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Rigid fork fat bike for bikepacking???

Old 11-28-19, 02:09 PM
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ericzamora
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Rigid fork fat bike for bikepacking???

I'm considering a fat bike for bikepacking.

It seems there are few fat bikes built for expeditions/bikepacking. Most seem great for snow play, with minimal mounts. I'm finding it difficult to find a fat bike with mounts on the fork, at least 2 in the main triangle, one underneath the downtube, and will take a rear rack easily without going custom frames, and i can't spend that kind of money.

I'd also like the ability to go 27.5+ or even 29+x3 in the future. I don't think i'd use a suspension fork.

Right now I'm focusing on the aluminum framed Salsa Mukluk SX Eagle model, though it would require that additional collar for top rack mount. The fork is good, but the Kingpin deluxe fork would be nicer. I've "looked" (online only) at Framed, Fatback, Growler, Giant, Kona, Norco, Rocky Mountain, etc. In one example, with Kona's offerings, the low end Wo seems great at a great price with rear rack mounts but lacks anything on the fork. The mid-range Woo has the fork i'd want, fantastic color, but lacks rear mounts. The high end Wozo comes with a suspension fork, no rear rack mounts from what i can tell, plus the price knocks it out of my list. The Giant Yukon 1 seems nice, but not sure about rear rack mounts and like the Kona, it has a pressfit BB. I'd prefer threaded.

Some of the features I'd like:
- Thru-axles front AND back
- hydraulic brakes (i don't see month-long trips in foreign countries in my future so mechanicals are not necessary)
- fork mounts/rear rack mounts
- 1x drivetrain
- 11 or 12-speed
- internal dropper post compatible
- a color/decal design i can live with
- modern slack geometry
- 80mm rims (i think?)
- tubeless compatible rim/tires
- option to expand to 27.5+ or even 29+ wheels. I imagine 27.5+ x 4 would be ideal in the end.

This would be my first delve into fat bikes. Am i missing anything? I suspect there are small builders which could probably help, but again, that would probably increase the price considerably. The Mukluk has received great reviews since its inception. Maybe a steel Surly is in my future. lol

eric/fresno, ca.

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Old 11-28-19, 02:44 PM
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While my bike doesn't have all the features you are looking for I do have it set up for bikepacking.

2016 or 17 Spesh Fatboy
26 x 4.5. To go 29r x3 (maintains same BB height) I need a second wheel set to swap out.
2x10 11-36
Mech 80/60 disc brakes
No barnacles on fork but two in diamond and one under downtube
Fits a Filzer PR4 rear rack
Tubeless compatible.

Since this thread I have added an external dropper post and am about to add an 11-42 cassette that should work with the stock X7 sram derailer. the 11-36 is great for non loaded trail use but with gear on it could use a bit more lower end.

a recent short trip: Trip Report: Gabriola Island Fatbike s24o
and another: Gulf Island s24o - Fatpacking Salt Spring
A thread about the bike when I got it: New off road touring rig

If I wanted a plus sized bikepacking rig, and did not care about snow or sand, I would hard at a 29 x 3" bike like the Surly ECR or the Jones LWB bike. while I like the fat bike, 4 or 4.5 is a bit big for most terrain and a compromise in terms of rolling resistance. With a second 29r wheelset though, it will cover the full spectrum.

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Old 11-28-19, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
If I wanted a plus sized bikepacking rig, and did not care about snow or sand, I would hard at a 29 x 3" bike like the Surly ECR or the Jones LWB bike. while I like the fat bike, 4 or 4.5 is a bit big for most terrain and a compromise in terms of rolling resistance. With a second 29r wheelset though, it will cover the full spectrum.
Nice trip report! your rear setup is similar to what i have planned (and have used on my gravel bike). I have the ortlieb gravel panniers, with a dry bag and camp chair to be carried there on top. Plus a harness roll in front. All rolling on 3.8 to 4 inch tires.

