Salsa Mukluk Fatbike Build & Owner Review

Salsa Mukluk

Day 1: Esperance to Albany: The Unconventional Ride. Ready set go … Esperance foreshore before heading out on my 10 day 750 km ride from Esperance to Albany in Western Australia.

Salsa Mukluk by Salsa Cycles fatbike build has started 🙂  This post is about documenting the build of my Salsa Mukluk (2015) as a fatbike for duties as a dirt road touring bike, a bikepacking bike and for fun bike playing on the local trails. The Salsa Mukluk will replace my 2008 Giant XTC 2 which has been my off-road tourer. My touring preference is more dirt road than it is black top hence the decision to go with the Mukluk. I have also completed the Munda Biddi Trail and I am unlikely to ride it much again plus there is really not much else in the way of single track touring here in Western Australia so the Mukluk is more ideal for me than say the Surly Krampus.

Salsa describe the Mukluk as …

our exploration fatbike. It’s taken a few years, but folks are finally starting to understand that fatbikes aren’t just snow bikes or sand bikes—they’re mountain bikes! … Mukluk is only limited by your imagination. Free your mind, and the experiences shall follow. Mukluk. Destination: exploration.

At this stage I am in the build research phase which this post reflects. Once I have sold off my Look 555, the Giant XTC 2, the LoGo P-38 and my Bacchetta Giro 20 ATT the build will go to the next stage. Spending the dollars followed by the build and then bikepacking time 🙂  First trip planned is taking on the Holland Track – completed in September 2016.

My original plans had been to build and ride a Surly ECR 29+ but too much time online has led me down the path from the ECR to a Surly Puglsey/Krampus build (Krampug) to this point, a Salsa Mukluk.

I will update this blog post as I enjoy my bikepacking with the bike.

This blog post was last updated on November 11, 2017 and at 735 kilometres on the bike.

Latest updates in the hubs and setup for bikepacking sections of the post.

Table of Contents

Salsa Mukluk Bikepacking Build Specification

The build spec my Salsa Mukluk dirt road tourer come bikepacker. Unlike it seems everyone else I am not going with a Rohloff hub. I did seriously consider a Rohloff build but requiring two wheelsets plus the cost has killed off that idea.  I did some number crunching on this idea when I was considering the Surly ECR 29+ build and documented in my ECR post if interested.

Frame2015 Mukluk Aluminum - Large - 2,470 grams
ForkSalsa Bearpaw 150 fork 15 x 150mm Thru Axle -1,030 grams
Frame Protection3M Helicopter Tape - Clear - 75 mm
Shifter [Right Hand - Rear]SRAM X9 Zero-loss10 Speed Grey - [2014]
CranksetRace Face Turbine Cinch
Race Face Crank Boots [2015]
Bottom BracketRace Face Bottom Bracket BSA30 - 100mm
Chain RingRace Face NEXT SL Direct Mount N/W Single 10spd - Green
PedalsDMR V12 [mg] flat pedals
CassetteOneUp 42T Sprocket + 16T - Green
SRAM Power Glide PG-1070 12-36T
DerailleurSRAM X9 Rear Type 2.1 10 speed Long Cage
ChainWippermann conneX 10sB Black Edition
CableSRAM Shifting Cable
Special Tools16mm Hex Wrench
Special ToolsRotor BSA30 Wrench for BB Cups
BrakesTRP Spyke Mechanical Disc Brake
Brake PadsSwissStop Shimano Deoro BR-M525/515/M485 Pads
CablesJagwire MTB Braking Cable Slick Stainless - 1700mm
HandlebarsJones 710 Loop H-Bar - Aluminium
StemThomson Elite X4 31.8 MTB - 100mm - 10 Degree
HeadsetCrane Creek 10.ZS44 Short Cover Top - ZS44/28.6
Crane Creek 10.ZS44 Bottom - EC44/40
GripsErgon GC1
SaddleBrooks England B17 Standard Classic Leather Saddle
SeatpostThomson Masterpiece Setback seat post 31.6x350mm 16mm-SB black
Seatpost Clamp35.0mm. Salsa Lip-Lock
RimsSurly Marge Lite 26" Fatbike Rim - blackNovmeber 2017Ollie 80 26" rim 32H Matt Black
Surly Clown Shoe Fat Bike Rim Tape 75mm
Stands NoTubes MTB Tubless Presta Valves
Hubs - FrontSalsa Fat Conversion, 15 x 150mm Novmeber 2017SON 28 15 150 Fatbike Hub Dynamo Disc 15*150mm 32h
Hubs - RearSalsa Mukluk 2 Rear Hub, 170mm QR
Thru Axle - FrontRockShox Maxle Lite Bluto Thru Axle 15mm
Quick Release - RearSalsa Flip-Offs Fatbike Skewer 170mm - black
SpokesSapim Leader - Black - Custom CutNovmeber 2017Sapim Race Black JBend
NipplesNovmeber 2017Wheelsmiths Electroplated Brass nipples Black 12mm
Wheel Buildby Adrian at Melody WheelsNovmeber 2017Adrian at Melody Wheels
TyresMaxxis Mammoth 26x4.0" EXO Folding MTB Tyre
TubelessStan's No Tubes Tire Sealant Injector
Tube [Spare]Surly Toob Fatbike Inner Tube 26x3-4.8"
PumpLezyne Micro Floor Digital Drive XL
Light - FronBusch & Muller IQ2 Luxos BNovember 2017At 734.8 kilometres.
Busch & Muller 470LHPB Handlebar MountNovember 2017At 734.8 kilometres.
Light - RearBusch & Muller Toplight Line Small LED 53234/1ASKNovember 2017At 734.8 kilometres.
USB ChargerKlite Prototype Dynamo - USB ChargerNovember 2017At 734.8 kilometres.
Revelate Designs Pockets Handlebar Bag
Revelate Designs Harness
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag 20L
Dave Doust Memorial Jones Loop H-Bar Bag
Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbags x 2
Alkpit Fuel Pod Large (107 grams) with camera padding
Salsa Anything Cages HD
Salasa Anything Bags and/or Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag 8L
Salsa Stainless Steel Water Bottle Cage
Bike Bag Dude Custom 3 Zip Frame Bag
Salsa Anything Alternator 170 rackNovember 2017
Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion v2
Ortlieb Sports Packer Plus Panniers [Used with the rack when required]


