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Salsa Mukluk:  It’s All About The Details

With the introduction of the Mukluk, Salsa brings an affordable price aluminum snow bike frameset and complete bike to snow, sand, and chunk riders around the globe. We’ve put hundreds of hours into development of the Mukluk.  Many of them on the bike testing and evaluating concepts, refining them for production.  We've had a lot of fun throughout the entire process. In this article we focus on the details of the frame and why we made critical design decisions.

Geometry

Fit on the Mukluk borrows elements from our existing mountain bikes and blends them with feedback from our test riders and the fatbike community. Two important elements on the Mukluk are standover clearance and taller headtubes.Headtubes are 15-50mm taller depending on frame size than our current 29ers.  We’ve gained an additional 15-20mm of standover clearance for those times when the trail gets too soft and it’s time to hike a bike.

Horizontal toptube lengths compare directly to the El Mariachi steel or titanium models.  If you ride a medium in another of our mountain bikes, you’ll ride a medium Mukluk.  Of course it is always a good idea to work with your dealer to find proper fit.

Handling can be a touchy subject. We all have our own personal preferences of how we like our bikes to ride.  Determining handling geometry on Mukluk was a matter of listening to feedback, producing prototypes, testing, and refinement.  Kid had some strong opinions of the fit and handling characteristics, so we made him a proto frame to test those ideas that was ultimately dubbed the Snowflake.  With another prototype, Rustflake, we tested a few more ideas.  In the end we took what we feel were the best characteristics and applied them to the handling geometry of the Mukluk.

The most notable handling characteristic of the Mukluk is more stability in slow speed situations.  Riding soft trails with 4” tires can often mean fighting the front end of the bike to hold your line.  The more you fight the front wheel, the more you are going to fatigue.  The Mukluk has a wheelbase that is 26.7-28.3mm longer than a comparable El Mariachi titanium (note: I didn't compare the El Mariachi steel because of its variable chainstay length).  The rear center (chainstay length) is 455mm long, 5mm longer than the El Mariachi titanium.  The head angle is 69.5-70.0°, 1.5-2° more relaxed than the 71-72° head angle on the El Mariachi titanium.  Chainstay length, steering angles, fork offset, and a lower bottom bracket all contribute to providing more stability.  More stability equals less fatigue.

Frame Material

By now you’ve dropped on over to the Mukluk page and know that the frame is constructed of 6061-T6 aluminum.  We chose 6061-T6 aluminum because of the ability to build a stiff, relatively light, and durable chassis.  It helps that aluminum also provides more protection from corrosion on those long rides along the coast and through the winter slush.  4” tires at 5-10psi provide compliance that keeps you in the saddle all day long.

Drivetrain

100mm bottom brackets coupled with a spaced out drivetrain have become the norm on fatbikes.  Some of the earliest fatbikes built borrowed this already existing standard from the downhill/freeride community.  Most of the cranksets and bottom brackets available are built with big hit riding in mind, but each year we see more purpose-built components specifically for the fatbike niche.

It’s a simple reality: if you want to build a bike with a 4” tire the drivetrain must be moved outward to clear its girth.  Surly popularized the 17.5mm offset built rear wheel.  The 17.5mm offset standard provides clearance for the chain and tires and gets the chainline in alignment on the chainrings and cassette.  To build a non-offset wheel, moving the drivetrain out 17.5mm it is simple math to arrive at a 170mm hub width.  The 170mm spacing on the Mukluk allows for wheels to be built symmetrically, or using the optional 170-to-135 adapter kit wheels can be built to a 17.5 offset using a 135mm hub.  That’s the basics of Dual Spacing.  What it means is more choices for you, the rider.

Many of you have asked how the 170-to-135 Adapter functions.  Here’s a couple of images that show visually how it all goes together.

and one that shows it in use

The Mukluk frameset and complete bicycle are equipped with a Problem Solvers Direct Mount Adapter.  We chose this standard over E-type mounts to, once again, provide more choice and flexibility to you.  Shimano offers Direct Mount compatible front derailleurs.  The direct mount adapter also allows for better compatibility with a wider range of front chainring setups.  While the Mukluk comes equipped with a standard 22,32,44 chainring range, we know that many of you are experimenting with alternative single, double and triple chainring setups.

fancy image...

and one in use...Sorry I didn't clean it.

On the question of cable routing, there isn’t one.  Full cable housing from handlebars to rear derailleur means less chance you'll be walking home, chipping away ice, or building a campfire because your cables froze in place.  For best compatibility with both Shimano and SRAM derailleurs and better clearance on the top tube, both shift and brake housing is under the down tube.  We’ve provided all of the necessary braze-on's to keep it securely stowed away. It does also create a nice clean package and works well with front triangle frame bags.

There’s a few other details worth mentioning here.

