NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....
By now you've seen the news about the new Warroad by Salsa Cycles. It has raised a lot of questions, comments, and eyebrows. Just what is going on here? Well, you could just read the Culture Blog on Salsa's site, which, honestly, tells you everything you might want to know here. I really do not have anything to add to it. Other than the miscaptioned image of the 700c bike, which is Force 1, not Ultegra. (Note- Salsa sells only the Ultegra model with 700c wheels out of the box)
So, all you are going to get from me here about these bikes is my reactions.
First, with only one 700c bike in the range, it is clear that Salsa has bought into the Road Plus idea first put forth by WTB, whose tires are featured on the bike. In my opinion, this is brilliant. For the intended purposes of the bike, poofy, 650B tires are just perfect for the job. Long, fun, interesting road-ish rides headed down questionably paved roads. Maybe you run out on some gravel? No problem, ride forward, get yourself righted and back on the tarmac. Note......there is nothing here for the go-fast, racer types. This isn't "that bike", so any criticisms of the design that reflect upon what a "road bike" should be like that are rooted in basic race bike design are misplaced here. This is something different altogether. An exploration rig. More pavement than not. The Byway tire choice really reflects this.
|You can put 700c wheels and tires on the Warroad, but you are limited to 35mm.|
So, just what is it, and why not just get a Warbird? Well, click that link above. They tell you all the major differences. I get it, but I think of it this way- Back when Salsa came up with the Colossal, they told much the same "genesis" story as they have with Warroad. I remember liking the idea of the Colossal a lot, but the bike was seriously over-priced in relation to value present in the spec, and the tire clearances were too far on the slim side. Salsa fixed the tire clearance issues, made the bike in carbon, and put on their excellent Class V VRS stays and now call it "Warroad". I know Marketing will bristle at the comparison, but hey- that's what I am seeing here. It's a "better Colossal".
So, why did they put stealth dropper post routing in this bike? That seems a bit........odd. Whatever. I do know dropping your post while coasting down a long, drawn out downhill is a hoot. But the bother and extra complexity of a dropper post on this bike seems out of place, but if you disagree, there is routing for it. Get after it!
Also- Vaya. Umm.......doesn't that bike already do most of this Warroad stuff? Or is this a "Carbon Journeyman"? Geometry tweaks aside, (which really only matter to bike nerds, not the general populace), these are the valid questions an average shopper will have when looking at Salsa bikes. The major confusion will be with the Warbird though, and ultimately, Salsa must know this, because they spend a lot of time dissecting the differences between the Warbird and the Warroad. That Salsa chose a name which so closely mimics the predecessor's name doesn't help with this confusion either. Which one is which? That's a serious marketing issue there.
|Warroad Force 1- I really like the paint scheme on this one.|
I also think that you are going to see this model raced a lot at gravel events. It features short chain stays, a stiffer bottom bracket, and this results in the "squirt" feel that roadie-type gravel racers like to feel when they stomp on the pedals. It will be a handful in loose, rough conditions, but throw a dropper post in there and I bet a lot of top racers will be happy to throw a leg over this one.
There is a lot to like here, but similar to the conundrum that was the Colossal, and similar to the Warbird, the asking price seems a bit whack. Warroad is going to find a lot of stiff competition in the gravel bike category. I know......It isn't a "gravel bike", but it also isn't a "road bike" in the traditional sense and with so many categories of bikes out there, and with such a strong semblance to the Warbird- both in profile and in name- there is going to be a hard road ahead for Salsa to keep this model separated from being lumped in with "gravel bikes".
Maybe they should have done something a little more different. Like putting an electric assist motor in it. (HA!)