|A new, aluminum framed Warbird|
During Saddledrive 2012, Salsa Cycles released news of a gravel road specific design dubbed "Warbird". I remarked with a post that was not much loved by some folks at Salsa Cycles, (seen HERE), and afterward, I heard from many who had similar opinions on this bike. While the Warbird was a great concept, I felt it was not fully realized as the "gravel bike" it could have been.
Obviously, Salsa Cycles has realized this as well and went back to the drawing board and have produced a second generation Warbird so different from the first, that in many ways, it seems like a brand new model rather than a ground up redesign. Let me say right up front- I am very impressed with this new Warbird.
First things first- There is tire clearance and to spare on this new version. Any gravel rider will be stoked on the options for rubber with the Warbird, short of doing a "monstercross" bike. You say you don't need big meats? Fine- you'll have copious amounts of mud clearance then. That's great too, right? Especially so in Springtime gravel events featuring potentially wet dirt roads. The Warbird has better clearance than most cyclo cross bikes do, and I find that fact to be odd, but again, I think it is a fantastic idea. Options for the end user are better than limitations.
|The Al frame is both lighter and more compliant than the outgoing Ti model.|
The fact that Salsa managed to produce an aluminum frame that is lighter and more compliant than the outgoing titanium model was really most impressive. I would like to try that bike just because I find this claim so intriguing. If that bike does out do the titanium Warbird, it would be one smoove ride fer shure! I know how the titanium bike felt, and it wasn't bad.
|Claimed room for up to 44mm tires here.|
Then there will be those that don't like any bike without rack and fender mounts. Ya know, I don't necessarily disagree with Salsa's choices here. I've seen and personally experienced what a wet B Road can do to a bicycle, and I don't think fenders are a good choice there. Racks? Look....just frame bag it, or seat bag it. No rack mounts on a bicycle these days is not the deal killer it once was. However, in a compromise, I could see a hidden fender mount sort of deal ala Trek's Domane bike, which has these. I mean, it would be an option to those who use the Warbird as a commuter, road bike, or for select gravel events where sticky, gooey mud isn't an issue. So yeah.....maybe they could have at least given you that option.
|Out of the six color schemes, this was the only one I thought was a bit too garish.|
And what about dropping the titanium model? Well, the new one kills that bike on ride quality and weight, so I see why Salsa is dropping it, but perceptions being what they are, I can also see why many folks will shy away due to preconceived notions. Salsa's GM, Justin Julian was non-committal when I asked what would be the future of titanium at Salsa Cycles. In my opinion, I think they are moving away from the material, and I understand their reasons why, if they do. It's a tough deal to keep moving along with titanium when the material is limiting you in respects to design compared to carbon and aluminum. Steel? Yeah......then there is that nut to crack. I still think a steel Warbird would make sense, but, I guess Salsa doesn't see it that way.