Test Ride: Salsa Carbon Fat Bike

Last year Salsa released the Beargrease, an aluminum fat bike built to be a lightweight racer. This weekend at the annual dealer expo, Saddle Drive, the brand showed off its next-gen fatty, the Carbon Beargrease.

For a fat-bike it’s light — the ride weighs in at about 26 pounds complete. This is 3+ pounds lighter than the original Beargrease aluminum model (and up to 8 or more pounds lighter than some fat bikes from just a couple years back).

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The Salsa Carbon Beargrease is at home on a singletrack trail

Unlike other fatties, this all-carbon ride was built to take on anything from ultra-endurance races to shredding singletrack near town. And snow and sand riding, of course, as well.

I had a chance to take a spin on the Carbon Beargrease XX1 this week at Snowbasin Resort in Utah during the Saddle Drive event. The lightweight frame coupled with Surly’s Holy Rolling Darryl rims and 45NRTH Dillinger 26 × 4 inch tires, rolled over large rocks and climbed up the mountain with ease.

At Snowbasin I pedaled up a steep and rocky trail but the low air pressure tires seemed to mold to the ground for grip. There’s simply a lot more rubber and tread on the dirt with this size wheel. Then heading downhill the rigid frame was fine, as the fat tires soaked up ruts and obstacles on the trail.

Its race-ready geometry felt more like a mountain bike than a fat bike — fast! It also has front and rear through-axels, and the bike was responsive on corners and tight turns on the mountain trails.

In fact, the Salsa didn’t ride much differently than my 29er at home. It did not weigh much more, either! (Granted, this is a suspension-less bike. But shocks were not necessary running the fat tires, which can be kept at low pressure to absorb the bumps.)

All great, for sure. But the “fat-and-light” Salsa will cost you more than $5K for the top-end build.

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SRAM XX1 build keeps the weight in check

The 2014 Carbon Beargrease will be sold in two levels, a top-shelf offering at $5,499 (with the new SRAM XX1 drivetrain and a fat-bike specific SRAM XX1 crank) or a $3,499 build stocked with a SRAM X9 drive train and SRAM X9 cranks.

If you’re looking for a fat bike but like the feel of a mountain bike, check this guy out when it ships in September. This is a premium buy, but for the high price you get a premium bike with a light frame and fat tires that roll across nearly any type of terrain.

—Amy Oberbroeckling

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Front and rear through-axels are stiff and secure

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