Salsa Mukluk Frameset

Salsa Mukluk Sparkly Green 2015 Frameset

Old to New Frame Sizing Fun and Games

2008 Giant XTC Geometry Chart

2008 Giant XTC Geometry Chart

I have a 2008 Giant XTC 2 which has been my off-road touring bike. It is a large or 21” frame and the geometry chart for this model is above. Now this is where the fun started. My XTC -2 geometry does not fit nicely with the Salsa Mukluk.   This led me to post on the issue in the MTBR forums where Saul Lumikko introduced me to Stack and Reach measurements.  My best calculations of my XTC 2 stack and reach measurements are: Stack = 590 mm and Reach = 428 mm.   Transition Bikes [PDF] has a good discussion of modern geometry. Even still I have a variance between the XTC stack and reach numbers and the Mukluk numbers.  Add to this mix my height of 5’11” (178 cm) and my in-seam of 33″ (84 cm).

Salsa Mukluk Geometry [2015]

Salsa Mukluk Geometry [2015]

Frame Size
X-SmallSmallMediumLargeX- Large
Recommended Rider Height147 - 168 cm165 - 175 cm173 - 183 cm180 cm -191 cm188 cm - up
A. Toptube Effective565 mm580 mm605 mm625 mm640 mm
B. Seat Tube Length381 mm381 mm432 mm483 mm533 mm
C. Head Tube Angle68.568.568.568.568.5
D. Seat Tube Angle73.573.5737373
E. BB Drop60 mm60 mm60 mm60 mm60 mm
F. Chainstay Length447 - 464 mm447 - 464 mm447 - 464 mm447 - 464 mm447 - 464 mm
G. Headtube Length100 mm100 mm100 mm100 mm100 mm
H. Fork Length483 mm483 mm483 mm483 mm483 mm
J. Fork Offset51 mm51 mm51 mm51 mm51 mm
K. Wheelbase1,097 - 1,114 mm1,112 - 1,129 mm1,132 - 1,149 mm1,154 - 1,171 mm1,170 - 1,187 mm
M. Stack593 mm593 mm603 mm621 mm631 mm
N. Reach389 mm404 mm421 mm435 mm447 mm
P. Standover692 mm704 mm745 mm786 mm824 mm
Measurements based on:
[1] a Salsa Bearpaw fork which is equivalent to a RockShox Bluto at 25% sag.
[2] a 26 x 4.0" tire measuring 742mm in diameter
[3] standover (P) measured vertically to top of top tube from a position 50mm forward of BB cent

Based on my height, Salsa Cycles recommended frame size is a medium, but then height is really not a good basis for choosing a frame.  After careful consideration of the numbers plus my wish to fit a Jones Loop H-Bar I have gone with the large frame size.  The reach is only seven millimetres more than my XTC, the seat tube length is 47 mm less than on the XTC 2 so I may have to have more seat post showing (would be worse on the medium frame) and as a bonus I can fit a larger framebag. Oh I also have 110 mm stem on my XTC 2 so suspect the slightly longer reach on the Mukluk will really not be noticeable. So in summary it is a large Salsa Mukluk frame. Now to the colour.

Salsa Mukluk Colour

Salsa like Henry Ford of days gone by offer any choice of frame colour as long as it is sparkly green (metallic) in the case of the Salsa Mukluk frameset.  If I want a white frame (or a high viz yellow frame :)) I need to get it powder coated.

Salsa Mukluk Frame Material – Aluminium or Steel

The Salsa Mukluk  frame is a double-butted AL-6066 frame with Alternator dropouts. Salas describe the frame as

Top-shelf, double-butted, heat-treated 6066 Aluminum tubing optimized for strength and weight. Excellent corrosion resistance.

I appreciate that traditional thinking for touring bikes is go with steel frames and I appreciate that for world expeditions steel may well be the better choice but I think my chances of going on a world expedition have passed and whilst I wish to ride more of the Australian outback it will not be via major outback expeditions for months and months so I suspect an aluminium frame will probably outlast my riding days.

Salsa Mukluk 2 2015 Factory Specifications

As much for my benefit as anything else, and to have a resource going forward I am documenting the specifications for the 2015 Salsa Mukluk in the table below.

Frame2015 Mukluk Aluminum
Wheelsize26" fatbike (closer to 29" in diameter in reality)
Tire ClearanceDesigned for 26 x 4.0" tires
ForkSalsa Bearpaw 150 fork included
Headset-Upper1-1/8" Zero Stack (ZS44/28.6)
Headset-LowerFor Tapered: 44mm External Cup (EC44/40) For Straight: Zero Stack (ZS44/30)
Seat Collar35.0mm. Salsa Lip-Lock included
Front DerailleurProblem Solvers Direct Mount clamp included, High Direct Mount Front Derailleur
Bottom Bracket100mm BSA
CranksetFatbike 1x or 2x compatible; Max chainring sizes 1x (34T), 2x (36/24T)
Front Brake51mm I.S., minimum rotor size 160mm, maximum rotor size 180mm
Rear Brake51mm I.S., minimum rotor size 160mm, maximum rotor size 180mm
Front Spacing150 x 15mm thru-axle
Rear SpacingAlternator Dropouts - 170mm x 10mm QR or 177mm x 12mm Thru-Axle
Bottle Mounts3 per frame for M, L, XL, 2 per frame for S & XS
Derailleur HangerReplaceable Alternator plates. Driveside Geared QR FS1312. Driveside Singlespeed QR FS1318. Non-driveside QR FS1313. 12 x 177mm Thru-Axle Kit FS1330
Cable RoutingFull housing, under toptube
Frame WeightXS 1870g, SM 1930g, MD 2040g, LG 2100g, XL 2180g
Fork Weight w/Uncut Steerer1030g

