With the Bucksaw already in Salsa’s lineup, they weren’t afraid of jumping on the full suspension plus-size tire band wagon, and their mid-summer release of the Pony Rustler marked one of the first wave of full suspension 27.5+ rigs to hit the market.
The Pony Rustler features a carbon frame, which in Salsa’s plus and fat tire bikes means a carbon front triangle, carbon seatstays, and aluminum chainstays. With 130mm of front travel and 120mm of rear, the Pony Rustler falls squarely in the trail bike category, not straying too far toward either end of the spectrum. The 68-degree headtube angle is also correspondingly neutral, meaning that this rig is likely to appeal to a wide variety of riders.
I rode the X01-equipped bike, which features a SRAM X01 drivetrain, a boost-compatible RockShox Pike fork (the rear end of the bike is also Boost), RockShox Monarch rear shock, a RockShox Reverb dropper post, SRAM Guide RS Brakes, WTB Scraper rims, WTB Bridger 3.0″ tires, and a carbon bar.
When setup tubeless, Salsa says that the Pony Rustler can get down to 28.5lbs.
Out on the Trail
From my initial pedal strokes aboard the Pony Rustler, the first thought that came to my mind was “natural.” Situated pretty smack-dab in the middle of the mountain biking bell curve, there’s no one particular thing that the Pony Rustler is designed to do supremely well. It’s just designed to shred singletrack–and fast!
Pedaling, handling, and pinning it through chunky obstacles just felt so natural aboard the Pony Rustler. I experienced absolutely no adjustment period–I felt like I’d been riding this bike for years. The Pony Rustler feels exactly like a great-pedaling trail bike should feel, except with the additional benefits that the plus-size tires provide: extra traction, added confidence, and generally-expanded trail-gobbling prowess.
I particularly enjoyed railing the Pony Rustler in the corners. Thanks in large part to the endless traction afforded by the plus-size wheels and tires, I could lean the bike over like nobody’s business, despite generally loose, unpredictable conditions. Specifically, I think the WTB Bridger tires were a big help. To date, the Bridgers are one of the most aggressive 27.5+ tires that I’ve seen.
Also contributing to the natural feel was the perfect 0/10 calf-bang rating. I had no issues with my calves impacting the seatstays of this mountain bike.
At the end of the day, what more could I ask for? Excellent handling, great pedaling efficiency, a smart parts spec, and a natural geometry all combine to provide one great-riding trail bike.