Regardless of whether you’re a creationist or evolutionist, you have to admit that we humans are pretty good at continually pushing the limits of our society, and our gadgets, in order to keep things moving forward. In a mountain bike sense, we first rode balloon-tire cruisers offroad, then came dedicated mountain bikes, followed by suspension that grew to lengths rivaling motorized dirt bikes. Shortly thereafter, the pursuit of something big and better then delivered 29″ mountain bikes, and we’re back to pushing the limits suspension bikes—this time with 29″ wheels.

Niner WFO

Here’s where Niner’s WFO 9 enters the picture. Many of you are likely familiar with Niner and their dedication to 29″ wheels, but if not, check out their website here.

Offering 140mm of suspension travel, the WFO 9 is Niner’s third, and longest travel, dual suspension bike in the line-up with the JET 9 offering 80mm, and the RIP 9 delivering 120mm of travel. Niner is targeting the WFO at all mountain riders, enduro types, and freeriders looking for burly 29″-wheeled bike.

Niner WFO

Call me lucky, but I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the last couple of months riding the WFO, at least when the weather cooperated. Going into this test a lot of folks, myself included, wondered if a 140mm travel 29er might just be too much? Prior to the WFO I had just tested a very nice 140mm travel 26″ bike (Gary Fisher’s Roscoe) that planted a seed in my feeble little brain; perhaps 140mm of travel is the tipping point for the 29″ vs 26″ battle. I was thinking that below 140mm travel I’d go for 29″ wheels, while around or above 140mm travel I might prefer 26″ wheels.

Have to say the WFO has made me realize the error in my initial assumption. After riding this bike I have absolutely no reservations about longer travel 29ers. Let me tell you, this bike is blisteringly fast on rough downhills. The combo of big wheels and plush long-travel suspension allowed me to descend at speeds that felt imprudent without body armor.

Fortunately this bike also pedals pretty well for getting to the top of those descents.

Special thanks to Speedgoat for arranging this test bike and outfitting it with their Limited Edition X.9 Signature Build.

What’s the worst place you could ride a long travel 29er in terms of trying to make it feel too big, too long, and too heavy? Probably a skate park…

Rick Skate Bowl

…which is precisely where I took my WFO test bike on its maiden voyage. What better place to kick this test into high gear? Much to my surprise, the WFO felt good in this environment, the wheelbase is short enough to keep the bike from feeling like a tank, and the suspension didn’t bat an eye at repeated launches to flat landings. Picture above of my friend Rick putting the WFO through its paces in the bowl.

Don’t be alarmed, I certainly spent a lot of time on this bike in the environs for which it was designed. But, you’ll have to tune into issue number #148 of Dirt Rag for the full bike review, subscribe by February 24th to receive issue #148 in the mail!

Also, stay tuned for issue #147′s Skills Series article on Cornering. The WFO was my trusty sidekick for this feature. Here’s a teaser photo for the advanced topic—riding nose wheelies around switchbacks!

Skills

Subscriber copies of #147 are printing currently and will mail on 1/26, but you’ll be able to pick up issue #147 on the newsstand starting February 16th. You can also call 800.762.7617 to order #147 as a single issue.