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First Impressions

The Outrageous Salsa Bucksaw

Words Cam McRae
Photos Dave Smith
Date Jan 4, 2018

Everything about the Bucksaw is outrageous; the carbon frame, the huge aggressively knobbed rubber, the bold paint. This effect is amplified by scarcity. This is Canada but fat bikes are rare on the North Shore. We don't get enough snow most years for that to be the justification and our terrain is so burly that for most people bulbous rubber isn't considered. After three rides on this savage circus performer I've come to wonder if that that thinking is flawed. 

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Weighing a bike like this seems a little silly. But I did nonetheless. It came to 34 lbs with pedals. These wheels are currently set up with tubes and taking them tubeless could save 400 grams per wheel or more, as well as improving rolling resistance. That'll be next. 

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A traditional approach to routing. No fishing required. The details on this bike are done well. 

Last winter we had our way with a Kona WOZO and everyone loved it. Fat tires ease the sting significantly but it remained clear you were riding a hardtail. This capable roll over anything hardtail with Gorilla traction had us all wondering how one of these steeds would perform with some damping and travel in the rear. 

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The Bucksaw grips like no other bike I've ridden and the 45NTH Van Helga tires get much of the credit. These 26 x 4.0s are adorned with the burliest knobs I've seen on a fat bike and it's almost impossible to have them break loose in normal conditions. 

Yesterday we were riding down what is essentially a creekbed that is the gateway to both Grannies and Crippler trails and I was leading. We stopped to regroup and Trevor informed me that I had ridden down a rock slab glazed with sheer ice. Normally this is an instant thrashing but I hadn't even noticed. 

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100 mm may not seem like a lot of travel but it's enough to make the Bucksaw float. The suspension is tuned to work with the high volume/low pressure rubber.

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You can also run 29" wheels on the Bucksaw if you want a little more versatility. 27.5 fat tires will not fit. The short stays that make the bike maneuverable wouldn't have been possible with larger fat wheel compatibility. 

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The 10-42 SRAM GX 1x11 drivetrain provides enough low end with the 26" wheels - with help from the 28t chainring. The rear suspension uses a Dave Weagle designed Split Pivot configuration with the rear pivot concentric with the rear axle. 

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Big Surly Marge Lite rims with cutouts. 

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Some of the time the Bucksaw just feels like a mountain bike. Unless it's time to monster truck over something or grip like a mofo. I have been riding with dudes on regular 27.5 or 29er enduro type bikes and getting along just fine - and sometimes better than they have. Rear shock is a RockShox Monarch RT Debonair.

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The RockShox Bluto has performed admirably despite its modest 100mm travel. 

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The SRAM Guide brakes paired with the Van Helga tires provided monstrous stopping force even in very slippery conditions.

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I didn't expect to have a fat bike inspire me to take high lines and get creative on the trail. The Bucksaw reveals opportunities for radness.

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Non-drive side view. The snow arrived just in time for the Bucksaw's debut, but we're looking forward to trying it on dirt as well. 

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Can you tell I'm having fun? 

We'll be back with a full review of the Bucksaw. I've already learned this is a bike that will make you laugh out loud.

The Bucksaw Carbon GX1 retails for a reasonable 3399 USD. There is an X01 model for 4799 USD and an aluminum version with this spec for 2699 USD. For more on the Bucksaw head this way...

Comments

fartymarty
+1 Mark
fartymarty  - Jan. 4, 2018, 2:35 a.m.

It would be interesting to see how this bike goes with 29" wheels and maybe a longer travel fork for summer use.

Reply

AKSHREDFAT
0
AKSHREDFAT  - Jan. 4, 2018, 6:18 a.m.

I think a longer travel fork (> 120mm)  would really jack up the feel of this bike and also void warranty on frame.

Reply

Idaridesayeti
0
Mike Anderson  - Jan. 4, 2018, 7:06 a.m.

We have a guy in our group that rides one of these year round, he puts a 120 on the front and loves it. It should be noted though that he is not an aggressive rider at all, mostly xc. Not sure how it would stand up to hard summer riding.

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Jan. 4, 2018, 8:18 a.m.

I'm sure an angleset and offset bushings would sort it out.  

The headtube looks pretty substantial to me plus if you aren't increasing the height from the ground to the bottom of the head tube (angleset) you don't actually increase the moment in the headtube even though you are adding a longer fork.

Reply

MTBrent
0
MTBrent  - Jan. 4, 2018, 9:58 a.m.

The vertical distance between the axle and head tube wouldn't affect the moment caused by horizontal impacts from straight ahead (an angleset actually helps this), but the horizontal distance (which does increase with both a longer fork and/or an angleset) does affect the moment caused by vertical impacts, which are prominent due that pesky thing called gravity.

