If dealers weren’t standing in line at the Salsa tent for the new Spearfish and Horsethief, chances are they were waiting for one of the new carbon Beargrease fatbikes. The aluminum Beargrease’s carbon successor has been teased for awhile and the bikes were finally available for test rides at Saddle Drive
In addition to the Beargrease, Salsa also had the rest of their fatbikes on hand with a few key changes that hold some clues for the future of fatbike suspension. First ride impressions, actual weights, and more, next.
While quite a few fatbike companies seem to be jumping on the carbon fiber train, axle widths and types seem to be a polarizing issue. Salsa has revealed their hand which happens to be thru axles front and rear. Hub widths essentially stay the same, but with 7mm added to accommodate the thru axles. This is similar to mountain bikes with 142×12 rear axles that have the same hub positioning as a 135mm quick release. Since the Beargrease is considered a racing fatbike, Salsa believes in a 4 inch tire mounted to an 82mm rim.
That means the Beargrease is equipped with a 142×15 front and 177×12 rear axle – not the 190mm QR or thru axle used by Borealis or 9:zero:7 respectively. The front axle is also an interesting point due to the fact that we’ve heard rumors that Salsa has been working with a suspension fork company to develop, well, a suspension fork. If that’s the case, then it seems like Salsa’s front axle standard, 142×15, would be the likely choice for a new fork.
Beargreases run a 121mm press fit bottom bracket, which is essentially the same as a 100mm externally threaded BB and uses the same length crank spindle.
One major clue to the future of fatbike suspension is near? All of Salsa’s fatbikes now have tapered, suspension corrected fork like the 700g full carbon monster above. That means if there was to be a suspension fork in the near future it would be a simple swap of the rigid fork included with the bike. Why would you want suspension on a fatbike? More on that below.
As mentioned, the carbon beargrease completely replaces the aluminum model but only adds about $500 to the price. Beargrease carbons will be available in XX1 and X9 2x builds and a frame option. The frameset will also include the hubset, axles, and a front derailleur adapter if you aren’t running a 1x drivetrain. The front derailleur adapter is proprietary to the Beargrease to accommodate the angle of the seatpost as it sits in front of the bottom bracket. Framesets will retail for $2599.
Other than ride quality, the point of a carbon fatbike is to be light, and light weight it is. The Medium Beargrease XX1 clocks in at 26.3 lbs (11.93kg) with the medium 2×10 X9 Beargrease at 29.18 lbs (13.26kg) without pedals. Salsa pointed out amusingly that a single tire can weigh more than the 1275g Beargrease frame!
First Ride Impressions:
While fatbikes in general seems to be gaining in popularity, their use as a mountain bike on dry trails still leaves people scratching their head. Riding a fatbike as light as the XX1 Beargrease may change that.
Riding the Beargrease at Snowbasin, I took off on a ride that would not have been as much fun on my own, much heavier fatbike here at home. With a substantial amount of climbing, the Beargrease added a level of traction is super loose, steep switchbacks that is not found on standard mountain bikes. Eventually I rode to a high alpine area with large chunky rocks and loose conditions that the big tires added plenty of confidence, even where there was no trail. Headed back down however – this is where a suspension fork would make a difference. The Beargrease is capable of descending like a rocket, but the big tires, wheels, and stiff carbon frame seem to transmit every little rock and root to your arms.
Is a fatbike the bike for everyone in the summer? Of course not. But they do allow for more exploration thanks to the abilities of the bigger rubber. One thing is for sure – fatbikes this light blur the lines between a standard MTB and a fatbike.
In addition to the Beargrease carbon line, Salsa is still offering the Mukluk Ti and Alloy with a few changes.
The Ti Mukluk receives a similar half painted look as the rest of Salsa’s bikes with a clearcoat covering the entire bike. Raw Ti is beautiful in its own right, but I have to admit that the painted Ti bikes were beautiful in person. Also new for the Ti Mukluk is the use of triple butted 3/2.5 tubing for an even lighter ride.
Just like the Beargrease, all Mukluks change to a 100mm suspension corrected fork with a 483mm axle to crown measurement. In the case of both the Ti and Alloy Mukluks, the Bearpaw is an aluminum standard 135mm QR fork with a tapered steerer that includes Salsa Anything Cage mounts on each side.
If the Salsa fatbike isn’t equipped with a thru axle, it includes Salsa by Formula hubs that are at least compatible. Swapping the end caps allow the 135mm QR hubs to convert to 142×15 – you know, in case there was ever a suspension fork or you wanted to upgrade to the carbon Beargrease fork.
The geometry is of course updated to adapt to the new fork dimensions to keep the ride the same.
This medium Mukluk Ti with a 2×10 X9/X0 drivetrain and Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost weighs in at 32.17 pounds (14.59kg).