Saturday, August 25, 2012

More Thoughts From The Salsa Demo

Vaya Travel: Stainless Steel
When I was going to the Carver Lake Salsa Cycles Demo Tour stop, I was asked a couple of times about which bike I was most excited about checking out. Neither time did I even answer that question, because, honestly, I didn't have a particular bike in mind.

I knew I needed to take a good, hard look at the Warbird, and I was curious about the Beargrease. I was also interested in the Vaya Travel, and the new Mukluks. But to pick one bike I was excited about?

I couldn't.

So it is now. I wasn't blown away overwhelmingly by any single model. That isn't to say I wasn't impressed, because I was. I've spouted off enough about the Warbird already, so here are some brief thoughts on the other rigs I was curious about.

Vaya Travel: I called this "...possibly the most interesting bike Salsa has made in a while.", and I stand behind that statement. Others are being wowed by the Warbird, or maybe the Colossal, but for me, this rig is outstanding. Stainless steel is much like titanium. Hard to work with, doesn't need a finish other than bare metal, and is pretty light. That right there is pretty cool. But for my money, the Altenator drop outs, (which should be on Fargos and all Vayas, as far as I am concerned), makes this especially interesting. I've seen my fair share of busted derailleurs on back roads, way more than I have mountain biking, and being able to single speed yourself out of a disaster is a good thing. Plus, you can run single speed on purpose, which I probably would on this bike. Add the S&S couplers and this just gets better. A negative: The Vaya I hefted at the demo, (they didn't have one big enough for me to ride), was disappointingly heavy, but it still looks like a great SS gravel rig to my eyes.

Muk 2 for 2013

 I like what Salsa did with the new Mukluks. 44mm head tube, Altenators, and nice crank sets that will work well on fat bikes in all gear combos.

I must say that when I saw the catalog pic of the Muk 2 in white with green and black I was let down. That is until I actually saw one. I am still not 100% down with the green rims, but the rest of it has grown on me to the point that it has bumped the needle off "Ugly" for me to "Okay".

It's pretty obvious that Salsa sees the fat bike as more than a snow/sand machine by the specs for the new models. No Grip Shift or thumbies here. Nope! It's traditional trigger shifting  which will definitely work better when doing mountain type cycling than the Grip Shift or thumbies, which work great under pogies in the cold. (Although I happen to be just fine with Grip Shift off road.)

Off road performance is also hinted at by the choice of hydraulic disc brakes and Nate 3.8"er tires. Grip and stopping power for fast off road action and climbing traction. Yes- they will work in the snow, but these items are not geared toward the snow factor so much.

Muk 3 in green for 2013
The Mukluk 3 gets two color choices for 2013, and I immediately loved the orange, but that color is great on almost any bicycle. The green rendering I first saw left me flat.

When I laid eyes on it at the demo I was blown away though. "Flat" indeed! The color is a flat green and looks killer. It went from being one of what I thought was a questionable choice by Salsa to an awesome one. I mean, who doesn't get the "military" angle here with regard to running over stuff with those knobbly Nates?

The spec on the Muk 3's is really good this year too. These will be a great value for a fat bike in 2013. Better crank sets, better cable routing, and the aforementioned frame attributes make this a better Mukluk than any before it. The Snow Dog is jealous for sure!

I haven't mentioned the Ti Muk because it will be exactly the same as last year, only offered in a complete though, and there will be limited numbers of these as well. Hmm.....makes one wonder what is around the corner for a Muk ti bike.....

Beargrease in pieces
 Of course, the most amazing new bike, to my mind, is the Beargrease. It comes with a really decent, solid spec, but the overall weight of this package is what will open a lot of folks eyes. Fat bikes have been known to not only have "fat" tires, but porky complete weights as well. It was considered the price you paid for flotation.

Not anymore!

This bike is incredibly light for a bike of this class. I hefted Salsa Cycles' employee, Bobby's bike, and my jaw hit the pavement. The thing is stupid light for a mountain bike with fat, fat tires. Seriously- there are stock single speed rigid 29"ers that weigh more than a Beargrease.

No- it doesn't have any rack mounts, no extra mounts on the all new aluminum fork, and no Altenator drop outs either, but for those who were thinking these bikes were porkers and they'd never ride one, you may want to take a close look at a Beargrease. Well- that is if you get a chance. My feeling is that these will fly out of shops faster than you might think. Fat bike guys and gals will be hip to this and those sitting on the sidelines kicking tires will be left wondering what the fuss is about. You heard it here first. I wouldn't fudge around if you think you want to check one of these out. Okay, I'll say this then stop- 28.5lbs complete. And that could be lowered more easily.

And those were the highlights. I also was found ogling the Spearfish 2, the Horsethief 1, and I was trying to get myself to like the brown Fargo 2, but I just can't. I just do not go for brown unless it is a really rich, dark hue, or has something like a bass boat sparkle to kick it into high gear. Meh! At least the Fargo 3 will be a nice blue.

But who am I kidding? The titanium Fargo is the only one I would seriously consider getting anyway!

And that' a wrap on the demo and my trip to the Twin Cities. Thanks to John, Aaron, Ben, Meg, Jason, Justin, Eric, and everyone else that made the weekend special.



Webbies said...

Who are they kidding with a 160/140mm brake combo? In my mind that will hurt the breaking performance greatly.

Ari said...

I love all the new bikes that are out there. I just wish I had more time to ride and perhaps then would I be crazy about a certain model. All the hoopla about the Warbird is kinda strange when some of us are still riding the La Cruz with Discs. Will we be amazed when a "steel" version of the warbird comes out?
I am getting out early tomorrow for a long ride. After watching Jeff's awesome movie I feel I need to get out and burn demons.

Guitar Ted said...

@Webbies: Actually, I was seriously impressed with the quality of braking available. Keep in mind- you would be stopping a tire with a tiny contact patch, (compared to any disc braked mtb), on loose gravel.

Think about how much power you actually need there. ;>)

Guitar Ted said...

@Ari: Yeah- you have to wonder how much better going back to what they had with some tweaks on top would have been with a steel La Cruz.

Can't wait to see 300 Miles Of Gravel again myself. I am glad to hear that some of you have been getting it to see. I wish I could get my hands on it!

Marla said...

The Vaya Travel is the first drop bar bike that has peaked my interest in a long time. May have to save some pennies.