Think of an ab roller.  What's the hardest part?  When your arms (fork) are more vertical and the roller (front wheel) is below your shoulders (head tube), or when your arms are at a "slack" angle and the roller is out in front of you?

Reply

fartymarty
+1 MTBrent
fartymarty  - Jan. 5, 2018, 1:45 a.m.

Brent - Good point on the vertical load an increase in horizontal offset but I think the horizontal loads (stopping from speed / bumps) on the fork are going to be >> than the vertical loads.  In addition the lever arm is longer = more moment on the HT.

Regardless of all of this it looks like a very chunky HT and it wouldn't bother me putting a longer travel fork on it.  This would make it a very versatile bike.

Reply

mammal
0
Mammal  - Jan. 5, 2018, 12:55 p.m.

Vertical loads include drops to flat. Headtube junctions circa '99/2000 didn't even know what hit'em, even with waaaay steeper HA's.

whatyouthink
+2 Geof Harries Cam McRae
whatyouthink  - Jan. 4, 2018, 7:06 a.m.

not enough people try fat bikes before passing judgment. it is like a circus toy. they sound ridiculous, look ridiculous, but are pretty fun to get rowdy on

Reply

AKSHREDFAT
+1 Cam McRae
AKSHREDFAT  - Jan. 4, 2018, 9:02 a.m.

I couldnt agree more. I live in Anchorage, where it all started, and there are still some hold outs! Inhave one of these bucksaws, too; just got it. I've been ridig fatbikes since 2010, and this bike is simply awesome!!! It rides and handles like my spesh 650+ but with 4" tires. All the suspenaion works great even at single-digit temps. Its truly like riding a mtn bike with 4" tires.

Reply

morgman
0
Morgan Taylor  - Jan. 4, 2018, 8:57 a.m.

The best thing about my experience with suspension on a fat bike is that I'm able to run more pressure in my tires, negating fat tires' tendency to autosteer at low pressures. For a 4" tire I'm talking like 9 psi front, 10 psi rear. 

Many people run their fat tires with less but I can't stand the unpredictable handling, even at, say, 7 and 8 psi respectively. Of course, that's a 20% difference in pressure, which would make a tire of any size fold and autosteer. Imagine running your 2.3s that you'd usually put 23 and 25 in at 18 and 21 instead. No bueno.

Suffice to say, a pressure gauge that's consistent at pressures below 10 psi is crucial to get the most out of a fat bike. 

On the wheel swap topic, we built 27.5+ wheelsets for both of our fat bikes, which allows us to run 2.8s or 3.0s. I feel like this is a more natural step than going all the way to a 29" wheelset with narrower tires. The 27.5+ wheels from Stephanie's Surly Wednesday will fit the Bucksaw, if you want to give them a go sometime.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 4, 2018, 9:27 a.m.

Thanks Morgan. That would be cool. In snowy situations I have dropped the pressure a little lower than that without issue but I think on harder surfaces it could be an issue. At times it feels like the steering is a bit damped, like with a Hopey, but predictably so. Looking forward to taking it tubeless for better trail feel and lower rolling resistance - not to mention less weight!

Reply

morgman
0
Morgan Taylor  - Jan. 7, 2018, 11:12 a.m.

In extreme low traction situations, you are more likely to end up in the pressure range where you toe the line between grip and autosteer. My problem with lowering pressures to the point of extreme autosteer is my rides are rarely on just snow. 

My fat bike is my only mountain bike with a suspension fork right now, so I ride it in all kinds of conditions, all year. At this time of year I climb from my house on pavement and dirt up to trails that may or may not be snowy. So that said, I prefer to keep my tires at slightly higher pressures that are suited to a wider range of conditions even when I'm in lower traction situations. I'd rather a tire have reduced traction than exhibit autosteer.

It bears mentioning that some tires exhibit extreme autosteer at pressures where others are just fine. Tread pattern, casing shape, and durometer are all factors. Because we're toeing that line between grip and autosteer, bad tires stand out. And if your tire exhibits unwanted characteristics well before the casing is folding, you're having a weird ride every time. Lots of fat tires out there now, none of the good ones cheap...

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 4, 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Useful commentary, Morgan. How many digital gauges do you have experience with and, more importantly, can you recommend or condemn any specific models? I had good luck with Schwalbe's unit - when it worked - but it died and a fresh battery was not the solution. Currently using one from SKS and so far so good.

Reply

sweaman2
+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
Sweaman2  - Jan. 4, 2018, 12:50 p.m.

