Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Salsa Cycles Vaya Travel: An Interesting Creature

Stainless, S&S, AND single speed capable?
Salsa Cycles just released a slew of new stuff, and with Surly Bikes stealing a lot of the thunder with the new Krampus, a few things kind of flew under the radar over the weekend.

Yesterday I reported on the Warbird, the gravel road racing rocket. Today, I want to feature the bike that might actually be a better adventure/gravel road racer than the Warbird for many riders- the Vaya Travel.

Okay, maybe you think I am nuts. A travel bike? Yes- it is legit folks, and when you start digging in, this thing is probably the single most interesting bike Salsa Cycles has made since the Mukluk. Let's check out what we do know so far....

First of all, this is a Vaya. Salsa Cycles' original gravel road machine. The geometry is odd for purely road going, and it isn't quite right on single track, but put this bike on gravel and you will find out where its true purpose comes to life.

Secondly- it is steel, but not just any steel. It is stainless steel. This is cool from the non-corrosion factor, low maintenance finish, (no paint, just buff out scratches), and even the decal set is replaceable! (An extra set ships with each bike)

Finally, it is a single speed capable design.  Using Salsa Cycles excellent Altenators, one could simply get their single speed on and ride away, or gear it up for that crazy hilly Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational ride. (eh heh heh!) But it isn't for just that reason that I like this Vaya. Nope- here's the biggie. You have an option when you crack that rear mech off in a B Road, or on some other nasty-nasty. Think I am over-stating this case? Well, just from my Trans Iowa observations, I can easily list off over half a dozen instances where rear mechs ended someones day. With the Vaya, you could go on as a single speeder.

Okay- so maybe you don't race gravel. But there is that chance you might be out on a longer ride, and "pop"! The Altenator might just come in handy at that point. Big bonus points for the versatility here. While I am not 100% sure, I believe this has a 44mm head tube, so if you wanted a carbon tapered steer tube fork to lighten this up some, that's probably a possibility here. (I'm thinking it is a 44mm head tube anyway!) Update- it isn't a 44mm head tube. (But that doesn't mean you still couldn't get a lighter fork.) Also- the sticker kits come in different colors, and the quad butted tubing means this Vaya is lighter than the other steel ones.(Thanks Jason B. of Salsa Cycles for that info.)

Icing on the cake? Why yes- yes there is! This rig will easily take your 40-42mm tires. No problems. Take that Warbird!

So for my money, this is the real deal gravel road rig from Salsa Cycles this year. While it is not offered in titanium, the stainless is almost as nice, and with the couplers, it just adds to the value you get here. The Warbird is a single mission focused rig, in my mind, while this Vaya is the pinnacle of versatility for gravel adventuring, and still works a trick for those who want to race a gravel event from time to time. Add on Salsa's new titanium seat post, a carbon fork, and nice, light wheels, and I bet you'd be in the ball park weight-wise with a Warbird.

This bike is definitely on my radar!


Wally said...

YES! Where oh where do I sign up for one of these! I have lobbied for a s&s bike with you know who. I am stoked.

GNAT said...

Thanks GT. it's a beauty. A couple of notes.

- the sticker kits have a few different colors so you can customize.

- It is lighter than our current steel Vaya steel frrameset due to the quad butted stainless material

- The Alternator drop outs add SS versatility as you point out but it also allows you to tune both chainstay length and tire clearance.

- head tube is a standard 1 1/8".

Ben said...

You had me at "stainless". I still remember the old Redlines of the 80's that all my buddies had, and man those were good lookin' bikes.

So.. Fargo or this? Ouch that's tough.

Exhausted_Auk said...

The alternator dropout may allow SS or IGH, but conversely it moves the rear brake back to the seatstay, which is a terrible location because it interferes with rack and fender mounting. This is supposed to be a touring bike, Salsa! IMO it would have been better to go with a PF30 BB shell to allow an eccentric BB to take care of these options.

MG said...

Nice bike... I saw Kelly Mac on a proto at the DK200 earlier this year and was definitely smitten (by the bike). It's definitely a beauty and I bet it rides as good as it looks.

Nick said...

Does anyone know if the regular Vaya will get the alternator dropouts?

GNAT said...

Regarding a touring bike and racks, please note that we have also designed an Alternator rack that we will release at a later date that works ideally with this, the El Mariachi with Alternators as well as Mukluks. They will be available before the Vaya Travel comes into stock so racks should not be an issue for this bike.

Exhausted_Auk said...

@GNAT - Thank you for the info about the Alternator rack. This is great news, and puts the design of the Vaya Travel rear dropout in an entirely new light. Add in the flexibility to fit the rack to the El Mariachi and Mukluk, and I think you've hit another home run!

Please excuse my earlier skepticism.

Peter Chong said...

Thanks for coverage. Any idea what is the stainless steel tubing used? Reynolds 951, Columbus XcR, or KVA MS2?

I posted a comment asking this in Salsa's blog, and they deleted the comment. Apparently they are keen to keep it a secret, which I think is rediculous in this day and age.

Guitar Ted said...

@Peter Chong: Sorry, I've no idea who the specific manufacturer of the Stainless steel tubing is for the Vaya Travel.

Kathleen McDade said...

Hmmm...not sure if you are still checking this post but I am considering this bike and I'm wondering if you could elaborate on your statement that "the geometry is odd for purely road going." Thanks!

Guitar Ted said...

@ Kathleen McDade: My quote was made to illustrate that the Vaya isn't steep and short, like most road racing style bikes. Steep in that the road bikes prevalent today usually have 73°-74° head tube angles. Short in that many road racing style bikes will feature 420mm chain stays or shorter sometimes.

The Vaya has a slacker head tube angle, longer chain stays, and with its relatively low bottom bracket, it isn't what most "road only" bicycles most folks think about have for geometry.

Hope that helps explain the comment.