Salsa Mukluk 2015 Frameset – Fork, Headsets and Alternator Dropouts

Salsa Mukluk Bearpaw 150 fork

The 2015 Salsa Mukluk 2 frame comes standard with a Salsa Bearpaw 150 15 mm fork which is a tapered aluminium with forward facing dropouts. It has three front-of-leg cage mounts to take a Salsa Anything Cage on each fork leg.  There is also a Salsa Mukluk 2 frame-set which comes with the Salsa Bearpaw 135 fork which is a 135 mm x 9 mm quick release fork.  I have Bearpaw 150 fork.

The headset specification is 1-1/8″ Zero Stack (ZS44/28.6) upper bearing and for the tapered fork such as the Salsa Bearpaw 150 mm the lower bearing is a 44 mm External Cup (EC44/40). If a straight fork is used the lower bearing is a Zero Stack (ZS44/30).  My initial thoughts where to go with a Chris King InSet i7 Grip Lock Mixed Headset for tapered steerers ZS44/28,6 | EC44/40, however following Kris’s comments I have decided on a Cane Creek 40 series headset instead. If I have this right it will be a Cane Creek 40.ZS44 Short Cover Top Headset Upper Part 1 1/8 Inches – ZS44/28.6 and a Cane Creek 40.EC44 Bottom Headset Lower Part 1.5 Inches – EC44/40.

Salsa Mukluk Alternator Dropouts

The Salsa Mukluk comes with Alternator dropouts which I feel are better designed than the Surly MDS dropouts. The interesting aspect of alternator dropouts is that it allows wheelbase changes and chain tensioning with no disc brake adjustment required when setting wheel position. So for example with the large frame Mukluk the wheelbase range is 1,153.9 – 1,170.9mm which is longer even than my Surly Long Haul Trucker.  The alternator dropouts on the 2015 Mukluk are designed to take a 170 mm x 10 mm quick release hub or a 177 mm x 12 mm thru-axle.  The Alternator plates are replaceable.  The respective plate models are:

  • Driveside Geared QR FS1312.
  • Driveside Single-speed QR FS1318.
  • Non-driveside QR FS1313. 12 x 177mm or Thru-Axle Kit FS133

The Salsa Alternator Dropouts (2015) instructions are available for download from my Dropbox.

Salsa Mukluk Frameset Alternator Dropouts

Alternator Dropout – Mounting bolt extended

alsa Mukluk Frameset Alternator Dropouts

Alternator Dropout – Flush mounting bolt

My only “concern” with the frameset as delivered was the mounting bolts for the Alternator dropouts.  As you can see from the photos one bolt has been cut flush with the nut whereas the other bolt is not.  I will not know until I have progressed the build if this is an issue or not but it does not look like a tidy finish and I will mostly replace the longer bolt anyway.

It pays to read the Alternator dropout information. The longer bolt is for the mounting of the rear disk caliper.

From a bikepacking perspective the medium and upwards frames have three sets of water bottle cage mounts.  As I will be using a framebag two of these will probably not see much use but having the mounts under the down-tube will be useful for carrying a fuel bottle.  The smaller frames only have two sets of mounts.

The manufacturers weights for the Salsa Mukluk large frame (2015) is 2,100 grams and the Bearpaw 150 fork weight is 1,030 grams for a total weight for the frameset (less headset) of 3,130 grams. My weights are 2,300 grams for the frame and 900 grams for the fork (less headset) for a total weight of 3,200 grams.

With the frame itself sorted the last remaining part is the seat-post and seat-post clamp. The clamp is easily sorted as the frame-set comes with a 35.0mm. Salsa Lip-Lock seat-post clamp.  The Salsa Mukluk 2 build kit comes with a Thomson Elite seat-post with a seat-post diameter is 31.6 mm. My preferred choice of seat-post is a Thomson Masterpiece seat-post but I really cannot justify the price so will have to settle for a Thomson Elite SP-E116SB Black 31.6 mm x 410 mm with 16 mm set-back (247 g).  I decided to go with the set-back post as I fitted a Brooks England B17 saddle and having set-back is likely to be the better option.


Update on the Ordering Process with my Salsa Mukluk

I have placed the order for the Salsa Mukluk frameset with in Germany (I just hope they do a better job of packing than in the past)  as to purchase the frameset in Australia requires a special order to be placed with the Australian distributor, SCV Imports and the cost to me is around $2,000 for the frameset only whereas the frameset as ordered is costing me $1,122 delivered. The frameset as supplied by includes or is meant to include the Bearpaw Alloy fork, seat collar, problem solvers front derailleur direct mount  clamp, thru axle, quick release plus a front wheel hub and a rear wheel hub ( I am assuming these are Mukluk 2 hubs).

The frustrating aspect of all this is I would like to support the local bike shop that sells Salsa, Cycles Bespoke but I simply cannot justify paying around $800+ more for a frameset.

Getting back to my order. only sell frames by consultation which was a little concerning, but it turns out consultation means an email from them, asking the following questions to confirm that the frame size ordered is okay.

As you have read we would like to advise you before buying this highly developed frame. To give you a professional consultation for determining the correct frame size we need some details.

1. Usage:
– commuter/traveling, leisure, training, competition

2. Body details:
– inner leg/inseam length
– body height
– body weight
– back length (measure if sitting on a chair: from seat to top of shoulder)

We will recommend the right frame size and seat position for you.

