|From my record cold commute ride|
The Blackborow platform from Salsa is for the widest tires and rims on the market now. This provides the best flotation you can get, and as an aside, the most traction as well. The difference that you get from going from 3.8's to 4.8's is palpable and as a big guy, well worth the time to check out. You'll go further with more control, but as a downside to that, you might find that everything that was challenging before is suddenly a dull section of trail! Bottom line: Get the biggest tires and widest rims for the most in flotation, traction, and therefore the best "out of bounds" riding you might want to try.
Now, as far as the chassis, the Blackborow DS is simply the best package Salsa has made so far. The wheel base is in check, the front end is stable, yet the bike is very steerable, not "barge-like" at all. I tried a current Mukluk at the shop yesterday and was immediately struck by the slower handling of that bike. The Blackborow may not seem all that different on paper, but on the trail it simply is the most fun I've had on a fat bike outside of the Borealis Echo I rode last Summer.
Bluto fork. The frame is stiff enough in aluminum, that isn't the issue, but carbon would likely be able to be tuned for a better ride quality and be lighter weight.
The front end would benefit from suspension in most cases. Yes.....even in Winter. But of course, especially during other times of the year. Ideally, I would have both kinds of forks on hand- the rigid fork for touring and adventuring, and the Bluto for everything else where regular trail riding would demand front suspension. Oh.......and I would have to have a dropper post! I just about forgot about that.
My other posted impressions stand and furthermore, I think that this bike does do better things in deeper conditions than my Mukluks could do. I like the dual single speed drive train, (or "dinglespeed", and is what "DS" stands for here), but in the difficult, deeper snow, a geared selection would work better here. Fortunately you can get a Blackborow 1 with a full drive train. Of course, the DS model has all the fittings for gears and can be converted.
There are things that I think Salsa Cycles didn't quite get right with the Blackborow frames. The thing I will mention here is the lack of rack braze ons at the seat stays. While I don't give a rip for racks on a fat bike, it doesn't make sense not to have an attachment point for racks for those who do. Yes.....Salsa makes that goofy seat collar with a rack attachment, but after spending a fair amount of hard earned cabbage on a fat bike, you'd think it would have rack eyelets, since.....ya know...they say "Adventure by Bike", after all. The other thing I already ranted about. See what that is HERE. Fortunately, the second thing is something one can mod to make better.
So, this Blackborow DS has turned out to be a very positive purchase for me. Besides a couple of small details, the bike has been extremely fun and rewarding to own. Looking forward I want to try a front suspension fork on this, maybe a titanium seat post, and perhaps I will get around to lacing up a set of 29+ wheels with some tubeless Knards for the Summer. But whatever happens, I am sure I will be having fun on this bike in the future. Besides my gravel bikes, this could easily become the only mountain bike/off road bike I own.
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.