Early this week, QBP hosted their annual Saddle Drive. An event where Q-Brands unveil their new bikes, talk about the development and allow dealers and media to test ride them. This year was very exciting with a number of new bikes released by Salsa. Over the past few years, Salsa has established their name in the bikepacking world, making rigs to fit certain bikepacking applications. While they are not strictly producing bikepacking rigs, it seems to be their main focus. On top of that, creating accessories to complement their bikes has been a top priority such as the Anything Cage, branded frame bags, the recent Bikepackers Guide and more. While there are many other boutique bikepacking manufactures out there, Salsa seems to be the company mass producing these bikes, keeping them reasonably priced and making them widely available. Below are a few bikes from Salsa as well as Surly. -NB


Deadwood 29+ (New) untitled-38 untitled-37 untitled-39 I had not heard about this bike until Monday, but It was a simple choice for my first test ride. The rain was easing a little before it would would come back even stronger. I had not ridden SRAM’s double tap system but I got it figured out after a couple of shift attempts. The Deadwood cruised up the muddy trail with ease due to those 29+ tires. After more rain and mud, the rear wheel wouldn’t turn but after 10 feet of movement the mud escaped from the seat stays and I was on my way. It had been a couple of years since I’ve ridden drop bars on a mountain bike but the Woodchippers complemented the bike well, keeping me comfy and stable even in the slippery, muddy rocky terrain. The 29+ wheels gave a lot of traction and I was rallying down the trail, what a great bike 2 thumbs up for a rough terrain pack bike. Ponyrustler (New) – The star of the show untitled-48 The Ponyrustler had a separate line 6-10 people deep during both days of the demo. Luckily I got one for my first ride Tuesday morning. I think this is the way trail bikes are going to be from here on out. Light 27.5+ bikes can do it all from climbing to descending. The Bucksaw is like an all star wrestler brutalizing its was down the trail, but the Ponyrustler is like a ninja. The Bucksaws’ a rally truck, the Ponyrustlers’ like a motocrosser agile, fun to fly. The Ponyrustler doesn’t have an ‘I don’t care attitude’ as much either – you have to pick a line. This bike is really incredible. It makes you want to go fast, and get air. Salsa built the Ponyrustler around Sram’s Boost Technology which will make it stiffer and stronger at the sacrifice of another new mountain bike standard. PowderKeg untitled-45 The PowderKeg was released at this years Frost Bike, my wife says we can buy one! Spearfish untitled-46 The Spearfish remains the same this year, but does come in a few new slick looking paint jobs. It is now exclusively carbon and available in an XO1 and SLX build. Cutthroat untitled-43 untitled-44 After Jayp’s 2nd place finish, he handed his bike over to the boys at QBP, it looked like this. Bucksaw untitled-47When I heard that there was a a full suspension fat bike I said. “why, I don’t get it.” After riding this bike, I was a little sorry I said that, this bike is a riot! It climbs but don’t be in a hurry, just sit and spin, you’ll get there. This bike is like a two wheeled desert race truck. Fun meter pegged the whole time it’s never too rocky you are never going too fast. Pop a little air off that rock… who cares what’s on the other side, you just roll right over it. Between the geometry, the split pivot technology, carbon frame and wheels, you can toss the Backsaw around quite easily. The Bucksaw will still come in the XO1 Carbon and Aluminum. New for this year is the GX1, a bike built around the affordable GX Driver. You can walk home with the GX1 bucksaw for $3,999. Beargrease untitled-50 After patiently waiting I finally I got my chance to ride the Beargrease. It was getting close to the end of the demo and I was hoping to get another ride in after this so I started off fast. Then blew up and tapered off a little. This bike goes, just press the pedals in a forward motion – no flex, just power on. It really is a XC racer with big tires.  On the down I felt like I was on a short travel XC bike but with gobs of traction and no jitteriness. I think it would make a good pack bikes as well.


Krampus Ops untitled-40 The line at the Salsa paddock was long so I went to the Surly booth and grabbed the Krampus Ops. I’ve wanted to ride a Krampus since they came out.  Nothing unexpected here at all, the Krampus is a solid Surly bike that was a a great overall ride. Throw your pack kit on it and we’ll see you in a couple days. ECR untitled-49 The ECR is the bike at Saddle Drive that is as close as I can get to my personal bike. The ECR is what I would call an off the shelf trail pack bike. Just get some bags, fill them with stuff and you are a bikepacker. The Jones bar felt great after riding straight bars. It’s a really great bike.

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