The Mukluk frameset is compatible with up to 100mm rims and Surly Larry/Endomorph tires.  100mm rims provide the maximum in flotation and are quickly becoming the standard on race bikes at the Iditasport Trail Invitational and the Arrowhead 135. 

As Kid mentioned in the introduction to the Mukluk I have been testing the bike with a set of 29er wheels.  Measuring everything out, the geometry of the bike changed very little.  The difference between the outer wheel diameter on a Larry tire mounted on a 100mm wide rim and the 2.4 Schwalbe Racing Ralph mounted to a Salsa Gordo rim is 8mm.  My bottom bracket height has changed ever so slightly and I've been pleasantly surprised at just how normal the bike feels in the 10+ hours of riding and testing.  Honestly, I've forgotten that I'm spinning a 100mm wide bottom bracket, even though Q factor has changed drastically.  The human body adapts remarkably well.  Especially in these conditions...

Braze-ons abound on the Mukluk Frameset.  You already know that the Enabler has provisions for front racks, water bottles, and our Everything Cage.  We’ve provided rack mounts on the frame as well, along with three sets of water bottle mounts.   On M, L, and XL frames the downtube water bottle cage mount is configured to accept the Everything Cage as well.  You’ll have no problem carrying ‘stuff’ where you want it.

Mukluk is one frame where the graphics are both visual and functional.  The trees remind me of last winter’s tour in the northwoods, where Tim and I awoke to a world blanketed in heavy white snow.  The reflective decals would have made us significantly more visible to the snow machine riders as we pedaled through the dense pine forest.  They will certainly be a welcome addition at events like the Arrowhead 135, where reflective material isn't just a suggestion, but a requirement.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the decisions we made in developing the Mukluk and why.  We hope this answers the questions that are lingering out there.

If you have other questions, please use the Comment function and I'll answer them as they come.

This post filed under topics: Mukluk New Product Snow Biking

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Meiser

I've had a lot of good luck and made a series of choices to be working for the brand and in the bike industry. In 2007 I signed up for the TransIowa just to see if I could complete it. I completed it and discovered a few things about myself in the process. Adventure cycling has been in my blood ever since.

COMMENTS (41)

nate moore | August 4th, 2010

will the Front Derailleur direct mount work with the options SRAM makes in their mountain 10 speed offerings?

jp | August 4th, 2010

why didn’t you use scandium?  is salsa dropping scandium?

Guitar Ted | August 4th, 2010

Great write up Joe. Thanks for taking the time to ‘splain all that. The offset adapter is awesome. Great idea.

NG | August 4th, 2010

Good question, JP. I was wondering that, too.  Perceived value comes to mind as one potential justification. And greater accessability to the masses, probably. I’m not a designer or engineer, but when I consider the potentially increased weight savings of a scandium frame over a 6061-T6 frame (non-rotational weights, of course) as a percentage of the Mukluk’s overall weight, I’m guessing that a typical rider would feel the difference in frame materials mostly in their wallet.

But like I said, I really don’t have a clue.  I am just guessing as to why they may not have used scandium on the Mukluk . . .

Soooo . . . is it goodbye to scandium?  Bueller?  Anyone?

Kid Riemer | August 4th, 2010

nate moore: We hope SRAM makes a compatible Direct Mount model in the future. Having more choices of parts is better for bicyclists.

Kid Riemer | August 4th, 2010

jp & NG: Salsa isn?t married to any single frame material. We?ve used different types of steel, scandium, titanium, and even carbon in our frames.

The Mukluk is our first model made from AL-6061. We use the best-suited material for any given project. You may see products in our line made with other (new-to-us) frame materials in the near future.

Could the Mukluk have been made from scandium? Sure. But we felt that we?ve met our goal with the material AL-6061. The bike rides well, the frame is a good weight, the material is proven, and we were able to deliver the Mukluk at a price we hoped to hit.

I hope that helps explain our decision.

NG | August 4th, 2010

Of course, Kid. :) Thanks for the reply.  I never doubted for a moment that it was a well-reasoned decision. Just speculating while bored at work. :)

Again, nice work!  Can’t wait to ride one!  And to see the rest of the two-wheeled goodness you are cooking up.

kl | August 4th, 2010

kid,

when will these be in stock?? it will be winter in dulluth soon…  :)

Kid Riemer | August 4th, 2010

Kurt, good to hear from you…ahhh…the glory days…

In stock in November…

Also, there is a chance the Crew will be hitting Duluth for an Adventure lead by Tim Ek…will try to announce it before it happens so your sort might be able to join us…

DP | August 4th, 2010

What about a 100 to 135 adapter for those of us that want to use a dynamo hub?  Since front and rear brake mounts are different the current one will not work (unless the front is using a rear mount).  With the longer axle-to-crown of the enabler fork compared to other fat forks, we’d have to run one with too short of a fork, wrecking the geo.  Even with a +5mm it will be 16mm too short.

