You knew it was coming.
At the Salsa Demo Days, I threw a leg over the Carbon Beargrease, and pedaled to my heart’s content. At the outset, I have to send a shout-out to North Central Cyclery for having such an awesome event, with such amazing bikes.
They had a couple different sizes, and both XX1 and 2×10 versions.
Full Carbon Everythang.
Surprising clearance. I’m very confident that a Bud or Lou will fit on an 82mm rim, and perhaps on a 100mm rim, up front. Note the super-nice DT Swiss RWS skewers, standard front and rear with thru-axles. These are, bar none, the best skewers on the market.
Some beautiful Salsa carbon bars, and a Truvativ stem. (I do wish it had the Thomson stem that comes on other blingy Salsa mountain bikes).
XX Hydro brakes and XX1 Drivetrain. It has triggershifters, which I was a bit nervous about. I love the gripshift on the Superfish, because it allows me to dump the whole cassette at once…that’s useful on a 1x drivetrain, because you cannot shift chainrings. However, I found that I was able to shift as rapidly, and as much, as I needed to with the triggershifter.
The downtube is so massive, fenders would be redundant.
How massive is it?
This is a bad angle, but it’s about 1/2″ wider than a dollar bill.
Rear tire clearance is a bit tighter. BFLs won’t be a problem. A Lou on an 82mm rim might fit.
Neat little frame protection:
28×42 is pretty darn low…and
28×11 (Edit: 28×10) is still pretty low. There’s easily clearance for a 30T, and probably clearance for a 32T.
For churning deep snow, 28t may be perfect, but I suspect that a bigger ring will be nice for multi-purpose riding.
I’ve seen a few making hay out of the fact that it doesn’t have rack mounts. When I got the Schweet Mukluk, I had a rack on it. I used it precisely 3 times. Then, it came off, never to return. Frame bags are where it’s at. Unless I’m doing long-distance touring, frame bags are a better solution, in my opinion. I don’t see rack mounts as an advantage on this type of bike. That means it’s a bit less versatile, perhaps, but I’d rather have the cleaner lines, lighter weight, and fewer spots to catch mud. I know that’s a reversal from my position on some bikes’ notable absence of rack mounts, but on this bike, I think it makes sense.
The new geometry is hugely noticeable. The chainstays are significantly shorter, and the front, suspension-corrected fork is appreciably slacker. That makes the bike a lot more playful and tossable. I’ve read many reviews suggesting that the Pugsley rides like a mountain bike and the Mukluk like an off-road touring bike. The new geometry makes the BG ride like a mountain bike. Or like a giant BMX bike.
The drivetrain and brakes were flawless. Gear range is huge! As noted above, I think 28T might be a bit to small, but time will tell.
The tires are a great choice. Light, fast rolling, but great in snow and loose conditions.
Aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder…but to my eye, Salsa has hit it out of the park this year on their bike appearance…and the BG is no exception. Little touches like the color-coordinated drivetrain bits (green on the cranks, shifter, derailleur) are high-class, and show attention to detail.
The formed BB and chainstays are certain to be mud, muck and snow resistant…crud should just fall right out…keeping you from experiencing something like this:
Oh, when the Mukluk was young.
Component spec is spot-on. As noted above, I’d look at replacing the stem with something appropriately zoot-ey. The Salsa carbon bars are surprisingly nice–and the finish quality is significantly improved compared to previous years’ parts. The low-key matching graphics are also great. And back to aesthetics…the black on black looks amazing.
It’s suspension corrected, so when the fat forks come out in 2014, you can slap one on if you wish. In the interim, it’s supremely easy to loft the front end, based on the light weight and playful geometry.
The bike is remarkably stiff–perhaps more so than the Aluminum Mukluk. The thru-axles, carbon frame, and whole of the parts combine together for an athletic feeling bike. I rode some cobbles and to my trained butt, vibration dampening seemed improved compared to the aluminum predecessor…but time will tell. With my massive 150#, I’m not straining its abilities when pushing the pedals hard, but the stiffness it exhibited suggests to me that larger riders won’t have any issues, either.
This is a bike that seems like more than the sum of its parts. I had thought that a carbon fatbike would be an evolutionary step. I was expecting a lighter, more nimble ride…along the lines of when I swapped a carbon fork onto my Mukluk. It’s not evolutionary.
It’s revolutionary. It’s a game changer. Last year, I opined that the front-suspension fatbike was the most important fatbike of the year. This year, I’ll revise my opinion. There’s a critical weight, below which a fatbike becomes ludicrously light. The Carbon Beargrease is below that weight. It’s counter-intuitive…almost shocking…how light and playful it is. It just plain rips.
At this moment, if you gave me a choice between a front-suspension/hardtail fatbike and a carbon fatbike, I’d get the carbon fatbike. In fact, I’ve already made that choice. I considered converting my Mukluk to a Lefty, and instead decided to sell my Mukluk and order a Carbon Beargrease. XX1, of course. In the ‘have your cake and eat it too’ category, the BG is suspension corrected, so once the forks come out, you can throw one on here. At this point, I don’t see myself running to do that conversion. The lightness of the bike is an incredible asset. It reminds me of the old saw that the best defense is a good offense. Instead of needing a fork to soak up the trail, the Carbon Beargrease is light enough to dance over the rough spots.
In the end, my thoughts are overwhelmingly, glowingly positive. This is a bike that I’ve ridden, and want to own. That’s the highest endorsement I can offer. I am working on an alternate name (the Stealth Fattie?), because I’m not a big believer in “Beargrease”…but that’s a sacrifice I’ll have to live with. Life should be so rough.
The bike industry is jumping the proverbial fatbike shark, with big manufacturers jumping in with uninspired product offerings. The Carbon Beargrease reassures me that category innovators like Salsa will continue leading the way with new innovations that will continue to inspire new riders, and continue to blaze a new, fat path down the trail.
UPDATE: Steve Fuller (@zenbiking on Twitter) pointed out that Salsa’s website indicates the bike is compatible with 29+, 3″ tires. Here’s my thoughts on that: 1) 29+ will fit. 2) I have no doubt that a Bud or Lou will fit up front on an 82mm rim…and perhaps on a 100mm rim. 3) I think that a Bud or Lou would likely fit in the rear triangle on an 82mm rim. I don’t think it would fit on a 100mm rim. There’s definitely more clearance than my old Mukluk had. However, I don’t think the drivetrain will clear all gears with that big of a tire. Particularly on an XX1 bike, I think you’ll lose too many gears. 4) I have complete confidence that BFLs will fit, front and rear, with full gearing, on 82mm rims. If there’s any more official word, I’ll pass it along.
Oh, and as for Carbon durability, here’s Chad getting crazy on a 2×10 Carbon Beargrease.