Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday News And Views

Tomorrow is the ride
I'll be hitting the hay early tonight, as I will be at the start area for this year's Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational tomorrow morning at around 5:00am or a little after. At 5:30am the ships set sail for a gravel road ride that should entail about 140-145 miles. We will be going through Traer, Gladbrook, Eldora, Dike, and Hudson Iowa.

I know a lot of the course, but like every new GTDRI route, I leave some of it un-reconned so I can have some fun exploring new-to-me roads. Of course, this opens up the chance that something won't be right, but that's part of the deal. Discovery. Adventure. Fun.

The weather couldn't be a whole lot better, if it pans out as forecast. Partly sunny, high of 78°F and a slight breeze from the Northwest? YES! That doesn't happen too often for this ride. I think the last time it was anything close to this type of weather was back in 2009 when it was also about a mid-70's day. Whatever happens with the weather happens, but this forecast is very good.

I know of four solid commitments to show, so stay tuned to Monday's post where I will start the recapping of the 11th running of this crazy ride.

2017 Fargo B+ wheeled model

Fargo vs Vaya For 2017:

A few people have brought up a couple of interesting thoughts on the new Fargo and Vaya that I thought I would share here today. First off, the Vaya has always been an odd duck in the Salsa model line, but it may be finding its legs now after many years in the line up. This post I wrote just over a year ago might be good to check out first for a little background on the place this bike has held in Salsa's past.

The Vaya has a few tweaks this coming year that may start to bring it a bit more notoriety. First off, there are carbon forks on the steel Vaya now. Well, if you get the GX version. Salsa marketing now also touts that the Vaya can handle big tires. I think it always could, but they are just getting around to saying more about that now, after what? Six years or so? But anyway, they are claiming clearances for up to a 50mm tire without fenders. Prices are good with all Vayas coming under 2G now. However; they still haven't put Alternators on this model, which I feel is a big mistake. Heck- even the Marekesh has Alternators! But that said, the tire clearances seem to be getting attention in a few forums now. That has brought with it more interest from those who haven't liked what they have seen in the new Fargo.

The Vaya Claris model in Brown, the same color Vayas were in 2010!
 The new Fargo moves even more into "dirt" territory with B+ wheels, Boost spacing, and a slightly slacker head tube angle. While you still can push it backward towards being the rough and tumble gravel rig for events like the Dirty Kanza 200, or for touring gravel, it is apparent that Salsa is talking more in terms of off-road bike packing now with the Fargo and the finishing kit shows this shift in attitude.

The top of the line Fargo is a 1X mtb drive train now and if you look back, it is a far cry from Gen I's 48T big ring triple crank. The Fargo is truly the drop bar mtb that it was intended to be all along. That isn't wooing gravel riders like it once did. The Vaya, in contrast, is being sold as a big rubber, all-road adventure bike for 2017. A story line many attributed to the Fargo in days past.

The thing is, are 50mm tires big enough for the Vaya to be what the Fargo used to be seen as? Should the tire clearance allow 2.1 29"er tires on a Vaya? With the addition of Alternators, does this then become the "ultimate Gen I Fargo"? In my mind, the Gen I Fargo is something that deserved to be tweaked, refined, and was maybe what the Vaya should have been all along. However; the market wasn't ready for that in 2009.

Then again, maybe a nice, springy steel frame is what the Vaya really needs, and it should maybe lose the touring moniker, since, ya know, you have the full on touring rig in the Marrakesh. But what am I thinking......The Q will never make a frame that doesn't survive "Zombie Apocalypse Testing Standards", so any hope of a springy steel frame from Salsa is a pipe dream.

Speaking of Gen I Fargos......

The Steed For GTDRI......again!

One more time, right? Well, I have to, really. See, it is my shoulder, the one that I bunged up last Winter when I fell on slippery ice. That left shoulder has never been the same since.

I opined about this back a couple weeks ago when I rode that 83 miler with Marty. I just cannot tolerate a long ride on anything else but a Luxy Bar right now. That shoulder deal will put up with the Cowbell and that FSA bar on the T-6 for about two-three hours max. I plan on being out for up to 14 hours Saturday. So.......yeah. That isn't what I need to be using right now.

The other good thing is that I have that Cirrus Cycles Body Float post on this Fargo, and that will also go a long way toward promoting comfortable riding all day long. And, as you can plainly see, I am all bagged out for the job as well. Plenty of room to carry the water, food, maps, and whatnot.

The Gen I Fargo just seems to be the rig I have been relegated to using all year for my big rides. The shoulder says so, at any rate, and until it quits bitching at me, I am going to be using it for the long haul. (Sorry about the pun!)

Have an excellent weekend, y'all! 


KC said...

I jumped on the first Vaya when it was released - loved the tire clearance (still do). Never got why that wasn't a selling point back then either, that thing could eat 29x2.0 tires with room to spare. Heck, if it had alternator dropouts I'd still be racing on it now that I drank the single speed kool-aid.

MICHAEL said...

The Gen 1 Fargo seems to just keep impressing. I love mine.

I am looking for a 'skinnier' bike for all the pavement I find here in Minneapolis. I love the idea of Big Apple 2.0's on my 'road' bike, so maybe I'll look at the Vaya again.

Good luck to all the 2016 Death Riders......maybe someday I can train up to try this...


MG said...

I've been back on my steel fun guy green Fargo again... You know, the one with the dent in the top tube. Well, dent be damned, it's a sweet riding bike! I've put a ton of miles in on it since building it back up. Pretty good...

Scott said...

Guitar Ted. A question regarding your comments on the steel that could (but won't) be used for the Vaya frame. Would you classify the Tamland and BMC Cross frames as "springy steel frames"? Thanks!

Guitar Ted said...

@Scott: I feel the BMC is a stiffer frame than it needs to be for gravel, but Mike Varley, (proprietor extraordinaire of Black Mountain Cycles), told me that he expected his Cross frames would be pressed into service as "light mtb/light touring" bikes, so a stiffer tube set makes complete sense in that view.

I think the Raleigh Tamland is a better design for straight-up gravel riding, as its tubing was selected especially for that task. That said, I'm not ever selling the BMC. ;>)

Unknown said...

Guitar Ted, what is your opinion regarding carbon forks on steel rides. The Vaya has gone to a carbon fork, I hear the 2017 Tamland will move to carbon, Jamis uses a Carbon fork, the RLT9 Steel has a carbon fork, and the list goes on (heck, even some touring bikes are going to carbon forks!). I buy steel bikes because I enjoy steel, and clearly I am not overly concerned about weight, so why do all manufacturers think carbon forks are a good idea for steel frames? If I understand correctly, carbon breaks easier and can not be easily repaired (if at all), so what is the benefit (besides weight - which shouldn't matter)?

Guitar Ted said...

@Andrew Jones: Why carbon forks? Weight trumps all in cycling, (or so is the perception from the dealers and average riders), and forks are supposed to be carbon, right? It is a selling feature. It moves product because it can be sold as a feature, and consumers understand it to be so. Not that it really is, but perception is 9/10's of the Law, ya know. ;>)

My opinion personally is that many of these carbon forks, while perhaps being lighter, are waaaay too stiff. They are not as good at absorbing the vibrations of gravel or rougher road riding, (which, ironically is the most overused and false claim for carbon forks used since......forever), and are overbuilt to withstand the forces of disc brakes and European testing, which basically ruins "ride quality".

My hope is that the gravel/back road/all road scene will provide enough feedback to perhaps change this, but as of now I see no turning of the tide there.