I was actually considering a Surly ECR with 29+ x 3. That may be the N+1 after a fat bike. So many options for that genre. even a fat Wednesday or Ice Cream Truck could be interesting.

eric/fresno, ca.
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Old 11-28-19, 10:49 PM
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Ah, and now going over some of the others, I see Fatback's Rhino FLT could be an option as well.
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Old 12-01-19, 10:42 PM
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Salsa Mukluk w/extra set of wheels

Originally Posted by ericzamora View Post
I'm considering a fat bike for bikepacking.
...Some of the features I'd like:
- Thru-axles front AND back
- hydraulic brakes (i don't see month-long trips in foreign countries in my future so mechanicals are not necessary)
- fork mounts/rear rack mounts
- 1x drivetrain
- 11 or 12-speed
- internal dropper post compatible
- a color/decal design i can live with
- modern slack geometry
- 80mm rims (i think?)
- tubeless compatible rim/tires
- option to expand to 27.5+ or even 29+ wheels. I imagine 27.5+ x 4 would be ideal in the end.
eric/fresno, ca.
Hello Eric:

I bikepack with either a 2017 Salsa Mukluk (carbon) or a 2017 Salsa Cutthroat (also carbon). If I could only have one of these, it would be the Mukluk. I have an extra set of wheels (27.5 x 3"). I think the Mukluks check all of your boxes. Rather than a collar on the seatpost for the rear rack, I use the Salsa seatpost clamp that doubles as a forward frame mount. For the 3" tires I run Schwalbe Rocket Rons (Snakeskins) set up tubeless with Caffelatex sealant. The fats are set up with Schwalbe Jumbo Jims, 4", tubeless & Caffelatex. The only thing I'd change would be 1x12 instead of 1x11. For me, it is the perfect bike.

A couple of images from a trip last year:




Howard
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Old 12-01-19, 10:49 PM
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My Salsa Beargrease or Surly ICT loaded :


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Old 12-01-19, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Howard70 View Post
Hello Eric:
I bikepack with either a 2017 Salsa Mukluk (carbon) or a 2017 Salsa Cutthroat (also carbon). If I could only have one of these, it would be the Mukluk.

Howard
Thanks Howard. That green looks great. The carbon Muk is a bit out of my price range, unless i were to find a used one with 12x, and i'm keeping my eyes peeled. I considered the carbon frame/fork, but it's the same price as the full aluminum bike. Did you ever test ride the aluminum version?

197 rear spacing is the latest. Tell me why i may not need or want that.

-eric
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Old 12-01-19, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
My Salsa Beargrease or Surly ICT loaded :
Just curious... what's the ballpark weight difference between the Beargrease and ICT unloaded? I hear both are great bikes.

eric/fresno, ca.
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Old 12-02-19, 12:05 AM
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Hello Eric:

I have not ridden the Al Mukluk, but I suspect it would be fine. I take daily rides with my wife along irrigation ditches aside the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. Most rides involve passing at least 4 gates, sometimes 8! Lifting two bikes over the gates makes me appreciate the lighter carbon. The bikes with rear racks are about 27-28 lbs each.

I think Salsa designed the Mukluk to accept really wide tires - hence the 197 rear spacing. A friend has a 2018 Beargrease and it has narrower spacing in the rear. If you ever get in horrible mud you might get a bit further with wide spacing before everything locks up and you sit down along side the trail and weep! Disadvantages to the wider spacing? Perhaps not being able to use some off-the-shelf fat bike wheels and if you mount two fat bikes with 197 spacing on a bike rack you'll need a bit more room.

Howard
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Old 12-02-19, 06:56 AM
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I haven't really weighted it :-) The Beargrease is obviously more lively but the ICT is a better ride IMHO.



Originally Posted by ericzamora View Post
Just curious... what's the ballpark weight difference between the Beargrease and ICT unloaded? I hear both are great bikes.

eric/fresno, ca.

