Salsa Blackborow ‘Midtail’ 27.5 Fat: 1st Ride & We Like it!

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Perhaps you’ve noticed Salsa shuffling around some of their models of late, in terms of names and purposes? The latest in their lineup to see such metamorphosis is the Blackborow. Formerly a 26in fat bike, the 2018 Salsa Blackborow GX Eagle announced today has been completely reinvented into a cargo-carrying, 27.5in ‘midtail’, a stretched out fatty that’s likely to set adventure-plotting brains ablaze…

Speaking from a personal point of view, I’ve always loved the cargo carrying capabilities and inherent, car-replacing practicality of ‘longtails’ like the Xtracycle, Surly’s Big Dummy and more recently, the Big Fat Dummy. But even so, I’ve steered away from using them on my own adventures for fear they’d compromise some of the riding I enjoy the most… namely, singletrack.

  • 2018 Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • 2018 Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail
  • 2018 Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • 2018 Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Highlights
  • Frame: 6066-T6 Aluminum, Carbon Bearpaw fork
  • Geo Angles: 69° Headtube, 73° Seattube
  • Bottom Bracket: 100mm BSA Threaded
  • Hub specs: 197x12mm (rear); 150x15mm (front)
  • Seatpost: 31.6mm
  • Tire sizes: 27.5×3.8″/26×4.3″/29×3.0″
  • Weight: 38lbs (17.24kg) Lg w/rack
  • Price: $2799 (complete)

Salsa’s reborn Blackborow could well prove to be that missing link. Thanks to its 1336mm wheelbase (size L), this is a bike that’s certainly stretched out enough to haul all the water and supplies you’d need for the likes of ultra remote Australia’s Canning Stock epic, or maybe the extended exploration of Utah’s deserts you’ve long been day dreaming about. Yet, and somewhat bizarrely I’ll admit for a bike of this length, it’s also surprisingly fun to blast around singletrack, should the opportunity arise mid way through your journey, or trail maintenance in your own backyard be more your intention. Likely this is in part because as a ‘midtail’ with a 1367m wheelbase for the large size model, it’s some 227mm shorter than its ‘longtail’ Surly Big Fat Dummy brethren, which should make it just a little easier to pack and transport too. And at 38lbs complete, the new Blackborow is also reasonably light; removing its substantial rear rack would likely shed at least a couple of pounds, making for a perfectly reasonable weight in an expedition fat bike. Granted, I didn’t have a chance to ride the Blackborow laden, the ‘raison d’être’ of this bike. But still, it’s good to know that it’s a relatively capable trail steed when unencumbered.

  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat

The Blackborow GX Eagle will be available in three sizes: small, medium and large. In terms of sizing, I normally sit between an L and an XL, depending on brands, and found I fit the former fine. Thankfully the headtube and steerer lengths are on the generous side. The 6066-T6 aluminum frame comes equipped with a Bearpaw Carbon fork, which includes eyelets mounts for Anything Cage and lowrider mounts. In terms of wheel configurations, the bike is compatible with 26 x 3.8–4.33″ tires on up to 100mm rims, 27.5 x 4″, or 29 x 2.3–3.0″ rubber. There are three sets of bottle mounts per frame and two additional accessory mounts. Note that the rear rack is included with the bike and as mentioned before, weight is listed at just under 38lbs, including both the rack and inner tubes. Talking of which, aside from providing room for two large sets of panniers, there’s also plenty of lashing points for creative ways of attaching roll bags or similar.

  • Salsa Blackborow
  • Salsa Blackborow

Elsewhere, Sram’s new budget-conscious Eagle GX drivetrain provides plenty of low gears, especially given the 30T chainring up front. The bottom bracket is threaded rather than press fit, which is always good to see on a bike designed for the backcountry. In the wheels department, rims come courtesy of SUNringlé Mulefut (27.5″x80mm), shod with Maxxis Minion FBF front and FBR rear tires (27.5″x4.0″).

And why the 27.5″ tires? Salsa claim that “for groomed snow or dirt, the increase in diameter provides increased rollover, a longer contact patch, and the floatation of a 5” tire without the added rolling resistance.” Other benefits include the ability to run a slightly lower psi than would otherwise be possible on 26in rims, due to the shorter, stiffer sidewall – even a few psi can make all the difference in the winter riding world.

