Battle of the Bears
Otso Voytek vs Salsa Beargrease
Written by Sam Berglund, on November 22, 2019
We love fatbike season, and good thing too, as it accounts for half of the year here in frigid Minnesnowta. We have a couple weapons of choice when it comes to tackling the trails in this frozen tundra: The Otso Voytek and the Salsa Beargrease. So we thought we’d teach you a little about our two favorite bears. What makes them different, what makes them similar, and hopefully which one is right for you!
So, what about Otso Voytek is related to a bear? Well, two things actually. The name Otso hails from Finnish mythology as the spirit of the bear. And Voytek, or rather, Wojtek, is the name of a bear that was enlisted in the Polish army during the Second World War. The Otso Voytek is equally at home in the snow as its namesake. The Voytek rolls on 26” wheels, but is a very versatile machine, with capabilities to switch between 26 fat, 27.5 fat, 27.5 plus, and 29er wheel options. All this is thanks to Otso’s patented Tuning Chip system, which allows for 20mm of chainstay length adjustment at the rear axle.
The other factor that sets Otso apart from the competition is its Q-factor. As if the bike industry couldn’t come up with another weird term to throw at us, Q-factor is the width of the bottom bracket shell. Most fat bikes sit around 100mm wide for their Q-factor, but thanks to they’re custom designed chainrings from Wolftooth, Otso managed to get their Q-factor down to 80mm, the narrowest in the industry. This narrow Q-factor creates a uniquely balanced and responsive feel, often described by riders as balanced and responsive. The narrow Q-factor makes the Voytek feel more like a mountain bike than a fatbike. It’s because of the narrow Q-factor that the Voytek is often sold to shorter riders, as the distance between the seat and pedals is shorter, and so the Q-factor has a much more pronounced effect on the feel of the bike.
So what about the other contender, the Salsa Beargrease? The Beargrease is also compatible with multiple wheel sizes, but is most at home on the stock 27.5x3.8 wheels and tires that it comes equipped with. This bike is designed predominantly for groomed trails, but don’t let that fool you. We take our Beargreases down along the river where we have to forge our own trails on a weekly basis, which the bike accomplishes with ease. Not only that, but the Beargrease is rear rack compatible, and the new Kingpin fork comes with a mind-boggling number of braze-ons for any combination of front bags and accessories. A true back-country adventurer’s steed.
Don’t expect the Beargrease's backcountry chops to slow you down though. The geometry of the Beargrease lends itself towards the rider that desires speed above all else. A slightly steeper seat tube angle than the Otso puts the rider over the pedals, while a slacker head tube angle increases the wheelbase and improves the stability of the bike at higher speeds. Both are good things when you’re hammering out the last sprint at your local fat bike race.
So which is right for you? The Otso Voytek starts at $3399, while the Salsa Beargrease starts at $2499. If your budget is the deciding factor, perhaps the Beargrease wins out. But both bikes will serve you well in any circumstances. If you like to tinker with different bike configurations, or perhaps you prefer the feel of your mountain bike and don’t want to lose that then the Otso might be the right choice for you. If winter bikepacking, or groomed racing is your thing, look towards the Beargrease. That being said, sometimes the best way to decide is to let the bike choose. Both bikes are available at both our Arden Hills and St Paul locations, so come by to test ride these two bears and see which is right for you!