Monday, September 11, 2017

Salsa Cycles 2018 News

2918 Salsa Cutthroat Rival 1
Salsa Cycles finally pulled the drapes off the stuff they showed dealers last Summer at Saddledrive and it wasn't too big of a surprise with the exception of one model which I will get to in a minute. But before I get any further, I have to post my standard disclaimer.....

NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Okay, so here's the deal. It is just color and spec changes. That's all folks. No news here. But that said, the colors do make a difference and all you have to do to see this is to check out the social media reposts of Salsa's press release. Now, I am not saying people are blind to details and all focused on just the colors, but again- colors make a difference. Always have with regard to bicycles. So, with no real meat to chew on here, all we can do is focus on what Salsa brought to the table in terms of the looks and in passing there will be a few comments about spec.

Top of the line Cutthroat Force 1
Cutthroat Apex 1
Cutthroat: Three levels to buy instead of two now, the top two having hydraulic disc brakes. The colors are "cutthroat" all the way. This bike debuted with the loud "Gulf Racing" scheme colors and hasn't looked back or apologized for being noticeable since. 1X drive trains know. But to be fair, it is a bike packing bike and front derailleurs get in the way of bags and collect mud and dirt in extreme conditions. That is also why you don't see a ton of these at the gravel road events. You can't gear it fast enough for the racing crowd due to the mtb drive train limitations.  But even though that is the case, a fair number of these were spotted by me at this past Spring's Dirty Kanza 200.

I have ridden a couple of these and they are fantastic machines. I like them. I will never own one though. In my mind, a titanium frame for this sort of rig makes way more sense to me. The expense of the bike is also a bit much, and really, the price is in titanium territory. If I were to get one, that orange one here has my vote. Orange is fast, plus it doesn't have hydraulic brakes, which in the case of a bike like this, I feel is the smart set up choice.

The titanium frame and carbon fork carries over for 2018, which indicates that there will be more of these.

The titanium Fargo is coming back in to stock at some point since it appears on the website. That seems like a smart move on Salsa's part since the frame became vaporware almost as soon as it was announced. I expect another small run again, so if you were to be wanting one, I'd put a pre-order in now. They won't be making a lot of these, I would guess.

Then we have two other Fargo models. Basically, you get one with a steel fork or one with a carbon fork, but the steel one only comes with 29"er wheels and the carbon Firestarter fork Fargo comes with 27.5+ wheels only. Bah! Why not allow some choice here? To be fair, you can get the "Purple" frame and fork and build up your own rig. Which is what I would do.

Fargo GX 29- What's that?! A 2X drive train? Whoa!
Fargo Rival 1- Okay, ditch the hydro brakes, take off those bulbous doughnuts, and slap on some 29"er skinwalls.
I really like the color purple, so you can imagine how I feel about the bottom image here. That said, I wouldn't want the bike the way it is spec'ed. Thankfully, like I mentioned, I could get the frame/fork, (at least according to the website), but maybe that would be hard to track down. Salsa used to be all frame/fork only builds but the pendulum has swung the other way and now frame/fork onlys are harder to come by.

But do I really need a purple Fargo? No, I don't. It isn't compelling enough to buy it as a complete for me and if a frame and fork came around and I could get that, I might. But if I am honest with myself, a titanium Fargo makes far more sense for me and I wonder if there is a ten year anniversary Fargo on the horizon. If there is, well.........

Warbird Carbon Ultegra
Warbird: The racing gravel rig. Pretty much the same as always here with SRAM or Shimano models in carbon and one aluminum model. Note the 2X drive trains. Smart choices for most gravel going racers. While 1X gains more spec, and therefore by the very nature of that, more gravel riders using 1X, I do not believe it is the best choice.

Personally, I don't think the chain line 1X presents is ideal, nor do I think that the cadence altering jumps between gears are beneficial to gravel riders, but maybe I am just an old fuddy-duddy. 2X makes a lot of sense and I am glad to see it spec'ed on the Bird Of War machines.

The Vaya basically just changes colors for 2018.
 Vaya: The Vaya carries over the Orange from last year and adds a Charcoal for the Apex equipped model which sports the carbon fork. The steel forked Vaya Tiagra comes in Red or Mint.

This model is maybe the most under rated gravel machine available. It really rides well on gravel roads. I am constantly surprised that more folks don't use this rig as their gravel bike.

Mountain Bikes: Oddly enough, there was no mention of any dual suspension bikes. Other than that, the Woodsmoke carries forward with new colors and the Timberjack expands to four models all under $1600.00. I suspect at some point that there will be another unveiling of FS mtb product in the future. By the way, the scuttlebutt I hear is that the full suspension fat bike is no more. Now for the BIG news that happened.........

The Blackborow- now with 27.5 hoops and all that extra frame action behind the saddle.
Blackborow: Yeah, I was floored when I saw this. The Blackborow comes back as a "mid-tail" cargo bike with 27.5" fat tires. (Why isn't this the "plus" version of 27.5"ers? I cannot say.) A lot of folks are really excited about this bike, but I groaned when I saw it.

I wanted to see a 2XL compatible Blackborow in Titanium. Not another take on a Big Fat Dummy. But maybe I am the oddball in the room.

