Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

First Impressions are Lasting Impressions - My First Ride on The Mukluk, and a Comparison to the Fat Sand Bike

Yesterday, I built up the Salsa Mukluk (finally), and finished it about the time the sun went down.  I would have been done in time to get some decent photos and take a ride, but the build turned into an illustration of Murphy's Law.  Still, I persevered and got the darn thing together.  Today, I set it and the FSB out for some family photos.

I couldn't get a real good angle to take a "comparison" photo of the Fat Sand Bike and the Salsa, today.  There is so much snow piled up on the yard and at the edge of the drive that I was a little constrained on positioning.  The two bikes are very similar in layout, with the cockpits being almost identical.  The FSB has a slightly higher bottom bracket height, and, of course, the extended rear triangle.

 I ordered the same handlebar, for this bike, that I have on the FSB - The Surly Open Bar, in the flat configuration.  However, I was shipped the 40mm rise/drop model.  I set it up at the height I like, and didn't worry about it.  I actually like the look of it, with the drop, a little better than the flat bar.  It just required a couple of extra headset spacers.

 It took me a while to find someone selling Shimano-compatible SRAM GripShift shifters.  Everyone seems to assume that if you are running GripShift that you are also running SRAM derailleurs, and they only stock the X-series shifters.  I don't care for the SRAM derailleurs, that much, and they have a reputation for being problematic if you space the cogset out to cure chain/tire clearance issues.  Since I may have to do that, I wanted to stick with Shimano derailleurs.

 So, I chose to go with a Shimano Deore 9-speed rear derailleur.  The new design looked odd to me, at first, but I kinda like it, now.

 I went XT on the front derailleur, simply because that was the only Direct Mount front derailleur I could find.  And, I would have probably done so, anyway.  I have always been pickier about front derailleurs than rear, anyhow.

The Truvativ Hussefelt Crank (and the correct Howitzer bottom bracket) are also SRAM products.  I like the 22/32/bash-guard combination on the crank.  I don't foresee needing a big ring, a whole lot, on this bike.

 Promax disc brakes are a knockoff of Avid BB5s, and actually use the same brake pads.  I suspect that they are made in the same Taiwanese factory as the Avid brakes, with just enough detail differences to avoid a lawsuit.  (The front ProMax actually seems to work better than the front BB5 I have on the FSB, actually.)

 A 90mm FSA stem gives me a nice reach to the bar, and seems plenty stiff for good control.

 WTB headsets aren't sexy like a Chris King, but at $16.99, shipped to my door, it cost about 15% of what I would have paid for a King.

 The front wheel has a 135mm Surly New Hub, originally spec'd as a singlespeed rear hub, and the rear hub has the Salsa Mukluk 170mm hub.  Considering that the Salsa hub sells for $199.00,  the Graceful Fat Sheba 80mm rim sells for $38.00, and spokes are about $15.00 per wheel, the $225.00 I spent on the rear wheel seems pretty cheap, compared to the cost of the components.

The 100mm rims on the FSB give the 4" Innova tires a sidewall width of 4-1/2 inches.  The 80mm Fat Sheba rims give the 4" Origin8 Devist8er tires a sidewall width of 4 inches, on the nose, according to my calipers.  This gives the bike a slightly less "monster truck" feel, when rolling, I think. 

And, even though the Origin8 tires are known to be pretty heavy, the bike seems to accelerate a bit more easily than the FSB.  Of course, other things could factor into that, as well, such as the internallly geared hub on the FSB versus the derailleur and cog system on the Salsa, the weight of the bikes, etc.

Speaking of the IGH on the orange bike, I think it is a good idea for sloppy conditions.  I did have a bit of chain skip, today, after riding through slushy areas and getting ice in the cog stack.  But, the Salsa is incompatible with any commonly available IGH, as far as I know. 

The hub on the FSB has been excellent for the terrain, here in town, so far.  I have never used either the lowest of the highest gears during normal riding, which means I have some reserve gearing for unusual conditions in the city.  And, I have enjoyed being able to shift under all circumstances - pedaling, coasting, or stopped at an intersection.

But, I think the wider range of gears and higher efficiency of the derailleur and cogset system on the Salsa will make up for the differences. 

One interesting thing about alternating between the two bikes is dealing with the shifters.  Both have a twist-grip shifter for the rear.  But, they work in opposite directions.  The Nexave shifter on the FSB requires a twist to the front in order to go to an easier gear.  With the standard GripShift and derailleur, that direction takes you to a harder gear.  I predict that backward shifts will be fairly commonplace for me...

 I put the bar mitts on the bike, and swapped the seatpost/saddle/bag from the FSB to the Salsa, and took off to the coffee shop, this morning.  After coffee and a scone, I hopped on the bike and headed north.  I rode through Wash Park, again, and I was pleased that I was able to ride through a bit of deeper snow that had stopped me, yesterday, on the other bike.  Better weight distribution and knobbier tires probably account for that.

 I continued on to the Cherry Creek Trail, which I was disappointed to see had been plowed completely clean.  I didn't get much input about snow riding from the trail.  I had ridden on plenty of hard-pack and slush on the way through the D.U. neighborhood, though, and I was pleased with the snowy-road performance of the bike.

I rode to the REI Flagship Store, at Confluence Park, and turned back toward home.  

 These are the slushy conditions that the IGH would handle better than the cog stack.  This kind of stuff also underscores my need to get some fenders figured out.

I rode with the air pressure in the tires at 10 psi, front and rear.  I checked the FSB, this morning, and I had ridden it, yesterday, with 6 psi in the front, and 10 psi in the rear tire.  I could probably have dropped the pressure on the Mukluk to 7 or 8 psi and gotten a little more traction in the snow, but it was bouncy enough on the clear pavement at 10 psi, so I left well enough alone.

The Fat Sand is obviously a more "cruiser" style bike, and the ride and handling reflect that.  The Mukluk seems much more like a mountain bike, albeit a mountain bike with some big shoes.  I look forward to getting it on some singletrack trail, this summer, and rolling over whatever gets in my way!

I am still debating whether to keep the Fat Sand, or sell it.  I could use the money, but it works so well as a commuter that I hate to give it up.  If I keep it, it will get fenders and a rear rack for workhorse duty.  I think I will keep the Mukluk in more "offroad" trim, sans fenders.  Though, I might put front and rear racks on it and do a little bike camping with it.

Fat, my friends, is where it's at!



At 4:55 PM , Blogger Pondero said...

Much tire volume at your house. The Mukluk looks like a winner.

At 11:37 AM , Blogger Christopher said...

Very nice, I'm jealous.
I have to admit I like the look of the Mukluk more than the sand bike.
Wait, does that mean you will have two fat bikes in your century rotation?

At 6:59 AM , Blogger Jon said...

Christopher: Unless someone buys the orange one, yes...

At 7:01 AM , Blogger Jon said...

To clarify: Not "century" rotation, but "epic" rotation. I think that Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass and back would qualify as epic on a fat bike, even though it is just under a 30 mile round-trip.

That might be a nice ride on the Mukluk, now that I think about it...

At 5:02 PM , Blogger Wilson said...

Haven't read your post yet but this is the one I was waiting for. I look forward to reading it when I get back from the pool.

At 8:12 AM , Blogger Wilson said...

Interesting. I would find it difficult to choose between the two of them for my own uses. I am much more a commuter than anything so I would tend toward the FSB for the snow and slush.
Still no fenders, eh?


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