Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Salsa Cycles Fargo: Gen II Ride Report

I've spent a good bit of time riding the Salsa Cycles Fargo since it came out. I have ridden it plenty on single track, and I thought it did alright. Maybe there were days I just didn't "have what it took", and then there were days I could just rip it on that Gen I Fargo. (Riding gravel was never an issue. There it always ruled.)

Single trackin' Fargo
Then Salsa revised the Fargo. They made some tweaks that my friend Ben up at Milltown Cycles said had made him want to ditch his Gen I Fargo and go with the newer version, it was that much better. Hmm.....

Ben usually has a really good handle on what I like in a bicycle, but I resisted. I was "okay" with what I had, I said. Gen I Fargo was good.

Then I rode Gen II at Interbike. That changed everything, as I stated here in this post. The new Fargo does single track very well, at least at Bootleg Canyon it did. I was intrigued enough to pick this green one up and ride it here in the Mid-West.

My first rides were hampered by a too-worn-out cassette, so hammering it was not going to happen. That is, until yesterday when I did have a good cassette on it. Did it feel like it did at Bootleg Canyon? I'm happy to report that yes: Yes it did. The same rippin', fast feeling, glued to the trail bike that I felt in Nevada was now rippin' it under me on my local trail. Good stuff!

Now I know that Salsa Cycles portrays the Fargo as the ultimate off-road tourer/adventure bike, and it is. However; don't forget that stripped down to bare necessities, this bike kills single track.

Drop Bars off-road? You betcha!
I remember when my buddy MG was telling me about his desire for Salsa to make a "drop bar El Mariachi" for their line up. The first Fargo wasn't really that bike. This new one is. The old Fargo wasn't much of a "monster-cross" bike. It was something quite unique. There are some aspects of this new Fargo that are very "road bike like", but not in a touring bike way. No- In a very racy, cyclo-cross bike way. Maybe it is the "ultimate monster-crosser".

This specific set up is really, really smooth. The steel frame, the Cane Creek Thudbuster ST seat post, and the supple Specialized Ground Control tires made the roots and rough spots much smoother. The bike feels very well weighted front to rear, and corners on rails.

Climbing, (what there is within the city limits), was good. I need to get out to the Camp on this to see about a more technical, slow speed climb up, but I am expecting good stuff here. The weight is reasonable. I know this will never beat something like the carbon frames I am testing now, but Salsa Cycles has struck a great balance between strength for touring/loaded riding and weight here.

Now, I am not ready to ditch Fargo #1 just yet, because that bike travels gravel so well. I am probably going to switch the rubber out to Vulpines on that one though, and stay away from doing much single track with it.

On Fargo for gravel, one Fargo for off-road rippin'. It's all good!


B said...

Sounds great GT. How is it compared with a flat bar MTB? Is braking awkward on the drop bars and how does geo compare? I have trouble switching between my 26 and 29 and roadie and think adding a drop bar 29er might add to the issue? How would the Fargo go with flat bars?

Guitar Ted said...

@B: The Fargo now compares well with what I would term as a "racy" feeling hard tail as I have mine set up. The first Fargo being a bike that tended to lend itself more to a upright-ish position on the bike. This Fargo tends to promote somewhat the opposite fit- a more stretched out, balanced over the wheels fit. (Of course, stem choices, saddle positioning, etc could defeat all of this.)

As for a flat bar, that thought had crossed my mind, but the Fargo as it stands now still has a head tube height that is the same as the similar sized Gen I Fargo, so a flat bar would position my hands quite a bit higher than the drops do now, and probably would work for some folks, but not for me.

Braking is easy if you take care to position the levers properly for good reach from the drops position.

Geometry for this Fargo is much more "mtb-ish" in the traditional Salsa manner, meaning pretty spot on for fast, tight single track with a dash of stability thrown in the mix for good measure.

RodC said...

Hey GT,
I've been on the fence for some time between a Fargo and an El Mariachi. I live in Southern California where my riding consists mostly of fire trails and some doubletrack. Haven't done much singletrack but am open to it. I currently fashioned a drop bar Rawland Drakkar into a pseudo 29er trail bike with a Ragley Carnegie bar setup. My question is what the main differences are between the Fargo and the EM and which might be the best as far as switching all my parts from the Drakkar? It's clear that I want more of a mountain specific, trail bike. I'll probably never do a tour divide or anything that lends itself to using all the braze ons on the fargo. Is there an advantage of one over the other for general dirt use?

Sorry for the blathering/meandering.



MG said...

It's true that the new bike is much more the "drop bar El Mariachi" I longed for back in 2008 but I still feel super fortunate to own both Fargo versions.

Hope your Thanksgiving has been super, Brother! I'm thankful for your friendship!


Guitar Ted said...

@MG: I'm thankful for your friendship as well.

Take Care!

Andy Askren said...

Thanks, this is super helpful. I have a Gen 1 that I've been commuting on for, what, almost 2 years? and have just not felt right on the bike have played with woodchippers and now jones h-bars, trying to find the ultimate position. Ive always felt too upright even when I was stretched out.

So your comments about this one feeling a bit more cross-bike-like are great. I ride more road and cx bikes than mtbs... and I want to love my Fargo just (( this )) much more. I wonder if a Gen 2/3 might be the ticket.... Hmm.