Winter rides grow up
Salsa Beargrease ($5,600 as tested)
Over the past few years, the fat-bike market has seen a veritable blizzard of new models. But now that the initial wave of interest has tapered off, it’s mostly the stalwart companies pushing the envelope. And offerings are increasingly sophisticated, led by the Salsa Beargrease. The third generation has geometry that’s lower and longer than the previous iteration, paired with a shorter stem and 750-millimeter bars for better handling and a stabler ride. It’s light at 26.5 pounds, courtesy of some careful sculpting in the frame, the 1x12 SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, and the house-brand carbon cockpit parts. The geometry made the Beargrease confident on everything from iced-up sled tracks to sandy, drought-parched arroyos. Salsa wisely outfitted 27.5-inch Whisky No.9 carbon rims with 3.8-inch Maxxis Minion tires, which balance quick rollover and low weight with middle-of-the-road flotation. Internal cable routing and dropper-post compatibility reflect the newly refined demands of fat-bikers. This is the most dialed-in winter trail steed we’ve ridden.
Surly Ice Cream Truck ($2,000)
The company that built the original fat bike back in 2005 revamped its all-around alloy adventurer with a shorter, more aggressive end and dropper-seatpost compatibility to make it ready for even rowdier riding, be that on dirt or in snow.
Specialized Fatboy SE ($1,600)
This affordable fattie got some serious upgrades, including a lighter aluminum frame, an alloy fork for a suppler ride, and through-axles. With 4.6-inch Ground Control tires and Tektro mechanical brakes that won’t seize in the cold, it performs admirably in most winter conditions.