Fat Bike: The Salsa Mukluk
Updated: Sep 20, 2021
SALSA MUKLUK CARBON X1
I took my medicine this weekend, adding a couple new experiences to the quiver of local jaunts. The first, Ore to Shore – an annual point-to-point mountain bike race held in Marquette, Michigan, and the second, fat biking. A big thanks to our friends at Grand Rapids Bicycle Co., who outfitted this Salsa Mukluk Carbon X1 for the weekend. This shop is the real deal, and it’s clear they know how bikes and customer service should fit: torqued and snugged tight.
Initial Thoughts: When first jumping into the saddle, the front tire stares back from over the handlebars, an in-your-face reminder this isn’t the same bike you grew up on. A few other things stood out immediately, more were noticed along the way. Here’s a few highlights:
Girth: This beauty’s a beast. She’s got five inch tires. The 45NRTH Dillingers allowed for floating over the loose sandy downhill section, and traction-control like grip on the rooted uphills. There was very little slippage to steal momentum at any point along the course. I learned to trust the big wheels in the corners too. Picking lines became less of an issue after realizing what they could roll over.
Weight: Mine was the XL frame, with a total weight of right around 30 lbs. Surprisingly light, relative to all the mass. All made possible, of course, by the full carbon-fiber frame.
Components: With a Sram X1 1 x 11 speed drivetrain, gears on this setup proved adequate on everything from the smooth flat sections to the heavily rooted uphills, leaving nothing to be desired on either end. For shifting, everything was crisp and responsive on the first try, and giving no second thought here makes for a passing grade in my book. The Guide R disc brakes were responsive, giving confidence to maintain speed in the downhill sections. Check out more on the Sram components at sram.com.
Aesthetics: The Mukluk comes in a muted, candy-colored lime, which I find attractive. The lines are smooth and graceful, and with each photo comes more appreciation for the design. Internal cable ports are well sealed and everything tucks into the frame neatly. The message from the Mukluk is one of intentionality. When it comes to most fat bikes, I envision simple and rugged, more pack-mule than Quarter Horse – not the case with the Mukluk Carbon X1, which captures a good bit of both. The company goes the extra mile to make it pretty too. Nothing wrong with a little lime on your Salsa.
Final thoughts: It’s not the fastest way to race. Yet, holding no illusions of the podium, I’ll go as far as to say it actually has some advantages over more traditional setups (mud, deep sand, rooted uphills). I’d love to see it shine in the snow here in MI, or the muddy spring seasons out west, and am already toying with configurations on how to retro fit a rod holder on there – virgin trout water, anyone?
Whether brand new to cycling or a seasoned vet, it’s important to surround yourself with the right community. Find a local dealership that gives the right vibes, (you’ll know if a shop fits your personality within the first few visits). When you find it, jump right in! Buy bikes from them, utilize in-house mechanics for tune-ups, lean into the staff for their expertise, meet some new friends while you’re at it, or even plan a group ride together. If you live in West Michigan, you’re in luck, there are several great choices, but don’t decide until you give our friends at the Grand Rapids Bicycle Co. a call. Better yet, walk into any of their three locations and introduce yourself.
If there’s room for a mountain bike event next year, be sure to check out the Ore to Shore. It’s definitely a good time!