Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Blackborow DS: Further Impressions

Thanksgiving Day morning on the Marky-Mark with the Blackborow DS
It was crazy cold again Monday morning as I set forth on my way to work on the Blackborow DS in "low" range. I wanted to see if I could hack it spinning my brains out on the mostly paved ride to work in the face of a stiff Northwesterly at single digit temperatures.

Well a little over a mile of that and while I was trying my darnedest to convince myself I was okay, I wasn't okay. I was wanting that "high" range, and so I figured I would see if I could manage a manual gear change with my Winter mitts on. A good test for when I might find myself out there in the boonies wanting to switch up gears in frigid temperatures. If it wasn't going to fly, I only had to gut out three more miles of squirrel cage spinning madness. I mean, let's face facts here. I am a masher.  Spinning a gear is not in my DNA.

Well, it was a piece of cake. Easy-peasy. I was probably off the bike a total of two minutes. That was actually a bit of a surprise, and I got back on and felt the speed come up as I pedaled faster and soon I was cruising along at an acceptable speed without going crazy spinning like a whirling dervish. Of course, the long, gradual climb up to the top of the hill by the water tower was making my heart rate go nuts with that "high" range, but I was better off than the last trip in this gear up this same hill. Progress or just familiarity?

Initial Conclusions:

Bottom line? I am happy with the bike overall. It hasn't been put to the test in the deep stuff yet, but it has a great combination of nimble handling, stability, and comfortable positioning. It seems to have a shorter, lower front center than my '11 Mukluk or my '12 titanium Mukluk.  I felt immediately that the Blackborow had a shorter wheel base, and it does. Over an inch shorter than the '11 Muk and almost exactly the same as my son's XS sized '14 Muk. The chain stay length is shorter as well. All this makes for a lot livelier handling bike.

The big tires have plenty of clearance, even with the rear Alternator nearly slammed forward. I don't like Salsa's front brake hose clip on the inner left fork leg. It nearly grazes the tire unless you carefully trim the cable housing "just so" and even then it is too close for comfort. Not only that, but the dang steel clip doohickey is a "PITA", (read not a good thing), to open and close to put a cable housing in. Somewhere down the road it is going to break after a few removals/installations, and it will still be in a less than good place. They need to move it to the back of the fork blade.

I've seen grousing about the wide bottom bracket, (I can't feel any difference from the standard 100mm Mukluk bottom brackets), complaining about the internal, press fit bottom bracket style, (no issues so far- too early to tell), and that these tires and rims are unnecessary, (they are absolutely correct......for them), but I haven't got any major complaints here. It's a better fat bike than Salsa has made previously, and that for the pursuits of the "out of bounders" primarily. I can gear it up. I can put a suspension fork on it. I can even put skinnier tires on it with lighter weight wheels. It is supremely versatile in that it could be a bike packing rig, or just what it is- an awesome fat bike.

Note: I purchased this bike with my own moolah and the opinions and comments expressed here are my own. I was not paid nor bribed by Salsa Cycles for this post.


Matt Boulanger said...

I really appreciate your writeup of this bike. I am a happy SS/fixed commuter looking to be able to use snowy road shoulders in winter months with a fatbike, once the stars align and the money is there. I love the idea of dinglespeed. There is also really only room for one knobby-tired bike in the quiver, and I like things simple, which the DS certainly is.

Options for recreational fatbike riding in VT are also continuing to expand, so I want whatever I get to be capable in the woods and maybe even useable on the occasional s240.

I even have the admittedly crazy idea, sonce i like commuting fixed so much, to set one up with the rear wheel flipped and a disc mount cog fitted, for fixie fattie fun. Have seriously considered going totally lowbrow with this idea and a Bikesdirect singlespeed, (like the Gravity Deadeye) but at this point would rather save my pennies, support a local shop, get something good and long lasting, etc.

Cheers to Salsa for putting something like this out there and cheers to you for writing it up!

Stephen Boyd said...

I appreciate the couple of Blackborow DS posts. Salsa owes you a commission check for pushing me over the edge to buy one. Just picked it up Thursday night. Haven't 'ad a chance to ride it other than on the street at the shop. That changes today. Should get 20 or so miles on it. News at eleven.