Friday, April 15, 2011

More Randomonium

Okay, I give up. Today is going to be another one of those "mental clearing" posts. Hope you all can follow along here.... Once again, the only common thread is cycling.

Fargo I vs Fargo II: Salsa Cycles , who came up with the brilliant idea for the Fargo, tweaked out that idea for 2011 to be a bike that is somewhat different than where it began. Now it is a bit more "vague" than the decidedly "do-everything" bike it was.

Sound like a contradiction of terms? How can a bike that is "decidedly do-everything" become more vague in intention unless it becomes more of a "do-everything" bike, right?

Well, Salsa did put more versatility into the bike by allowing for a suspension fork to be fitted without messing up the geometry. But to do that, they had to mess with the geometry of the old Fargo. The result is something odd. The Fargo has become at once more specific, (off-road-centric), while becoming even more of a conundrum to fit properly. This in conjunction with the shorter offset necessitated by the accommodation of suspension forks makes the new Fargo a bit unappealing for me.

The top tube is incrementally shorter than version 1's, and the toe over-lap issue is now an issue, where it wasn't before. Standover is less as well, (from what I have observed with regards to a friend's Fargo). Are there times I wish the Fargo I have had a suspension fork? Oh yeah! But I can't get on with how Salsa solved the issue with the new Fargo, especially when version 1 fits me like a glove. I can't see giving up near perfect fit for less than optimal fit and suspension. Then there is also the issue of my Badger, which is essentially a Fargo V2 without all the fit issues. So, there ya go!

I guess in the end, I would rather slap a suspension fork on the Badger, get frame bags, and use that as a drop bar, off-road "touring" rig if I needed to have that squishy fork.. That or a 100mm travel hard tail, like the El Mariachi, which starts to make more sense than the Fargo does now. YMMV. I just figured Fargo v1 was such a great rig because it was simpler and didn't have the suspension fork capabilities, which to my mind was a nod to a different way of thinking on off-road "touring".

The State Of Tubelessness: My co-writer on Twenty Nine Inches, Grannygear, was talking with me the other day about the state of tubeless mtb tire and wheel technology. He wrote this excellent piece on his experiences with UST rims recently, which I highly recommend you read.

Basically it is a world that is boiling down to three main ideas: Stan's, Bontrager's, and UST. (Ghetto tubeless will always be under-the-radar, and so therefore, it doesn't figure into our "officially sanctioned" tubeless options here.) Sometimes elements of all three are used in one system.

Of those three, UST seems to be exhibiting the most problems. Ironically, it was the system most riders wanted to see come over to 29"er wheels early on. I think there are several technical reasons for its problems with big wheels. The biggest thing is that 29 inch wheels do not physically fit and work on rims the same way that 26 inch tires and rims do. Several companies have realized this, and engineered systems that account for that difference. UST has not accounted for that, and it is why I believe it will eventually be discontinued as a way to run tubeless for 29"er riders.

Bontrager's TLR rim strip idea is a brilliant way to go tubeless, and I wish it was an open standard. Plastic rim strip, snap in, add valve, mount tire- BOOM! Dead simple, dead reliable, and easy to install. Unfortunately, it is a Trek product, and so, only on Bontrager wheels. (But ya see that Cole wheel up there? Yeah-it has a Rhythm rim strip in it! Sssssh! Don't tell anyone- but it works great! Same with Velocity Blunts, and Edge XC rims, and......well, you get the picture.)

Then there are the various Stan's adaptations, which are either very "ghetto-tubeless-like", or are actual licensed Stan's designs. Stan's stuff is smart, and works great. (If you have more Stan's design than not) Tire makers are catching up with regards to bead/casing tech, so this style of tubeless can be a great way to go.

Unfortunately, UST still works like it did in 2007, and that is "not very well", especially if you don't use Hutchinson or Geax tires.

And You Consider This A "Good Thing"? I saw this on Twitter last night:

PrimalWear Primal Wear RT by IowaBicycle "Rumor has it that def leppard will be playing @RAGBRAI"

Oh great! A "has been" band playing for a "has been" ride. That's rich! Really, it is a sad state of affairs when something like this is considered something to be excited about. 

