I've got my basic route mapped out here, and as I envision myself riding through the various sections of the route, I'm always on a fat bike. You certainly don't need one to do this trip and in fact my friend Nate is considering a similar trip on a single speed ultralight 29er setup, but for me, a fat bike is a pretty integral part of my dream. It's part of what I want the experience of the trip to be about.
And so anyway, I'm to the point in my progression on this journey towards the journey that I'm ready to be serious about bringing a fat bike home. I've been watching this one for the last week or so and I put in a not very aggressive bid of $1100 at the bell, which didn't cut it.
Being as it was located in Portland, I'da still had to cough up another chunk of change one way or another to get it here and besides, I'm not totally sure it's what I want.
Reason being, is that concurrent with the virtual shopping, I've been hanging out on some fat bike forums and whatnot, learning a bit about what's going on inside the world of fat bikes. And what I've found is that the species is in the midst of a pretty intense evolutionary growth spurt. Fat bikes are still a little niche, but not that much, and I feel like interest is on the verge of exploding, if it hasn't already done so, especially in certain areas of the country.
I've had it in my mind that I want to acquire one as inexpensively as possibly, reasoning that a fat bike is a fat bike is a fat bike, and that there should be a decent inventory of used ones around, given that they're a bit gimmicky, right? And that they've (thus far) been marketed primarily as snow bikes and we're pretty much as far off-season as you can get, right? And while higher-end Fatbacks and 9Zero7's are in high demand and out of my price range, there should be an abundance of the more mainstream Surly Pugsleys and Salsa Mukluks in the mix. Turns out, though, that the used inventory just isn't that great and is far out-paced by the demand, as more and more people seem to be interested. Used machines are holding their value amazingly well. For bikes.
Other thing though, is that all manner of craziness is happening behind the consumer curtain at QBP, who owns both Surly and Salsa. There seems to be some effort to differentiate the offerings, with Surly taking "fat" to a new extreme with the Moonlander and maybe marketing more to the winter crowd, and Salsa refining the current fat bike definition and broadening it's offering within that definition and maybe marketing to a more year-round crowd. I could be all wrong, but whatever the marketers are doing, they're making me want a Salsa. Badly. And what's really starting to get to me is the desire for "a little bit lighter" fat bike (oxymoron if ever there was one). I know, I know - weight is precisely what drives all manner of insane, reckless, irresponsible, dishonest bike expenditure. I feel amost as though I'm watching helplessly, from outside my body, as I become the next victim.
From the QBP website, the two brands are described (aka marketed to powerless idiots like me) as follows:
Premium road, mountain and cyclocross bikes
Sturdy, no-frills road, mountain and cross bikes
I guess I fancy myself a premium sort of fellow. And then it wouldn't hurt Surly to actually offer a frame color once in a while that was halfway appealing. And then it doesn't help that there's a ton of buzz right now about news leaking out of this dealer-only QBP show called SaddleDrive . . .
For 2012, Salsa will be offering the Mukluk 1, 2, and 3:
Mukluk 3 - $1599 with a few cool upgrades from last year
Mukluk 2 - $2099 with sweet component and detail awesomeness (like E13 cranks)
Mukluk Ti (1) - $2099 frameset only with Alternator dropouts
Followed by this pic from the show:
|Ti on top, "2" on the bottom|
So things are not looking good. The big question at this point is how far into my pocket Salsa is going to get their hand.