A couple of weeks ago I posted some short videos captured during my Fruita to Moab Kokopelli trip. It was an amazing trip that challenged me both mentally and physically. Thankfully, I had ridden the trail about 15 years ago. This previous experience helped me shape my gear and narrowed my bike choice to the Salsa Big Mama. Read on to read more about the Big Mama and view some of my pictures taken on my 13.5 hour 125mile solo Fruita to Moab journey.
I chose the Big Mama for this journey. Fifteen years ago I rode the trail on a hard tail with racks and panniers. The Kokopelli is a trail that has it all. Both ends of the trail are capped with epic desert single track. The middle sections are filled with two track desert road with surfaces ranging from sand, rock, to hard pack. At times I felt like I was in the Sahara. Other times I felt like I was on mars.
I could have ridden any number of Salsa bikes including my Fargo, El Mariachi, Dos Niner, Big Mama, or a couple of prototypes. I choose the Big Mama. Why did I choose the Big Mama?
- It pedals so well. We've sent a fair number of the El Kaboing and Big Mama's out on test rides over the last several months since showing the bike to the media last June. Many folks agree including several media reviews that this bike pedals really well. Given I'd be pedaling for so long, I would not pick a bike of mine that didn't pedal really well.
- Suspension. Now truth be told, I could have ridden any bike I mentioned above on the trail. Each would allow me to do different things. However, for me the Big Mama provided me with the perfect balance, comfort and capability. It did everything I wanted it too and ate up the terrain. I flipped the pro pedal on for the middle flat sections and flipped it off for any single track or rocky path. I love suspension and how it eliminates my spinal compression and corresponding pain.
- Feel. Now this is one of those things that isn't necessarily measurable nor the same for every person, but the Big Mama has a certain feel to it. It's stiff in the right places. As mentioned, it pedals well. The geo is really good for all day riding. Also, since I had weight on the front and the back of the bike, I needed a certain level of stiffness and rigidity to the bike. In my eyes, the Big Mama was my only choice.
- Performance. In over 200 miles of trail over 4 days carrying all my gear, I did not have one single mechanical. The bike performed perfectly.
That is why I chose the Big Mama. I love this bike. It gets the job done and is ready for the next day. Time and time again.
Now....All was not perfect on my ride. I did have a few issues. My right hand went numb and I'm still having a few issues with it. My next trip will at a minimum have carbon Salsa handlebars on the bike, probably some new grips, and likely some gloves that are more than a single thin layer of soft leather. I'll likely have a new saddle as the one I used is great up to about 4 hours. After that, not so good for me. I also need to have a custom frame bag made to go with my custom Epic Designs seat and bar bag so I can carry more stuff on the bike as opposed to on me. Next time.
In the end, I couldn't be happier with my choice or the bike. It's a keeper for sure. My next adventure later this month will be with my Fargo where I tackle dirt, pavement, gravel and single track in 3 different states.
Oh.....And if you got this far and are considering a Big Mama or El Kaboing, we've got a new MSRP for the framesets ($1315). We let the Salsa dealers know last week. If you've been waiting for just the right time, I think that time is now. Go buy one. You won't be disappointed.
Ride & Smile!
This post filed under topics: Bikepacking
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Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.