Why The Muk?

When I started looking into fatbikes a few months ago it was a bit of a mine field. This little niche area isn’t exactly abundant with reviews and it’s not like you can walk into many local bike shops here in the UK and start prodding and poking stuff on the shelves or throw your leg over one and go for a spin. I resorted to jumping on our good friend google and scraped whatever information I could from around the globe. With big mileage and bikepacking on the cards I wanted to go for alloy rather than steel to keep the weight down but other than that I was fairly open minded. I started to look into various manufacturers both here in blighty and across the pond. The On-One Fatty pleased my bank balance but not my eyes, the 9 seven 7 offering looked lovely but the top tube just didn’t lend itself to a good sized frame bag, something I really wanted. There were a few other brands with cards on the table but most seem to be from places that have a lot of snow. Funny that! After a bit of searching I came across the Salsa Mukluk. Salsa is a company I have a lot of time for, they make some fantastic bikes and the Salsa Fargo I used to have is truly the only bike I’ve ever regretted selling. The fact that Jon at Bicycle Smithy has dealt with them for years and could get one in stock sharpish was just an added bonus. The Mukluk seemed to tick all the right boxes right from the off. Light alloy frame, symmetrical rear hub spacing, rack mounts, mud guard mounts, full length cable routing and more bottles bosses than you can shake a stick at; when you add a tidy little alternator dropout in the mix that enables a clean efficient way of running the bike single speed it’s a hard bike to ignore. Oh and it looked absolutely gorgeous! I instantly fell in love with the cherry red colour of the Mukluk 3 2014 build and if it wasn’t for the specified build I’d have pulled the trigger on it straight away. Don’t get me wrong, the specification wasn’t that bad and it was good value for money but the biggest issue for me was the Surly Nate Tyres. Although a good tyre the 27tpi versions included are a fair bit heavier than the more expensive 120tpi and when you’re considering rolling inertia, tyre weight makes A LOT of difference. Fat tyre’s are eye wateringly expensive so by the time you’ve replaced the tyres the extra cost pretty much pushes you into the realm of the more expensive and better specced Mukluk 2. In turn by the time you hit this price bracket it makes a lot of sense to do a custom build, with a bit of savvy buying, trawling the STW’s classifieds and using some of the gear you’ve got lying around in the spares bin you can end up with a lot of bike for your buck. My only criticism I have with Salsa, which is the same with a lot of manufacturers, is when buying a frameset you tend to be limited to a certain colour option rather than all the colours they may be doing that year. I know why they do this and totally understand it but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when I WANT THE RED ONE! The gold frame available was nice, but it was gold. Not my first choice my any stretch and a blingy colour that seems to scream Jeremy Kyle, well in my eyes at least.

With my heart settled on the Mukluk and my mind accepting the gold scheme that would adorn it I set about putting a build list together. There are three major factors that contribute to my purchasing decisions. Firstly I’m brand loyal. I like certain brands based on their products, ethos and how they look after their customers. Until they shaft me I’ll stick with them. Secondly I prefer to buy British, if there’s a local company and they’re developing the sport and putting something back I’ll support them and help to keep them growing. Thirdly, I’m a massive tart with a touch of O.C.D.! With that in mind the build was fairly obvious. The good people over at Hope were to provide their Fatso Hubs thrown into a pair of 82mm Rolling Daryl rims from Surly dressed with a pair of Surly Nates to roll along. The Hubs where an easy choice, after hearing the freehubs on the Pro2’s ticking away 5 years ago I haven’t looked anywhere else since. It does annoys some people, especially the roadies but then that’s half the fun! You can’t beat ticking away whilst free wheeling behind someone who’s turning themselves inside out! The drive train will come courtesy of Sram X9 with stopping power being taken care of by their partners Avid with a pair of the highly acclaimed BB7’s mountain disc brakes and speed dial 7 levers. I was tempted to put hydraulic brakes but the BB7’s provide a lot more serviceability in the field. Hydraulics are not the wisest choice if you’re going to be competing in a race that may see temperatures dropping below -30 degree anyway so I may as well get familiar to the BB7’s straight away. When I started looking into Chainsets for the fatbike I soon realised it was a relatively small field due to the wider 100mm bottom bracket. I didn’t like the look of the Surly offering and after a bit of head scratching I finally settled on the rather posh and new Ethirteen TRS+ fatbike crank. It was the one rather flash part of the build but with gold spindle and chain ring bolts it matched the frame nicely and ticked my third requisite rather well. Finishing kit will be the taken care of by the ever faithful Thomson, Salsa, Fizik, Shimano, & Ergon. I tried to keep the weight down where I could on this build without going silly with any fragile light weight components. I’m intending to put a lot of miles into the bike so reliability was a major factor. That said I’m happy to say that the below build tips the scales at just under 28lbs. I’ll be seeing where I can further cut this down as time ticks on, firstly with a tubeless system which should shed some of the weight out of the tractor innertubes…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Stead & the breed – all clean pre mudfest…

Full build specced is details below Frame – Mukluk 3 Aluminum with Alternator Dropout Fork – Salsa Bearpaw Aluminum, Tapered, Suspension Corrected with 51mm Offset Shifter – X9 (2×10) Front Derailleur – X7 direct mount Rear Derailleur – X9 Type 2 rear mech Cassette – SRAM PG1050 Chain – SRAM PG1071 Cables – Jagwire Ripcord (full length) Crankset – Ethirteen TRS+ Fatbike Headset – Hope Stem – Salsa Pro Moto 3 Handlebar – Salsa Pro Moto 3 Flat bar Grips – Ergon GS1 Lightweight (Large) Front Brake – Avis BB7 Mechanical Rear Brake – Avis BB7 Mechanical Rotors – 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Avid Clean Sweep Seatpost – Thomson Elite Saddle – Fizik Arione Hubs – Hope Fatso Rims – Surly Holy Rollong Darryl Tyres – Surly Nate 120 tpi

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