Okay, my take. If you were really going waaaaay back country, needed flotation, and needed a ton of supplies, then maybe this makes sense. Barring the aforementioned, my Big Dummy can do everything else this can. This is also why I did not buy a Big Fat Dummy. The second thing is more about a principle I have noted in life more than anything. That is, no matter the size of the purse or the size of the garage, one fiinds a way to stuff it to capacity. I like bike packing set ups on typical bicycles since it forces you to make decisions and simplify. The Blackborow allows for excess. My opinion. YMMV

Finally, I've followed fat bike devotees and development for years and this longer back end, unless it is loaded, doesn't fare so well on deeper, looser snow and mud. Think unloaded pick-up truck. My Big Dummy does similar gymnastics in sand, especially when not loaded. Also, it will be far more difficult to get the front wheel unweighted for deep snow travel, which I do occasionally with my fat bikes when the snow hits. The "mid-tail" Blackborow may be for you, but it is not at all a compelling choice for me, since I already have a cargo bike that is very capable.

Okay, so a lot of bikes with not much new here. I get that. Salsa isn't big enough and the market is to weak to be bringing innovations that may fall flat on their face. (Well........there is the Blackborow, okay......I get that.) So, a lateral move in terms of another model year, unless...... As I say, it was odd that there was no public acknowledgement in the press release about FS mtb product and if there was going to be any news forthcoming in that arena. We'll have to wait and see. I suspect Sea Otter 2018 would be when that would make sense to have it announced.


Daniel said...

If we ever go back to the moon or if we ever get people on Mars they should bring that Blackborow with them. That thing would be perfect for all the astronauts gear.

james said...

Why no hydraulic brakes for the "ultimate GT" gravel machine?

bostonbybike said...

I was also surprised seeing the new Blackborrow and immediately asked myself a question - "Who is this for?"

Most bikepackers don't need it, but there are some who like going bikefishing or combine rafting with biking and maybe they need more space. Also I read about some traversing Australian outback on fatbikes with trailers on fat tires. Other than that - trail maintenance maybe? I guess there is market for such contraptions but it's small. A niche within a niche.

What I got really excited about are colors for Mukluk - they are really pretty, unlike those in the previous years.

rth009 said...

I too would be more interested in a Ti fattie that fits 2Xls. Im all for innovation, but that Blackborrow is a tiny niche of a niche.

Smithhammer said...

Glad I'm not alone. I don't want to seem overly critical, but the new Blackborow is both a disappointment and just seems like an odd direction to go. As others have said, it's a tiny niche within a niche. What Salsa really needs in their lineup, imo, is a true expedition fat bike that isn't made out of carbon.

Guitar Ted said...

@james- Higher maintenance and costs to replace parts. The hoods are not aesthetically pleasing to me either on SRAM or Shinmano's and the lever's internals are susceptible to crash damage. Wheel removal requires a brake block or to be very careful about not activating the lever.

Mechanical brakes are far more easy to live with and have more than enough braking power for gravel travel.

There is one hydraulic lever set up I don't mind and it is TRP's. Nice and low profile in the hoods and great looking. But the brake has twice as much power as I'd ever need and will end up requiring maintenance which requires dealing with DOT fluid and special a bleeding kit. A TRP Spyre brake requires new cables and housings at some point.......maybe. But that's it and that is easy-peasy to do. Plus, it won't be a hazard to me or the environment.

Unknown said...

I'm not a Blackborow fan either. It's a cargo bike for people who want to pretend to cargo bike rather than haul some heavy ass loads. It's just not practical.

But what do I know? I'm just some dude with thousands of miles on a dummy and built a retaining wall without using a car.

Iowagriz said...

Although I don't see Salsa doing it (against their grain) - the Blackborrow looks like the perfect platform for their first eBike. GASP!

Rydn9ers said...

One key thing, for me anyway, that Salsa changed on the Cutthroat this year vs. last year is that the fork crown and the bottom of the head tube are the same diameter now. I know it's just a visual thing but last year the fork crown was several millimeters smaller in diameter than the head tube. This of course didn't affect performance one iota but it drove me crazy from a purely visual standpoint and it looks like I was not alone since the corrected it. said...

GT - I assume you are talking about a the TRP Hylex or Hylex RS as an option....aren't those mineral oil just like Shimano? Not DOT fluid.

Guitar Ted said... Right you are. Good catch! Still, the rest of my concerns stand. Mech brakes would still be easier to live with long term.

@Rob E- Actually, it may affect ride feel. Straight steer tubes, or "less tapered" steer tubes are actually more compliant than larger based tapered steer tubes. It affects ride feel to a degree.

I get the aesthetic concern, which you were bothered by though. It does look weird.

Michael said...

I saw one of the new Ti Fargo's in in a bike shop in Minneapolis a couple weeks back. It's a sweet looking rig.

KC said...

I still love the Vaya and will never let my 2010 o.g. Vaya go, even if it's just hanging on the wall. Ridiculously fast & comfortable, I put thousands of miles on that thing and know it'll still be ready for more when I'm ready to build up a geared bike again.
Heck, I'd probably still be riding it if they'd put the rocker dropouts on it.

S.Fuller said...

On the Blackborrow, you put me in the (minority?) camp of people that like it. No, I can't haul piles of stone or huge loads with it, but it still handles a decent amount of cargo. Shorter than a BD or BFD, so it's a bit easier to store. Lighter than either one of them. A bit more off road capable than the shorter cargo bikes from Yuba. My biggest complaint is that it's spec'd with Eagle, rather than 2x10 or 2x11, but that's something that can be changed when the time comes to replace that cassette.

Adam said...

Agreed that the TRP Hylex brakes have very comfy hoods - but they're the worst PITA to bleed that I've ever seen. So, so much worse than my Shimano MTB brakes.