cover pic thanks to: @extremekidproductions
I’ve had the Salsa Mukluk XO1 for about a year and a half now, I did an initital review of the Mukluk here. I chickened out on taking the fat bike on the trip that was ‘Looking Down is Looking Up’. So I weighed up the decision to take the 4.8 inch tired fully rigid rig on an exteneded trip, a project I called Kahurangi Epic, intensely. I trained and trialled the set up for a few rides, on all terrain types, riverbeds, chunky trail, gravel, flow trail, road and my confidence grew the choice was the right one...how’d she go? That’s called a spoiler!
For the trip i swapped out the brake set for my trusty XTR trails with 180mm rotors for additional stoppage power under the added load. I wanted faster rolling ability than the 4.8 Maxxis tyres it came with. Tervail Coronados 4.0 were released just as I was looking at options and my main man Bryce at Cyclewerks hooked me up. They are the ideal mixed terrain fat bike tire, fast rolling, lightest and can bite in on the slippery roots and rocks
The ability to carry a huge load was pivotal and knowing I would be carrying kilos of packraft and camera gear definitely swung in favour over a traditional full suspension mountain bike.
If you follow my blogs you’ll know how highly I rate the Salsa EXP anything cradle, read the full review here. I also used the Salsa EXP frame bag, top tube bag and had an EXP anything cage on one fork leg. The bolt on ability of the top tube bag and triple mounts on the fork legs add to the carrying capability.
Not too much has gone wrong with the Mukluk, my biggest gripe is the bolt through axles, the head of the axle can come undone making it difficult to get the axle out, I’ve fixed mine with some locktite, hopefully. Be careful with the alloy bolts that come in the 3 bolt cages. Probably due to corrosion from immersion one of the bolts snapped off and I needed to call on my homies at Goat Cycles to retrieve the rest of the bolt and replace the rest with stainless steel bolts.
I was a bit nervous about the strength of the HED carbon fat bike wheels given there feathery weight. I have given them a thrashing on rugged terrain and under big loads, they have remained straight and true the only issue I’ve had is with some spokes lossening but given they have been on a fully rigid bike, that would be expected. The HED wheels are one of the most outstanding features of this build. It weighs in at 12.3kg and a lot of the credit for this weight weenie status is the low weight of the wheels.
the rest of the build is solid, I have no complaints of the XO1 drive train, it is still running smooth and I’m now a 1x SRAM Eagle fan. The Salsa Rustler bars arrived at 800mm long, I didn’t cut them down and I have grown accustomed to the length even fixing my trail bike with the same length.
The fat bike will be my go to adventure rig indefinitly, I did contemplate putting a set of 29+ wheels on it but it was going to be very costly due to the width of the hubs. The only time I have felt out of my depth riding trail on this rig is on chunky technical climbs with lots of weight attached to the handlebars. This is mainly due to the upper body fatigue from constantly pulling up on the bars to get the front wheel over obstacles. On all other terrain the massive flotation of the 4” tyres sucked up medium sized bumps and trail chatter. The Mukluk really is an utility bicycle, pretty much capable at anything you throw at it, all while carrying a load and fully rigid! Mostly due in part to a super strong and light frame and don’t forget the wheel set.
Would I put a squishy fork on this bike? Why? I’ve got a trail bike and the extra weight just doesn’t seem worth it, yes you’d have advantages in some terrain but not in the 80-90% of other terrain. What wouldn’t I use this rig for? Long singletrack rides, technical terrain. What would I use the Mukluk for? Bikepacking, bikerafting, beach riding, riding with the kids, hanging on the gravel roads of Homebush...pretty much everything else. It’s so versatile that I’m sold as a fatbiker, for life and by the looks of the durability of the Salsa Mukluk XO1, it might last that long too.