This is the third 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.

So now that we had introduced the Salsa Mukluk 3 and talked about our first impressions, it was time to tweak it a bit and get it to where it was working better for me.  As I have stated before, I see this as an adventure-mobile, even more so than the typical bike.  So I wanted to add a bit of comfort and a bit of practicality.

First up was adding some comfort.  Salsa ships the Mukluk 3 with a nice, wrist friendly handlebar, the Salsa Flat 3.  At 700mm wide and with an 11° bend, it is much better than the typical handlebar with a lesser bend, especially with a rigid fork.  It allows a more natural wrist/hand position to deal with impacts.  This is a good direction to go, so I took it one notch up and installed an Answer 20/20 carbon bar like the one we reviewed here which has even more sweep. The carbon Answer Products 20/20 bar is a 720mm wide bar that weighs 220g, has a 31.8m clamp section, 20mm of rise, no upsweep, and 20 degrees of back sweep.  It was not for the sake of weight savings, although I am sure there were some grams shaved off during the swap, but I was counting on a bit of extra give in the carbon bars to take some of the sting out of trail irregularities.  As well, I was hoping the rather extreme bend would add even more comfort and grant my wrists some grace.  In order to get the bars where I needed them for a proper reach measurement, I swapped the stocker Salsa stem for a shorter by 10mm Answer stem that, if I may say so, looks great on there.


The next area of comfort to address was also the next point of contact…I went to the seat of the matter.  Or more accurately, the saddle and the seat post.  The stocker is a WTB Pure V, but I have found the OE versions are less than satisfactory, mostly due to what feels like overly soft padding.  I do like the Pure V as it has a lot of cush built in, but the aftermarket ones are firmer and I sink in to them less over time.  That padding goes a long way on a hard tail to take some sting out of things.  To go one step further, I installed a Cane Creek Thudbuster ST with the stiffest ‘bumper’ installed.  I used a shim to go from the standard 31.6mm diameter that Salsa builds the Mukluk 3 with to the 27.2mm dimension that the Thudbuster ST uses.


IMG_2598Next on the list was a bit of a nod towards practicality. I installed a Salsa/Revelate frame bag.  But before I did that, I spent some time adding some Helicopter Tape (AKA Racer’s Tape) to places where the bag would rub the frame.  Is it a big deal?  No, but there is nothing wrong with keeping the protective finish on your frame either. After that, on went the frame bag.  In the process I lose the two middle cage mounts, but I gain a ton of storage for other things, including water bladders with a capacity beyond what two bottles can carry.  The bag is sealed well against the weather and has two zipped compartments with a separator inside the main compartment.  I likely will never take this off again unless it is for maintenance or cleaning.


The end result was very satisfactory.  The Answer 20/20 bars really work well on the Fat Bike, from just plonking along, to standing and pulling, to fast and rough sections of doubletrack, the 20° bend lets me modulate the impacts much more than before.  I also expect they are taking some of the shock out of the system as well, but it is the ergonomics I am most aware of.

The other changes, the saddle and seat post, are doing a similar job of deflecting/absorbing a lot of the impacts that would have been directed right up my spine with the oversize 31.6mm stock seat post.  It can get bouncy sometimes, what with the undamped rear tire and undamped suspension seat post both mamboing together, but I’ll take it no matter.  Big improvement.

IMG_2637The day called for rain and with 80 miles of road riding in my legs from the previous day, I wanted to get out and spin things out a bit.  And if the recovery ride allowed for some adventure, even better.  Call in the Fat Bikes.  Text messages were sent, pancakes were eaten, and soon after Clayton was at my door with his Specialized Fat Boy stuffed in the bed of his truck.  The ride destination is a local canyon network that is a suitable ride for a Fat Bike…rough enough, loose enough, rocky enough, wet and slippery enough,…well it is ‘enough’ of all the right things to make it worth having fattys out there instead of a normal 29″er.

Not only did the improvements go a long way towards making the Mukluk 3 more to my liking, I also am getting dialed into the handling, and today on this ride it was the Muk and I dancing along with quite a bit of grace on the single track sections.  I am coming to appreciate the Muk’s way of going down a trail and today it even felt agile at times. Stability is a good thing, overall, when you are negotiating boulder crossings, mulch covered rocks and logs, and wet, slippery sections.  I was able to come to standstills, bump the front end up and over things, and move through techy sections with, well, what was darn near ‘gracefulness’.  This Muk and I are getting to be friends.

As well, I am beginning to remember how to ride a rigid fork again.  Relax…relax…relax…let the bike have it’s head and you keep yours with a light touch on the bars, a firm grip, relaxed elbows and shoulders.  That Answer 20/20 bar really accentuated this technique.  It works and I was going nicely fast, in a rolling warhorse kind of way, as we dropped out of the canyon on an old and neglected road.  This is beginning to work!


It’s all about big tires.

I am still pondering whether a front suspension fork is for me.  I certainly get why I would want one, but what I am finding is that today, on this ride, I would have only really needed it a handful of times, important times perhaps, but few none the less.  And I would have been hauling around the extra weight and complexity for the entire ride.  If I can continue to refine the bike, perhaps with a more compliant fork or tire set-up, then I likely will be staying rigid.  We shall see.

In any case, it is the big tires that make all this possible; big tires covered in leaves, mud, sand, and what-not.  I already knew bigger wheels were funner.  I am learning that bigger tires are too.

Next up I will get out the bikepacking bags and get them fit, maybe add some more accessories…who knows?  It’s an adventure in the waiting.

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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.