The Salsa Mukluk 3 Complete Bike is the kind of mad collision of awesome factors that make life worth living and mountain biking worth doing. Incredibly capable and versatile, this brute is dressed in a package that means you won't have to look farther than your swear jar and behind sofa cushions to hit the trail/beach/snow with glorious flotation.Once aboard your Mukluk, however, you can go as far as you want thanks to its Enabler fork's braze-ons for racks, fenders, and bosses for water bottles or Salsa's round-item, sleeping pad/bag optimized Anything Cage. The fork's carrying capacity is complemented by the aluminum frame's three water bottle mounts (seat tube, top and bottom of the down tube), and rack braze-ons in the front and rear.Like the full-length cable routing and KMC RustBuster chain, it's no coincidence the Mukluk is Aluminum. This bike is destined for wet conditions -- including strapped to the bow of a boat, navigating beaches, traversing snow, and slinging mud. The double-butted 7005 aluminum tubing's not only light and strong, it's corrosion resistant, too, to keep the Mukluk stomping for generations.Optimized for technical situations, the original and current Mukluk features excellent standover clearance. For 2013, however, Salas's designers have tweaked the geometry to reflect the esteemed handling characteristics of its El Mariachi. This includes shorter chainstays and a tad higher bottom bracket to enhance maneuverability and nimbleness. Adding to this frames versatility are Salsa's Alternator dropouts.Not only do these allow you to customize the Mukluk's handling (run the dropouts forward for agility or position them rearward for stability), they allow you to run gears or opt for the mechanical simplicity of a hammer -- singlespeed. The beauty of the Alternator drops is you can tension the chain without having to fuss around with disc caliper positioning every time you remove the rear wheel.Speaking of the rear wheel, it consists of a 32h Mukluk hub and Surly Unholy Rolling Darryl rim laced together with traditional DT Swiss Champion spokes. The front retains the same spokes and rim, but uses Salsa's Enabler hub to fit the Enabler forks 135mm spacing. The wheels are wrapped in 26 x 3.8in Surly Nate tires.Stopping that rubber are the venerable Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors and FR5 levers. Putting the power to the rear wheel is a 2 x 9 SRAM drivetrain, including X5 shifters, X7 front and rear derailleurs, and a PG-950 11 - 36 cassette. The crank is a specially made unit that uses an Isis drive 100mm BB with a 24/36 tooth crank optimized for fatbike duty.The Mukluk 3 Complete Bike comes in Green and five sizes; X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large.
Strengths: Wide handlebar provides lots of leverage for mashing short-ups out of the saddle.
Longish top tube is roomy.
Wide rims make the most of wide tires.
Excellent mechanical brakes.
Practical parts spec. (No money wasted on bling.)
2-speed crankset. (A big ring would go mostly unused.)
Very agile - contrary to its appearance.
Galvanized chain resists rust.
Weaknesses: Aggressive tire knobs vibrate on hard surfaces.
Zero-offset seat post. (Personal preference thing)
This bike is fun, fun, fun to ride in the snow.
It has changed my outlook on winter.
The incredible floatation and traction will take you places you wouldn't think possible.
True for all fat bikes, I'm sure.
Did an out-and-back on a snowmobile trail with a Pugsley rider yesterday.
We swapped rides for the return trip.
Amazing how different the fit and ergonomics are from one another.
If you are shopping, make sure you check out both bikes; one will fit your style better than the other.
The slightly shorter top tube on the Pugsley, combined with its back-swept handlebar, makes it feel much more compact than the wide open Mukluk.
Pugsley tires track straighter in the snow and are quieter on pavement, Mukluk tires have more floatation.
Neither better or worse - just different.
It is good to have choices.
Strengths: I have the 2013 model. Key strengths:
1) Nate tires. Simply amazing traction up, down and sideways. Like they're made of glue or something!
2) Alternator dropouts to adjust chainstay length
3) Orange paint. Just gorgeous.
4) BB design that eliminates chain rub
5) 170mm rear hub.
6) Relaxed geometry compared to other fatties
Weaknesses: 1) would have preferred drilled Rolling Darryl rims like the 2013 Pugsley Necromancer
2) Crank has no bashguard and no flats to mount one. But I came up with a solution that I posted in the MTBR fatbike forum
3) Green Paint....IMHO looks dull and unremarkable, like one of those plastic green army men we played with when we were kids.
4) 160mm front rotor is a little underpowered for the weight of the wheel/tire. SHould have spec'd a 180.
LOVE this bike. I do lots of snow riding, and this bike opens me up to more of it. It has also introduced me to beach riding, something I'd never done (or thought of) before. The flotation is amazing, and the traction is unreal. Yes, you could say the same about any fatbike, but what makes the Salsa Mukluk so great is that the price of entry is relatively low. There's a LOT of value packed into this bike.
Strengths: Climbs like a goat in the dirt, especially loose stuff. Great and comfortable geometry. Durable/glossy paint.
Weaknesses: Chain rub on tire- This was a problem Salsa realized from the get go. Did some customization and I run chain rub free now. Probably my biggest complaint is the need for a super long seatpost due to low slanting top-tube.
I actually bought just the frame and enabler fork and then built up my fat rig from there. I got some Vicious Cycle Fat Sheba rims, I custom drilled them out for around 300 grams of weight savings and a cool look with red Surly rim strips showing through. I used a Gravity double crankset with a bashgaurd. This didn't however, eliminate chainrub when in my smallest cog and inner chainring, so I decided to remove 2 of the smallest cogs off of the 9 speed cassette and space the cassette outward. This has eliminated any chain rub that would have existed and I can't say as though I've ever missed having those upper gears. The lower gearing is what makes this bike fun to me.