“Blackborow is our ‘dream big’ fatbike, best paired with an unlimited imagination. With huge carrying capacity via abundant frame and fork braze-ons, and room for four full-sized panniers on the beautifully engineered rear rack, your “It sure would be awesome to…” list of expeditions is more feasible than ever. When resupplies along your route are few and far between, or you want to incorporate backcountry skiing, fishing, trailbuilding, camping or any number of other opportunities into your journey, Blackborow will get the job done without complaint.” I’d add day to day cargo hauling and child-toting to that broad list of possibilities. NOTE: Salsa did not design or test the Blackborow for carrying live cargo and therefore cannot approve of this use.

2018 Salsa Blackborow Midtail

  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat

There’s no plans to produce a tailor made set of luggage to go with the Blackborow, unlike the Big Fat Dummy’s extremely practical range of options and accessories already on the market, that serve to add greatly to such a bike’s value. But the company will be publishing all the relevant details so you can make your own, or have a custom set made. Certainly, the real estate between the rear tire and seat stay looks ripe with potential. For anyone seeking inspiration for what could be done with such a bike, here’s a couple of ideas:

Salsa’s Marketing Director, Mike Riemer, has fitted his ‘bikefishing‘ Blackborow with what he’s called his ‘Ode to Trout’ custom bags, built by Cedaero, based out of Two Harbors, Minnesota. Riemer says the bags were hand painted by Bozeman, Montana artist Mimi Matsuda. The driveside features Brook Trout artwork, the non-driveside features Brown Trout artwork. The custom rear “truck topper” deck was made by Swedish Karlos. That deck creates a cozy space for rod tubes to nest, sandwiched between the actual rack deck and the elevated ‘truck topper’ custom deck.

  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow

Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat

Coworker Pete Koski’s has geared his Blackborow towards kite surfing. We’re told the custom bags were built by Sturdy Bag Designs out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. A large single pannier on one side holds his kites, with a surf board sleeve on the other side. Pete built his own wooden rear deck.

  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat
  • Salsa Blackborow Midtail, 27.5 Fat

2018 Salsa Blackborow Specs

We don’t have the full spec list, but this covers most of the bases. We’ll make sure to update this post as we know more…

  • Frame: Blackborow
  • Fork: Salsa Bearpaw Carbon 3 Pack
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40
  • Handlebar: Salsa Salt Flat
  • Stem: Salsa Guide Trail
  • Seatpost: Salsa Guide
  • Saddle: WTB Volt Sport
  • Grips: Salsa File Tread
  • Crank: Race Face Next SL Cinch Fatbike
  • Crank Arm Set: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Chain: SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
  • Cassette: SRAM XG-1275 Eagle 10-50t
  • Shifter: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM GX1 Eagle
  • Brakes: Hayes MX Comp, 180 mm
  • Rear Wheel: SUNringlé Mulefut 27.5″x80mm, 197x12mm
  • Front Wheel: SUNringlé Mulefut 27.5″x80mm, 150x15mm
  • Tires: Maxxis Minion FBF and FBR, 27.5 x 4.0″, 60tpi
  • Complete Blacborrow: $2,799
  • Frame and fork: $1,499
  • Availability Early November
  • Weight: Size Large 38lbs (17.24kg) w/rack
  • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
  • Contact SalsaCycles.com

Wrap Up

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to ride the new Blackborow laden with gear, I’m certainly excited by its potential, after blasting around Californian trails and checking out the bike in detail. If ultra remote backcountry expeditions, multi-sport adventures, and trail maintenance pique your interests, then this reinvented midtail should certainly open up some intriguing possibilities. I’ll be interested to see what people get up to on it…

Salsa Blackborow

28 Comments
  • Mark

    interesting

  • Scott Felter

    The trout bags are stunning. Very nice work.

  • Is there a kid seat that will fit on the rack?

  • Good question. Cass will likely know the answer when he surfaces from riding tomorrow or the next day…

  • Bike wonderer

    Nice bike, but I got some concerns about the geometry of this I bike: The rack looks like it’s a bit to far back… The picture with the double panniers: This rear part looks like a normal bike with an extra long rack; the pannier in the back looks like it’s way behind the bike…
    Furthermore, I think this bike is to long for just two panniers.. Maybe I am wrong but if you take a normal bike with panniers the distance between the seat post and the rack seems to be shorter than on this bike… (Sorry, it feels quite difficult to explain my point in English, but I hope someone gets the idea and is able to enlighten me on the proportions of this bike :D )

  • Scott Felter

    Part of the reason for the length is to allow for a longer rack, to allow for larger (or double in this case) rear panniers. Extra length also makes hike-a-bike/pushing the bike more comfortable.