I like to run a little lower over here in Alberta.  ~5 psi (75kg on 4" Dillinger) if the snow is soft means I get enough traction.

For gauge I like the Accu-Gauge from GH Meiser.  Cheap and no batteries.  Agrees with my Digital Lezyne pump.

Reply

davetolnai
0
Dave Tolnai  - Jan. 4, 2018, 3:30 p.m.

Was just coming to say the same thing!  I bought a 30 psi model of Amazon a few years ago, and it has been great.  I'm not down in fat range, but it has done well for Plus tires.  The 15 psi would probably work pretty well for lower pressures.

Reply

grimwood
0
grimwood  - Jan. 6, 2018, 5:06 p.m.

I’ve had a couple of sub par experiences with the SKS and Schwalbe digital gauges. So I went with the kappius pressure gauge. Not cheap, but it’s been awesome. Worth the price of admission in my opinion. And I think you can really dial in your tires for the kind of ride you’re going on. Or just get super nerdy. And at least it’s one variable you can really control. 

Mike

https://www.kappiuscomponents.com/collections/accessories/products/digital-pressure-gauge

Reply

morgman
0
Morgan Taylor  - Jan. 7, 2018, 11 a.m.

We bought the Shimano PRO Team Digital floor pump within the last year and it's been good for this low range of pressures as it's accurate to the half-degree. Until this one fails, I don't feel the need to try anything else. 

I've tried the Schwalbe and the SKS portable ones and found the readings to vary wildly between samples. That alone made me hesitant to even use them, so I can't comment on their day-to-day consistency, which is far more important than the actual readout. 

Before buying this PRO pump, I looked into the analog Accu-Gage a number of times, but the cost of buying it out of the US was prohibitive. It would, however, be nice to have a trusted analog control.

Reply

Xorrox
+1 Cam McRae
Brad_xyz  - Jan. 4, 2018, 9:31 a.m.

It would be very cool to be able to have one of these as a second bike.  It sounds like a super fun option for a lot of marginal riding conditions.

Reply

Gigantic
+2 radair goose8
Lance Lau  - Jan. 4, 2018, 3:32 p.m.

27.5fat tires absolutely do fit. I’ve been running Bontrager Hodags on i45 WTB scraper rims for the past 2 winters, with a minimum of 10mm clearance all around.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 4, 2018, 6:27 p.m.

Good to know! Thanks

Reply

goose8
0
goose8  - Jan. 4, 2018, 7:26 p.m.

How do you like this setup? Do you get a lot of snow? Running a 27.5x3.8 hodag on the front right now (Maxxis FBR rear) and it's been good, but definitely has less flotation than a wide 26" tire in deep snow. If the snow is that good though I can always go ski!

Reply

AKSHREDFAT
0
AKSHREDFAT  - Jan. 4, 2018, 7:39 p.m.

Wow! What 27.5 fat tires fit this frame? 27.5 + fits, but 27.5 × 4" wont fit.

Reply

goose8
+1 AKSHREDFAT
goose8  - Jan. 4, 2018, 7:51 p.m.

I should clarify- I don't have a bucksaw. I'm running 27.5x3.8 tires on my hardtail (RSD Sergeant). Both the Hodag and Maxxis tires are labeled as 3.8 but are actually much smaller. Based on my experience the FBR is the smallest of the three, then the FBF, and the Hodag is the largest. Clearance isn't spectacular but I get by.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 5, 2018, 8:54 a.m.

We now have a set of 27.5 x 3.8 Hodags so we can try it out.

Reply

radair
0
radair  - Jan. 9, 2018, 7:46 a.m.

I've been running the 27.5 x 3.8 Hodags on my Bucksaw and there's plenty of clearance. Also running a Mastodon fork at 120 mm travel and love it. I don't GAF about voiding a warranty.

Reply

AKSHREDFAT
0
AKSHREDFAT  - Jan. 24, 2018, 10:04 p.m.

You fit 27.5 wheelset with 3.8 tires in your Bucksaw?

Reply

syncro
0
Mark  - Jan. 8, 2018, 7:22 p.m.

Cam, how did you find the fat bike for climbing? Did it feel like you were towing a boat up Fromme or just a little slower than a normal 26 or even 27.5 wheeled bike?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 24, 2018, 9:56 p.m.

It seemed like a bit of a grunt at times but it wasn't entirely clear the problem was the wheels or the engine. Meaning it wasn't entirely clear why I felt like I was working a little harder. Other times it's been fine. The bike is tubeless now shedding nearly a pound per wheel and that seems to have helped. I'd say it would only be an issue if you were on a ride with faster rides and you are hoping to keep up. Otherwise entirely manageable and not unpleasant.

Reply

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