Introducing the 2009 Niner WFO 9 Long-travel 29er
I'm a big fan of 29er bikes and I'm also a big fan of the crew at Niner Bikes. They only build 29ers and damn fine ones at that. After riding the Niner RIP 9 for a few months, I had a hard time giving it back, but now I'm all over the new Niner WFO 9 to be introduced formally at Interbike in a few weeks. Though the WFO 9 won't be available to demo, I'll hopefully at least be able to check one out in person. More than likely, I'll get one for testing next year. Until then, check out the pictures of the 2009 Niner WFO 9 and check out the development timeline below courtesy Chris Sugai at Niner Bikes: For 2009, we are launching the W.F.O. 9 at both Eurobike and Interbike. Many of you have seen this bike in one form or another. This is the story of how we got from there to here… Wed like to open up the Niner archives, and give you the history of a product in the making, from start to finish; to show you how engineering, computer analysis, structural testing, riding, and passion all combined to make aluminum and steel evolve into an amazing bike. In early 2005, we built the very first rideable samples of the W.F.O. 9. which we showed at Interbike 2005. Our intentions were twofold. First, we used these early prototypes to help develop CVA suspension the first W.F.O. 9 was 6 of travel with relatively short chainstays. Second, we wanted to encourage the component and fork makers to expand their scope of vision in regards to the 29 wheel and to develop products that would make such a bike viable. We wanted to push the limits and change the perception that the big wheel wasnt just for single speeds. For us, the wheel size has applications across the board, but we couldnt do it alone. We knew then the possibilities that the 29 wheel held in regard to longer travel bikes, so we decided to keep refining our frame. During 06-07 new technologies, and new building methods re-adjusted our thinking, and we took roads previously untraveled. Additionally, every Niner version-prototype goes through a battery of testing, including actual ride time (there are some perks to being bike designers). We put a lot of trail-hours in on the first versions and incorporated what we learned into the next step. Interbike 2007 gave us the opportunity to share the results of these new design philosophies and technologies. W.F.O. 9 version 2 features a 1.5 head tube and 150mm spacing in the rear. Concurrent to the Interbike debut, we tested bushings vs. bearings as well as other design elements. The long travel machine generated a lot of interest. The demand was there, our sales staff was inundated by riders eager to know the release date, but we didnt feel like it was ready. We knew we could make something even better. Time to ask questions: What worked and what didnt in the first two versions? What could we do better? As Niner grows, so too does our access to new technology, both in design and construction how could we best take advantage of this? More sophisticated computer FEA (Finite Element Analysis) provided answers to some of our questions. FEA is perfect for bicycle development, as it allows us to see in graphic form the actual stresses on a tube as force is applied. FEA enabled us to change the vector and amount of force within the FEA model and conduct computer testing on a number of structures in a day that would take months to build in actual metal. The resulting data helped us to determine the best shapes and structures for the W.F.O 9. The testing and development process also convinced us that hydroformed tubing is the way to go - we can maximize tube shape for strength and stiffness. Additionally, forging helps us to make stronger, sexier and lighter parts. Armed with that information, as well as more hours of riding, we created the third, optimized W.F.O. 9 generation. On this round of physical, destructive testing, we were able to put our FEA modeling to task, to be sure that our computer generated calculations coincided with the real physical tests before opening expensive tooling for forged and extruded parts. The W.F.O. 9 is the most tested bike we have ever designed. It meets all current testing standards, including those not required here in the United States. The W.F.O. 9 exceeds all testing parameters set forth by the EU CEN standard. This new standard is stricter than the severe testing requirements of the German DIN+ test protocol. In the time we spent developing the W.F.O. 9, the industry began to change. A noted swing in perception, created the optimum environment for the W.F.O. 9 to spread it wings. Component makers stepped up to the plate to make products that better fit this style of riding. Tires appeared with wider profiles, fatter knobs, and stiffer casings. Shimano provided valuable assistance to our project. Our two companies had many conversations regarding front derailleur improvements to resolve clearance issues that plague big wheels and short chainstays, particularly on long travel bikes. The result is a Shimano-redesigned high mount bolt-on derailleur that we can place wherever we need to without regard for the seat tube angle or position, while still giving us critical room behind the derailleur for tire clearance. Next, we were approached by Marzocchi to help them re-enter the 29er market, as they too believe in the application of longer travel suspension designs for the 29 wheel. We put our collective heads together and wrote a list of have to parameters and then the Marzocchi engineers took over. We couldnt be more pleased with the product of this collaboration a beautiful Marzocchi 44 29er fork with 100-140mm of adjustable ATA travel, an air cartridge, 15mm quick release thru axle, compression, rebound and lockout. The W.F.O. 9 will feature a first for a 29er: a tapered head tube designed to accommodate a 1.5 lower race with a 1 1/8 upper, and the Marzocchi 44 will feature a steerer tube/crown assembly to match, making the 44 the perfect mate for the W.F.O. 9. We are honored to have worked with Marzocchi and to have played a role in bringing this fork to market. The 2010 Marzocchi 44 will be available OEM exclusively through Niner for 2009, and available aftermarket early 2009.