Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thinning The Herd: Part 2

Navigating the Iowan jungle.
Back in the first "Thinning The Herd" post I spoke about the Fargo Gen 2 bike and why it was that I was parting ways with that rig. I sent the frame and fork off to its new owner, and that should be arriving with him this Friday, if not before. So, that chapter in my bicycle fleet is now nearly closed.

Of course, I stripped a bunch of parts off that bike and I alluded to that in the first post linked above. The Gen 2 Fargo was known as the "Fat Fargo" since it was sporting those 27.5+ wheels and tires. This was a key part for another bike, my Fisher. Sure, it was actually a bike sold as a Trek, but c'mon! This is a Fisher bike that came out the year after Trek absorbed Fisher. I'm sure it was meant to be a Fisher.

Now for a bit of history on the Sawyer. The  Sawyer was a 2 X 9 bike with a rigid fork. Trek sold it for two years and then it went away. Obviously, it was a special model made to be an evolution of Gary Fisher's original "Klunker" bike. A model of which made a cameo appearance in the mid-90's as well. In my opinion, the 2011/2012 Sawyer model was the best looking non-custom cruiser styled mountain bike ever. Unfortunately, the absorption of the Fisher brand in to Trek's corporate "borg hive-like" culture killed the marketing of this bike. Essentially was it doomed from the get-go because Trek dealers largely ignored the whimsical, oddball Sawyer and due to the lack of marketing buzz, many riders didn't know what to make of it.

The 27.5+ wheels and this bike were meant for each other.
 Trek sent me a Sawyer to review for Twenty Nine Inches back in the day and when I was done, they, as many companies did, ignored my requests for instructions to send it back. it is to this day. I liked the Sawyer as it was offered, but it had almost no corporate buzz and getting anything beyond the basics from Trek about it was met with radio silence, for the most part. As I surmised at the time, it was an expensive bike to produce, since it had so many proprietary castings and the frame was difficult to produce. With its triple top tubes having to be precisely bent and welded into place, I can imagine that this frame kept some Trek folks up late at night worrying that they might have a load of misaligned frames on their hands. What is more, it has a split drive side drop out, which is one of the trickest belt compatibility solutions I've ever seen. Had this been a NAHBS one-off custom, it would have been a very popular rig. But it got stuck with a Trek head tube badge and that pretty much killed the "cool factor" right there. Many Sawyers, which were about $1500.00 retail, ended up selling at a grand or even less by 2013 just so dealers could clear them out.

So, like I say, I had this thing setting around so I began to play with it. I had an older Fisher with a 100mm Fox fork, a G2 geometry fork, so I put it on the Sawyer. Then I swapped the geared set up to a Gates Center Track for another review of those parts. Along the way, I had trouble getting comfortable with the gangly, high, and akward Sawyer. It was like a teenager that hadn't matured into its overly large feet and hands. It just never set well with me, and although I was, (and still am) in love with the look, I could never reconcile with how this bike felt despite multiple changes to it. The stock set up seemed to be far better, so I purposed to go back to that to see what I was screwing up with what I had been doing to this bike.

So, the whole 27.5+ thing started blowing up in 2013, and I got sent a set of WTB Trailblazer 2.8"ers to try out. The Sawyer was a perfect candidate for the wheels. I knew people had shoe-horned 29+ wheels into Sawyers, so the clearances were there. The bottom bracket, in a choice made by Trek/Fisher in what I am sure was an influence from Gary himself, was made to have almost zero drop. Putting slightly smaller diameter wheels on the Sawyer would be okay then.

The wheels seemed tailor made for the Sawyer. For the first time the bike seemed "right". I actually had a ton of fun with it set up with the 27.5+ wheels. But I ended up choosing to go with these wheels on the Fargo, which, for a time, proved to be a great choice as well. The Sawyer, in the meantime, languished in the corner of The Lab where it was doomed to sit until I either sold it or got some 27.5+ wheels for it. I never was motivated to build up another 27.5+ set up, so instead, I almost sold the Sawyer a couple of months ago.

Then the realization that I may want a Ti Fargo more than two steel ones came along. I sold the Gen 2 frame and fork, and the wheels were suddenly available again, so.... Now I am planning on keeping this bike around.

Now you know the rest of the story.


50voltphantom said...

Super cool bike for sure!

Efrain Aguiluz said...

does that mean you can put 27.5 wheels on a gen 2 ti fargo? if so how would it change the ride on it?

Guitar Ted said...

@Efrain Aguiluz - I can only vouch for the Gen 2 steel frame and fork, but if Lynsky made the frame correct to Salsa's specs, it should work on the titanium frame as well.

The wheels made the bike I had more capable in deeper and looser terrain, but were a bit heavier and more cumbersome on harder surfaces. Air pressure is a game of 1 psi up or down which made the bike feel completely different depending which way you went. I believe I used a range of 18-20psi for all conditions. Anything outside that range wasn't good in terms of ride feel and performance. Many 27.5+ users have complained about similar issues with many brands and widths of rim/tire combos, so that seems to be a characteristic of B+ wheels too.

Unknown said...

darn, thought you were going to sell it...sigh...