Fat Bikes Go Even Bigger

With the launch of the Salsa Bucksaw, the question shifts from whether fat bikes need full suspension to what’s a four-inch fattie capable of?


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Salsa unveiled the first production full-suspension fattie at Sea Otter last week, another sign that fat bikes are more than just a passing fad. The Bucksaw is a four-inch suspension frame that looks an awful lot like Salsa’s 2014 Spearfish—only with 3.8-inch tires.

Salsa—the Minneapolis-based bike manufacturer known for its high-value, nonconformist designs—has been actively working on developing a full-suspension fat bike for nearly three years. And they’ve been kicking around the concept even longer.

Back in 2011, some Salsa employees were riding the company’s original fat bike, the Mukluk, year round. They quickly realized that in dry conditions, the fully rigid design held them back. The consensus? The bikes needed front suspension, at least, but no one was manufacturing a suspension fork compatible with big tires. Prototypes were jury-rigged (especially using a modified Cannondale Lefty). At the same time, the Salsa team decided to build an improvised full-suspension fat bike based around the existing Spearfish platform.

Two years and multiple prototypes later, and the Salsa gurus were convinced they had a hit of an idea on their hands. Following the licensing of the Split Pivot suspension to revamp the Spearfish and Horsethief, Dave Weagle got involved with the design process and the bike became even more refined. The only thing lacking was a full-production fat bike fork.

The other big news from Sea Otter came from RockShox, which announced the Bluto fork for model year 2015. With an adjustable damper, the company’s proven Solo Air spring, a 15mm thru axle, and room enough for up to 4.8-inch tires, it’s a full-fledged, modern-day fattie suspension fork. And it’s just what Salsa had been waiting for.

Like the Spearfish, the Bucksaw is an aluminum frame built around the Split Pivot suspension design, with 100mm of travel front and rear. The seat stays are built from carbon fiber for extra stiffness, the rear hub is a thru axle with 177mm spacing, and there’s clearance for up to 3.8-inch tires. Both the RockShox Bluto fork and Monarch RT3 shock are custom tuned and valved. And in case there was any confusion over whether this bike was built for warm-weather riding, the seat tube is a dropper-friendly 31.6mm.

The Bucksaw is just another piece (albeit at the current outer limit) of the ongoing movement toward bigger wheels and tires. Consider, for instance, the new Ibis carbon rims and the mid-fat bike-packing prototype being tested by Rocky Mountain. Clearly, fat bikes in general and bikes like the Bucksaw in particular are changing the way the entire industry thinks about mountain biking. In that sense, no matter how it performs (and, based on the new Spearfish platform, we expect good things) the Bucksaw is a winning proposition. And it will definitely be interesting to see what can be done with a bike that has both high-traction, secure tires and plenty of suspension.

The Bucksaw will begin shipping this fall in two specs—the XO1-equipped Bucksaw 1 for $5,000 and the SRAM 2×10 Bucksaw 2 for $4,000. A frame-only option, which will include the rear shock, seat tube collar, and rear Maxle, will retail for $1,900.

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