Fat Bike Test and Review - Salsa Beargrease C Cues - Ski Base

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More than a Fat Bike! Salsa Beargrease C Cues Review

More than a Fat Bike! Salsa Beargrease C Cues Review

Salsa bikes have been around in my neck of the woods for quite some time in a niche capacity. I'd first encountered them when I worked in a bike shop in Calgary that carried some of their original fat bikes. I've been quite intrigued by their dedication to "adventure" bikes, but I'd never actually ridden one beyond testing out a gravel model. On a sunny February morning I naturally jumped at the opportunity to take the Salsa Beargrease C Cues out to put it through its paces.


I've been an avid fat biker for over 8 years and Fernie has a great network of trails for winter riding that are regularly groomed by volunteers. I've been in the bike industry for 10+ years and have certainly tried a few fat bikes and owned two of my own, both aluminum models. While I've definitely landed and stayed in carbon-frame territory in my summer trail bikes, I've never gone down that path in a winter bike. Did I notice much of a difference? Yes, I DID!


Rider on fat bike 1

The Salsa Beargrease Cues is packed with value for a seasoned fat biker (we're beyond dabbling or entry level here) or someone who knows they're going to use it to its full potential. At a price of $3899 CAD, it's easy to to think that's mostly the light and pretty carbon frame talking. However, one of the first big picture thoughts I had after 20 minutes of pedaling was ALL THE THINGS I could do with this bike!


If you visit the Salsa website there is a video showing more summer use of the bike on flowy, light techy trails. I know there is a camp of folks who want a one-bike-does-all-for-all-seasons kind of ride and this could very well be it. The bike I rode has been set up for winter with Bar Mitts and partially studded tires (which you need on the ice around here), but if you ran the stock regular tires in the summer it would still be a great light duty trail bike AND furthermore, could be rigged up for some bikepacking trips as it's got a lot of mounting points which aren't always the case on fat bikes or carbon frames.


But back to the test ride. 


I rode a blue rated trail for around 90 minutes. It had snowed over night and there hadn't been much traffic out yet, so it was up me to break trail and track it out. The snow was a perfectly grippy, fresh 5-10cm on top of hardpacked snow (and some sneaky ice!) making for a little extra effort than normal. Did I even notice it though? Hardly. The Beargrease is so light and nimble that I was able to press onward and upwards while picking fresh, new lines in the snow. 


I'm a size medium in nearly everything and the fit felt good the moment I hit the pedals. Winter biking is different than regular mountain biking in the way that you need to weight the bike differently to maintain traction, particularly on the climbs. The geometry felt super stable and easy to move on, providing good traction with no twitchy handling. Rolling on a slightly more narrow fat bike tire than what I'm used to didn't pose any issues when it came to grip. I let some air out prior to descending and it grabbed hold on corners and ice without feeling squirrely. The light frame was really observed on any punchy bits of the climb, and felt super smooth on the descents. I've never felt the need to run front suspension on a fat bike and honestly, on this bike any small bump vibrations were noticeably dampened anyway. Oh that sweet carbon! 


Salsa Beargrease in Fernie

This was my first ride on the new 11 speed Shimano Cues drivetrain. I know this is an economical choice that's been introduced recently and it felt quite robust and reliable. Everything worked, but it did feel a little clunky. Regardless, it got the job done and had enough range to power through any daunting parts of the climb.


A couple of cons and question marks did stand out to me. First, a dropper post doesn't come stocked on the bike. That upgrade was added on the bike I'd rode, but I can't picture riding any type of trail bike without one, especially at that pricepoint. Also, the stocked Shimano brakes felt good, but I was also riding in a mild -2 degree Celsius temperature and wonder if they'd have any issues with the mineral fluid freezing once you endeavor out into colder temps. Things to factor in depending on where you live and ride.


All in all, it was a fun bike to ride that ticks a lot of boxes, particularly in versatility across all seasons. Don't peg this bike as just a winter fat bike. It's designed to take an adventurous rider on much more in both comfort and function, and hey, it looks pretty sharp too!


More info on this bike can be found HERE.

*A special thanks to the trail associations and volunteers of Fernie, BC for their efforts in grooming the winter trails. Shout outs to Jeff at Ski Base for lending me the bike, and to my friend Linda, for riding along with me and taking a lot of photos.*



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