Thursday, June 26, 2014

News Season: Part 2- More Fat & Gravel

Scott Bikes "Big Ed" (Image courtesy of

Scott "Big Ed" Fatbike: This will get to be a common theme for 2015- More companies entering into the fat bike market. You thought last year brought out a ton of new entries? This year I expect a lot more new bikes in the marketplace.

This one is going to be a common theme- Rock Shox Bluto, aluminum frame "designed more for trail riding", (read: Not Just For Sand & Snow!), Non-Surly tires and rims, and $2000-$3000 price points. This particular model is interesting for the fact that the rims are branded Syncros, (a brand Scott Sports owns), and the claimed 4.5" wide Kenda Juggernaut tires.

Interestingly, Scott went with the 190mm rear axle, so there are going to be a mixed bag of axle standards out there. My money is on the offset 135mm rear fat bike standard going away with 170mm rear and 190 rear based frames staying around a while. (Add a bit of width for through axles on either one, but those are based on 190 and 170 Quick Release Frame dimensions.) Claimed weight for the Big Ed, (purportedly named for Scott's founder), is 33lbs.

Fugitive by MBC: (Image courtesy of MBC's blog)
Milwaukee Bicycle Comapny "Fugitive":

Cruising the Twitterverse, I saw this teased by Ben's Cycles, the online shop that is home to the Milwaukee Bicycle Company brand. Apparently, they are working on a part touring, part gravel road riding rig. Seen here in full, you get a tiny taste of the Fugitive in touring mode.  It's hard to say if this is all "Long Haul Trucker" or really a "gravel rig with racks". I'm going with the touring bike angle here , but you never know.

All Ben's are saying now is that this is "a bike engineered for gravel and touring." a Bruce Gordon "Rock & Road" bike then? If so, it should be a great steel frame set to build an off-beat gravel rig from. I don't know if anyone has really considered this, but with the ability to fit larger tires on many of these "gravel rigs", one could tour on "any road", which really gives you a lot of options, instead of being limited to pavement. I like that kind of thought myself. Hopefully there is room for big tires and fenders. That would likely keep the dust down off the drive train and whatnot.

Salsa tandem as seen in 2013 at Frostbike.
Salsa Cycles Tandem:

 Back at the 2013 Frostbike event, I saw this "Safety Yellow" painted Salsa tandem and was told that the working name for it was "Powderkeg", but to not say anything about that. Well, "Dirt Rag" printed the name anyway, so I felt okay with saying things about it back then as seen here. Again- I held up my end of the deal, so if anybody gets annoyed by this then go talk to Big Mo about it. (There was also some leakage on their part concerning the full suspension fat bike deal back then too, which is all out in the open now.)

I figured that Salsa should do this tandem back then, because I think it is a hole in the marketplace that they stand to fill in nicely. You have Santana, CoMotion, and.....and..... Yes there are a few small tandem specialists, but try finding one to look at, or even better, to test ride.

This was found on Facebook.....hmmm.
 So cruising around on Facebook recently I see the same, (or so similar it is uncanny), bike in a different color with Alternator drop outs and all. In every image I've seen of this, (yes- I've seen it posted several times), it is always with the foam shipping protectors over (presumably) the logos.

My guess is that Salsa Cycles is finally ready to bring this tandem to market and that is why the logos are covered. I cannot imagine it being anything but a Salsa, since the Alternator drop outs are pretty much a dead give away on the identity of the brand here. Also obvious is that this has its own fork now, which I am sure was a challenge to design and to get it to pass the rigorous testing protocol that Salsa subjects itself to.

The only thing left to the imagination here is what the name really is and how much this will sell for. In my view, Salsa stands to gain some market on the tandem side if the price isn't stratospheric and if it has the right features. Yes.....if it is sold as shown it is an "mtb tandem", but you do realize that smaller tires can be fitted, right? Not everyone wants or really needs a drop bar racing style bike, which is what most high end tandems are now.

Vanhelga: By 8am today the internet will be buzzing with the news of 45NRTH's newest tire, the Vanhelga, and the matching Whiskey No. 9 rim. Both are designed to be tubeless ready and are the first "system" to be introduced. (Not the first tubeless ready tires, since Vee Rubber has had its "Sealant Compatible" tires out for awhile already.)

45NRTH had to get this done, and I am glad to see it. The prices for the tires are reasonable, and the carbon rim should be nice, so this brings something to the table that Salsa Cycles and Surly Bikes might be able to use to bring their fat bikes into the 21st Century in regards to tire technology. The upcoming Bontrager system will be a competitor, and perhaps one or two others will crop up yet this Fall. Things are getting interesting on the tubeless fat bike tire market!

The Vanhelga 26 X 4.0


Steve Fuller said...

Thoughts on the tandem

Logo on the front fork appears to be a tree.

The rims say Trail 50. Would Salsa maybe have gone with something that could run 29+ tires for some passive suspension?

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve Fuller: I think those rims say "Rail 50" and if so are these wheels by SRAM:

Although I do like your idea and if the tandem here could fit 29+ it would make a lot of sense.

Iowagriz said...

Salsa - I know you are reading this....I'd be one of the first in line for the tandem. We sold ours a while back and would like a true MTB tandem with modern parts (old one was pre-disc). 29er tandem for gravel and midwest trails is a perfect fit. Ability to add road tires on a cross type wheelset and we can hit the pave fairly easily. Can't wait to add it to my El Mar Ti (Ti tandem option?)

Exhausted_Auk said...

That fork should fit a 29+ tire easily. There is a huge crimp in the chainstay just behind the BB, so maybe it has been manipulated enough to fit one at the rear as well. I'm surprised to see this has only a 1X transmission. Tandems need a wider gear range than a 1X can provide, even the new SRAM.

MG said...

I'd love to try out those new 45Nth rims & tires. They look good...

Al said...

There was a Salsa tandem ridden at DK200 this year.