Salsa Cycles Big Mama: First Impressions

I have a few rides on the Salsa Cycles Big Mama now and also have a build list to check out. Let’s take a closer look at how I kitted out the Big Mama first. Some of the items are reviewed components, some are swapped over from another rig.

Frame: Salsa Cycles Big Mama- size large, Fox RP-2 damper

Fork: Rock Shox Reba Team 120mm travel with Maxle Lite and remote Pop-Loc

Wheels: Handbuilt Gordo rims on Hope Pro II hubs, 20mm through axle, Wheelsmith double butted spokes and alloy nipples

Rear Skewer; Take off from a Cannondale touring bike. Steel shaft.

Tires: Specialized “The Captain” with “2Blis” Control casing.

Stem: KORE B-52, 75mm long

Handle Bar: Salsa Cycles Pro-Moto Riser

Grips: Ergon GE1 Team Green

Saddle: Bontrager Race

Seat Post: Bontrager Race Lite

Brakes: Avid Juicy 3, 185mm rotor frt/160mm rear

Shifters: SRAM X-9 triggers

Derailluers: Front/SRAM X-Gen, Rear/SRAM X-9

Chain: Shimano 9 speed

Cassette: SRAM 12-34T

Crank set/BB: Shimano LX/ 22-32-42T

Other: Salsa Cycles Lip-Lock seat QR, Bontrager handle bar end plugs, Slime tubes

Okay, enough spec! How about some ride impressions?

contiking09-0041

The Ride: I have done some time on another Big Mama, but not set up like this. With the tallish bottom bracket, (over 14 inches static height), and short cockpit, I sat upright and comfortable. Climbing wasn’t an issue if you “assumed the position” of hovering just above the nose of the saddle. (Or, actually perching there, if I wanted to) I could keep the front end from wandering at all but the slowest of speeds and the bike would scale steeps as long as I had the legs and traction. Fortunately, the legs were working well, but the greasy soil left me walking a couple of times that I knew I could have made it had the dirt been drier. Oh well! Another time then. However; “crawling” should be a hoot on this rig, whether it be over rocks or logs.

The rear suspension is plush, as in I feel totally suspended by a spring and isolated from trail chatter. Big sharp hits haven’t been encountered yet due to the soft, loamy conditions here in spring, but the few rocks I could find were dealt with in amazing fashion. I will be playing with the pressure in the Fox RP-2 a bit to see what sort of tuning I can get from this rig, but think along the lines of a Niner R.I.P. 9 for rear feel with the set up I have in it now. In fact, it was smoother in the rear than the Reba up front by a touch. And I have the Reba set pretty soft as it is. So “plush” is totally doable on the Big Mama, if you want it. After the ride, I saw the “O” ring on the rear shock and I could tell that the travel had been used up at least once, but I never felt it bottom out. The rate of travel felt very linear, no real “ramping up” that I could make out. This only added to the “plush” feel.

The bike can lean over and carve, but it also can be “tipped” into sharp corners, no doubt due to the high bottom bracket. I found no issues with getting around steep 180 degree switchbacks. The front triangle is super stiff, the Reba with a Maxle is super stiff, and the forged bits in the rear suspension with Enduro bearings are very stiff. This bike will not “noodle” on you. This gives the bike a very precise feel in all situations. But in slow, tight, descending switchbacks, if there is any flex in a bike, it will show up here. Nothing close to flex was felt in the Big Mama in that situation. I felt totally confident in railing corners, hitting off cambers, and climbing was a cinch with the lack of lateral flex in the chassis.

The Big Mama is pretty much flex free.Looking to the next few weeks, I will be searching out some rockier, and more technical trails to put the Big Mama to the test. (And in the process, me!) I will say that in the configuration that I have the Big Mama in now, it would qualify as an All Mountain set up that should be capable of all day epics just about anywhere. That is what we’ll be testing for and will report on next time we bring you news on the Big Mama.

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No Responses to “Salsa Cycles Big Mama: First Impressions”

  1. Brandonecpt Says:

    A 10mm travel fork sounds harsh!

  2. Guitar Ted Says:

    Whoops! Thanks for the catch. I corrected it now. 🙂

  3. MMcG Says:

    Look at that short stem! Guitar Ted goes freeride! 😉

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    MMcG: I wanted to set this up as more of an all mountain rig versus the XC/Trail type builds I have ridden/seen the Big Mama done up in. 🙂

  5. Simen Says:

    GT,

    As a keen follower of the Gary Fisher HiFi write ups (and as a HiFi rider), it would be nice if you could do some comparisons to that bike as you go along.

  6. Matt Says:

    I am curious about how much it weighs with the present build.

  7. Guitar Ted Says:

    Simen: I will oblige!

    Matt: I have not weighed it, but I will do that once Sea Otter is over, and I’ll post that in an update,

  8. Michael B Says:

    Wow I’ve just found this and I’m very excited. At the start of the year I specked up my dream Bike and it had the same frame, fork and wheels your testing. The concern I had at the time was using the 120mm travel forks on the frame designed for 100mm forks. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment.

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