Bikepackers: Don’t just haul the bare necessities. Take some toys, extra rations, and a few creature comforts. Pack well and have a little cargo space left over.
Maybe the biggest drawback to Salsa’s latest bikepacking creation is the time it will take to fully load it. The Minnesota-based bike builder this month released the Blackborow – an aluminum and carbon machine that falls somewhere on the spectrum between fat bike and cargo van.
Designed to add purpose to plus-tire bikes’ lumbering capability, the Blackborow has mounts galore and geometry that forgives hoarding. The brand teased some of the Blackborow’s prowess with a few sample setups, including a gorgeous fly-fishing build.
The key to the Blackborow design is a “mid-long” frame. Its rear triangle stretches back, adding storage area – up to four panniers and a long deck. Plus, there’s extra heel clearance so feet don’t bump big packs.
By elongating the frame, Salsa also created new spaces for frame packs. The “Stowaway” space sits behind the seat tube and accepts a custom frame pack (or extra bottle cage). And there’s a spot for a custom frame bag between the rear rack and seat post.
But there’s also plenty of conventional pack storage all over. Strap a frame pack in the main triangle, add a top tube bag near the headset, and tuck a “wedgie” pack near the seat post.
Plus, clip up to four standard panniers, or two large custom packs, on the rear rack and leave extra storage on the deck. Though Salsa advertises its EXP Series line for the frame bags, it didn’t spec the large rear storage area for any of its packs.
According to the brand, “Even something as non-threatening as predetermined bag dimensions can still impose some limitations on what you might want to try, and that’s the last thing we wanted to do.”
27.5+ Tires, Aluminum Frame
For the ride, the Blackborow standard build comes with 27.5+ tires (4-inch). But it can handle 29ers at 3 inches wide. The frame is 6066 aluminum with a carbon Bearpaw fork and 150-mm thru-axle. Salsa’s three pack mounts grace either side of the fork, a fit for bottle cages or the brand’s beefy Anything Cage.
Those feeling adventurous can swap the rigid fork for a fat-specific suspension fork. And the Blackborow can run 1x or 2x on its SRAM GX Eagle groupset.
All told, the full build (packs not included) costs $2,799. The blank-canvas frameset alone goes for $1,799.
Custom Blackborow: Cedaero Fly Fishing Build
To tease what the Blackborow can be, Salsa sent Mike Riemer and photographer Hansi Johnson, avid fly fishermen, on a fishing trip with full-custom setups. They pedaled (and pushed) the behemoth bikes through the backcountry of northern Minnesota.
The pair worked with bicycle pack manufacturer Cedaero and artist Mimi Matsudo to fill every nook and cranny with vibrant, trout-themed packs.
With the build, Riemer and Johnson brought two inflatable single-person watercrafts, a growler of cider, fat-bike pump, tent, sleeping bags and pads, fly fishing poles and gear, and plenty more.
It’s just one example of an epic bikepacking adventure. We’ll try out the Blackborow ourselves to see just how it feels compared to standard bicycle-powered camp setups.