Importing a Bicycle Frameset into Australia

My frameset tripped the import declaration process at the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service as its imported cost was in excess of the free import duties & GST threshold of $1,000.  What this meant is that my frameset has been held at Customs for a week before I received in the mail a notice from Australia Post.  The notice advised that I had a choice of employing a broker to handle the importation or I could complete a simple form (took no more than 10 minutes) which I could download and email to Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.  The cost of this service is $48.95.

The processing of the form has taken five days. The result of the processing has been the receipt of an invoice for duty, GST and the processing charge, a total $218.  This can be paid online using a credit or debit card.  According to Australian Customs and Border Protection Service clearance of the payment and release of the goods can take three working days, which turned out be pretty much spot. Delivery was within a week of paying the custom charges.

The breakdown of the charges is:

Duty Payable $51.75
GST Payable $117.32
Import Declaration Charge $48.95
Credit Card Surcharge $2.02
Total Charge: $219.99


Salsa Mukluk Cockpit

With the frame-set pretty much sorted comes the cockpit and this is going to hurt I suspect as I have gone with a Jones 710 Loop H-Bar in aluminium handle-bar in black.  These are available in Australia via bike shops who deal with Dirt Works Australia, the local distributor. The recommended retail price is $185 and my delivered price from Crank N Cycles in Collie was $192.00, a princely sum for a handlebar for sure.  One feature of the Jeff Jones 710 Loop H-Bar is the bar is marked to be cut down to 660 if I find it too wide. I haven’t felt the need to cut it back so it is still at 710 mm.  For handlebar grips as I am a fan of Ergon grips and Ergon make their Ergon GC1 grips for swept back bars and I am happy with my choice. I do note that Jeff Jones recommends ESI Silicon grips as they offer a more seamless match with the bars and hence more hand positions.

For the stem I have gone with a 110mm Thomson Elite X4 in black as recommended by Jeff Jones.


Salsa Mukluk Drivetrain

My intention is to specify my Salsa Mukluk as a bike for bikepacking, a touring bike and just as a fun fatbike and mountain bike so it will be built to run fat wheels and 29+ wheels should I so wish down the track. With this in mind I have decided to go with a 1×10 derailleur drivetrain configuration rather than a Rohloff setup. I also think the Rohloff is steeply priced and I am struggling to see the $1,000 of value in the system.

Chainlines and Fat Tyres

45NRTH Tyre Widths

45NRTH Tyre Widths

Salsa Cycles have a very informative Tech Talk on drivetrain options [PDF copy] and rear tire capacity on the Salsa Mukluk and Salsa Beargrease models. Along with the technical talk they have a very useful table listing chainset/crankset options, chainline specifications and maximum total tyre/rim width for each chainset option. Combine this with tyre width information from Surly and 45NRTH and making the right crankset choice is a breeze.

With the Salsa Mukluk I am using Surly Marge Lite rims which are a 65mm rim width. The tyres will be around 3.8” in max width. Based on Surly’s tyre geometries I am looking at a maximum casing width of 95mm. This pretty much counts out a triple crankset with a couple of exceptions so my realistic options are 1×10 or 1×11 or a 2×10 drivetrain. My initial plans had been to go with a 2×10 drivetrain but over time I have swung over to giving serious consideration to a 1×10 or 1×11 drivetrain.

SRAM 1×11

While SRAM has now introduced a lower priced 1×11 and a 2×11 groups, all the SRAM 11 speed cassette require a SRAM XD Driver Body and hence a compatible rear hub. My frameset came with a hub, but of course it is a Salsa Mukluk 2 rear hub rather than a Salsa Fat Conversion rear hub which can be converted to take the XD Driver or the Salsa Conversion 2 XD Fatbike rear hub which is an XD Driver hub.

Even with the reduced pricing on SRAM GX, adding in a new hub and possible SRAM XD Driver has really priced the SRAM 1×11 drivetrain out of the ball park for this build.

Shimano 1×11

Shimano XTR M9000 drivetrain is the other option which has the advantage of using a standard Shimano compatible hub. The downside is that is limited to 40T which is really not going to be low enough for me as the gear inch table below shows.

SRAM 1×10 or Shimano 1×10 with OneUp 42T Sprocket + 16T

The third option is to convert a SRAM or Shimano 10 speed 36T cluster to a 40T or 42T cluster. As noted above I do not believe 40T is going to be sufficient so with this option I am looking at a 42T conversion.

One such option is the OneUp 42T Sprocket + 16T conversion which appeals to me as it comes complete with a 16T sprocket to replace the existing 15T and 17T sprockets. Going with OneUp and Shimano also means having to replace the outer cage with a OneUp RAD or RADr cage, another complication. Being a SRAM fan-boy I have decided that with this option a SRAM 1×10 conversion base is preferred. I also like that I can get a single right shifter easily for SRAM.

Gear Inches

As the table shows below, the lowest gear inches are the same for the SRAM 1×11 and SRAM 1×10 OneUp conversion at 17” but higher with the Shimano 1×11 at 17.8”. The variance is more at the high-end which may come into play as this bike will be both a fatbike and a 29+ bike.

Using Sheldon Brown’s Gear Calculator  I set the wheel to 26 x 4.0 / 102-559 fatbike at 10 PSI and the crank length to 175mm. The resulting gear inches for the different combinations are reported in the table above.

 SRAM 1 x 11  SHIMANO 1 x 11  1 x 10  2 x 10 
Kmh @ 90 RPM7.3 to 30.87.9 to 33.17.7 to 288.3 to 30.17.3 to 28.07.9 to 30.17.2 to 21.712.8 to 38.5

One option I didn’t consider with the 2×10 drivetrain is a 22T x 42T combination which would give me a seriously low granny gear I suspect.  I will leave that there on the table as a possible option down the track.

