You may know Snowbasin in Ogden, UT as the site of the 2002 Olympic alpine skiing races during the 2002 games or, if you have kids, the place where the movie Frozen was filmed in 2009 but, at least for these few days in July, it is the site of Saddle Drive, Quality Bicycle Product’s annual dealer-focused event for brands like Surly, Salsa, Cogburn, All City, Whisky, Foundry and several others.
Obviously, fat-bike.com is at the event to check out the new fat-bikes! Mark Peterson and I had the chance to ride several Surly and Salsa fat-bike models and came away impressed by the depth of the new bike lines. Fat-bike design continues to evolve with the main benefits of fat-bike tires, flotation, traction, comfort and confidence evident in all the models but with each specific bike model focusing more on specific riding styles or terrain and optimizing performance for an intended use while still maintaining the overall benefits of the fat-bike platform.
On day 1, Mark Peterson and I took out several bikes from Surly and Salsa. Here is what we learned:
Surly Ice Cream Truck and Ice Cream Truck Ops
We’ve had several people at fat-bike.com test out the 5”-tired version of the Ice Cream Truck and the report from aggressive riders has been very favorable. That impression continued at Snowbasin with the wide open downhills the perfect place to open up the Ice Cream Truck and feel the stability and confidence that ICT is known for.
The Ops version of the ICT swaps out the 5” Bud and Lou/Clown Shoe combo for 3.8” Nates and 82mm Rolling Darryl Rims. I really liked this wheel set in the tighter twisty sections in the woods. Giving up a bit of traction, bump-absorbing air volume and flotation may be a good trade off for riders looking to save some weight and who ride trails that are more point and squirt than wide open and pinned to the max.
This one was a surprise! Salsa did a really good job of keeping the wraps on the Blackborow.
What’s in a name? Funny you should ask which is exactly what I did do. This bike was a brand new model and the fact that I hadn’t heard of it until the day before the show had me thinking “Blackbottom” for some reason. Mark too! Anyway, I wanted to get the proper name imbedded in my brain and a story always helps do that so I asked Mike Riemer, Salsa’s Marketing Manager, that exact question. Might have been more like “What’s the deal with the name of the new fat-bike?” Here is the story, not exactly as he told it but close enough.
So, Perce Blackborow was a stowaway on the Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s ship on his failed Antarctic expedition. Apparently, after discovering the stowaway, Shackleton went on a tirade to in front of the entire crew dressing down Blackborow who was understandably shaken.
Shackleton finished his tirade on the evils of being a stowaway by saying to Blackborow, “Do you know that on these expeditions we often get very hungry, and if there is a stowaway available he is the first to be eaten?” To which Blackborow replied, “They’d get a lot more meat off you, sir.” Shackleton hid a grin and after chatting with one of the crew members said “Introduce him to the cook first.”
What does this have to do with fat-bikes? Well, because of the story, I now remember the name! Plus, the Blackborow EATS up the terrain with 5” Bud and Lou tires, a short chain stay for the tire size and a relatively long top tube. On the short loop we were riding I liked how it handled through the twisties and it was confidence inspiring enough on the fast stuff that I came away from the ride thinking this was my favorite bike of the day. Also, Mark saw me two of the longest wheelies I’ve ever done on a bicycle while I was riding the Blackborow. It is really a blast!
Mark took out the Dinglespeed version of the Blackborow and commented favorably on the handling as well.
Yep, this is a full suspension fat-bike. Why? Because, Snowbasin, that’s why! We took a couple of different rides on the Bucksaw just to make sure our initial ride impression was correct. This is the first truly well thought out and executed full suspension fat-bike on the market. It isn’t the first full suspension fat-bike, but I think that is a good thing. Remember, Salsa has been mucking about with full suspension fat-bikes for a few years now. The fact that Dave Weagle helped design the rear, split pivot suspension and the availability of the RockShox Bluto make a nicely matched pair. I commented to the folks at the Salsa tent that I love the bike but I’d have to raise my fitness level to ride it regularly. It encourages fast-as-you-can-go riding and I found myself pedaling down hills to go faster where I would normally be coasting along to recover from the climb. I tried to find the limits on the trail I rode but never reached them. Fortunately, the bike is more capable than I am. If I reached this bikes limits and bailed that would have been a yard sale for sure!
Maxxis Chronicle 29-plus Tire
In addition to the bikes we rode, we spied a set of the new Maxxis Chronicle 29-plus tires on Pat from Missoula’s Krampus. Pat is an avid proponent of the 29-plus platform and after a couple of hundred miles on the new Maxxis he had a generally favorable impression of the new tires. He wanted to get several hundred more before making a final conclusion and we hope to hear from him soon on the final verdict.