|Salsa Cycles Pony Rustler GX-1. Moar B+!|
If you are in for a dose of my unfiltered opinions, read on.
Okay, a disclaimer- I have had about two weeks to ruminate on this news, since it was shared with me early on the promise I would keep my trap shut. Well, now I don't have to do that anymore, but I put that out there to let you know that I've considered these opinions a bit over the past two weeks.
Plus Bikes: I figured Salsa would respond to the B+ thing, and the "Pony Rustler", (more on that bike and its name in a bit), fit that bill. No big surprise to me there. However; it was slightly surprising to me to see a "Fargo" in 29+, only it isn't a Fargo, it is a Deadwood.
|The Deadwood 29+ drop bar bike|
B+/27.5+ makes more sense here in terms of the Deadwood, and I am a bit surprised to see Salsa go with 29+, although as a marketing/sales product, I bet they sell every one they make. The buzz is huge around this bike. Speaking of "how many they will make", I got the feeling there won't be a lot of these made. I wasn't told outright that this would be the case, but I wasn't dissuaded in thinking so either. Take that for what it is worth.
Now, back to the Pony Rustler and B+ wheels. See, this is the way I figured the Fargo/Deadwood thing would work. The Pony Rustler is nearly analogous to the Horsethief. Check out Salsa's description on both bikes and you will see references to both bikes being able to accept 29"er with up to 2.4" tires or B+ wheel sets with up to 3" wide rubber. You see- a Deadwood could have been the B+ analog to the Fargo, but it isn't and there ya go. To my mind, that would have allowed an XS size with limited geometry gymnastics, not to mention a good size Small with no geo craziness.
|Horsethief XO-1 Carbon|
What will be interesting going forward is to see how many Horsethief bikes versus Pony Rustler bikes get sold. I'm betting the B+ wheels will end up taking over this category of bicycles once folks get on board with the fun-factor they provide. They just have tons of grip, comfort, and they will expand the possibilities for those going way off the beaten path on these full suspension rigs. It just makes a ton of sense.
So, that's Salsa's push into "plus bike" territory. One thing makes a ton of sense and the other is going to be one of those bikes that I think will be a flash in the pan. Maybe that Deadwood will end up on B+ wheels in the future. I think that makes far more sense than what they have put out there now, but that's just me maybe.......
|The new Marrakesh touring bike|
It's no secret that across the aisle at Surly Bikes one of their most successful models has been the Long Haul Trucker, and its disc brake equipped sibling, the Disc Trucker. Salsa had the Vaya, but to my mind, the Vaya has been a weird bike from the get-go, and still is. It doesn't really do any one thing really well, and to my way of thinking, that is its downfall. It isn't a full-on, unashamed touring tool, and it isn't the steel framed gravel slayer it could be either, although it will do both of those tasks reasonably well.
Enter the Marrakesh, a steel framed, down and dirty touring rig with a lot of cool features. I'm an old, over-the-road touring fan and I keep an eye out for good touring rigs at reasonable prices. I've seen a lot of great touring bikes with super-spendy price tags, I've seen some cheaper models that just weren't right in one way or another. The Long Haul Trucker and Disc Truckers are cool, but- and this may be just me- I don't want a Surly logo on my touring bike. It just doesn't sit well with me, for whatever reasons. In my opinion, a touring bike should be very understated, but classy, and of course, most importantly- functional. All within a reasonable budget. This Marrakesh looks like it should fit the bill.
I'm oddly excited about this bike. I am not at Saddledrive, obviously, and I haven't laid hands on this bike, but if Salsa gets this right in terms of function, handling, and if it isn't the weight of a tank, (like Raleigh's Sojourn touring bikes), then I would be very tempted to dust off the ol' panniers and go find some where to tour to. Oh yeah......did I mention that Salsa claims you can put up to 2.0 29"er tires on this bike? Did I mention the Alternator drop outs? Oh, and if drop bars aren't your thing, they have a dedicated geometry for flat bars too. All at $1599.00. Crazy. Hopefully, they did get this right!
|Cutthroat X-9: Possibly the ultimate do-it-all gravel bike?|
The Cutthroat, introduced earlier, has to be one of the big highlights of Salsa's line up for 2016. Despite its carbon fiber frame and fork, I feel this could be the ultimate gravel rig for "go-fast" folks that Salsa has yet produced. Big tires? Go with the stock set up. Skinnier tires or lighter wheels and skinnier tire? Yep! With loads of mud clearance too. The Class 5 VRS system should also be stellar on rougher roads. I feel like the Cutthroat could be the single bike solution for many gravel racer enthusiasts.
Now of course, there is the Warbird, and that bike does a road drive train and likely could be the lightest bike for gravel road riding. If bigger tires aren't on the radar, (bigger than 42's), then this bike might work well, although I feel Salsa should add some bottle bosses to the fork here to aid in making the Warbird that DK200-ish length bike choice.
Then there is the rest of the line up, which isn't too surprising. Paint and suspension forks are the only big deal on the fat bike side. Fargos remain basically unchanged with paint a spec updates. So too with Vayas, El Mariachis, and Spearfish.
What may be a shock to some is the dropping of the titanium line with the exception of the Ti Vaya. I am not sure what is happening there, but I will only speculate that instead of sticking limited resources over steel, titanium, carbon, and aluminum bikes, Salsa is focusing on new wheel platforms, carbon fiber, the VRS technology, and expanding into the touring bike thing. I know some things about Salsa Cycles and one of those things is that they cannot "do it all". They aren't a big company with unlimited resources. Another thing to consider is how well the titanium bikes are selling. I don't know myself, but if they are not moving well, and carbon fiber is, then, ya know, what would you put your money in to as a company? Customers vote with their dollars and if the votes are saying titanium is not marketable, then it isn't. But again- that's purely speculation on my part there.