|"Fat Fargo" straight from the factory.|
Well, everybody and their brother has probably seen the Salsa 2017 line up by now, so no news here for you on that front, most likely. That said, here are my thoughts on what's new for 2017......
Fargo Gen V: The Fargo may look kinda the same, but it really is pretty much a new bike for 2017. The frame is still steel, but that's about it. Now made in the "Cobra-Kai" tubing instead of the old "Kung Fu" used previously, the frame is said to be "stronger", (stiffer?) than before. Plus, it now uses Boost spacing, although reducer plates are available for backwards compatibility with 135OLD and 142 through axles. Boost is important here because now you can run real 27.5+ wheels and tires. "Real" because Salsa believes 27.5+ means a full three inch tire. Of course, 29 inch wheels and tires work here as well. The weird thing is that they are saying 29+ works on every Fargo but the smallest ones, which isn't clear to me now. (By the way, that means the Deadwood is.....er, dead!) I'm not sure how that doesn't jack up the bottom bracket sky high, but I've been tipped off that there is some magical Alternator plate that makes that work. I'll find out and report back later.... Oh yeah.....it is belt drive compatible as well.
There are two models. A 27.5+ one (seen here), and a great looking 29"er one in Forest Service Green, which is the same color as my Blackborow DS. That one comes with a steel fork. The one shown here has the carbon Firestarter. Salsa also tweaked the head tube angle a bit slacker to 69° to accommodate a 51mm offset fork, which is weird because both rigid forks they use are 45mm offset. Hmm...... Frame only is also still available in the weird, rather sedate looking gray scheme shown here. (Not digging it really, but whatever.....Salsa's images never do the colors justice and I may change my mind here.)
|Blackborow gone- Enter bigger, more carbon-y Mukluk|
The Mukluk is Salsa's first fat bike model and has always been the one that was more "adventure-exploration" than "race" which is the Beargrease's game. The Blackborow kind of made the Mukluk an off-the-back fat bike with its more trail/progressive geometry and nimble handling all wrapped up in 4.8" tires, which Mukluks couldn't handle on 100mm rims. Well, Salsa fixed that by calling the Blackborow a Mukluk and introducing a carbon frame as well.
This bike still has the Alternator drop outs, albeit a new, carbon fiber compatible one that allows tuning of the chain stay length for tire size. The aluminum Mukluk has the original Alternator drop. While I like titanium for a fat bike a lot, the carbon Muk is sure going to be a hard one to pass by with its lighter weight. Salsa says it fine tuned the layup of the carbon for a more compliant ride than the Beargrease, so that sounds even more enticing. Would it fit those crazy 5-point-whatever inch Vee Tire Snowshoe XL's? That would be cool if so. I could totally see the soft compound version of that tire, the creme colored one, on the red Muk pictured here. That would be cool.
There are several models of the Carbon Muk and a couple aluminum ones as well.
|To my mind, the most interesting new model- The Timberjack|
The El Mariachi is gone folks.......
Okay, with that said, here's the deal- Something had to give with the El Mar. It was woefully out of date, not a competitive bike in the market place, and it hasn't been for years, by the way. You can get all teary eyed about the steel, the tradition, blah-blah..... Meanwhile bikes like the Canfield Nimble 9, Diamondback's Mason, and others had blazed a trail of long, slack, and low hard tails that are ubiquitous in the hard tail trail market now days. And they did that years ago. The El Mar was a dinosaur. Either Salsa brought it up to date, or created a new model. This bike is so different, I can see why the new moniker was brought in. Timberjack brings Salsa into the "hard tail du jour" category and also brings with it a decent, affordable price which the El Mar didn't have.
Behold! A 29"er or a 27.5+ bike, slack angled, short stayed, and modern dropper post capabilities. Alternators, yes! And.......curiously hidden in the specs, a mention that this model will also handle 29+ wheels. How? Again, I don't know. (NOTE- I have been tipped off that the info I saw on the 29+ compatibility with the Timberjack frame has been removed from the page on the Timberjack on Salsa Cycle's site. So, apparently it does not fit a 29+ wheel.) The 29"er version sells for under a grand. The 27.5+, a better equipped model, sells for about a grand and a half. The old El Mar retailed at about the same as the nicer 27.5+ Timberjack, and was, again, woefully under spec'ed and outdated. No contest. Timberjack wins. (By the way, if you have to have a steel bike, hold on till the end......)
|Woodsmoke with 29 inch wheels......|
|.....Woodsmoke with 27.5+ wheels........|
|......and Woodsmoke with 29+ wheels|
Okay, here's the showstopper, folks. Salsa Cycles Woodsmoke "all-wheel" monster-bike. Same frame, three different wheel sizes. If you can't fall in love with anything you can stuff under this frame, you probably are a 26"er holdout, or a roadie. That's the idea here.
Alternator V2 drop outs, all models have the same carbon frame, and suspension travel is mostly 120mm with the exception of the one 27.5+ model that has a 130mm fork stock. Boost obviously. Stache-like, yes, very. In a gangly teenager sort of way, to my eyes. The once weird Stache actually looks somewhat refined after seeing this mash-up of bent shapes and swoops in weird spots.
|Trek will introduce a Stache Carbon very soon, by the way...|
Oh! But you say that at least it is carbon fiber? Well, Trek is coming out with a Carbon Stache, so there will be that as competition. Anyway, Salsa does have the Stache beat when it comes to all the wheel madness, or so it seems now.
I don't know....... In the looks department, I have a real hard time not saying the Woodsmoke isn't working for me. The Stache just looks like it makes more sense, but maybe it would win me over after a while. Besides that, the chain ring overlap with the rear tire seems like a problem to me in terms of gunk getting dumped right on your chain by that mahoosive rear tire, ala fat bikes, and that super-short chain stay can't be a good thing in the extremes on a 1X drive train. But hey! What do I know? Back in the early 90's super-duper short, elevated chain stays were all the rage and look what happened then. Oh.......yeah. Well.......moving on now.......
While this bike will certainly drive the head lines and be the "I have the weirdest, coolest, super-special niche bike" darling for a while, we'll have to see how it stacks up in the real world of riding. Stay tuned on that front......
|Acme Bikes posted this image of the new Karate Monkey from Surly.|
Just like the El Mar, the venerable Karate Monkey had fallen on mediocrity in the market place. The Instigator V2, which came out a couple years back, kind of made me wonder when, or if, Surly would wave that same trail geometry wand of power over the Karate Monkey. To me, it made perfect sense. And guess what? They finally have done it!
The new KM will sport either 27.5+ X 3.0" tires and wheels to match, or your 29"er X 2.5" meats on the 700c format. There is a "yellowy-orange" geared version with the 27.5+ wheels or a purple SS 29"er that will be available and the frame only version will be in black. Surly had a demo in purple set up with the geared 27.5+ stuff and that's the way I would do this bike up. Unfortunately, I'd have to get the SS 29"er set up to get there, but that's okay. Two wheel sets, one bike, right?
Not only that, but the rigid fork that comes with the bike has rack mounts, triple pack bosses, and would make for a great off-road touring set up. I can dig it! Purple is also my favorite color. Yes.....I could be seriously tempted. Same slack, long, low-ish trail geometry as the Timberjack, but in steel. I have a Singular Buzzard which is cool, but a SS-able, versatile, bike-packable, rack-able Karate Monkey has my name written all over it. Of all the new bikes here, I am most intrigued by this one.