My 1×10 Salsa Mukluk Build

As I alluded to above, the more I reflected on my drivetrain setup, the more my thinking was towards the simplicity of a 1×10 or 1×11 drivetrain. J.A. Caldwell at Old Glory MTB argues that running a 1X drivetrain has the following advantages:

  • Lightweight – reducing weight on this bike will be beneficial for sure;
  • Simplicity – only changing the rear derailleur; no oh sugar in the wrong gear up front;
  • Lower maintenance – no front derailleur to maintain;
  • More ground clearance due to using a smaller chainring up front;
  • Quiet drivetrain – apparently the clutch type rear derailleurs reduce chain slap.

More recently has published a Tech document on 1×10 drivetrains, titled Tech:Deep dive on 1×10 narrow/wide conversion gearing which also shows the advantages of a 1×10 or 1×11 drivetrain.

All this has led me to a deciding to go with a SRAM 1×10/Race Face Turbine Cinch/OneUp drivetrain with a 42T Sprocket + 16T conversion as being the best bang for buck.


The key driver from my crankset/chainset setup was the availability of (1) 26T wide/narrow chainrings and (2) that I consider direct mount a desirable feature and oh the crankset needs to be available to fit 100mm bottom brackets.

The choice for me came down to either a SRAM X9 crankset with a removable spider or a Race Face Turbine Cinch. Both cranksets are 104/64 BCD which means that there is a good range of suitable 64 BCD chainrings. The SRAM X9 direct mount seems to have a wider choice of chainrings than the Race Face direct mount but there are still plenty of choices for Race Face. The key aspect of the Race Face Turbine Cinch that swung my decision in its favour is that is flexible and upgradeable. Oh I also like the way it looks. As it turned out I was able to get a Race Face Turbine Cinch at a good price from Ubyk Ltd in the UK so deal done.

I decided to go with a 26T Race Face NEXT SL Direct Mount Narrow Wide tooth profiling single chainring and a Race Face BSA30 Bottom Bracket to complete the crankset.


DMR V12 [mg] Flat Pedals - Salsa Mukluk

DMR V12 [mg] Flat Pedals

I have always been a clipless rider, SPD pedals on my previous mountain bike, a Giant XTC 2, on my touring bike, a Surly Long Haul Trucker and my commuter, a Giant Defy 1. With this build of the Salsa Mukluk as my bikepacking and mountain bike I have decided to give going with flat pedals ago. After seeking feedback from other users mainly at the forums I have now fitted a pair of DMR Bikes V12 [mg] magnesium flat pedals. Being magnesium these variants of the V12 pedals weigh in at 350 grams a pair according to my scales, which is a claimed 70 grams lighter than the standard DMR V12 pedals.  Other features of the DMR V12 flat pedals are:

  1. 95mm x 100mm platform which feels a good size to me;
  2. 16mm low profile with concave foot-bed;
  3. 10 high traction pedals pins per side;
  4. Serviceable, with DU bush and cartridge bearings;
  5. 4140 Cro.Mo steel axles.
Salsa Crux Approach Shoes

Salsa Crux Approach Shoes

I have matched up the pedals with a pair of Scarpa Crux Approach shoes. My size 45 EU / 11.5 US mens weigh in at 868 grams for the pair. They have a fairly stiff Vibram sole which hopefully will work out well as a both on and off bike shoe.

Cassette, Derailleur, Chain, Cables and Shifter

As alluded to earlier, this is a SRAM 1×10 build with a OneUp 42T Sprocket + 16T conversion. The rear cassette is a SRAM PG-1070 12-36T 10 speed cassette with a OneUp 42T Sprocket + 16T conversion.

The rear derailleur is a SRAM X9 Type 2.1 [Clutch] Long 10 speed derailleur and the chain I am going to start out with is a Wipperman ConneX 10sB black edition chain.

Nokon cables will be used to connect the rear derailleur to the SRAM X9 10 speed trigger shifter completing the drivetrain configuration.

Salsa Mukluk Brakes

TRP Spyke Disc Brakes - Salsa Mukluk build

TRP Spyke disc brakes fitted to the rear of my Salsa Mukluk fatbike.

This part of the specification is easy or so I thought. My initial plan was a given I thought, Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes front and rear simply for the ease of maintenance when touring.   I have learnt my lesson with Shimano hydraulic brakes when touring so will be passing on hydraulic brakes.

This means up front where the maximum stopping power is desired I will have Avid BB7 MTN S mechanical disc brakes with a 180 mm rotor and on the rear an Avid BB7 MTN S disc brake with a 180mm rotor, the maximum size specified by Salsa. Going with 180mm front and rear provides me with the ability to swap a disc to front whilst bikepacking should I need to without having to worry about mounting brackets.

Well today I heard about TRP Spyke mechanical disc brakes and what feedback I can find on these and their road equivalent, the TRP Spyre is very positive.  Going from the videos of the TRP Spyre mounting is far simply than the Avid BB7 (no washes to play with) and adjustment is very simple as well; far less involved than the Avid BB7. The other advantage with the TRP is that they use Shimano M525/M515 compatible disc pads which are widely available and common as.

Pricing wise there is not much in so I gone with the TRP Spyke given my intended use. So far so good. Installation and set-up was so easy. I cannot see myself going back to Avid BB7 now.

The levers will be Avid Speed Dial 7 and the cables will be Jagwire Mountain Elite in part because they are compressionless.


Salsa Mukluk Rims, Tyres and Hubs

Hubs – Front and Rear

Update: September 8, 2017: I missed this early on but SP Dynamo now manufacturer a 15mm through-axle dynamo in O.L.D of 110mm, 110mm, and 150mm with the PD-8X-150 being the model of particular interest to me. However, having touched base with Kerry at K-Lite who was in the past, the Australian distributor for Shutter Precision dynamos, I have now gone with a SON 28 15 150 as new front hub as I would really like having a dynamo option on the bike.

