Friday I was lucky enough to be invited by SRAM and Salsa to test ride the new Salsa Beargrease carbon fat bike with RockShox Bluto forks and SRAM XX1 shifting!
We were scheduled to rip around the trails at Cunningham Park in Queens. I pulled up in a car service to the beautiful site of the red SRAM tents and sprinter, with two full racks of fat bikes hanging like plump fruit to be picked. All these clean mountain bikes fresh out of the box, just waiting to be roasted over an open trail. Fresh out of the box, the XX1 shifter and the new SRAM Guide brakes were the first thing that caught my eye on the cockpit, followed quickly by the massive range of the cassette. The XX1 derailleur is something to drool over for sure. what a beautiful piece of machinery. I always forget how wide bikes like this are until I see one in person again, and can look square over the top of the stays and the bottom bracket. There really is no better descriptor for these bikes other than ‘FAT’. I pulled a bike aside and shot it leaning on a tree, and multiple times found myself comparing the size of my fist to anything on the bike accommodating the width of the tires. The bottom bracket/chainstay cluster on this bike is so sick, and it’s rad to see one made out of carbon. With the ability to free form any shapes they wanted with carbon, I think the BB cluster was really simplified and pretty dialed. Nice and clean considering it was about eight inches wide!
I think there were eight of us on the first lap through Cunningham, as we stuck to the main loop, or ‘the easy trails’, our group split apart drastically as the more experienced group I was in blasted over everything. There’s no stopping a fat bike unless you put your foot down or slam on the brakes. It really allowed me to choose some of the gnarliest lines that I normally avoid while riding at familiar trails. The suspension fork felt natural on the bike, and I didn’t even have to think about it along the way. As for the XX1 shifting, it was absolutely astounding. I’ve never ridden with shifting I didn’t have to think less about! One shifter, just my thumb to shift, and every gear I’d want to be in. For such a wide range cassette(12-42!!), the difference between each gear ratio seemed to be perfectly dialed in. The next gear I shifted to wasn’t too low, wasn’t too high, but was exactly what I needed next. I can’t even use the word ‘intuitive’ enough on this one. So incredibly well thought out. The shifting was amazing, and even when I was roasting over the pump track sections and some of the bigger jumps at these trails, I never once heard a chain slap.
We came back out of the woods after our first lap, and Troy Laffey of SRAM handed me a beer and we chatted for a bit about the technical aspects of the bike I just ripped through the woods. Troy is one of the smartest and most well articulated people I’ve been able to talk to about the super nerdy technical side of the mechanics behind cycling in a long time. What a solid guy! I shot some more photos of the bikes and dusted up from kicking dirt, and a group of us went back into the woods to do a faster and more technical lap. I hit all the double black diamonds I could, and made sure to take about a dozen laps of the pump track before I left the trails and had to give this brap machine back.
Before the day was over we all sat around and ate a bit and talked about all the cool stuff SRAM, Salsa, RockShox, Giro, and Castelli. I fell in love a bit and was bummed I couldn’t take everything home!
What a great day, and I could not be more stoked to get to roast a carbon fatbike in the woods!
-Giro is really making some cool stuff these days!!
-The downtube of the Salsa Beargrease matches my Team King Kog kit!!