The Family Truxter. The Shaggin Wagon. The Grocery Getter. I’m a wagon guy so the idea of this bike appealed to me right off the bat. Plenty of room out back to toss a bunch of junk in and go. I made it a point to use it for as many local errands as I could. There is not a take-out joint in five square miles of casa base that this thing has not been to. Cranky Al’s even learned to put my doughnuts in a bag so they’d fit in the pannier instead of my traditional box in the front basket of the old Schwinn. Hell, the local Chinese joint saw me so often, they thought I worked there.
The maiden voyage with the BlackBorow took me to the area liquor purveyor in search of supplies for a whiskey tasting (Glendronach 12 for the win!). It was still winter then and the snow was flying. What a perfect way to pop the top on this sweet long form fatty!
So off I trundle with empty panniers and a lengthy list.
Many cubic dollars later, I was loaded (cargo wise!) and headed home via some of Wauwatopia’s finest riverside single track. I hadn’t really done any riding of extendo bikes off road so, I must admit, there was a learning curve. That learning curve became very evident when, two or three trees in, I heard the sound of pannier meeting oak. And then pannier meeting frozen ground.
Lucky for me the Scots like to package their spirits in stout cardboard tubes as one of these took the brunt of the impact (Had there been breakage, it would have been very hard to explain to my wife why there is a bike pannier in the liquor cabinet that smells like a peat bog.
So the pannier gets placed carefully back on the bike and off I go leaving judicious space on the inside of each turn.
Things are going great and I get past all of off camber trail that threatens to put you in the river and am into the thick of the woods……when the headlight, that I forgot to charge, goes dark.
Braille is not a way to ride a mountain bike in the woods. At least not one that’s got a car payments worth of booze on board.
So there I sit until my eyes grow accustomed to that low ambient light that every city wears as a halo on overcast snowy nights, bringing the faintest markings of trail into faint relief. Slowly I am able to peddle my way out of the woods, guessing wrong many times and backtracking often.
Once safely home, I made commemorative t-shirts and started using the word “epic” a lot.
So, thoughts on the bike are:
Freaking LOVED the cargo capacity, of course.
There’s also a lot of really neat features that don’t get mentioned in the other reviews. The rear rack has threaded bosses all over it to allow for things like adding a full length rear fender or attaching a myriad of things to the top. If I owned this beast, I’d be building all manner of custom add-ons for it. There’s a lot of room to use your imagination.
Salsa was also nice enough to put threaded bosses up at the front of the top tube that did a great job of tearing the crotch out of my irreplaceable 1995 vintage Bellweather Windfronts when I messed up a stoppie. Don’t ride like a doofus and this becomes a non-issue.
The bike was supplied with VERY wide bars. Like wider than my MX bike. Wide to the point that looking back to check traffic proved difficult without moving my hands considerably inside the shifter. Fine to do when it’s warm but a problem with bar mitts. Being a loaner, I didn’t want to change them or cut them to a more normal size.
I had no issues with the 27.5 wheelset and tires and didn’t once think that a 26 would do any better for where I rode. In dirt, it rolled great. Hoping logs required a lot more clutch and throttle finesse than a non-stretch velocifatty. That stretch also caused a more weight forward bias when riding without luggage, which in turn lead to less forward traction going up hills and lots of spin outs. Once you add a few pounds at the rear, the grip comes back nicely.
On road, the bike needed some 29’r wheels to make it more efficient for around town use as the Maxxis Minion’s higher tread blocks do create drag.
One very nice feature I found was the steadying effect of cargo weight on ice. My local trails went through a good freeze, thaw, freeze with heavy foot traffic which left the surface a field of glass baby heads. Steady weight on the tail and the long wheelbase really seemed to stop the rear tire from upsetting sideways and allowed for more forward momentum and speed. I found that I could maintain a noticeably higher pace than others I was riding with whose normal length, unladen bikes would go crooked every third pedal stroke.
I really liked the Eagle groupo even though I don’t get along very well with Sram shifters. The 1X12 gearing was perfect for everything I got into, and pie plate inner cassette cog became a conversation piece with other bikers more than a few times. It’s impressive.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time with this bike and was sad when I had to give it back.