Thursday, January 23, 2020

Got A Minute For A Blackborow DS Ride

The Blackborow DS gets least once in snow!
The changeling weather has swung to the really snowy, really cold side, then out again. Good thing I squeezed in a ride on the Blackborow DS again. This silly weather almost went all the way through January with little to no reason to break this Forest Service Green beauty out again. (And this is a weird name for this color. I just wanted to point that out)

Anyway, with the oddball Winters of late, owning this bike seems, well.......useless. If there is one thing that grinds in the background of my mental state it is when I have something I know is good but never gets used. That's especially true of my bicycles. The Blackborow is so good that it is a darn shame to see it just wasting away in the overflow of the Lab all year.

Then something happens and I get a chance to try it out in proper conditions. So, we had about ab 8" total of snow on the ground on MLK Day. I took the DS out and was able to pedal through a few sections where the snow had not been trodden down, plowed, or tracked in. This without any concern for tire pressure, which was too high, to be honest. That's how good this bike is. And it, once again, sold itself to me on keeping it. Here's a bit of background on why.

See, when I got the Snow Dog, the original 2011 Salsa Cycles Mukluk, (which I still have, by the way), I was thrilled to be able to do a LOT of things my previous "fat bike", a 2010 Soul Cycles Dillinger 29" X 2.4" tire bike, could not do. didn't take me long to find out I wanted more. More flotation, to be exact.

This was before "ride groomed" was a thing, by the way. You went out and hunted down snow machine trails and rode in their tracks, is what you did then. Punching through was a regular occurrence, and I knew that with "more" I could do "more" stuff. But in 2012, you had no options. So, I waited out the development cycle, and in 2014, in November, I purchased a Salsa Cycles Blackborow DS. The 4.8" tires on 100mm rims solved my problems with flotation, but then the climate went whacko and Winters have, more often than not, been on the poor side for fat biking. At least around here they have.

I've only changed handlebars on this bike since I got it.
But when things are right, the Blackborow DS is the perfect fat bike for bushwhacking snowy sections, following snow machine trails, and for urban hooliganism down alleyways and sidewalks which are un-shoveled. I don't have to go far from home to get a lot of fun in, and the Blackborow DS is so simple that there really is not much that can go wrong here.

Simplicity means I rarely if ever have to do anything to this bike. Maintenance is a snap. A quick wipe down, maybe lube the chain, that's it. The brakes are Avid BB-7's and are super quiet, low maintenance, and obviously won't ever have issues like a hydraulic brake can.

So, in one sense, owning this bike is really easy, and it won't decay, or anything like that, just because it sits for a majority of the year. I suppose I should look at it as though this is a special circumstances tool. A thing brought out when the need arises, and you are glad you had that thing, because it solves a lot of problems when the times call for this tool. And that's a good description of what this bike is for me.

As I rode it Monday I was thinking about that long tailed version of this bike that Salsa sells now. Many have said, "You should try one! It rides like a regular fat bike.", and for them, yeah, maybe it does. But when I was traversing that icy section, and my tire was slipping just a bit, and I could ease back my weight, and smooth out my pedal stroke "just so", well at that moment I'm thinking, "Yeah, I bet the long tailed version would just spin out here." Those newer ones are like a pick-up truck with nothing in the bed. I find it hard to believe that my bike wouldn't be the better of the two versions in these conditions. Then I pop over a snow plowed berm, and think, "Yeah. Let's see your long tail pop over that." And then there is the whole dinglespeed thing. Well, you get the picture.

So, I figured out, again, that I am holding onto this bike. Well........unless a titanium version comes along. Then I might jump ship. But I bet that would have to be a custom bike, and I am not motivated that much at this time. So, yeah...... I'm glad to own this bike, and even happier I got to use it at least once this Winter in conditions that warranted owning it.


teamdarb said...

That bike is one I still want to this day! I am willing to bet it has the best bottom bracket height of any fat bike. Best meaning highest.

rth009 said...

The color "forest service green" comes from the fact that US Forest Service trucks were painted that color, although now they are switching to white:

Guitar Ted said...

@rth009 - It's just a weird choice from the get-go. The article you linked makes perfect sense, as the color is costing taxpayers extra dough.

@teamdarb - It does have a pretty high bottom bracket height, you are right about that. Not sure how it compares, but it is higher than my Ti Muk 2 and my OG Mukluk.

FarleyBob said...

I have the geared version of your Blackborow and the Mid-Tail version. I agree you would have been spinning out! When I rode the Mid-Tail version, rear rack loaded, at the Tuscobia Winter Ultra I did have good traction motoring up some climbs, but I tried it at the Triple D and found that unloaded I was spinning when trying to climb some steeper sections. I should have run the original Blackborow in that event for sure!