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Old 12-09-19, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Howard70 View Post
Hello Eric:
A couple of images from a trip last year:....
Howard
Howard

This! Aren't they just great? I started backpacking with a lightweight camp chair a couple of years ago. After miles of Sierra hiking, definitely not in the luxury category at the end of the day, not with my 53-year old body lol



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Old 12-09-19, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
My Salsa Beargrease or Surly ICT loaded :
Great looking rigs! Thanks for showing them off!

-eric/fresno, ca.
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Old 12-09-19, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ericzamora View Post
.....a lightweight camp chair a couple of years ago. After miles of Sierra hiking, definitely not in the luxury category at the end of the day, not with my 53-year old body lol
eric/fresno, ca.
Hello Eric:

I agree. When I hike, I find I keep going all day and don't have much time around camp in the evenings before dark & into the tent, so I don't carry a chair then. However, when bikepacking I find that I often finish a day's ride earlier and one of these ultra lightweight "chairs" provides a good place for reading, watching scenery, etc. I'm nearly 14 years your senior and agree - we're entitled if we want to be!

Howard
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Old 12-12-19, 01:22 PM
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My old obsolete Pugsley sounds like what you need. I built it originally with the double walled downhill rims(no longer made). After realizing how heavy the are I drilled them. It has a Nuvinci 360 hub, Paul brakes, and I don't rember the cranks. When the first crankset wore out I bought a set out of the take off pile at my LBS. It takes racks front and back, and I don't camp off it, but I have packed out antelope and deer on it. It has been through a few builds over the years, the only parts left from the original build are the complete front wheel and the rim on the back wheel. When the original rear triangle welds broke I was able to get a newer generation fork with the warranty frame replacement that has the mounts for Salsa anything cages.
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Old 12-13-19, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ericzamora View Post
Ah, and now going over some of the others, I see Fatback's Rhino FLT could be an option as well.
My Rhino is coming in on Monday, but a friend who does the Iditarod, says most on Fatbacks are riding the Corvus. Have you consider the Blackborow? JayP has been riding it for the multi-day snow races for some time. This was him doing the 700 last year.
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Old 12-13-19, 08:34 AM
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[QUOTE=ericzamora;21229803]Thanks Howard. That green looks great. The carbon Muk is a bit out of my price range, unless i were to find a used one with 12x, and i'm keeping my eyes peeled. I considered the carbon frame/fork, but it's the same price as the full aluminum bike. Did you ever test ride the aluminum version?

197 rear spacing is the latest. Tell me why i may not need or want that.
________________________________________________________
Latter half of March and early April is always accompanied with used fatbike sales @ the Rocky Mtn ski resort town LBSs (2-3 year old rental/demo pool machines). Likely, you might formulate a list of authorized dealers (of your favorite bike make/model often w/ 1X12 GX systems) and phone vs. e-mail those shops individually. Now after my Mukluk (CF) frame was crunched in a National Park visitor center parking this past summer (hit and run while on the 1upusa rack on the back of our vehicle) I'm riding a Fatback Corvus w/ 1X12, 2.8"X27.5" non-winter rubber.
Fatback Bikes ships out of Bend, Oregon and there is no sales tax with a shipped frame). (If you're looking at a used CF or alloy Mukluk w/ anything cage-fork mounts...what size? I can ask my LBS if any of their rental/demos will be sold off at the end of the season.).
(BTW-rode a '17 Beargrease, on a supported GDMBR trip and encountered the dreaded NM monsoon mud one 24 hr period between Grants and Pie Town and the wider wheel spacing on the machines that accommodate 5" wide rubber would have been better for awhile...biggest problem encountered is the wider rubber (non-winter, 3") ended up dumping the loaded tire mud on top of the chain, cassette and eventually clogged the der, chainring promoting repetitive/continuous issues every time it was cleared).
Addendum: during a training ride for my GDMBR, I encountered JP crushing it, riding south on the TDR-ITT on his Cutthroat (unlike above...nearly like two ships passing in the night) south of Steamboat Springs just north of Radium (Colo. R.) and screamed out 'go JP!'. He yelled "Yo". (and that was the FULL extent of the conversation...LOL).