Hubs History:

Whilst my preference is for dynamo hubs, no dynamo manufacturer makes a 150mm OLD hub nor a 135mm with a 15mm axle which could be spaced to fit the 150mm forkSchmidt’s Original Nabendynamo (SON) are the only manufacturer of 135 mm fatbike dynamos, with their SON 28 135 Disc model but it is a quick-release 10mm axle which is no go for my Salsa Bearpaw 150 for.  This means I have to re-think my power supply needs which I discuss later in this blog post.

With the decision to go to a SON 28 15 150 dynamo hub, I now only have  Salsa rear hub which was supplied as part of the frameset by  I am assuming the supplied Salsa hubs are a Salsa Fat Conversion 150 front hub and a the rear a Mukluk 2 rear hub.  For the spokes I will need to discuss this further with Adrian at Melody Wheels as Adrian will be tasked with the wheel build.  The front hub comes supplied with a Rockshox Maxle Lite 15mm x 150mm thru axle and the rear hub with Salsa Flip-off skewer.

Rims – Black and Round

Update: November 11, 2017:

Whilst I my ghetto build of the Surly Marge Lite rims as tubeless worked just fine on my ride of the Holland Track it was always an “back of mind” concern that it would stay together nicely so for peace of mind and in preparation for my Esperance to Albany Coastal Ride I decided to swap out the rims for Dice Ollie 80s which are tubeless ready rims and also will give me a better profile for the beach and boggy sand tracks on the ride.

Adrian at Melody Wheels has done the build of the Ollie 80s for me, building the SON 28 15 150 hub into the front rim and swapping over the Mukluk 2 rear hub.  All went fine with the front rim build but the rear rim is out of round by 4mm. Discussions are in play with Dirt Works to determine if this within tolerances and apparently it is so th wheels are now built up.

I am staying with my existing Maxxis Mammoth 26×4.0 fatbike tyres for the moment and will mount them following the method suggested by Dice Parts Co.  For sealant I have now gone over to Orange Sealant.

Rims: The History

First and foremost I want a tubeless wheel set up so ideally a tubeless ready rim would be nice but I am also ready to have a go at a ghetto build. The next issue is the rim size and tyre choice. The standard Salsa Mukluk build comes with Surly Rolling Darryl rims which are a 32 hole 82mm rim weighing 860g each.  These are matched to Surly Nate 3.8″ tyres which weigh 1,730 grams.

An alternative is the Surly Marge Lite rims which are a 32 hole 65 mm weighing 690g each or the DT Swiss Fatbike BR710 Big Ride at 680g or the Dice Ollie 55, a tubeless 32 hole rim from Dirt Works Australia own brand, Dice Parts Co. The Ollie 55 weighs in at 596g and the 80mm variant, the Ollie 80 weighs in at 850g.  The advantage with the Dice Ollie rims is they are meant to be tubeless ready.

By chance I got offered locally a set of almost new Surly Marge Lite rims with tape for $50 for the pair. Lets just say I know have a set of Surly Marge Lite rims to play with.

In September 2016 I finalised the build of the bike, converting my Surly Marge Lite rims and Maxxis Mammoth 26×4.0 fatbike tyres to a tubeless wheel setup. I followed the steps as advised by Cycles in Life. The only step I found didn’t help was running the tube around the outside of the tyre. With the 120 TPI Maxxis Mammoth this just squashed the tyre out of shape and did not help getting a seal. Otherwise the procedure as advised worked fine and I had no significant hassles converting the front wheel. In fact I only needed to do the Stan’s Shake once to get a good seal.

On the other hand being a smart alec I thought I would try a different approach with the rear wheel, opting to go with a Surly Clownshoe rim tape 75mm [PVC as recommended by Surly] instead of taping the rim using Scotch Tough Duck Tape. Lets just say that was a failure. My next smart idea was to tape the rim with the Clownshoe rim tape in place. Once again I could not get an seal. So having learnt my lesson I when back to the tried and true Cycles in Life method and bingo it work and again a single Stan’s Shake did the trick.

As I don’t have a compressor and really didn’t want to go down that path and as I really “needed” a new floor pump I purchased a Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor Pump which has done the trick in terms of getting this conversion in place. I did find however that I need to do three charges for each wheel to get a 30 PSI seal and hold initially (pre Stans injection) but otherwise I am very happy with the pump so far.

For Australian readers I was able to get the recommend Scotch Tough Duck Tape from Bunnings for around $16 a roll. Two rolls are required (one for each wheel).

Finally given my issues with the rear wheel I did get a chance to weigh the tape used, which came in at 107 grams and I used 180 mls of Stan’s sealant.  The tube it replaced weighs in at around 505 grams so a fair bit of weight saving there across the two wheels.

Wheel Build by Melody Wheels in North Fremantle

Surly Marge Lite rims with Salsa Hubs built by Melody Wheels in North Fremantle

Surly Marge Lite rims with Salsa Hubs built by Melody Wheels in North Fremantle

Thanks to Adrian at Melody Wheels in North Fremantle my Surly Marge Lite rims are now built up with the Salsa hubs. The build from Adrian looks really good with the Sapim Leader 14G black spokes custom cut to a length of 263mm. Of course a few kilometres of trails will tell the full story but I am impressed so far.

The real big question but is, what colour rim strips to go with? 🙂

 Tyres – Fat and Black

Maxxis Mammoth 26x4.0 EXO 60TPI

After careful consideration of all the options and getting a bit over reading how good xyz brand of tyre is in snow (we don’t get snow here) I have taken an educated guess and gone with Maxxis Mammoth 26×4.0 fatbike tyres.  I had planned on purchasing 60TPI tyres to give myself a little bit more protection but ended up with a set of 120TPI tyres with EXO Protection by mistake, a nice mistake but as these Maxxis Mammoth 26×4.0 tyres weigh in at a reasonable light 1,288 grams on my scales.

