If you're not interested in animals of the Equine variety don't bother reading this bike review.

Well any rig that climbs like a warmblood, descends like a quarter horse, has the capacity to carry heaps of gear like a Clydesdale , is sure footed and has heaps of traction just like a station bred plus is light and agile just like an Arabian, is well named the Pony Rustler.  Salsa Cycles certainly rustled up some appropriate characteristics for this bike designed for remote back country single track, which sounded like my cup of tea as soon as I read about it.

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What makes this bike different for me is its shod with 3.0 tires, which are becoming known as 'mid fat'. The cool feature is the low volumes they can be run at, I'm running 12psi. Recently on a climb of The Luge at Craigieburn Forest with damp conditions over steep roots, with clay I managed to clean a couple of pitches that I hadn't riden for a couple of years, could be the lungs and legs though!

It's also compatible with 29" wheels 2.2-2.5 width tyres, this would by far be my preferred set up for long bikepacking trips and once my credit card has recovered from the purchase I'll get a set of 29" wheels.

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Bryce from Cyclewerks imports Salsa Cycles to order, they are a boutique American brand, by no means mainstream compared to the big players in the bike industry, their range is unique and their slogan 'Adventure by bike' gives you and indication of the experiences Salsa Cycles will allow you to access.

 I rate this slogan.

I rate this slogan.

I chose to buy a frame and build it up mainly because I wanted to keep some of the components from my current steed especially my carbon ibis wheels.  Andrew at Hub Cycles sourced the boost Fox fork and DT boost hubs and his bro, Pete who is an exceptionally good mechanic rebuilt the wheels. 

The only thing I would have done differently with the build is go with 170mm cranks the 5mm less would make a difference to the amount of pedal strike experienced I reckon. 

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I haven't had a chance to take it in the back country loaded up for an overnighter, can't wait.  I'm intending to get a custom frame bag made up, so with a handlebar bag I should be able to go with just a day pack in most climates.

To summarise I really like the Pony Rustler, it may not decend quite as fast as the Ol girl, that's been put out to pasture but it climbs exceptionally well and claws its way up roots, rocks, and ruts. At slow speed in technical narrow descents the traction and control of the low volume tyres is inspiring. 

Being a farmer by occupation (and maybe a lil red neck) the culture of Salsa Cycles sold me on the Pony Rustler, it's up for anything and as long as you can break it in and tame it on the most challenging terrain out there it's likely to become your trusty companion. This steed is likely to see a whole lot of miles with me in the saddle, maybe no cowboy hat but more than likely riding off into the sunset.

 

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