Salsa Blackborow ‘Midtail’ 27.5 Fat: 1st Ride & We Like it!
Perhaps you’ve noticed Salsa shuffling around some of their models of late, in terms of names and purposes? The latest in their lineup to see such metamorphosis is the Blackborow. Formerly a 26in fat bike, the 2018 Salsa Blackborow GX Eagle announced today has been completely reinvented into a cargo-carrying, 27.5in ‘midtail’, a stretched out fatty that’s likely to set adventure-plotting brains ablaze…
Speaking from a personal point of view, I’ve always loved the cargo carrying capabilities and inherent, car-replacing practicality of ‘longtails’ like the Xtracycle, Surly’s Big Dummy and more recently, the Big Fat Dummy. But even so, I’ve steered away from using them on my own adventures for fear they’d compromise some of the riding I enjoy the most… namely, singletrack.
- Frame: 6066-T6 Aluminum, Carbon Bearpaw fork
- Geo Angles: 69° Headtube, 73° Seattube
- Bottom Bracket: 100mm BSA Threaded
- Hub specs: 197x12mm (rear); 150x15mm (front)
- Seatpost: 31.6mm
- Tire sizes: 27.5×3.8″/26×4.3″/29×3.0″
- Weight: 38lbs (17.24kg) Lg w/rack
- Price: $2799 (complete)
Salsa’s reborn Blackborow could well prove to be that missing link. Thanks to its 1336mm wheelbase (size L), this is a bike that’s certainly stretched out enough to haul all the water and supplies you’d need for the likes of ultra remote Australia’s Canning Stock epic, or maybe the extended exploration of Utah’s deserts you’ve long been day dreaming about. Yet, and somewhat bizarrely I’ll admit for a bike of this length, it’s also surprisingly fun to blast around singletrack, should the opportunity arise mid way through your journey, or trail maintenance in your own backyard be more your intention. Likely this is in part because as a ‘midtail’ with a 1367m wheelbase for the large size model, it’s some 227mm shorter than its ‘longtail’ Surly Big Fat Dummy brethren, which should make it just a little easier to pack and transport too. And at 38lbs complete, the new Blackborow is also reasonably light; removing its substantial rear rack would likely shed at least a couple of pounds, making for a perfectly reasonable weight in an expedition fat bike. Granted, I didn’t have a chance to ride the Blackborow laden, the ‘raison d’être’ of this bike. But still, it’s good to know that it’s a relatively capable trail steed when unencumbered.
The Blackborow GX Eagle will be available in three sizes: small, medium and large. In terms of sizing, I normally sit between an L and an XL, depending on brands, and found I fit the former fine. Thankfully the headtube and steerer lengths are on the generous side. The 6066-T6 aluminum frame comes equipped with a Bearpaw Carbon fork, which includes eyelets mounts for Anything Cage and lowrider mounts. In terms of wheel configurations, the bike is compatible with 26 x 3.8–4.33″ tires on up to 100mm rims, 27.5 x 4″, or 29 x 2.3–3.0″ rubber. There are three sets of bottle mounts per frame and two additional accessory mounts. Note that the rear rack is included with the bike and as mentioned before, weight is listed at just under 38lbs, including both the rack and inner tubes. Talking of which, aside from providing room for two large sets of panniers, there’s also plenty of lashing points for creative ways of attaching roll bags or similar.
Elsewhere, Sram’s new budget-conscious Eagle GX drivetrain provides plenty of low gears, especially given the 30T chainring up front. The bottom bracket is threaded rather than press fit, which is always good to see on a bike designed for the backcountry. In the wheels department, rims come courtesy of SUNringlé Mulefut (27.5″x80mm), shod with Maxxis Minion FBF front and FBR rear tires (27.5″x4.0″).
And why the 27.5″ tires? Salsa claim that “for groomed snow or dirt, the increase in diameter provides increased rollover, a longer contact patch, and the floatation of a 5” tire without the added rolling resistance.” Other benefits include the ability to run a slightly lower psi than would otherwise be possible on 26in rims, due to the shorter, stiffer sidewall – even a few psi can make all the difference in the winter riding world.
“Blackborow is our ‘dream big’ fatbike, best paired with an unlimited imagination. With huge carrying capacity via abundant frame and fork braze-ons, and room for four full-sized panniers on the beautifully engineered rear rack, your “It sure would be awesome to…” list of expeditions is more feasible than ever. When resupplies along your route are few and far between, or you want to incorporate backcountry skiing, fishing, trailbuilding, camping or any number of other opportunities into your journey, Blackborow will get the job done without complaint.” I’d add day to day cargo hauling and child-toting to that broad list of possibilities. NOTE: Salsa did not design or test the Blackborow for carrying live cargo and therefore cannot approve of this use.
There’s no plans to produce a tailor made set of luggage to go with the Blackborow, unlike the Big Fat Dummy’s extremely practical range of options and accessories already on the market, that serve to add greatly to such a bike’s value. But the company will be publishing all the relevant details so you can make your own, or have a custom set made. Certainly, the real estate between the rear tire and seat stay looks ripe with potential. For anyone seeking inspiration for what could be done with such a bike, here’s a couple of ideas:
Salsa’s Marketing Director, Mike Riemer, has fitted his ‘bikefishing‘ Blackborow with what he’s called his ‘Ode to Trout’ custom bags, built by Cedaero, based out of Two Harbors, Minnesota. Riemer says the bags were hand painted by Bozeman, Montana artist Mimi Matsuda. The driveside features Brook Trout artwork, the non-driveside features Brown Trout artwork. The custom rear “truck topper” deck was made by Swedish Karlos. That deck creates a cozy space for rod tubes to nest, sandwiched between the actual rack deck and the elevated ‘truck topper’ custom deck.
Coworker Pete Koski’s has geared his Blackborow towards kite surfing. We’re told the custom bags were built by Sturdy Bag Designs out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. A large single pannier on one side holds his kites, with a surf board sleeve on the other side. Pete built his own wooden rear deck.
2018 Salsa Blackborow Specs
We don’t have the full spec list, but this covers most of the bases. We’ll make sure to update this post as we know more…
- Frame: Blackborow
- Fork: Salsa Bearpaw Carbon 3 Pack
- Headset: Cane Creek 40
- Handlebar: Salsa Salt Flat
- Stem: Salsa Guide Trail
- Seatpost: Salsa Guide
- Saddle: WTB Volt Sport
- Grips: Salsa File Tread
- Crank: Race Face Next SL Cinch Fatbike
- Crank Arm Set: SRAM GX Eagle
- Chain: SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
- Cassette: SRAM XG-1275 Eagle 10-50t
- Shifter: SRAM GX Eagle
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM GX1 Eagle
- Brakes: Hayes MX Comp, 180 mm
- Rear Wheel: SUNringlé Mulefut 27.5″x80mm, 197x12mm
- Front Wheel: SUNringlé Mulefut 27.5″x80mm, 150x15mm
- Tires: Maxxis Minion FBF and FBR, 27.5 x 4.0″, 60tpi
- Complete Blacborrow: $2,799
- Frame and fork: $1,499
- Availability Early November
- Weight: Size Large 38lbs (17.24kg) w/rack
- Place of Manufacture Taiwan
- Contact SalsaCycles.com
Although I didn’t have the opportunity to ride the new Blackborow laden with gear, I’m certainly excited by its potential, after blasting around Californian trails and checking out the bike in detail. If ultra remote backcountry expeditions, multi-sport adventures, and trail maintenance pique your interests, then this reinvented midtail should certainly open up some intriguing possibilities. I’ll be interested to see what people get up to on it…