Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Josie's Bike Life and Decorah Bicycles Explore SaddleDrive PT 1

Travis and I were lucky to get invited to QBP's (Quality Bicycle Products) Annual SaddleDrive event #saddledrive in Ogden, UT.

Of course the time of year is a bit tricky for us to feel like we can leave work, but it worked out great!

We were excited to venture out of our Iowa home and see what mountain biking was like in Utah.

This will be a very non-technical review of some of the bikes that Travis and I rode, figuring that there will be many tech-savvy reviews out there. We will give some honest feedback in a more layman-term format. The recap will be split into two posts to make for easier reading.


Bike brands we rode: Salsa and Surly

Monday came quickly and we woke up to rain, something that I knew was a mild possibility for Tuesday. (Well, the last that I looked at the weather!) and we were saddened that we were not prepared for precipitation. Once we arrived to Snow Basin, the rain had lessened and we decided to just roll with it. We went to the Salsa tent to pick up our first ride of the morning- I got to try out the Salsa Beargrease Carbon SUS XO1. A Bluto front fork and 1x11 drivetrain (which is what I have on 3 of my mountain bikes and absolutely LOVE) made this bike extremely comfortable for me.

Let's be honest, I'm 5'2" and sometimes have difficulty finding frames that fit well that aren't WSD. I was beyond thrilled to discover how the Beargrease fit me. Second? Riding a bike you've never ridden before on terrain you've never experienced can be a challenge (well, I imagine so!) and this bike made me feel super confident and comfortable on the trails.

This is proof that if you're on the smaller end of the spectrum, you can find non-WSD bikes that will fit your body geometry. Don't be afraid to try them, that's part of learning what will work for you. I'm very grateful that the companies brought smaller framed bikes for shorter riders- it was much appreciated!

Travis rode the much coveted Pony Rustler Carbon XO1- a 27.5+, full suspension mountain bike complete with Split Pivot rear suspension technology.

What is Split Pivot? See this handy video from Salsa! 

Travis' thoughts on the Pony Rustler: "Very playful, nimble, efficient seated pedaling. Dirt wizards provided solid traction. Brakes were great for 1 finger stopping power w/ excellent modulation."

Second bike for me was the Bucksaw Carbon XO1- this was my first experience with Split Pivot technology, which was a boon as on trails unknown I'm not liable to monkey around with turning a rear shock on/off when I'm not sure what I'll be riding up/over.
The size of the Bucksaw was just a hair bigger for me than the Beargrease and for me, that made quite a bit of difference when it came to handling.

Bucksaw has a standover of 729, Beargrease has a standover of 708.2
The Bucksaw toptube effective is 590 where the Beargrease is 580

Like I said, small, but it was enough for me to notice and feel a bit stretched out for reach and just overall not as comfortable. The Bucksaw was sized as a 16, the Beargrease a 15.

I enjoyed experiencing my first full suspension fatbike, but it's surely not something we need on our local trails. Maybe a "want" for some, but not a necessity. I felt like the handling as well as the very effective shock made me feel less in control. I couldn't really "feel" what I was riding over/down sometimes and that made me a little more reserved with riding vs. bombing over rocks.

Travis' thoughts on his ride with the Salsa Bucksaw- "All the suspension and big tires left me feeling somewhat unattached to the trail. It turned rocky downhill into a paved trail. So, so easy! Overkill for me, but it has a purpose somewhere."


After the second ride we went inside to look at the whole Salsa lineup and have some lunch. Much to my amazement there was a purple carbon Beargrease with my name written all over it. Okay, not literally. However with my excitement over how much I really enjoyed riding the Beargrease we made it point to order one in for me. This will be a future 27.5+ bike set up with front suspension and a 1x11 drivetrain. I'll be eagerly anticipating the next riding season with gusto.

After some real-food-fuel we went out riding again. This time I opted to get the feel for a rigid Beargrease by trying the Beargrease Carbon X1. I had the same comfortable reach and standover as I did with the first bike, minus the front fork suspension. This didn't stop me from rolling over rocks and such- I had a great time on this bike, but realized that I really do appreciate a front suspension fork.

Third bike for Travis was the Salsa Mukluk- "Excellent handling, so much so that you forget you're on a fatbike. Loved fat tires with a front suspension fork. 1x drivetrain was plenty for long climbs and technical loops. Favorite of the day (and second day!)"


My fourth bike of the day was a Surly Ice Cream Truck, which I've loved a lot for the sparkly blue frame and the name. We had one at the shop for awhile and some lucky fellow purchased it. The bike was (of course) in a frame size too large for me- so this was my time to try out big ol' tires on a bike with a fun name. I rode it like a champ and felt that it handled the trails nicely.

Travis rode the Surly Ice Cream Truck Ops- "Overall weight was not a drawback and it handled very well. It's surprisingly nimble for its size. As they say, the fast you go the better and more alive it becomes."

Ice Cream Truck experience, our riding time was up for the day. Now it was time for more food and to dip our toes in a lake.

I will say, that when I got on the bus and saw a cooler filled with beers up for grabs, I was pretty much in heaven. That beer was the most refreshing thing in the whole world after all I put my body thru.
I survived my first ride day in Utah, and it was glorious.

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