I know some folks will say that I shouldn't comment negatively on RAGBRAI, or anything "positive" about cycling. (If Def Leppard at RAGBRAI could possibly be considered positive in 2011. Maybe in 1988....) But really, RAGBRAI has done a lot to make cycling a joke amongst non-cyclists and cyclists alike. Oh- yeah there are good things to be celebrated about RAGBRAI in terms of cycling, but most of the reality of this ride is only good for cycling at the retailers level, and not really from a purely "cycling culture, change the way we live" sort of way. I mean, RAGBRAI is seen by most of its riders as a temporary vacation from car-culture, not as an alternative to it. The "rawk-and-roll", let's get drunk and stupid, carnival atmosphere doesn't help that along either. 
Not that it isn't fun, for some folks. But it isn't the "life changer" that some maybe in the cycling world might think it is. Not by a long shot, and this Def Leppard deal is just another illustration of that, in my opinion.

Snow Dog Down: 51 Days And Counting.....


Wally said...

Fargo V1 vs. V2...interesting for sure. I like my V2 but I have to say that me also owning a Vaya helps. I have not sold my V1 frame yet and I'm not trying real hard. I don't like the toe overlap issue but its not a deal killer, I do like the handling now though its not as good a long distance miler as the V1 is. You could say it took two bikes to replace the V1 Fargo and that would be close except the two bikes now offers more on the road end and more on the off road end than the V1 Fargo did. I put road tires on my V1 Fargo and I'd never consider that with the V2. The V2 though is a better true "bikepacking" trail bike than the V1. I do like it better in the limited rough I have ridden. But then you have that statement about the El Mar to consider. since I don't have an El Mar, the V2 is mine.

Guitar Ted said...

@Wally: i like your take on the "two bikes to replace the V1 Fargo". That makes a lot of sense to me, especially from Salsa's viewpoint.

Wally said...

I'm bringing you a Def Leppard CD next week...heh heh.

BB said...

Now don't go ragging on a business trend in music that has never before been seen in music history starting with the medieval renaissance period.

The majority of the fan base for metal is still alive and carrying a pocket full of plastic. Concerts on an international basis are selling out. Recordings are still selling left and right. Boomers are still rockin' and their children have now become music appreciation fans of one of the most important eras in music history.

Hey, if you don't catch Def's excellent show on RAGBRAI, you can fire up the Harley and cycle on out to Buffalo Chip at Sturgis to catch them this year at the real cycling culture Rally. '-] You can hear Poison, Skynyrd, Cooper, Pop Evil, Styx, etc... among others this year.

Until we Boomers die, or melt our plastic, or lose our hearing - metal is far from "has been" at this juncture. It's still got a decade or two to go...

My suggestion is to enjoy this unique moment in music history as it unfolds - because this has never happened before in the history of music. Living musicians enjoying a huge fan base and actually making lots of money with excellent business models to keep it fueled. Why fix what isn't broken?

RD said...

I have had both tubeless shimano xt 29er ust and bontrager. Both work well. Bontrager stuff is a bit easier to setup and it's almost impossible to roll your tire on that design no matter what psi you run. UST i've seen tires come off on sharp turn before not rolling a bead but whole tire more or less just slipping off. You know what would great database with tubeless tire rim compatability ala sheldon brown. Especially on road/cx tires MTB are getting to point where 70 % of the time you can make stuff work at home :D

Erik said...

Why you be hatin the gunter glieben glauchen globen, GT? lol

Steve Fuller said...

Since I'm waiting to receive a new V2 Fargo frame, I'll be interested to see if the points you make become issues to me, especially since I my Fargo sees as much or more road/gravel time than single track.

Guitar Ted said...

@Bruce Brown: Or- How about going out to see the bands when they were actually relevant? Ala my 1988 comment. (And before you ask, "yes, I did)

I don't begrudge their getting over and their audiences getting what they want, but to my mind, this is no different than my parents listening to what remained of the Glen Miller Orchestra circa 1977. (If you catch my drift, if not, then it's all good)

MG said...

