When the Salsa Mukluk first burst onto the scene in 2011, it was designed for backcountry exploration moreso than actual mountain biking. Well in the past few years things have changed quite a bit, and as fat bikes have become more specialized, tires have gotten bigger, and customers’ desires have changed, the bikes have had to evolve quickly.
The Blackbarow picks up where the Mukluk leaves off, specifically with the ability to fit the (for now, anyway) biggest 4.8-inch tires on wider hubs. While the Mukluk uses a 170mm quick release rear hub, the Blackbarow is built around a massive 197mm rear hub with a thru-axle. To clear those big tires the bottom bracket has grown as well, now up to a 132mm press-fit shell. Up front, the aluminum fork has grown as well, now equipped with a 150mm thru-axle hub that is compatible with the RockShox Bluto fat bike fork, should you want to fit one. Those massive tires, Surly Lou 4.8 front and rear, are mounted on 100mm wide rims to achieve the maximum amount of floatation in snow or sand.
The aluminum frame is equipped with all the features you first saw on the Mukluk, including Salsa’s Three-Pack bottle bosses for Anything Cages, the Alternator dropouts for adjusting chainstay length, and Salsa will offer a 190mm version of its Alternator Rack for even more cargo capacity. In addition to the added height of the 4.8-inch tires, the bottom bracket is also set slightly higher for more crank arm clearance in rocky terrain or deep snow and the dropped top tube results in the lowest stand-over height of any of Salsa’s fat bikes.
If you really want to get into some adverse conditions, you can avoid the maintenance of derailleurs with the Blackbarow SS, which technically comes equipped as a two-speed through the creative dinglespeed setup. Basically a double chainring pairs with two singlespeed cogs that allow you to run the chain on the outer set for a larger gear on smooth conditions, or move it to the inner set for a super-low gear for mountain biking or beach crawling. It comes in a lovely Forest Service Green color.
If you’re familiar with fat bikes, you’ll find the Blackbarow rides much like a slightly up-sized Mukluk, entirely by design. As we see the Mukluk migrating toward a more all-purpose fat bike that is a legitimate mountain bike (more on this soon), look for the Blackbarow to take the mantle of expedition vehicle of choice.
Oh, and if you’re curious, the bike is named for Perce Blackbarow, a young stowaway on Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated antarctic expedition of 1918.