By Eric McKeegan.
Frostbike is the annual dealer expo put on by Quality Bicycle Products (QBP). While February in Minnesota might not sound so inviting, this is a great event, full of people who really, really love bikes. Besides QBP’s roster of house brands (Salsa, Surly, Foundry, 45NRTH, All-City, Civia, Problem Solvers, and more) there are more than 100 other companies in attendance.
The biggest news of the show was Salsa’s carbon fiber version of the Beargrease "racing" fatbike. The current aluminum version is already pretty light, about 28 pounds stock, but the carbon version is taking it to a whole other level.
It wasn’t too surprising to see the carbon Beargrease. Salsa has a history of developing premium versions of popular models. Titanium is usually the material of choice for these models, but we all know racing bikes are made from carbon these days, right?
Salsa PR man Mike Reimer took me into an empty office off the main show floor, smashed my camera lens and made me promise my belt buckle wasn’t a spy camera. Then and only then did I get to the see the new bike in the flesh. These images are promotional photos provided by Salsa.
The first thing I noticed was the SRAM XX1 group, including a fat bike specific crank, a sure sign fat bikes are not just a flash in the pan. Thru-axles front and rear and a press fit bottom bracket add to the overall stiffness. Reimer was tight-lipped about the dimensions, perhaps there is a new specification in the works here? The fork is full carbon with a tapered steerer, with room for 100mm rims and any tire currently on the market, including the 4.8 Surly Bud and Lou tires. The rear end it limited to 4.0 tires on 82mm rims.
Two models will be out in time for next winter, an XX1 build for $5,500 and an X9 build or $3,500. The XX1 model, with a smattering of high end Truvativ cockpit parts, 45NRTH tires, 82mm rims and tubes is claimed to weigh 24.2 pounds.
The carbon Beargrease is going to make the fat bike scene pretty interesting. With more and more people using fat bikes on all surfaces, not just sand and snow, I’d expect to see more of these bikes lining up with the guys at endurance races.
No pictures for this tidbit: a fat bike suspension fork from a major suspension manufacturer is going to happen soon. It will be spec’d stock on some Salsa fat bikes. No ETA as of yet, or much information at all. After months of test rides on various older forks that fit fat tires, Salsa is confident there is a place in the mountain bike world for a proper fat bike squishy fork. Probably a full suspension fat bike as well!
In other news, this mountain bike tandem is going to happen at some point, maybe as a 2015 model. Part of the problem is a complete lack of tandem frame testing standards, which Salsa is developing now. Not much info to talk about, but it will have a steel frame and a suspension fork, and be called “Powder Keg”.
Stay tuned for more as we thaw out from Frostbike!