Holy cow, when I read posts and comments like these, I know I'm home. Wally... Exactly. You nailed it. I do have all three bikes you mention (well, my v2 "Fargo" is the BWNN, so there are a couple of small differences... And it's Ti.), but you are exactly right in that the Vaya/new Fargo combo is a great and perhaps more capable replacement overall than the all-purpose v.1 Fargo alone. You get a better off road bike and a better gravel roller.

But GT has a point too... The v.1 Fargo was a very fine and engaging bike. A good friend on the trail. That said, I can't say that, up to this moment, I've had many "man, I wish I still had that bike" thoughts. I love my current stable, which does not include a v.1 Fargo. I'd never have time to ride it, so a good friend is now happily rollin' on my old frame. He's stoked...

MG said...

Oh, and Bruce... I agree. Def Leppard, yes.

MG said...

... And on tubeless, you know me. I run whatever I want without tubes. Rims, tires... It doesn't matter, for the most part. I run, or have run, 'em all... I do like the TLR strips however. And aside from a couple of tire incompatibility issues, honestly, my CrossMax 29 wheelset has been trouble free. Perhaps the fact that I don't change tires all the time is a factor, but I've never blown a bead off on the trail. And never flatted one either... In two seasons of riding. That's awesome! But I'm just one guy...

Courtney Hilton said...

Bontragers rim strips with stans sealant is what I use now. Never again on stans rim strips. The bontrager you can even toss a smaller tube in without removing the rimstrip if you get an unfixable cut in your tire. They also work without sealant if you don't mind inflating them every 2 days

Unknown said...

There are a lot of differences between the V1 and V2 Fargos, almost enough that I think it may have warranted a name change.

The original Fargo was straight up classic touring geo with a modern twist. The slack angles, upright riding position, and low and long feel make cruising in the saddle for long hours heaven.

That said, I don't like it's out of the saddle climbing or single track manners very much at all. The new bike will be much more drop bar mtb like, while keep some of the more sedate handling with the lower bb and slightly longer chainstays.

Personally I feel it will be a better all around bike, and will nearly perfectly fill the geared mtb portion of my stable. It nearly perfectly matched the geometry of my Potts SS, and gives me the option of running a sus fork if I feel the need.

Much as I like my V1 Fargo, and I've had many a great rides on it, I don't see riding it much after the V2 is built.

Scott Loveless said...

Last weekend I went to the LBS to look at a Fargo. They had a medium V1 built up with parts they had specified. It was too small and too much money for my meager budget. They said they could order a large V2 frame and have it in a couple days. They said it was a bit different from the V1 but not by much. I said "I have to sell the Trucker first and I'll call when I'm ready for one."

Then I went home and really looked hard at the differences. I'm not getting one. There's not one, single change from V1 to V2 that benefits me.

On one hand, it's really cool that we have companies like Salsa and Surly making useful bicycles. On the other, I kinda hope the new Fargo flops and they go back to something like the V1 after a year or two.

Wally said...

When I pondered the V2 Fargo, I was also thinking of a steel MTB, something like the El Mar. My V1 wasn't enough tour and just not enough MTB so I knew I would need two bikes. If pure touring weren't in the cards, I'd still be riding V1.
My reasons for not going with the El Mar is that I have two bona fide MTB's already but neither are bikepacking oriented. The V2 can handle everything cages, multiple water cages, front and rear racks - its just got more ability and more options. Its more Jeep Wrangler now and that appealed but again only because I knew I had to have a touring bike. If I had a one bike mind, it would probably still be V1. and even though I have only had both the Vaya and the V2 for a short time, like Matt says, I have not had any "boy, I miss the V1" moments. Def Leppard forever baby! Hey GT have you caught them playing with Taylor Swift? I thought my wife had laced my beer with acid or something. I saw it in TrueHD with full on multi-channel sound. This ain't the same Def Leppard. It was somewhat surreal.

Guitar Ted said...

@Wally, @MG, @Ben, My thoughts are somewhat tempered by the fact that I fit so well on the V1 Fargo, and if I were to do an off-road drop bar bike, it wouldn't be what the V2 Fargo is. If I were to do mtb type "bike-packin", I would look at something different altogether. Definitely, the El Mar would be on that short list for many reasons.