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Old 12-13-19, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post
My Rhino is coming in on Monday, but a friend who does the Iditarod, says most on Fatbacks are riding the Corvus. Have you consider the Blackborow? JayP has been riding it for the multi-day snow races for some time. This was him doing the 700 last year.
Thanks for posting that. First I've heard of this bike and it's tickling my fancy. Sort of the ultimate loaded off road tourer. The pics of it on the website with two full size panniers on the rear rack is crazy. The only downside might be having to pedal all that weight up hill.

I like the little detail of the handle on the rear rack for lifting the bike. That's something I think I'll try to fabricate for mine as I am always lifting it in and out of the minivan.
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Old 12-13-19, 04:21 PM
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[QUOTE=stormpeakco;21243874]
Originally Posted by ericzamora View Post
Thanks Howard. That green looks great. The carbon Muk is a bit out of my price range, unless i were to find a used one with 12x, and i'm keeping my eyes peeled. I considered the carbon frame/fork, but it's the same price as the full aluminum bike. Did you ever test ride the aluminum version?

197 rear spacing is the latest. Tell me why i may not need or want that.
________________________________________________________
Latter half of March and early April is always accompanied with used fatbike sales @ the Rocky Mtn ski resort town LBSs (2-3 year old rental/demo pool machines). Likely, you might formulate a list of authorized dealers (of your favorite bike make/model often w/ 1X12 GX systems) and phone vs. e-mail those shops individually. Now after my Mukluk (CF) frame was crunched in a National Park visitor center parking this past summer (hit and run while on the 1upusa rack on the back of our vehicle) I'm riding a Fatback Corvus w/ 1X12, 2.8"X27.5" non-winter rubber.
Fatback Bikes ships out of Bend, Oregon and there is no sales tax with a shipped frame). (If you're looking at a used CF or alloy Mukluk w/ anything cage-fork mounts...what size? I can ask my LBS if any of their rental/demos will be sold off at the end of the season.).
(BTW-rode a '17 Beargrease, on a supported GDMBR trip and encountered the dreaded NM monsoon mud one 24 hr period between Grants and Pie Town and the wider wheel spacing on the machines that accommodate 5" wide rubber would have been better for awhile...biggest problem encountered is the wider rubber (non-winter, 3") ended up dumping the loaded tire mud on top of the chain, cassette and eventually clogged the der, chainring promoting repetitive/continuous issues every time it was cleared).
Addendum: during a training ride for my GDMBR, I encountered JP crushing it, riding south on the TDR-ITT on his Cutthroat (unlike above...nearly like two ships passing in the night) south of Steamboat Springs just north of Radium (Colo. R.) and screamed out 'go JP!'. He yelled "Yo". (and that was the FULL extent of the conversation...LOL).
Have you done his race in Idaho? My friend says it's one of the hardest around. Mainly due to the snow amounts and physical nature of constant pushing
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Old 12-14-19, 07:27 AM
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Hey, no...I don't race (besides I'm old at 65).
There is a very tough one day, 50 mile race north of Steamboat Springs during winter...forget the name but usually only about 30-40% of the entries actually finish.
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Old 12-17-19, 03:21 PM
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Surly Wednesday in the Blue Monday build checks all of those boxes.

- Thru-axles front AND back........check
- hydraulic brakes (i don't see month-long trips in foreign countries in my future so mechanicals are not necessary)... check
- fork mounts/rear rack mounts........check
- 1x drivetrain........check
- 11 or 12-speed........check
- internal dropper post compatible........check
- a color/decal design i can live with.....check (for me, YMMV)
- modern slack geometry........check
- 80mm rims (i think?)........check
- tubeless compatible rim/tires........check
- option to expand to 27.5+ or even 29+ wheels. I imagine 27.5+ x 4 would be ideal in the end ........check (not sure about 27.5x4, though)

Also, a cheaper Sweatpants or Black build will check those boxes if you replace the brakes and tires. The brakes on both builds are lacking, and I always assume Iíll be switching up tires, anyway.

