Bike Test: 9:Zero:7 McGrath
This Alaskan-bred fatbike proves itself as trail conditions decline.
9:Zero:7 bikes is a small bike company out of Anchorage, Alaska, with a rich history in snow riding. The company claims to have built the first ever aluminum-framed fatbike.
The 9:Zero:7 model tested here, uses the symmetrical 170-millimeter rear dropout standard and is built with, pretty much, the McGrath parts kit. This frame was designed and built for endurance racing and adventure riding, featuring six rack mounts, three water bottle mounts, routing for full-length cable housing and fender mounts.
On the trail, the 9:Zero:7 offers a very stable overall ride thanks to its relaxed geometry and somewhat-long 18.4-inch chainstays. This is most noticeable and appreciated on soft, slower snow and steep climbs where keeping balance and traction is often a tricky game. The 9:Zero:7 is easy to keep a accurate weight balance between the front and rear tires when churning up mushy climbs. This stability is also welcomed and on slick and/or soft high-speed descents, where oversteering can quickly become a lesson-learning experience. Aside from added stability, the long chainstays gives the 9:Zero:7 some extra tire clearance, allowing snow, slush, mud and trail debris to pass freely through the rear triangle.
In general, bikes with loads of stability sacrifice maneuverability in tight, twisty terrain. This is at least partly true for the 9:Zero:7. Thankfully, the low-slung top tube makes the bike easy to lean over, aiding in its agility. While the 9:Zero:7 might not shred super tight trails all that well, it’s worth noting that most of trails conducive to fatbiking, at least those in the areas I’ve ridden, aren’t super twisty, and stability is part of the fun of this type of riding.
As fatbikes go, the 9:Zero:7 is a versatile bike that rides well on most terrain, but really shines when the trail conditions get tough and sloppy.