The other day Mad Dog Cycles in Orem, Utah sent me out the door with one of their fatbike demos, the new Mukluk 2 from Salsa. We only had a day with it so we wanted to pack in some miles. We took it up on the Coyote Canyon loop in Heber and put a little over 20 miles on it. The morning started out sunny and clear on this November morning but rapidly degraded into high winds and rain by the time we got back to the vehicles. So we didn’t get enough video for a trailside review but I did throw together a short ride video showing the Mukluk 2 on the trail.
So lets get down to details. Probably the most notable change from last years model is the addition of the Rock Shox Bluto fork. Coupled with Salsa’s 6066 aluminum frame, a Sram X9/X7 drivetrain, Surly Holy Rolling Darryl rims with Salsa hubs, Sram’s new Guide R hydraulic brakes, and Surly 120 TPI Nate tires makes for a very solid fatbike.
Lets break things down a bit. The Sram drivetrain is very solid with X9 derailleurs and X7 shifters. I have become a big fan of the Sram line. The X7 and X9 line I have found to be extremely reliable on other bikes we have been riding for the last couple years. I think it is a good choice when you are looking for a reliable drivetrain without getting into crazy prices. So a lot of bang for your buck in my opinion.
Sram has completely redesigned their line of hydraulic brakes for the 2015 season and the Guide R is one of those new offerings. The Guide R features a four piston caliper system and adjustable reach levers. They felt very smooth and had plenty of stopping power. Sram’s DB line of mechanical brakes have been some of the best out there and I think the new Guide series of brakes is going to bump up their hydraulic game significantly.
It is hard to go wrong with the Surly rim and tire combination Salsa has selected. Surly has been the leader in fatbike technology since, well, since fatbikes became really. The Holy Rolling Darryl rims are another solid choice offering a good balance of durability and weight savings without breaking the bank.
The Surly Nate tires are a good option as well. It is not my first choice for hardpack or even your average dirt trail riding. It’s deep and open lug design gives you that tractor tire effect. It isn’t terrible just not ideal in my mind. They do have great traction in pretty much any conditions ranging from hardpack dirt to deep snow. And that is what makes the Nate such an awesome fatbike tire. It is impressive when you look at how long the Nate has been around and all the fat tires that have come out since, and the Nate is still the tire that everything is compared to. True I like other tires for dirt riding better but the Nate will do it all and rather well.
The Bluto. First of all I have to say that Rock Shox hit a home run with the name of this fork. Fatbikers are a bit of a quirky bunch if you haven’t noticed and that name kind of sums it up. Surprisingly the Bluto did not seem to add much weight to the bike. The Mukluk 2 I tested was a 15”. I didn’t get a weight on it at the shop but it didn’t feel any heavier than your average fatbike in it’s class. I set my tire pressure at 9 PSI and the ride was uniquely fat. Before now I have only ridden traditional mountain bikes with suspension. Riding a fatbike with suspension was a different experience. At times I felt a sort of marshmallow effect. Kind of a comfy, plushy steamroller feel. The Bluto definitely makes for a faster, more comfortable ride.
A lot of people don’t understand why you would want or need a fatbike with suspension. They figure the fat tires do the job for you. For those of us who ride our fatbikes anywhere and everywhere in every condition, we understand just how false that idea is. The tires do take the edge off the bumps but do not compensate for proper suspension. If you are only riding your fatbike in the snow I think suspension is a luxury you can probably do without. But fatbikes are maturing into an all year, every condition type of bike and suspension makes sense for someone who rides desert trails and backcountry singletrack in the summer months. In addition to smoothing out the trail, the Bluto took a lot of strain off my upper body and hands. It was a more comfortable ride and I felt better at the end of the ride than I would have without the suspension.
Salsa has a great looking logo in my opinion and they don’t skimp on their paint jobs. The deep red on our demo sparkled in the sunlight. From a distance and close up the 2015 Mukluk 2 is a beautiful thing to look at. The fit was very nice. On other Salsa fatbikes I have ridden I felt a bit cramped in the cockpit. That was not the case here. I think the leaned back Thompson seatpost opened things up a bit and I was very comfortable throughout my entire ride.
I would be very happy with this new Mukluk 2 as my daily ride. With a retail price of $2,999 you are getting your money’s worth. I think Salsa has used their extensive experience in the fatbike arena to put together yet another great offering in their line. The introduction of suspension to the fatbike world has broadened the versatility of these already go-anywhere do-anything bikes. The future of fatbikes gets brighter and brighter everyday.
Here is a short video of the Mukluk in action.