|The Vaya Ti: Almost....|
"The Vaya will definitely speak to those who have found traditional geometry in touring bikes lacking for comfort. A tall head tube with the sloping top tube is going to automatically turn off a lot of road going touring aficionados. Too bad. The Vaya will offer riders a far more comfortable rider positioning in terms of multi-hour rides than any traditional touring rig. I am sure that Vaya also has other cool features, (disc brakes for one), but to my eyes, the Vaya nails the nice upright, relaxed rider position perfectly and will really be valuable on rougher roads and gravel. In fact, I would agree with what Dirty Kanza promoter, Jim Cummings has written when he opined that it was the best gravel road rig he's laid eyes on. Yeah, at least from a production bike standpoint, I think that is correct. "
What is interesting to note is what I wrote there is pretty much what happened to the model. It was immediately embraced by the gravel road riding enthusiasts. It was the "anti-cyclo cross" choice and for good reason. The Vaya handles gravel road riding really well. It can take a pretty beefy tire, and with that and the lowered bottom bracket and slightly slacker angles, well, it was a bike that slotted right into many riders needs for a gravel going sled. My good friend, MG, had a Vaya and wrote a review of it for the old "Gravel Grinder News" site, and it became one of the most popular posts on that site. Obviously, the gravel cyclist "got it" when it came to the Vaya.
|MG's 2010 Vaya. The review of this bike was one of GGN's most read posts.|
Then Salsa Cycles sort of forgot about the Vaya. When it debuted in '10, it came out with the standard 1 1/8th straight steer tube, but road cycling and mountain bikes were quickly adopting the tapered steer tube by this time, yet Salsa did not update the Vaya until now. 2016 Vayas will finally get head tubes capable of accepting a tapered steer tube fork. This is puzzling, since a Vaya owner would become locked into the heavy Vaya steel fork, and would not be able to lighten up the bike with a carbon fork, which may have helped when it came to folks wanting a light touring rig that didn't weigh a lot. It certainly would have made sense for gravel road riding. Interestingly, Salsa did modify all the other steel bikes in the line up, along with the aluminum and carbon offerings to reflect modern day headset standards. It seems odd then to leave the Vaya behind, as it were.
Then there is the curious case of the Ti Vaya and the Vaya Travel. The Ti Vaya, which was a hard to get bike to begin with, was a coveted gravel racing frame set. Salsa did not carry over the frame after 2013, yet they did continue the titanium models up through the 2015 model year in other models. The Vaya instead went to a coupled, stainless steel framed bike. It was a curious choice, since stainless steel frames are super expensive but not as marketable as titanium was/is. The only really cool thing about that frame was the addition of the Alternator drop out, which was a great way to add internal hub gear drive trains, single speed a Vaya, or to use as a way to bail yourself out in case of derailleur failure.
|The Vaya Travel was the only Vaya ever equipped with Alternators|
As stated, the 2016 Vaya will have the bigger head tubes, and the Titanium bike gets the carbon tapered steer tube fork, (finally!), but it may be too late now. Salsa has some stiff competition in the gravel ranks, and they themselves have introduced a full-on touring bike called Marrakesh. So.....just how does the Vaya for 2016 fit in?
Salsa dubs the bike as thus: "The Vaya is our road adventure and light-touring bike, designed to handle any road surface, from pavement to gravel to dirt."
So it is still a sort of mish-mash bike with no central focus. Or......is it the Swiss Army Knife bike everyone that owns one says that it is? Their own description reads like every other company's gravel bike marketing spew. So, why not make this the gravel bike it was always accepted as and that Salsa doesn't have, (but it does, it just doesn't market it as such.) Take out the "light touring" aspect, and amp up the marketing side to reflect what the Vaya is good at.
However it goes, the Vaya seems to be a very curious case in Salsa's bike line up. It is a bike that is passionately loved by its owners, but has no featured place in the Salsa story like the Fargo, El Mariachi, Mukluk, and Beargrease. Even newer models like the Cutthroat and Marrakesh have already been celebrated in their marketing as adventure bikes worthy of consideration. It makes the Vaya hard to figure out for many consumers and I know from experience it is even a hard bike to get across to some of my fellow bike nerds.