Salsa Mukluk Setup for Bikepacking


My bikepacking gear list is continuously updated to reflect changes in gear and what is needed or was used on the last bushwalking, bikepacking or touring ride. That said it is a good overview of my approach.  In terms of the setup on this bike, the following describes my current set-up.


On my forks I have mounted Salsa Anything HD cages and on one side I use a Salsa Anything bag which contains my stove etc but on the other fork I carry my food. I find the Salsa Anything bag does not have the necessary capacity so I use a Sea to Summit Big River 8L dry bag. I initially went with a normal dry bag but found it had to secure to the cage and in fact lost it on the Holland Track ride, resulting in an extra two hours of riding to find it. Given that experience I am now using the Big River dry bag as they have what Sea to Summit call, Hypalon® lash loops. This means I can lash or secure the bag to the cage and thus hopefully stop if going on its own adventure.

Handlebar and Cockpit

My handlebar and cockpit setup consists of three zones. Out front is a Revelate Designs Harness matched up with a Sea to Summit Big River 20L dry bag. As with the issue with the normal dry bag on the forks I find normal dry bags harder to keep secure and in place so my preference for the Big River dry bag with the Hypalon lash loops to better secure it. I also have a Revelate Designs Pocket attached to the harness.

In the loop of my Jones H-Bar handlebar I have a Dave Doust Memorial Jones Loop H-Bar Bag which is a custom made bag made for me by the late Dave Doust.

The final zone of the handlebar and cockpit sees two Revelate Designs Mountain Feed Bags on either side of the stem and mounted on the top tube is a Alkpit Fuel Pod Large which I use to carry my Olympus OM-D EM-5 II camera and lens.


My framebag is a custom made ultralight three zip frame bag from Bike Bag Dude here in Australia. Top quality custom made framebag. Very impressed with the finish and durability of the bag. Can highly recommend Kedan’s work.

Saddle Bag

The final part of my core bikepacking kit is a Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion v2.  Very much a top of the range piece of gear in my view. Rock solid for me so far and being able to just grab the waterproof bag leaving the harness on the bike is a real bonus. All my clothing goes into the saddlebag.

Rack [Used subject to need]

As discussed below with respect to carrying water, I am now trying out a Salsa Alternator 170 rack as way to cross over the gap between what carrying capacity I can get away with on the bike with the limited water bottle cage options and going to the full blown option of pulling the Extrawheel trailer.

With Salsa Alternator 170 rack I will use my Ortlieb Sport-Packer Plus panniers. These will be used for water carrying duties only.

Carrying Water Bikepacking in Western Australia

Update November 11, 2017:

Having experienced the hassle of doing water drops on the Holland Track ride and facing a 2,000 km road trip to do something similar on the Esperance to Albany Coastal Ride and not needing the full carrying capacity of the Extrawheel trailer [plus it is not able to take a 4″ tyre] I have now fitted to the bike, a Salsa Alternator 170 rack to allow me to carry 15 litres of water which I need to do on a couple of sections of the ride.  I can see the rack only be used when needed for rides so it will not be a permanent fixture.

Early thinking on Carrying Water:

Bikepacking in Western Australia can mean having to carry multiple days of water. For example I am planning riding the Holland Track from Hyden to Coolgardie.  There is no re-supply points between the start and finish of the ride which means I need to carry food and sufficient water. Now there maybe/should be water available at a couple of granite rock outcrops, Thursday Rock and Victoria Rock if there has been sufficient winter rains. Thursday Rock is three days ride from Hyden and Victoria Rock is four days ride for me. This means I will need to carry at least three days water early in the ride, about 18 litres when riding in October (spring time), my planned ride time.

Realistically I am not sure I can do this on the bike with a bikepacking setup, so I will be reverting to pulling my Extrawheel trailer on rides such as the Holland Track and other rides where I cannot get access to water within two days of riding.

Riding the likes of the Munda Biddi Track where water is available daily is a different story and one more easily dealt with. My initial thinking is to mount a water-bottle cage on the top tube to carry a water bottle which can be easily accessed. This will provide access to 500ml or 750ml depending on space.  Additional water will be carried in the top section of my Bike Bag Dude framebag in a Platypus 2 litre Platy Bottle (36g).

Power and Lights

As of November 2017 I have now converted the bike over to a dynamo system for both power and light.  The dynamo is a SON 28 15 150 which whilst not cheap are in my experience very reliable and simply not noticeable when riding. I now have three SON dynamos, a SON 28 on my Surly Long Haul Trucker, and a SONdelux 12 [12 x 100mm] to be fitted to my audax ride, a Giant Defy Advanced 2.

Lighting I have gone up front with a Busch & Mullur Lumotec IQ2 Luxos B which I had in my spares box and I mounted on my Jones H-Bar using a Busch & Muller 470LHKAB collar handlebar bracket and my rear light is a Busch & Muller Toplight Line Small taillight for use on the Salsa Alternator rack. I haven’t decided as yet what I will do for a rear light when not using the rack.  Most likely will mount a Busch & Muller Secula on a rear stay.  With the SaIsa Alternator rack I did incur a mounting problem mounting the rear light. Salsa in their wisdom do not make provision for a rear light, well maybe they do but what the provide are two vertical thread mounts. Pretty useless as far as I can see for mounting taillights.

My solution was to drill a couple of holes to allow me to mount the Busch & Muller Toplight Line Small taillight.