If you are looking for something to ride during the 'off-season' or ride in sand or snow or loose conditions, this bike is the one. I ride it as my standard XC bike and I can keep up just as well. It does require a slightly increased amount of work to pedal it but, on the trail, the roll over and foll through benefits, easily offset that. This bike will make you smile and laugh.
Bike Setup: Standard Frame and Fork- Custom build kit
a All Mountain Rider
from Venice, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: March 22, 2012
Strengths: Rides where nothing else will - snow, mud, sand, gravel, mulch
Weaknesses: For this kind of bike, not much. I'm not a fan of twist shifters
I deliberated over getting a more high end version of this kind of bike and I'm glad I didn't. These bikes take on terrain other bikes just can handle, but they are slower - much slower - and the moves are gentle and mellow. My speed of wet sand and groomed snow is about 10 mph. Over 6" deep untracked snow - nearly zero! You really need to find compacted snow to ride this thing - but I'm a novice to this kind of riding. IMHO, there's really no need to trick them out like our XC or DH bikes. The cheapest components in the world wouldn't make a discernable difference on these machines unless they simply didn't work well. These components do work well (even though I hate twist grip shifters in general - but again, on this kind of bike where I shift rarely it's not an issue.)
The abuse these bikes do take is that they need to get washed down after every ride unless they are only used in clean snow. To that end, I really wonder how the internals will hold up. So far so good though (after only about 6 rides on sand and snow), and if you're accustomed to servicing bikes that see a lot of mud and water, these should be at least as durable.
The Mukluk has really well designed geometry and clearances for the intended use. That said, it has sluggish steering due to tire mass and friction so technical terrain is not going to be as much fun. Tire pressures are low so the bouncing basketball effect is pronounced. I personally like the idea of having a short travel fork for these because groomed snow trails and even wet beach sand can be bumpy and uncomfortable compared to my full suspension bikes. The Muk3 is a fun city cruiser (again - not fast for long commutes), beach cruiser, trail cruiser and yes, it rides across all but the softest beach sand with no problems. The things this bike doesn't do well so far are steep climbing over snow or even mild climbing over dry sand. So I choose rolling or flat terrain - no steep hills.
My Muk3 doesn't give me chain rub problems in any gear and it even has enough room for the bigger tires (4.5") apparently. The stock rubber is fine though.
I recommend this bike for having lots of fun in all that stuff you never thought you could ride on - particularly in the winter when fast riding is uncomfortable anway, and slow riding over groomed snow trails will take you places even XC skiers wouldn't have the stamina to reach.
a Cross Country Rider
from Davenport, IA, USA
Date Reviewed: February 14, 2012
Strengths: Fat tires! Plows over everything like a tank!
Weaknesses: Clay accumulates on the frame until it's too heavy to lift. Should come with fenders or at least the option of fenders.
This is the most awesomest bike ever! I ride it everywhere, through everything, all the time! It's so awesome, my girlfriend had to have one so she got this years model and she loves it too. No longer mtbers, now adventure cyclists!
Strengths: Not knowing what to expect, I was really surprised at how easy it was to adjust to riding a fat bike. There wasn't any real adjustment needed, it was more of a pre-concieved notion of how a bike with 4 inch wide tires would handle and pedal that needed to be overcome. The ride position is very comfortable and felt completely natural compared to my other bikes. At first the grip shifters seemed like they would be a let down but with winter gloves on they really perform quite well. In fact, I would go with a similar shifter on a snow bike in the future having experienced them on the Salsa. Not being used to a rigid bike, I was impressed with how the frame and fork and those huge tires absorb the trail noise. I will admit that the speeds that I am riding in the snow, slush and mud right now are not that condusive to beating up a rider so a better overview of total ride quality will have to wait until the ground thaws. The price is one thing that makes this bike a definite winner. It is amazingly fun and the fact that is costs less then a downhill race fork is awesome. The powder coat is also appealing. The photos online and in magazines don't do it justice. In person it is really cool. I compared the Mukluk 3 to a Pugsley at a shop and liked the aluminum bike and build kit better. I would even choose it over the new Moonlander because of the aluminum frame.
Weaknesses: With tires this wide, drive train compromises sometimes have to be made. The Salsa website talks about possible chain rub issues, and while I haven't notice them, it seems like it could be a problem with more aggressive tires (Nates) or the larger tires (BigFatLarry). One issue I do have is that the BB5 brakes rub. I like to have my brakes set up so the pull is very little before the brake engages; I'm used to moto. Anyway the BB5 outer brake pad resting position is canted in towards the rotor at the bottom while the top is away from the rotor. To adjust the brakes so the brake pad does not rub make the pull of the lever almost hit the bars before it engages. I use one finger on the brake and the lever will hit my knuckles before it engages at all. If I adjust it so the pull of the lever is correct for my liking then it rubs all the time and squeaks when the bike is pushed backwards. The first thing I will change is the brakes but then again I am very particular about brakes.
If your in the market for a fat bike, use the buying power of the bike company and get a complete. The Mukluk 3 is a fantastic bike that handles well, is comfortable, quite a nice looking bike, and for the price is even that much better. I do wish it had their adjustable dropouts so I could run it single speed but that doesn't take anything away from the bike being an amazing ride.