By : Spinner Ryerson
Chumba USA Ursa Backcountry – The Frame. I like the simple unobtrusive paint job and simple, solid logo. There are a few neat little details that are built into the frame but overall it looks just like it is, a solid built frame without a bunch of wild graphics or some wild flashy “catch your eye” paint job. I dig the functional simplicity of the complete package. It gives off an “adult” feel. This is a bike that you’d ride when you share a 12 pack with 6 people, rather than 1 dude. That being said – This steel steed is Made in the U.S.A. – so you can pretty much drink however many beers you want and rock it out.
The Components – Know what you don’t know? I’m a hop on and ride kind of guy. I have a few things that I like and the rest isn’t something that I him and haw over. The nice thing about the Chumba set up that we tested out is it comes complete without loyalty to any one particular brand. Which is cool, if you don’t want to limit yourself to the options of a single manufacturer. The guys at Chumba spec’d this baby out with the good stuff. That’s probably because the guys that own Chumba are ulta-adventure riders and bring that experience to the table. They offer several options which you can see here: http://www.chumbausa.com/ursa-midfat-29-1/
We went with the Backcountry flavor which comes with the custom Chumba Zulu frame bag by Wanderlust
I’m always going to be a fan of a bike that comes ready to be set up with a single speed option. It speaks to me as though something about the people who built this frame, they get it. I feel as though bikes that don’t incorporate this option are a bit handicapped. The Chumba comes with the best option out there in my opinion – Paragon Sliding drop outs. That means when Single Speed USA comes to your neck of the woods, you can shed the cluster and shred this buster.
Geometry – at first, I felt I was sitting really high on the bike. After a few rides the feeling went away and I chalked it up to a bit of a different geometry than I’m used to. The bike feels nice and rigid for a steel frame. I’m not sure how much is the 29+ Wheels and how much is the frame itself. I definitely wouldn’t be afraid to huck this rig off a teeter totter for fear of breaking it.
I also rode the Ursa on on long rides that included ice, snow, mud and coordination challenging beverages. These rides were ‘full fat bike’ kind of deals and I was expecting to struggle a bit on the mid-fat Ursa. I had no problem staying upright on the ice and pushing through the muddy sections. I was impressed by the speed that I was able to carry and actually expected the bike to slide out from under me a few times…..but it held traction without issue.
The Wanderlust custom bag set up is also great, even if you’re not going to be spending a night in the woods. Being able to lighten up the camel back and carry the brunt of your gear below the seat and handle bars can really make your day a whole lot more enjoyable.
Obviously the bike utilizes all of the benefits that a 29+ provides. The sure footed Maxxis Chronicles handled the risky portions fearlessly.
If you are going to go with the geared set up, I would absolutely recommend the set up that I got to test out. This was the first time I’ve ridden a bike with a clutch derailleur and it really makes a difference, or maybe a better term is unnoticeable. Not once did the bike miss a gear, even in the rainy, iceey snowy muddy (BS) weather we’ve been “enjoying” in Southern Wisconsin.
Overall this feels like a big solid bike that is very responsive. The complete set up makes this a pretty incredible bike. It makes the trail optional. This ride feels big and bad. It’s a good mix of fast and fat – giving you a lot of the capability that a fat bike provides and still saves some of the weight and handles better than throwing around a 5 inch tire.
Chumba USA is the only company that sells their bike along with a full set of beautiful custom bags. If you’re looking for a backcountry set-up that is designed and built by a talented team who are as passionate about adventure bikepacking as they are about making bicycles that posses the highest quality, you should put this bike at the top of your list. Chumba also just released their fat bike called the Ursa Major. We’ll have more about the Ursa Major, down the trail.
For more information about Chumba USA visit – www.chumbausa.com