Charging my USB devices: My preferred approach is to charge a cache battery [RAVPower RPB17 6700 mah] during the day and then use that battery to top up which ever devices need charging overnight [Wahoo Elemnt, Samsung Galaxy S8 phone, Samsung Galaxy tablet, Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II]. I am currently using a prototype USB charger from Kerry at


Salsa Mukluk Bikepacking Resources

There is some good stuff getting posted on the Salsa Mukluk and on bikepacking I will link to the various Mukluk and bikepacking blogs and other posts that I have found useful or are worth following/reading.

9 Responses to Salsa Mukluk Fatbike Build & Owner Review

  1. Kris Rhodes 4 February 2015 at 8:29 AM #

    Salsa Lip-Lock – these are great collars. I’ve been thinking of swapping my Surly one for one of these because they’re properly engineered to tighten the collar as you tighten the bolt rather than just let you feel more tension because the collar itself is generating friction against the bolt.

    Aluminum vs. Steel – I think this was more of a problem in the past, but the Steel will add 250-500g to the frame weight for no appreciable difference in quality. You won’t be caring about the frame flexing to absorb vibrations because of the tires; I think steel is great for touring bike, but aluminum is better for fatbikes in my opinion. Steel used to be a good choice because you could go to any mechanic and get it welded (aluminum is harder) but nowadays there’s so many aluminum engine blocks and whatnot out there that it’s not really a problem nowadays.

    Alternator vs. MDS – I would go Alternator every day. MDS is still very new technology and Surly historically have done a good job but not a great one with their first releases. In addition to this, you are still leaving the door open for IGH should you decide to go down that path, which Surly STILL haven’t addressed and really need to if they’re going to remain competitive in terms of design. However, you will not regret going vertical dropouts over the horizontal fork ends the ECR uses!!! It simplifies things so much more that it’s not funny.

    Jones Loop 710 – I think this is a good approach. A coworker of mine just took the same approach. When you go for the Ergon grips try to find a place that will allow you to exchange them because there’s a bunch of different Ergon grips, particularly for different bar sweeps (this is 45º) so getting the right ones might take a bit of time and swapping.

    Drivetrain – I think this is the right setup to go with.
    Rohloff is nice, but you’re going to be quite limited with the input ratios. I would personally prefer a derailleur setup on a Fatbike.
    I would NOT go with the Chris King drivetrain (or headset for that matter); they’re a pain when you have to get them serviced, even if they are pretty nice. I currently run the regular Shimano BB’s at 1/10th the cost and elect to replace them more frequently; they last plenty long and honestly I think you’re going to be ok with the regular ones. I regret getting my CK headset too; I’d rather have something like a FSA Orbit MX headset now, as they’re far more serviceable than the CK ones.
    I think you’re on a nice sweet spot at 40t and a 36-12T setup. I’d be running something pretty close to that. Rings and cassette are a good choice if a little on the small side; you will probably hit the top end a fair bit on the gearing when you’re going down a hill but that’s pretty normal. No one ever complained about being able to pedal through just about everything you’re going to come up against. SRAM X0 is a “maybe” if and only if you’re going to run in to chainline issues when using the little ring and big cog, but I think it’s a generally bad idea on a touring bike.

    Brakes – Great choice with the 180mm. I often regret not having a 180mm on the front, my rotors have fried a few times (to counter this I buy Shimano Icetech now, but they’re expensive). 6 bolt would be my recommendation of course.

    Racks – I’ve had good experiences with Tubus, those guys really know how to make a good rack.

    Power – consider using velcro. I heard some Ride the Divide guys use Velcro to help them remove/reposition as needed. They seem to like it.

    Handlebar roll – would recommend. I like mine, I have a sling and a dry bag. It has a tendency to cause the front handlebar to flop when mounted so consider how you would handle that when out and about, most of the time it isn’t a problem. You’ll like going with mechanical brakes here, because your handlebar bag will not press against the hoses (which has a tendency to let air in). Something else to consider is potentially how you would handle the bag flopping down on top of the front tire. My experience thus far with fatbikes is that the bag probably won’t unless you start throwing EVERYTHING in there, but you should keep that in mind.

    Consider also the new Salsa Anything cages on the forks. I think you’ll enjoy them.

    • Aushiker 5 February 2015 at 9:09 PM #

      I have taken on board your comments on the headset and bottom bracket for that matter and amended my headset specification for a Cane Creek 40 series. Reasonable comprise? 🙂 Sorry cannot get my head around going with Faulty Spares Attached (FSA).

  2. Aushiker 4 February 2015 at 12:54 PM #

    Thanks Chris. Excellent comments as always. I will be rethinking that headset for sure. Salsa Anything cages are on the agenda as well.

    One thing I got caught out on (teach me for assuming that the details at Bike24 where the same as on the Salsa website instead of reading carefully) is that fork coming with the frameset I purchased is a the Salsa Bearpaw 150 and not the Bearpaw 135 I had assumed. This raises issues with running a dynamo hub. I can get a dynamo okay that is suitable for the Bearpaw 135 but for the Bearpaw 150 is more of an issue. Options seems to be spacing a 100 15mm thru axle dynamo to fit or swapping out the fork for a black Bearpaw 135. Thoughts?

    • Kris Rhodes 5 February 2015 at 8:07 AM #

      Unfortunately not for hub specific choices; once you leave 100-135mm hubs I’m less informed. One thing that stands out – you could always forego the dynohub altogether and choose a different power system.

      • Aushiker 5 February 2015 at 9:08 PM #

        It looks like I will need to swap-out the fork for a Salsa Bearpaw 135 in black or return the frame and purchase a Mukluk 3 frame-set from another retailer. The downside is I have to return the frameset to Germany (actually may be a lot cheaper than getting the fork) and will need to buy a rear hub as one does not come with the Mukluk 3 frame-set.

  3. Andrew Krucko 10 November 2015 at 5:23 AM #

    Your article makes me want to take up expedition riding. Good one!


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