Jonathan Gennick | August 5th, 2010

I’m curious, why the need for an adapter for the front derailleur? Why not simply use the more common type of derailleur that clamps directly to the seat tube?

Blockhead | August 5th, 2010

@ Jonathan Gennick

Because the Mukluk requires a 100mm BB shell.  Which means the crankset is an extra 16mm farther away from the seat tube (assuming standard is 68mm BB shell).  So by clamping a standard FD to the seat tube you would never get enough throw out of it to shift up front.

Jonathan Gennick | August 5th, 2010

@Blockhead. Ok. That makes sense, but only if Problem Solvers made an adapter specifically with fat bikes in mind. Is that what happened in this case? I guess it must be.

Allen Beauchamp | August 6th, 2010

Thank you Salsa! I can’t tell you how happy I am with my Fargo and now you go and build the perfect snow/sand/play bike for me :-) Fanstastic design/execution choices all around. Queue up a Large and send it to CS West Bikes in Colorado Springs…this will be the most eagerly anticipated bike in the shop!

Daniel Clark | August 8th, 2010

I concur with Mr. Beauchamp… I am a proud Fargo owner also, and this new bike would work nicely in my Michigan winter riding.  I am scheming at this very moment to procure funding for this bike to sit in the living room amongst the others.  Living room?!  Yep.

jamesmallon | August 11th, 2010

Beautiful!  Only one or two things I would change for my perfect snow/sand bike: sliding drop-outs, so that I could run the upcoming Shimano Alfine 11 - if it’s any good.  Have you given thought to sliding drop-outs, or (my less preferred) EBB?

Kid Riemer | August 13th, 2010

jamesmallon - Yes, we have talked about, thought about, schemed about some sort of adjustable dropout design on the Mukluk. We know there are users who are interested in that sort of thing, whether based on your type of motivation or the Alaskan alder thicket bushwack perspective.

How many snowbike/sandbike/fatbike users want singlespeed/chain tensioning cabapility? That is one of the big questions.

As with any product, we’ll continue to look at it and see what changes and improvements can be made, and then those will happen over time.

jamesmallon | August 14th, 2010

Thanks.  I have read a lot of blogs with people on singlespeed Pugsleys, and a few with Shimano 8s.  Seems like the Shimano 8 runs well in cold when repacked with oil, instead of grease; the new Shimano 11 comes with oil, so much the better.  I’d guess more people than not will go with derailleurs, but if the addition of sliding-drops adds little to the cost and costs little durability, why not?  On the other hand, if it worsens either…

Gillis | August 15th, 2010

Enough about scandium. Its my understanding that 7000 series aluminum is more fatigue resistant, at the cost of only a slight weight penalty. For a bike like this and its intended use, wouldn’t this be an added benefit?

Jay Atwater | August 18th, 2010

Will the 170mm hub and a 170mm skewer be available when the bike is released? Are the specs for the hub finalized/available?

Kid Riemer | August 18th, 2010

Jay Atwater: Yes, the complete Mukluk will be spec’d with the 170mm hub and skewer. The hub is being made for us by Formula. It will be 32-hole, 170mm spaced (obviously), Black.

On a side note (and one on which I have precious little information…so don’t ask follow-ups), our sister brand Handspun will be building and offering some 170mm spaced wheel options. Like I said…I don’t know more than that!

Tim Burton | August 19th, 2010

I think sliding drop outs or EBB would be a very good idea. I am on a pugsley and know a few other guys riding them that all run single speed. I would love to buy this bike and save some weight but I need to be able to run SS.

Other than that I love it,

Tim

timh | August 20th, 2010

are everything cages going to be available at the same time as the other new racks?

mike | August 20th, 2010

the mukluk looks like fun.  if i understand right, using the 135-170 rear adapter with offset 135 wheel, means i can’t use that wheel in the front with the enabler fork, right?  so an emergency backcountry swap wouldn’t work.  maybe you need a 170 enabler fork and run 2 170 wheels?  this is making my brain hurt.

Kid Riemer | August 23rd, 2010

Mike - You are correct. The front wheel is a 135mm non-offset. The rear wheel when using the adaptor is a 135mm offset rear. They cannot be swapped. Yes, the 170mm spaced front fork idea has been tossed around.

On a side note, we haven’t seen many people truly taking advantage of the ‘emergency backcountry swap’ but I still appreciate that concept…that is how my El Mariachi is set up. Singlespeed wheel up front as the backup.

jamesmallon | August 25th, 2010

Now if you could do something so we Canadians don’t get %^$#%$ for the pricing.  Is it Canadian distributors taking the cream off the top?  All I know is that a Fargo is $1960 in the states, $2250 in Canada ($2150 US), but worse in the UK ?1599 ($2470 US!).  Still, it makes me delay purchasing anything at all.

