Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Salsa: Three Flavors

I did a few rides over the past three days, and it wasn't until later that I realized they were all on Salsa Cycles bikes.

Disclaimer: Now, I have to explain that I have been a big fan of what Salsa Cycles has been doing in regards to ideas for bicycles for several years now, and each one of these bikes I have exemplify certain aspects of what excites me about riding bicycles. This may come off as a "fanboi" post, but it is what it is. I like these bikes. So, here we go- I'll give some commentary on each bike as I go....

Big Mama
Saturday it was the Big Mama that got the call. This rig isn't in production anymore. It has been replaced by the Horsethief, but the Big Mama is a solid rig that has a great balanced feel with the Manitou Tower fork up front.

I was rocking this bike at the camp's South side where conditions were bone dry and rock hard. Having all that suspension on tap made mincemeat of the trails, and I did two passes which left me feeling fine afterward. I wasn't rattled. I felt tired, but not beat up.

Not that those hidden roots and rocks under the leaves didn't try to rattle my cage, because they did. The combination of big Bontrager 29-4's and Big Mama suspension just smoothed it all over though. The Bontrager tires seem to be gripping well, and these would be a good tire for around here on the front of a rigid single speed, or as I have them- on a full suspension trail bike.

Sunday nearly got away from me before I found some time before the sun set to get away on my Salsa Cycles Mukluk. This could possibly be my favorite Salsa Cycles bike ever. I know it is high on the "fun factor".

The Mukluk and I have been heading over to the "lake-let", (overgrown pond?),  nearby the Guitar Ted Laboratories where there is a neat path around the lake. I was taking in some late Fall colors here, but what is really cool is that the water levels are down slightly.

This has exposed a lot of boggy, mossy, and sandy areas often covered in Red Cedar dead fall that I can now ride across on my Mukluk. Right on the water's edge, I can cruise along rather easily, for the most part, where there is no way I could even ride another bike at all. Probably not even walk on some of it without sinking through to my ankles in gooey mud. Those big Larry tires and 82mm wide Rolling Darryl rims just make this "impossible" terrain a possibility that is a ton of fun to be able to do.

The bonus here is that I didn't even tear up anything. In fact, I think I didn't even get any mud on the bike. Just got a bit wet is all. This is a low impact rig, that's for sure. I recently scored some Big Fat Larrys from Ben Witt that are even wider tires than what I have on this now. When those go on, the flotation level will go up a few more notches, taking me into even more normally unrideable territory. Fun? Are you kidding? This thing makes me grin on every ride I take it on.

Fargo Gen I
I just got the Fargo re-done. I used my Midge Bar I had in reserve, and set it up with different wheels and tires. Different stem with zero rise, and a tad shorter. New bar tape too. I rode it Monday to make sure everything was just right.

Ya know, I just got a new Fargo Gen II, and I am really stoked about that rig. It is going to tear up the single track when I get it ready, and I could even get a suspension fork on it when the going gets rough, but there is something about Gen I that I can't let go of.

I "bonded" with this bike almost immediately. Ever since I've had it, it just feels "right" every time I throw a leg over it. Like it was custom made just for me. Uncanny that. I've never had a feeling like that since I've had this bike around with any other bike I've ridden, and I've ridden a lot of different bikes.

Added to that is all the great rides I've had on this bike. Two Fargo Adventure Rides, numerous gravel rides, and even some single track rides. This bike has been all over the Mid-West with me. Night gravel rides and commuting. All those great memories. I plan on making many more with this bike.

Adventure By Bike
So yeah.....I like my Salsa bikes, but they have a similar philosophy that I have been cultivating since I was a kid back in my home town of Charles City, Iowa. They call it "Adventure by Bike", and I have always felt any bike ride could turn into an adventure at any time.

Their bicycles reflect this, and it fits my style. Just like the days back when I would ply the paths down by the Cedar River on my single speed, coaster brake Huffy with 26 X 1 3/8ths tires, only now the bikes are way better tools for my poking around. They assist me in seeing what is down by the water's edge, what is over that next big hill, or what is just beyond the woods.

I suppose I could use anybody's bikes for this, but when the company has people that live and breathe the same things I do, it comes out in the products. So, a tip of the cycling cap to Salsa and the crew that made this stuff a reality.

Yeah- they aren't perfect, but nobody is. They just seem to keep pushing my buttons, and I am glad to be able to ride these rigs that fit me and my style really well.


Small Adventures said...

Inspiring read,and didn't come across as a "fanboy" post to me at all. That fat-tire bike sounds very interesting...

Unknown said...

I like the way you think.

S.Fuller said...

I've been happy with all of my Salsa Cycles purchases so far and having met the guys that design and test these rigs, I'm more than happy to support a company and people that "get it".

Matt said...

I really like this blog, but I get a twinge of sadness every time there is a salsa post. I spent all of my spare cash on a salsa and it has been nothing but trouble. Right now it is in the shop because a) there was a part missing from the fork and b) the fork lockout dial has reversed itself!

Salsa _should_ be a company I feel good about too. They make the bikes I want, I share their point of view, but this experience has left a sour taste. Perhaps it will dissipate over time.

Lucky for me the bike it was replacing just keeps on keeping on because more than two months after putting down my hard earned for the salsa, it is still my primary ride.

Guitar Ted said...

@Matt: Salsa doesn't make suspension forks. ;>) Your issue there, (at least this one you are letting on to here- fork lock out, missing part on that fork), has nothing to do with Salsa Cycles. It has everything to do with the suspension fork maker.

Big difference.

That said, I hope your issues get resolved and that you can start enjoying the ride.

Chad Q said...

MMMMM Salsa ;)

Chad Q said...

I too had problems with my fork but it was MADE by Rock Shox not Salsa.I now have the Manitou Tower on the Big Mama and have been throwing some pretty big stuff at it since I'm on flats again. No problems in that area.The only issue now is I think the Fulcrum wheels will need replaced with something a tad bit burlier.They flex enough on high speed downhill's at Potter's to snap spokes on the rear !!!

Matt said...

Just to clarify, the fork is just one in a string of problems and the real issue is not that the problems are occurring, but how they are (or are not) being resolved. Oh, and this was a complete bike, I didn't buy any of the parts separately so I have to go thru salsa and their distributor to get the problems solved.

I don't want to keep moaning, but I don't want people to think I am silly enough to blame a dodgy fork on salsa!