Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fargo Retrospective

My friend, Jason Boucher, just tripped over his old Gen 1 Fargo frameset the other day and was reminded of all the good times and friends he had and met with that rig. While my time with a Gen 1 Fargo has not been as "world-wide" in scope as his, it has been no less impactful. I was tthinking about all these things as I rode it yesterday to work and back again.

The "unofficial" Fargo Adventure Ride where I was introduced to the Fargo in '08
My introduction to the Fargo actually goes way back to the summer of '08 and the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, where Jason had been telling me he would be showing up on a super-secret, special rig for the ride. He did and it was a stunning bike for all in attendance to behold. Forging his new at the time, "Cagey McCagerson" persona, Jason had the top tube wrapped in black electrical tape to mask the name of the yet to be announced Fargo. We all dubbed the bike "Black Electrical Tape", and that was a fun ride. Well, later on that Fall, Salsa released the details of the new bike and I rode one at Interbike in the Fall. Then in late Fall, on a gloriously beautiful early November day, an old friend of mine and I went up to Minneapolis to join a ride with the Salsa Crew on new Fargos.

It was a really great ride, and was dubbed as the first "Fargo Adventure Ride" by myself and others, but "officially", it was just a Salsa event. The adventure was awesome from my point of view. I had never done anything quite like it before. I had my first taste of trailside coffee on this ride, but there were more firsts. I recall that this was when Obama was elected, I had my first taste of Sriracha sauce on hard boiled eggs, (thanks Mike Reimer!), and I came home with a brand spanking new Fargo, which I have been riding off and on to this very day. Definitely a "red letter day" in my life!

That's me on the left riding the last "official" Fargo Adventure Ride. Image courtesy of GNAT.

There were two more Fargo Adventure Rides and I was able to attend both of them. They were really a great time, and I was able to meet several great folks doing these rides. It was about this time that the Fargo underwent some evolutionary tweaks and the original nature of the Gen 1 design was slowly designed out of the model. In many ways, the Fargo has become a more capable "drop bar mountain bike", but for several reasons, I have not been able to quit on my Gen 1 frame.

My Fargo leaning up against a grocery store on 2009's GTDRI ride.
First and foremost, whenever I have thrown a leg over that Fargo, it feels like an old shoe, or your favorite pair of pants. That Fargo just fits! It feels very natural to me and as I ride it, I feel as though that particular bike was designed for me. I cannot say that about many bikes, if any, and somehow I have bonded with that bike physically to such a degree that I cannot imagine getting rid of it for that reason alone, but I have other reasons as well.

Me at Odin's Revenge last Summer (Image courtesy of M Quigley)
The other reason I would have a hard time parting with this rig now is the same reason I think Jason is thinking about this bike again- the memories. I have so many great riding memories stretching all the way back to 2008 with this bike. Of course, there are those three Fargo Adventure Rides, then there are a couple Guitar Ted Death Rides which stand out for me. I have ridden this bike at the Dirty Kanza, in Nebraska with my good buddy MG, and at Odin's Revenge last Summer.

I have ridden this Fargo through Winters, muddy Spring times, at the Night Nonsense gravel event when it rained all night on me. I've ridden this bike on awesome rides all alone and with groups of folks that were a blast to be with. There are just so many great times associated with this bike.

Finally, I have to say that even in 2014, the Gen 1 Fargo still works as a concept. It is not suspension corrected, which may be off-putting to many, but as a "heavy duty- all road bike" with "mountain biking/bike packing/adventure characteristics, it has no peer at this time. (Well, maybe there is that Co-Motion rig, but those are rare.) Is the Gen 1 fargo "perfect"? Not by a long shot, no. I wish it had the Alternator drop outs, for one thing, but it is dang close to being a perfect rig for these crazy gravel road and dirt road adventures I like.

I know one thing- there's going to be more memories forged with this bike, and I cannot wait to get to doing that! 

See Jason Boucher's take on the first Fargo appearance at the GTDRI and what effects it had on him here. 


Daniel said...

I need to try a Fargo. I haven't ridden one yet and I'm very intrigued by them. A very cool bike the Fargo.
I noticed in the last picture that the bike had Retroshoft levers. Any thoughts or opinions on them?
Great blog by the way.

Guitar Ted said...

@ Daniel Lemke: I really like the Retroshifters for several reasons. By the way, they are re-branded and known as Gevanelle now. (Same company, just a name change)

The main thing is that they are a robust shifter option that resists being affected by adverse conditions better than STI brifters do.

Gevanelle also has a hydraulic system now, which I would love to try, but the cable operated levers/brakes work quite nicely and are less maintenance at a cheaper price of entry.

Unknown said...

I've had my Fargo since early 2009. Gen1, it's my "I need a change of routes/bikes" bike. When I just get sick of road riding or mtn biking I take this guy out and run it all over the place. Doing some camping with it this weekend. Not the fastest bike I own, not the best off road bike I own, but it is probably the most indestructible and forgiving bike I own. I have barcon shifters, XT triple setup and TRP Hylex Hydro brakes. There are days I wonder if I should have gone with a Vaya, but so far I am sticking with the Fargo.

Unknown said...

I miss my gen1. I have the gen 2 and love riding it. Maybe prefer it over the first one especially off road but that gen 1 could do so much, it was my first swiss army bike, and it still holds memories.
I got a Vaya in its place along with the gen 2. It took two bikes to replace the one.

Steve Fuller said...

The biggest things I miss about not having a Gen 1 frame - the extra frame bag space and the second water bottle mount on the downtube. I personally don't see a reason to run suspension on my Fargo, and I'd rather have the extra bit of cargo capacity back. That said, it would make sourcing parts a bit harder, I'm sure.

Jay Swan said...

I'm still riding my G1 Fargo regularly, and since I got it in 2008 it had to be one of the earliest frame sets. It's changed a lot over the years and at 24 pounds right now it has to be one of the lighter ones too. The only thing I miss is a carbon fork-- are there any that work? I've looked but haven't seen one yet.

Guitar Ted said...

@Jay Swan: No carbon forks that I have come across come close to the specs for the Gen 1 fork. The kicker is the massive offset those forks have which is either 55mm or 50mm, (Depending on frame size), and with a 440mm axle to crown length, which is also weird, it gets to be a very niche fork which carbon manufacturers won't want to make due to the limited applications.