Last edited by Kapusta; 12-19-19 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 11-23-20, 01:10 PM
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Just read this thread and a few others on the Fat Bike topic, and I really enjoyed the thoughtful insights. Thanks.

An original 9 speed 11-36 cassette Mukluk 1 is my bike packing bike. I really like it, the older it gets. Most of the time I'm not bike camping so other bikes are used. But every time I ride the Mukluk I enjoy it and am satisfied with the way it carries the loads.

At the moment I'm laid up with a broken ankle lurking these forums. I don't live in snow country. My Mukluk has never seen snow.

​​​​​​My question is about making a new set of wheels for the Mukluk 1. Was thinking of a 135mm and 170mm pair of 27.5+ wheel build.

Are there real benefits?

I'm still running the original Rolling Darryl wheels. I have the tires set up tubeless, but it's not a great rim for that.

A 3.8 Nate tire is on the rear which feels great on the tough trails I have been camping on this summer.

The reasons I think about putting 27.5 rims on are:

lighter weight
mud clearance
better tires for the application
real tubeless rims
better rear hub (if I can find anything QR170, any suggestions?)

If anyone has any input on those ideas it would be appreciated.

The Mukluk 1 I have has held up well over the years. When I acquired it at a bike swap for $750 new on impulse I first rode it everywhere I take a full suspension mountain bike and manually dropped the seat for big descents. It was fun, but it was just a novelty, and I stopped riding it after a while. I did put good hydraulic Magura Gustav brakes on it right away before riding it.

​​Since then it has been the rig for bike packing. I love all the mounts on the fork. This was a new thing when the bike came out. People laughed at it.

I have a rear rack on it and put panniers on it. I know that is not fashionable, but it really is easy to pack with.

​​​​​​While I'm recovering form injury I will definitely rebuild and upgrade the drive train.

I am considering a 27.5 + wheelset for heavy duty Bikepacking. Any ideas?
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Old 11-25-20, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer View Post
Just read this thread and a few others on the Fat Bike topic, and I really enjoyed the thoughtful insights. Thanks.

An original 9 speed 11-36 cassette Mukluk 1 is my bike packing bike. I really like it, the older it gets. Most of the time I'm not bike camping so other bikes are used. But every time I ride the Mukluk I enjoy it and am satisfied with the way it carries the loads.

At the moment I'm laid up with a broken ankle lurking these forums. I don't live in snow country. My Mukluk has never seen snow.

​​​​​​My question is about making a new set of wheels for the Mukluk 1. Was thinking of a 135mm and 170mm pair of 27.5+ wheel build.

Are there real benefits?

I'm still running the original Rolling Darryl wheels. I have the tires set up tubeless, but it's not a great rim for that.

A 3.8 Nate tire is on the rear which feels great on the tough trails I have been camping on this summer.

The reasons I think about putting 27.5 rims on are:

lighter weight
mud clearance
better tires for the application
real tubeless rims
better rear hub (if I can find anything QR170, any suggestions?)

If anyone has any input on those ideas it would be appreciated.

The Mukluk 1 I have has held up well over the years. When I acquired it at a bike swap for $750 new on impulse I first rode it everywhere I take a full suspension mountain bike and manually dropped the seat for big descents. It was fun, but it was just a novelty, and I stopped riding it after a while. I did put good hydraulic Magura Gustav brakes on it right away before riding it.

​​Since then it has been the rig for bike packing. I love all the mounts on the fork. This was a new thing when the bike came out. People laughed at it.

I have a rear rack on it and put panniers on it. I know that is not fashionable, but it really is easy to pack with.

​​​​​​While I'm recovering form injury I will definitely rebuild and upgrade the drive train.

I am considering a 27.5 + wheelset for heavy duty Bikepacking. Any ideas?
I'm looking at building up a set of offseason (non-winter) wheels for my Beargrease, so I've spend a lot of time researching these questions and thinking about them.

