Salsa released their 2018 fat bikes (http://salsacycles.com/bikes) last week, and we can’t wait to test them out ourselves. The Mukluk comes standard with 5-inch wide tires on 26-inch rims, while the Beargrease goes skinnier and longer, 4-inch wide tires on 27.5-inch rims. Salsa claims the 27.5 wheels offer all the advantages we’ve come to expect from larger diameter wheels—increased rollover ability and larger contact patch—while offering the floatation of a 5-inch tire. For added versatility, both bikes will handle up to a 3-inch 29er wheel as well. If you’re interested in going single speed or using a Rohloff hub, the Mukluk’s Alternator dropouts make it relatively painless.
The top-end, Eagle-equipped Beargrease retails for $4,600, but the carbon NX1 model is an absolute steal at $2,000, and includes rack mounts on the front fork, unlike the two more expensive models. The Mukluk starts out at around $1,800 for the basic aluminum model and maxes out at $5,400 for the carbon model with SRAM Eagle drivetrain.
Also New This Week
The Barghest of myth was a monstrous black dog with massive teeth and claws; Heller hopes to channel that aggressive nature with their new full-suspension carbon trail bike (http://hellerbikes.com/bikes/barghest-nx). The build is a mix of under-appreciated and overlooked components. Suspension is handled by Manitou’s entry-level 140mm Machete fork and 130mm McLeod King Can rear shock. SRAM NX1 propels the 27.5-inch wheels with Boost spacing, topped with Maxxis Rekon+ rubber. An internally routed TranzX dropper post completes the package. Added up, the bike weighs in at somewhat beefy 32 pounds. MSRP is $3,000.
Sunglasses can be frustrating for people like me who wear prescription eyewear. Case in point—Julbo’s Aero frames (https://www.julbo.com/en/16/products/sunglasses/performance/model/aero_11815.html). The one-piece lens means I can’t get them in a prescription, but riders with better vision or who wear contacts will find a lot to like. They’re exceptionally lightweight—so much so that I wondered momentarily if a strong gust of wind could knock them off my face—but the arms comfortably hugged the frame to my head. The split nosepiece looked a little odd when initially examining it, but worked well. The anti-fog photochromic lenses darkened almost immediately when walking into the sunshine. You can pick up a pair for about $190.
You’re Going To Want It
SRAM’s newest Roam 60 29er wheelset (https://www.sram.com/sram/mountain/products/roam-60-wheels#sm.0013z183215q8cxluyo2n19x1k39a) boosted the spoke count and changed the lacing pattern from a two cross to a four cross, making this iteration stiffer and stronger than previous models. Buyers can choose between thru-axle or quick release endcaps. Weighing in at less than 1800 grams and costing $1,900 for the set, the Roam 60s should be an option for serious cross-country riders looking for an upgrade.
Under the Radar
Wolf Tooth recently relaunched its elliptical chain rings under the PowerTrac name (https://www.wolftoothcomponents.com/collections/powertrac-elliptical), and cyclocross racers will definitely be interested in the claimed advantages. The PowerTrac rings have asymmetrical, drop-stop teeth—the right side of the tooth is wider to maximize the amount of contact, while the left side guides the chain with little-to-no load. That allowed Wolf Tooth to remove enough material on the left side to create a channel for mud and dirt to flow away. Wolf Tooth says those changes means a more efficient pedal stroke for the rider, as well as fewer dropped chains during races. Buyers can choose between aluminum and stainless steel. Expect to pay between $45 and $80 per ring.
What’s New on Kickstarter
The back of my Subaru is a free-floating mess of helmets, shoes, pumps and more (the perils of being a gear reviewer). If your trunk is similarly disorganized, Terra Gear Solutions may have the answer. Their Bulldog bag (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/terragear/the-bullfrog-cycling-sports-gear-organizer-bag?ref=nav_search) features an easy-adjust divider wall system inside a ballistic nylon-wrapped corrugated polycarbonate skeleton. The top cover is breathable for ventilation. There’s a vinyl pouch designed to store liquids, as well as two mesh pockets. There’s no size given for the bag, but judging by the photos, I’d estimate there’s enough room a couple of days worth of riding gear. While there’s a rubber-grip handle, there doesn’t appear to be rollers or a shoulder strap to improve the portability. The Kickstarter runs until the end of August, and early backers can get the bag for $149.
I wouldn’t expect to see Rapha on Walmart racks any time soon, but two heirs to the Sam Walton fortune bought the British clothing brand for about $260 million … about the equivalent of five Rapha jerseys.