The Salsa Beargrease is what happens when a Ferrari and an Abrams Tank have a one night stand. The bastard child of the cycling industry, fat bikes are finding their place in the mainstream of mountain biking. While most sales guys will tell you these odd balls with ginormous tires find purpose in gliding over snow or floating over sand I disagree. These monstrosities have one purpose – to make grown men giggle like 3 year olds on a merry go round.
I’ve lusted over various instantiations of the fat bike for a few years, but each time I’ve overcome temptation. Each time I’ve walked away a less debt ridden man. Today satan led me right down that path we love to trod and I gave in. Of course, it didn’t help that Wayne at Joyride bikes gave me a killer deal. I dunno no, maybe Wayne is satan. If he is, he’s a really nice evil guy.
The River Trail in Logan Canyon is a gentle introduction to mountain biking no matter what you ride. It serves as ground zero for all my cyclocross training. On my very light and very nimble Bianchi Cavaria the ground demands constant attention or your face will get the chance to decorate one of the log pole pines that line the trail. I love the experience but it’s like a carefully choreographed ballet on two wheels as you tip toe through the rocks and tree roots. There’s a washboard section that ensures you won’t be able to feel your wrists or butt for a few days.
Since I lack snow at the moment and since Cache Valley isn’t filled with very many beaches I needed a testing ground. The River Trail met the need. At 27 pounds the Beargrease is a bit heavier than my mountain bike, but it’s 11 pounds more than my cyclocross bike. I expected a ‘bear’ on the climbs.
Instead, what I got was a bulldozer with a Cummins diesel. The tires are huge. Your brain will keep telling you that this should be hard but your legs will laugh at your false perception of reality. This thing can climb. Not only can it climb but it doesn’t demand that you daintily select your route. You plow over whatever you damn well please – rocks, trees, woodland mammals, small children. Whatever happens to be in your way you just grin and keep going. Get on one of these and you will find yourself squashing everything like a bug – it’s fun. I avoided nothing (Ok I did slow down for a few hikers – we can’t be total jerks). Patches of gravel that would throw you down like a WWF wrestler on a cyclocross bike become light and fluffy clouds. I’m sure there were rainbows and unicorns but I was too busy looking for the next squirrel to run down.
I only ran into a few issue that are really non-issues. Tires the that look like balloons act like balloons. When you apply power while climbing you will bounce the back end. I’m sure I looked like a clown with giant tires bobbing along the trail giggling as I went. I had a bit of a head wind coming back. Riding into the wind was actually harder than climbing. Wind cheating wheels these are not. You won’t be winning any KOMs against guys on lighter more aerodynamic bikes but then who brings a monster truck to the Indy 500? You won’t be able to wipe the grin off your face as you plow over them when they slow down long enough to ask, “what the hell was that?”
Plow mightily my friends.