

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.

With 180mm of travel, the Niner’s suspension worked quite well.  180mm is a lot of travel though- and I had to go a ton stiffer from the stock set up.  The bike came with a 450lb spring, and now the stock spec is a 500lb. However, I had to go to a 550lb spring to avoid bottoming too often.  I’d also like to 

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 stock build had a few things I needed to fix, but it was still a fun, capable bike.

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.  

Spend more time looking at this bike, and it just keeps getting more interesting. Kind of like the first gen of the Ibis Ripley, a quick glance doesn’t reveal a lot of the nice design notes.
When speeds get faster, the bike’s weight helps keep it well planted. Once I got the suspension sorted, it was a very confident machine up to around 30mph.

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.  

See that smile? Yep, ebikes are fun.

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.  

HUGE thanks to Fox for supplying the 38 180 grip2 fork for this bike! I really appreciated both the improvements in stiffness as well as in damping.

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.  

After I got the rear spring and fork swapped out, the bike really came alive.

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. 

They call me “Captain Accessory”! Here in the PNW, it’s been raining for the past 17 months, so the full coverage front fender is amazing, and the hand guards only help too. The bell is awesome- it lets pedestrians know to expect a human sized blueberry to be rolling down the trail aboard a giant bicycle.

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. 

In moments like this, with loading the rear shock heavily, a more progressive suspension curve would be fantastic. This can be achieved by using an air shock with some volume reducers, or a similar effect can be. had by using more compression damping.

My own Niner WFO e9 build- and any purchases from these links will help me out!

There have got to me more dual-ply 2.8 tires out there! I really like my WTB tires, but I’d love to get into some more brands for comparison sake. Got any suggestions for me? The Tough casing WTB tires are two layers of 60tpi casing. These are heavy, but they are so dang reliable!!!

Thanks so much to Niner for loaning me this bike, and thanks to Jenson USA for their support!

The head angle on this bike isn’t quite as slack as some of my other bikes. I would have liked to try an angle set, but with the weight of the bike and the length of the fork, I don’t know how reliable that’d be. The main reason I would want to go another degree slacker would be for cornering. I want less weight on the front wheel and a longer wheelbase. The stiffer rear spring meant the bike’s ride height was higher, and the wheelbase felt a tad shorter as a result.
You want rugged trails? We’ve got rugged trails. And no, no one rides these trails on bicycles.

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