Wally, I have not seen that Def Leppard vid, nor anything Def Leppard since their "hey day" in the late 80's/early 90's. I figured once that musical/cultural ship has sailed, why look again, unless the band in question is still relevant. Not many bands have that longevity. YMMV

Small Adventures said...

Actually,not every one of the "metalheads" from their era still jam to em all the time...some of us grew with the times and hit mordern metal too...some of us even gave up on-gasp-Metallica-in the las decade or so :p

MG said...

LOL... Oh, I don't discriminate on the rockin'. I like the new stuff too. I haven't gone soft after all these years. After all, when Pyromania came out, I was only in 6th grade. I'm not THAT old. ;-)

Have a great weekend, my friends.


Small Adventures said...

It's all good,LOL,I'm old enough that I graduated high school in '91 :p

DAD said...

Def Leppard was never metal. I have seen them a few times over the years, and they put on a good show...but I would have rather been at a "real" metal show like Kreator or Carcass, which is how I feel about the Ragbrai. Ragbrai is to biking as Def Leppard is to metal. Yes, people sometimes ride a bike on the "R", but in my experience it is an excuse for people to drink light beer and ride on a bus. And dress funny. Sort of the same way DL fans act when they are out to see their favorite 9 armed rock band.

As far as this Fargument over which V is better, I hope your words don't prevent fuller from selling me his V1 frameset. I want that thing! Although, I have a Vaya on order so maybw there wilk be some redundancy in owning both, but whatever. Steve, please don't not sell me that frame!

Anonymous said...

I know I'm commenting on an old post, but here's hoping it gets noticed.

I'm hunting for a 29er with the intentions of riding the Tour Divide in the next year or two ... and what a hunt it's turning out to be. I come from a roadie / cyclocross / commuting background ... the only 'true' MTB in my stable is an old early 90s Specialized entry level hardtail which I use for trail maintenance duties on running/XC-skiing courses.

Originally, I was planning to use my "family" ride (Surely Big Dummy) to tackle the Tour Divide, but trying to cover 100-miles/day on a 50lb longtail might not be the most appropriate strategy.

I've tried a handful 29er hardtails (Niner, Trek, Kona, Surly) - mixture of steel and Al - that can handle racks, but the Fargo has caught my imagination - or appealed to my comfort with drop bars.

I've located a medium V2 Fargo at a good price - it's 4-months old and was used for one ~500 mile bikepack - and may have a line on a 2010 V1 Fargo frame set. After reading your (GT's) and other reviews of the V1 and V2 Fargo, I'm inclined to think the V1 geometry would be more appealing, but I am also being told I'd be crazy to tackle the GDMBR with a rigid fork {this is where I fall victim to my ignorance as, other than my test rides of other 29ers, I've never ridden anything but a rigid fork).

If I were to go with the V1 Fargo and those voices counselling my ignorance turn out to be correct would it be possible to put something like a G2 suspension fork on the bike with less of an impact on the geometry than going to the V2 Fargo with its 45mm offset?

Where I have plenty of other on-road bikes, perhaps the V2 Fargo would be sufficient for my off-road touring needs ... is there really that much difference in long distance comfort between the two?

Guitar Ted said...

@Natty: I would opt for the V2 Fargo, if I were in your shoes. All my friends that have ridden both versions are saying the V2 is by far a better Fargo. I would especially think a crack at the Tour Divide would merit having a suspension fork and so the Fargo becomes a better choice for that in its newest incarnation.

Anonymous said...


Sounds like a little peace has been made with the v2 Fargo.

I'll probably give the V2 a go, the opportunity (price) is too good to pass-up. It's a complete build, but I'm a little unsure on the 2x10 drive train and road brifters for off-road touring ... the chain is getting awful light. I have an old 3x9 drive train that may find its way on the bike.

I'll probably still keep hunting for a v1 frame just to satisfy my curiosity ... though I have now figured out, I wrote my numbers down incorrectly and a G2 fork won't work on that frame.

Thanks for taking the time and I;ll continue to follow the blogs to see what new adventures and information are to be had.