Posted by Cass Gilbert
Salsa’s Beargrease is a bike favored by many for ultra-endurance events, fatbike racing, and out and out singletrack riding. This year’s big news is its move from the a more traditional 26x4in wheelset to the larger diameter 27.5×4. As for the reason for this growth in wheel size, 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 and racing world.
The top end model, at $4599, is now specced with Sram’s new, more affordable Eagle GX drivetrain; in this case, its monster 10-50T cassette is mated to a 30T chainring. Other highlights include HED Big Deal Carbon rims, at 85mm wide, shod with Maxxis Minion and FBR 3.8in tires. Salsa’s fat bikes have always been lookers; this year, we particularly like the new custom graphics below the downtube.
At the lower end of the scale in the Beargrease family, we should point out that it’s impressive to see a bike of this calibre – full carbon and race-worthy fat – ringing in within the sub $2000 price bracket.
In between the Beargrease Carbon GX Eagle 27.5 and the Beargrease Carbon NX1 27.5, lies the Carbon SLX 1×11. Note that the Beargrease doesn’t feature the Alternator 2.0 dropout, as seen on the Mukluk, making it unsuitable for fitting a rear rack. Given the lack of mounts on the fork, this is a bike more suited to fast overnight bikepacks than anything more exploraty and extended.
Pricing as follows:
Beargrease Carbon GX Eagle 27.5: $4599
Beargrease Carbon SLX 1×11: $2499
Beargrease Carbon NX1: $1999
Beargrease carbon frame and Makwa carbon fork: $1499
Expect to see a fleet of Beargreases on the shop floor very shortly, depending on the model.
In other Salsa fat bike news, the venerable Mukluk – which saw its own a major revamp last year, with a newfound ability to run 5in rubber and an updated, more trail-friendly geometry – sees some welcome spec changes. In addition to the top end Mukluk Carbon Eagle X01, a Mukluk Eagle GX now joins the ranks, with a set of more affordable HED aluminium rims helping the complete bike hit the $3499 price mark.
Unfortunately, there weren’t any demo Beargreases to take for a spin at Saddledrive. But I headed out on a Mukluk Carbon Eagle GX for an extented forray around Northstar’s mixture of loamy, dusty, and often rocky trails. I can report that these spec changes serve only to improve and refine what is already a simply superb, well-rounded fat bike. I was immediately impressed with its trail-worthy handling, felt comfortable in its relatively upright cockpit, and I’m glad to see that despite the clean carbon frame, there are still expedition-worthy touches, like the threaded BB, a dipped top tube (great for winter riding and those running smaller frames), and a three-pack mounts on the fork. There’s also provision to run a rear rack, using dropout plates available for the Alternator 2.0 and a Rack-lock collar system – teamed with an Alternator 190 Rack, given its rear spacing. All in all, this 4th generation Mukluk feels more honed and evolved than ever.
Pricing is as follows:
Mukluk Carbon X01 Eagle: $5399
Mukluk Carbon GX Eagle: $3499
Mukluk Carbon SLX 1×11: $2699
Mukluk NX1 (aluminium): $1799
Mukluk carbon frame and Bearpaw carbon fork: $1999
Lest it be forgotten in a world of carbon frames, also worth pointing out is the aluminium model – the NX1 – which comes complete with Hayes mechanical brakes and Salsa Carbon Bearpaw fork. Given it’s extremely reasonable $1800 price tag, the NX1 is a bike we feel makes a particularly capable and affordable bikepacking candidate, for those considering both winter and deep backcountry adventures.
Bikes should be available within the current weeks.
Lastly, and also in a bikepacking vein, Salsa line of bags – the EXP Series Seat Bag and the EXP Anything Cradle – are now back in stock.
See Salsa Cycles for more spec details.