Craig Smith | August 28th, 2010

One thing that slightly puzzled me was the choice of rims. Why Vicious Cycles Graceful Fat Sheba rims when the “in house” Large Marge rims are 280 grams (each) lighter?

(I sincerely apologize for being a weight weenie on a fatbike.) :)

Joe | August 30th, 2010

Craig,

You are correct that the LM rims are lighter, but that additional weight of the Fat Sheba provides more float on the fluffy stuff.  You don’t have to apologize for being a weight weenie.  You should see the holes Miker drilled in his first set of fat rims to save weight for the arrowhead…We’re definitely weenie’s around here sometimes.

Craig Smith | September 2nd, 2010

Thanks Joe.
I don’t think I’ll be taking a drill to my rims any time soon, but
I get it now, wider rim gives a 3.8 tire more surface contact, than a narrower rim.

Hold your hand like you’re holding a cup, and making the letter C.
Now, if your index finger and thumb is the tire bead that make contact with the rim, watch what happens when you move them closer and then farther apart, as the “rim” get wider, the tire “tread” area spreads out and gives you a wider contact patch.
Floatation good.

john | September 9th, 2010

hello, I put in a pre order for a complete mukluk at my lbs, they told me mid november.  Are you guys going to be able to complete the order, or am I going to have to wait?  How do I know if my pre ordered frame is actually going to be available, or should I go back to the fat bike drawing board if I want to be sure I have a snow bike before winter really hits here in Minnesota?  The internet rumor boards say you are sold out 10 pre orders for every 4 frames you have; is this true or just stressful innuendo?  I’m sure you will come through, but just want to be sure, thanks.

Rick Fuentes | September 20th, 2010

Ditto what the last poster said.  I’ve ordered two Mukluks from Freewheel Bike in Minneapolis.  (My wife fell in love with the bike as well.)  For the first time, I can’t wait for winter!
Also, I had heard that at the $1500 price point the Mukluk is a 1x9 rather than a triple up front as you have pictured.  Yes?
Thanks!

Sean | September 20th, 2010

I need help on a couple issues:

1) I have a set of big wheels already, with an Alfine IGH rear hub (135mm) and Alfine dynamo front hub, both laced symmetrically to Large Marges.  To use this rear wheel with the 170mm adaptor I’ll need it offset (fine)...but will I also need a longer solid axle as well?  The wheel is a bolt on, no skewer.  Does anyone actually make a compatible axle in that length?

2) My front wheel has the Alfine Dynamo hub laced to a Large Marge.  Will I need a change the skewer to a 135mm length?  Is there a front adaptor that would allow me to run a disk brake in the front or should I have one machined for this?

Sean | September 20th, 2010

sorry, in point 2 of my earlier comment, I meant to ask if I need to up the AXLE to 135mm size, not the skewer.  I’m guessing yes, but then I’ll need some spacers to fill the void and a custom disc brake adaptor to fill the void.

Sean | September 22nd, 2010

Sorry for my daftness but I finally understand how that rear adaptor functions.  It extends the dropout inwards, so the hub uses a 135mm axle but a longer skewer. This seems to rule out an IGH hub like the Alfine or Rohloff as they use locknuts and anti-torque washers.

On the front end, again I’m guessing the Alfine dynamo hub is ruled out unless I get an adaptor machined (using the same logic as the rear 170mm to 135mm adaptor) and then have the front wheel offset dished.  The adaptor extends the axle and moves the calipers inward to where the roor rides.

In short, I’m hooped if I want to use my BEAUTIFUL Alfine wheels unless I can rig some custom adaptors to bridge the gap and accommodate a bolt on 135mm rear wheel.

Craig Smith | September 30th, 2010

“Officially”, is the Mukluk a 2010 or a 2011 model?

Kid Riemer | October 4th, 2010

Craig - Good question. I guess I’d call it a 2011 model though we try to avoid the model year designation generally.

Justin | October 4th, 2010

Can any LBS with a Quality account order one for me?  If so is it available to order before they are in stock?  Thanks

Kid Riemer | October 4th, 2010

Justin - No, all QBP dealers don’t have access to Mukluk. I suggest you contact Salsa authorized dealers. If you have trouble finding one that has Mukluk’s on order, let us know and we will help you find a dealer that placed an order.

alan | November 28th, 2010

The complete Surly Pugsley is selling for an unrealistic $2100 in Edmonton, Alberta.
I hope the Salsa Mukluks arriving here soon are $1500 as they are in the US.
Any advice here?

Ellie | November 29th, 2010

Any idea how much the cost will be in the UK and if we’re going to be able to get them here? OK, so we don’t quite have the snow to justify buying one, but heck - if we get a couple of days worth then so be it.

Eric Klyne | December 24th, 2010

Any being sold in Canada yet?

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