First, depending on your budget, there just aren't a lot of 170mm hubs out there. More are QR than thru axle, so you're in luck there. Having said that, 170mm hubs and wheels pop up pretty consistently on FB and Craigs, so you can score there.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how a 27.5 rim will be lighter than 26. It's larger and the spokes are longer, so more weight. Recently I built a 26" fat wheelset with My Other Brother Darryls. Great rims. Surprisingly light, easy to set up tubeless, silver is often on sale for $75 per rim.

I also just built up a 29 wheelset with Spank Oozy Trail 345 rims for my Salsa El Mariachi. Very nice rims. $65 on sale. I'm looking at building up Spank Oozy Trail 395 in 27.5 for my Beargrease. The drawback with that is that 3" is the smallest I could go because of bottom bracket height (not sure whether your older Muk geometry would play nice with 27.5"), and I might want the option of going 2.5", so I'm undecided at this point between 29" and 27.5". I have some time to think about it.

I would be interested in hearing what you decide to do.
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Old 11-25-20, 03:17 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by revcp View Post
I also just built up a 29 wheelset with Spank Oozy Trail 345 rims for my Salsa El Mariachi. Very nice rims. $65 on sale. I'm looking at building up Spank Oozy Trail 395 in 27.5 for my Beargrease. The drawback with that is that 3" is the smallest I could go because of bottom bracket height (not sure whether your older Muk geometry would play nice with 27.5"), and I might want the option of going 2.5", so I'm undecided at this point between 29" and 27.5". I have some time to think about it.

I would be interested in hearing what you decide to do.
You brought up some good questions.

​​​​​​As far as weight goes, I don't know how any wheel set can be heavier than what I'm running now! Well, slime inner tubes and no-flats liners would make it even more ghetto.

I still need to find out whether 27+ will actually fit the Mukluk 1 using the 27+ boost 148 physical measurements from another wheelset I have.

The original anodized blue Salsa hubs on the bike are pretty. I think I read a long time ago that these are rebadged basic Novatec hubs. The rear hub seems to have symptoms of one pawl being slightly damaged. I'll have to replace the freewheel eventually.


I found a pair of Quando hubs in China for only $40/free shipping. Is that brand a disaster in the making? They look legitimate.

One of the major drawbacks to the original Mukluk is that the chain line, as it was built, is biased to far inside, which makes the chain just barely graze the rear tire sidewall.

In practice the friction isn't that much, and all of the tires I've gone through didn't really suffer terminal damage from it before the tread wore out.

The real bummers about that are of course I want to run the smallest tire I can get in there, avoid using the granny, have mental thoughts about drag when grinding up endless grades, and the worst, is fouling the chain with mud and sand etc in bad conditions.

Just building a different rear wheel is a thought I've had. That way, continuing to enjoy this bike rigid, I can employ the light compliance of the Vee Tire H-Billie 4.25 tire I have up front, which set up tubeless flawlessly.

​​​​​​Of course I've thought about changing to 1x drive, but I need the range of gears and I don't want to spend a lot more on this bike, because going that far adds enough cost to consider abandoning the Mukluk entirely for a different platform.

But just changing the rear wheel to 27.5 + if it fits, will affect the handling as well. It might not be an improvement at all.

Small potatoes right.

Okay the thing I really wanted to say was that I was at a local family bike shop to get some platform pedals for my recovery today and I asked about 170 rear hubs if any in stock.

I told the guy about my idea and how the 170 standard is obsolete. To my surprise he said that actually they have a lot of 170 rear hub bikes in stock, pointing to them, which are a popular big fat BMX wheelie trick bike format now. I had no idea.
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Old 11-25-20, 03:49 PM
  #24  
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Mukluk 1 on the last trip.

Another trip.
I'll probably be adding a seat dropper post.

The bike is good at riding technical trails unloaded. Sometimes we base camp and ride for a day or two unloaded.
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Old 12-02-20, 03:56 PM
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Surly Wednesday. All steel, all the mounts you need and can be built almost any way you want. The frame will also take big brakes if that matters. You can ride it fat or plus for whatever weather or terrain you face. I also have a mukluck and it's also very versatile but all aluminum if that matters, but also has plenty of mounts.
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