    Mine works well in this configuration:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b029f3e831513cfa6e7ff7d3fdf5b7bd8bc3086fad45174e6fd63e28c1d48b9b.jpg

  • Nowra_Cynic

    wow looks good Scott, what manufacture is your cargo bike

  • Scott Felter

    Rick Hunter (www.huntercycles.com) custom-built this for me in 2013.

  • Steve Fuller

    Salsa has some suggested loading options listed at http://salsacycles.com/files/tech/21247_SAL_Blackborow_Rack_INST_VF.pdf
    The big takeaways are the total weight limit on for “stuff plus bags to hold stuff” on the rear rack, plus their suggestion that you use panniers, to pack the heavier stuff towards the front, to keep the weight in front of the rear axle.

  • Steve Fuller

    The web site says that the rear rack wasn’t designed for “live cargo”. They are taking pains to differentiate this from the BFD.

  • Steve Fuller

    The one big thing that’s missing from this, IMO, is an internal cable run and for crown mount for a dyno light, like the latest Cutthroat forks have. That said, it still has me scheming.

  • A crown mount for a minimal front rack too (as well as rack mounts on the fork)… Although, an OMM is doable as with Scott’s bike shown below…

  • Steve Fuller

    With the option to use Anything cages, I’m fine with not being able to mount a traditional rack to the front of this. I don’t know if I would assume what Scott has going on with his steel fork would transfer over to a carbon fork

  • Joe Snyder

    Trail maintenance days just got a lot easier.Salsa on everything!

  • Fionn McArthur

    I did wonder that too. But I guess the added cantilever effect of such a long wheelbase also allows you to add a few extra pounds of luggage behind the rear axle without any great difficulty.

  • Salsa is so great: basically every bike they release, I think, “they’ve jumped the shark,” AND “damn, I need one of those!”

  • zero_trooper

    Looks OTT, looks awesome.

  • Mark

    Well done Salsa, that thing is pretty sweet! I do agree that they should have come up with a better way to carry stuff on the front. When you are carrying that much stuff, it makes sense to spread it out. Even just a set of mid fork eyelets to mount a small rack and bag, or even better, a Wald basket and bag.

  • Eric Parsons

    Great to see Salsa build this around 27.5 x 80mm. It’s the way of things to come.

  • Yeah, I am curious to try 27.5 fat. I am betting it feels like 29+, which I love…

  • Eric Parsons

    Been riding one since February. Makes 26″ Fatbikes feel inadequate.

  • Tom

    It would look amazing with an australian indigenous dot-painting design too :-).

  • Idle Prentice

    Good idea…

  • Idle Prentice

    Wish they hadn’t gone with 1x drivetrain. If ever a bike needed loads of gear options it’s this type. If I needed this kind of bike, I think that might be a deal breaker for me.

  • Jeremy Liberman

    I agree. Although lighter then a Big Fat Dummy, i can assure you that with full camping gear, my 6 y/o and her bike climbing up a mountain road, i have been in the 22 x 42 and tried to shift lower….

  • Cass Gilbert

    Normally I’d agree… but the 50T Eagle cassette goes some ways to making up for this, while also making shifting a whole lots more simple and intuitive, especially under load. Doing away with a front derailleur makes sense with fat tires too. However, it remains to be seen whether it’s a hardwearing as a 10/11 speed chain, and whether it’s more fiddly to keep maintained.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I run a similar setup with my son on my ECR/Xtracycle. I think there will always be instances where you reach for those extra gears, especially in the mountains… But for much of what this bike will be used for, I think a 30T chainring mated to a 10-50T cassette actually gives a pretty good low range (and you could easily go lower at the front).

    Note that unlike Surly’s BFD, Salsa didn’t design the Blackborow for hauling a child. With the right attachment/seat, I can’t personally see it being an issue, given that few bikes are inherently designed to carry kids, yet still do. But it’s worth pointing out that they don’t endorse it for such use.

  • Philip nik

    I can agree with you. I loaded my bicycle, two back panniers, one back pack, I had around 22kg and really felt like I wanted even more gears….
    I’m with 39-30 and 10-42 cassette.