Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blackborow And Blackborow DS: Salsa Cycles New Fat Bike Platform

Blackborow is the ultra-flotation fat bike from Salsa Cycles
Hey there! Today I want to walk all of you through Salsa Cycles' newest fat bike platform- Blackborow. I'll share a video which gets to the specific technical features of this model line hosted by Salsa Cycles' product engineer, Pete Koski in a minute. First, I wanted to answer the obvious question many of you may have about the Blackborow bikes, "Why do we need fatter fat bike tires?"

In other words, we already have these gigantic 3.8"-4.0" fat bike tires, so what in the world would you do with these things? Aren't they just going to slow you down and make the bike harder to ride?

Okay- maybe there are more questions than just one! 

First off, I will tell you from personal experiences that a fat bike just may spark an interest in you to take the bike to the least obvious places to ride a bike that you can think up. When I got my first Mukluk which was shod with 3.8 inch tires in 2011, I went for the whole snow biking thing. I found snowmobile trails were a ton of fun to track down, and sometimes, if conditions weren't just perfect, my rear tire was apt to bust through that crust that the tracks of snowmobiles make and forward progress was tougher. 

My original Mukluk with 3.8" Larry tires
Then in Summer, I found out that the super low lake levels meant that there was a ton of sand and muck to traverse. Ordinarily, I could never have ridden a bike here, and the fat bike was allowing me to do a lot more than I ever could before, but it also still did the things my other mountain bikes did as well. I had an ever expanding palette of places to ride. More than ever before. Exploring places to ride became a much looked forward to activity. However; there was always the thing in my mind that said, What if you had even better flotation? 

The fat bike world was and still is changing very quickly, but one thing is certain, the Alaskan idea of ultra-flotation bikes, sparked by Surly's leading with the Big Fat Larry tire, has resulted in a new, wider tire platform that has proven to remain as nimble as 3.8" tires but far more capable in terms of going off the beaten path. The newest tires are all 4.5" to almost 5" wide, and because that plays havoc with the previous 170mm wide rear spacing, the newest fat bikes are all using a standard based on a 190mm rear end. Blackborow follows suit, but with its through axle, which sets wider than a traditional quick release, the over lock dimension is actually 197mm out back.

Blackborow DS: A "dual" single speed drivetrain fat bike
So- the bigger frames and tires allow you to go deeper into territory that dictates the use of the most flotation and stability that you can get. Muddy, marshy lands? No problem. Deep, loose sandy and rocky areas? Yes. Snow that's 6 inches deep and shifty? Go for it. Blackborow and its wide, 100mm Surly Clown Shoe rims shod with 4.8" Lou tires can handle whatever the territory dishes out.

Now you need a technically advanced frame and fork to deal with that huge wheel, and the Blackborow has that. (See the video link below) But if you are into really getting off track, the Blackborow family has another choice that may be right up your alley- The Blackborow DS. Eschewing derailleurs, which can get clogged or hung up on rocks, weeds, and sticks, the DS, (or Dinglespeed- see the video!), can safely go into the craziest terrain and get you back out again.

So, backing up to my original thoughts- The older Mukluk I had showed me I needed more flotation to go to the places I wanted to go more effectively and with less effort. Bigger, floaty-er tires were going to help, but my old Mukluk wouldn't really work with them. Especially not on wider rims like the Clown Shoes, which help maximize flotation. The Blackborow solves my desires in that area and allows for a full drive train set up with no chain contact on the rear tire. However; I decided to go with the dingle speed set up, because I want to go to the really crazy places, and derailleurs may not be a wise idea!

Anyway, check out what Pete has to lay on ya below and then come in to Europa Cycle & Ski to see these new fat bikes yourself. Plus, we have the Trek fat bikes along with other cool Salsa rigs to check out as well.


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