That funny name refers to the dialling code of the state of Alaska, where 9:Zero:7 is based.
Being right in the heart of fat bike territory (for both cross-country and beach-side exploration in the summer and guaranteed snow in the winter), the company is well placed to know what riders are looking for in a fat bike. And it seems to be this: the Carbon Whiteout takes fatness to extremes, with a 197mm rear hub spacing and room for mahoosive 5in tyres.
All this is done while keeping the carbon frame looking incredibly well proportioned. It’s like a cartoon bike in all senses; the kind of bike that a child would draw and a bike that makes you feel like a child again when you ride it. Our test bike came built up with some good quality gear, in keeping with the quality nature of the carbon frame and to keep the weight down. Despite the jumbo Nate and Bud 4.8in tyres, there’s still room for a full 2×10 complement of gears and a front derailleur. Many fat bikes are limited when the tyre sizes get bigger, but the Whiteout has designed-in room for gears without needing to compromise. Having the 197mm back end really helps that, and yet it didn’t make itself known when riding.
Even wonky-heeled riders didn’t complain about hitting the chainstays, thanks to the 100mm bottom bracket. There’s more room on standover, too, with the gently sloping top tube flowing organically from the oversized head tube. To keep the smooth lines, there’s internal routing for the derailleur cables. The frame comes in a green or orange-highlighted colour scheme, not that you’re going to miss this as it passes by. The full carbon fork continues that organic feel and keeps the ridiculously oversize feel of the bike consistent.
Oversize doesn’t mean overweight though, and the thru-axle, tapered steerer carbon fork weighs a mere 640g, with the frame coming in at 1,340g, which is less than 3lbs. We’ve had road frames that weigh more. The whole bike comes in well under 30lbs.
We’ve always said that fat bikes aren’t for the shy, but the Whiteout is a fat bike for the extrovert fat biker. There’s no mistaking the huge presence that this bike has on the trail. And that’s even before you ride it. A casual car park heft reveals that the bike is a lot lighter than you’re expecting.
The full carbon frame and Surly Marge Lite rims go a long way to reducing the weight penalty of the fully knobbly fat tyres. With carpark posing done, it’s time to hit the trails. Oh. My. God. The Whiteout is more fun to ride than any bike I’ve ridden in the last year. Not just fun, but ear-to-ear grinningly, stupid face-pulling fun. And yet it’s no circus freak – it’s still a surprisingly capable trail bike.
There’s that feeling of cartoon girth when setting off and when initiating turns, but those feelings are quickly replaced by a surprise at how well the bike clips along. Even with sub-10psi (more like five) in the aggressively treaded tyres, there’s a lively feel to the bike and an abundance of grip, both up and downhill. Just as the tyre starts to slip on a climb, it grips again and keeps motoring. On fast woodland trails, the bike will go as hard as you can push it: any slides are semaphored in from a long way off and are easy to counter.
The bike demands an over-enthusiastic riding style, making you move around on the bike and overexaggerate hops and jumps, and yet it never feels tiresome or weighty. As one rider put it: “It made me feel like a Viking riding a giant puppy.” And that’s without taking it anywhere near the snow, where your smugness meter will explode.
The Whiteout is everything that we hoped a fat bike would be. It’s a capable trail bike on any surface. You don’t need snow, or sand, to have a great time on it. You just need a pulse and a sense of fun. The light frame and fork combo countered the giant tyres, and the giant tyres countered bad lines and eradicated bad days at the office.
If there’s any way in which you can justify a Whiteout in your life, you must try one. You will never be the same once you have; it opens a door into another world you may have left long ago. It’s a world where you can’t wait to get home and go and ride your bike, messing around in the woods.
Frame // 9:ZERO:7 Whiteout carbon
Shock // n/a
Fork // Whiteout carbon
Hubs // Hope 135mm front, 9:ZERO:7 197mm rear
Rims // Surly Marge Lite Tyres // Surly Bud 4.8, Surly Nate 4.0
Chainset // Race Face Turbine 2×10
Front Mech // Shimano XT
Rear Mech // Shimano XT
Shifters // Shimano XT
Brakes // Shimano XT Trail
Stem // Race Face
Bars // Renthal Fatbar Lite
Grips // Supacaz Siliconez
Seatpost // Genetic
Saddle // SDG Circuit
Size Tested // Medium Sizes available // S, M, L
Weight // 28.75lbs (without pedals)
|From:||Sideways Cycles, sidewayscycles.co.uk|
|Price:||£3,499 as tested; £1,800 frame and forks|
|Tested:||by Chipps for|