This is the second post in my journey to fatness.  Follow along as we not so much review, perhaps, but ‘experience’ what Fat Bikes can do for an old dog like me.

IMG_2526“This is the widest bike box I have ever seen”, I thought, as I took delivery of the 2015 Salsa Mukluk 3 we began talking about here.  Getting it out of that wide box and assembled was easy enough, and taking stock of the beast had me pretty stoked.  It was just so different than anything I had ever had in my garage before, that I was like a little kid on Christmas morning.  On the fish scale of truth and justice, I saw 34lbs and 8oz with no pedals.  Ok then.  However, I am not sure I care too much about that weight number and I think that the very fact I feel that way at all is hilarious considering how much hand wringing I/we do about shaving grams on most bikes.  The aluminum Bearpaw fork with the Three Pack mounts was 971 grams with the star nut in there.

The build spec on the Mukluk 3 is pedestrian, as you would expect for the very nice price of $1,899.00 MSRP, but the mix of X5 and X7 parts at least gives me a 22/36 low gear and I think that will be very appreciated.  The low line Avid brakes concern me, so we shall see how those last the duration, but at least it is not some Tektro or odd brand that I may not even be able to get pads/parts for.  However, keeping things in perspective for the buy-in cost, and allowing for the way I expect to use this bike, I think spending bigger on XO level parts, etc, would be foolish.  I am not racing this thing.  I do see 1x as being attractive for Fat Biking, but 2x gets you (or CAN get you) a lower gear ratio.  So I think this is fine parts wise.



The wheels are the Surly Rolling Darryl w/holes, making them a good bit lighter than the older ‘non-holed’ versions.  The 3.8″ Nate tires are the 27TPI models, and in that regard are heavier and likely ride a bit stiffer than a 120TPI version of the same tire, but they look like a good tread pattern for where I live, that being desert-ish terrain and quite possibly are more durable with the heavier/cheaper 27TPI construction. I do expect the most bang for the buck will be a future wheel/tire upgrade, and really in that regard it is like most any MTB that is not a top end build.

The Salsa Mukluk 3, to my eyes, is a good looking bike and the three water bottle braze-ons on the frame plus the Three Pack fork mounts say “Get out there…way out there.”  The Alternator dropouts allow for dedicated SS use, or perhaps even better, EMERGENCY SS use in case of drivetrain damage, and beyond that, they allow for options like a Rohloff Fat Bike hub.


On Trail:

I pumped the tires to 10PSI and set out to see what was what.  10 pounds per square inch.  That sounds so pillowy soft as to be silly.  What I eventually found out was 10PSI is waaaay too much and makes for a very mean pillow.  The Nates growl like Super Swampers on the pavement and vibrate the whole bike like something found in a shady motel bed.  It sounds awesome!   Just for fun, I hopped a fence and rode the Salsa Mukluk 3 up a dry sand wash that paralleled the dirt road.  It just bloomped along the wash, allowing me to pedal through sand and rocks that would have been challenging to walk over.  But I was very surprised to find out how much of a beat down 10PSI can be. Ouch! It was an odd combination of bouncy and ‘bounce-me’…like a balloon made of concrete.  Less air in the tires might be required.  I have a lot to learn here.


OK…down we go, and it takes a while to bleed off a few PSI.  I ended up at 7PSI and that was much better, although it was still quite abrupt on bumpy trails.  I went even farther down to 5PSI and that was a bit odd for the hard packed single track trails I was on and self-steer was beginning to be an issue.  I currently have been running 6.5PSI and that feels pretty good all around.  Amazing how a 1PSI change, something you would never even notice on a typical MTB, is significant on a Fat Bike.  All that tire volume I guess.

IMG_2532I got bored in the wash and jumped out onto a single track where I learned something about the bike’s steering tendencies:  Mukluk rhymes with truck(luk).  Boy, it really, really wants to go straight ahead.  It pretty much ignores subtle shifts of the hips, rather it requires ‘head and shoulders’ steering efforts…it takes a body-village to get it to wiggle down a winding single track.  How much of this is due to geometry and how much is the fat tires, I cannot say, but after a bit I got used to it and was moving along with a pretty good amount of speed.  I do wonder if a 1° steeper head tube angle change on the Mukluk would not be a bad idea. Now on the flip side, what I did notice was that all that inherent stability was really nice when I was in rough, loose, or deeper/steeper trail conditions.  It was dead easy to keep the Mukluk 3 pedaling straight ahead and that will be very nice over long miles when packed up and rolling toward some horizon. Still, compared to something like the Specialized Fat Boy, which feels surprisingly ‘normal’ to steer down a trail, the Mukluk takes getting used to.  I cannot imagine ever adjusting the swinging Alternator drop outs to lengthen the wheelbase, as this would make it even more resistant to changing lines.

The next ride was a 90 minute tour of our local trails where I rode it like a ‘normal’ bike…up old doubletrack climbs, down old double track descents, single tracks, fire roads, etc.  I shared the time with a friend riding a borrowed Fat Boy, and we found ourselves giggling like school kids on our rolling oompa-loompa mobiles.  Interestingly enough, we were not much slower overall as compared to our typical times on a 29″er trail bike.  Just as interesting was the result in both of our minds, which was “I would NEVER use one of these as a full-time, all-trails bike”.  I know that many do. In fact I have another buddy who rides his Fat Boy more than his Specialized Enduro and even chooses to race the fatty amongst ‘normal’ bikes in a local XC race series.  But if I were to do this, go full time on the Mukluk 3, I would absolutely need a front suspension fork.  My wrists and shoulders are junk, pretty much, and the muy rapido passing of our rigid bikes over the hard packed clay trails was too harsh for me to enjoy.  My shoulders hurt for two days after.  I suppose that a carbon fork or 127TPI tire might be ‘better’, but in no way, based on my observations so far, does 3″ of tire ‘distortion’ equate to 3″ of suspension fork travel.  However, it is crazy the kind of traction those tires provide, and off-camber trails, small ruts, and loose overburden are just not an issue.  Success in climbing steep pitches seems simply limited to whether you can keep pedaling effectively and enthusiastically. It redefines what lines are viable.  Extrapolating a bit, I can only imagine what the FS versions of Fat Bikes open up for what you can do with a mountain bike.

IMG_2535The next outing was totally different, and the location was chosen to highlight the bennies of having tires made for the Staypuft marshmallow man.  It was a journey up a long forgotten roads and trails with creek crossings full of loose rock, sandy sections, and slower speeds.  This is all negotiable on a typical 29″er, but is challenging.  The Fattys just rolled though un-impressed.  Cool.  There the rigid ride of the bike was not an issue and the ‘dead ahead, sailor’ steering of the Mukluk 3 was awesome and even playful on the fast descent out of the canyon filled with loose rock and ruts.  Quite enjoyable, actually.

So far the components are doing well; shifting, braking, etc.  I may upgrade to a 180mm front rotor for future needs when loaded up for backpacking.  We shall see, but for now if has been fine.

Next up will be some modifications to make the Salsa Mukluk 3 a bit more comfy, personal, and versatile for my needs.  Then we will get it set up for some traveling bags and fit it for overnight duty.


Junkyard Dog.

Note: Salsa sent over their Mukluk 3  for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.