Tuesday, September 18, 2018

News Season: Salsa Bikes For 2019

The new, very pink, Journeyman Apex 650B
 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Well, you've probably heard and have seen all the news blasts concerning the new Salsa Cycles stuff for 2019. I posted a big article on RidingGravel.com about it as well. It's a big deal in the gravel/all-road category now, and as you all know, "gravel" is the latest thing in cycling. Everyone is doing something in the category, or so it seems. I guess we can say it has "jumped the shark" when I start seeing department store gravel bikes. (Maybe there already are some!)

I know a lot of people may not like Salsa Cycles, or QBP, their parent company, but look....... Salsa is no "johnny-come-lately" to gravel travel. In fact, they were doing gravel before it was a cool thing to do for most riders, not to mention bicycle companies. Salsa was doing research into what would make for a great gravel bike as early as 2008, and probably before that, I just don't know about it. That's years before any other company was paying attention to this niche. By 2009 I was fully aware that Salsa was testing prototype gravel bicycles, because I saw them and they were at my event, Trans Iowa. So, there is no denying that Salsa Cycles was, and still is, at the forefront of the gravel/all-road scene. 2019 product shows this.

The latest gravel gizmos from Bloomington are pretty noteworthy too. The newest model to be introduced by Salsa last Spring is a bike that fits the gravel scene well. An "everyman's bike" being sold at a price point that will, and already has, expanded the rider base for gravel-all-road cycling. The kind of cycling I think best fits what most people will be attracted to in the near future. Heck, they even called this new model by a name which reflects this- Journeyman.

The latest news in that model line is the addition of a higher spec. The Journeyman Apex 1 available in 650B wheels or 700c. Yeah.......it is 1X. That doesn't move me, but hey! Maybe it's your deal and you love it. Good for you! I like the pink, but then again, I would! The move to 650B mtb XC tires on these, (and other company's bikes), still perplexes me. Is it a mountain bike? No? Then why not put something on that actually is an "all-roads" tire, like the WTB Byway? Or......maybe that Terrene Elwood, but then again, that would be working with the "enemy", so probably not. I guess, when you get down to it, the lack of good OE tire choices is why these XC mtb tires are on there.

This Vaya is a great looking bike.

 The other thing about this Journeyman Apex, and the Journeyman in general, is that it takes the same space in use/price point as the current Vaya. Even the 2019 Vaya is only a tic more money than the Journeyman Apex 1. That Salsa took away the second spec level of the Vaya is also telling. In fact, we were betting at the shop early in the year that the Vaya would actually be cut from the line. However; it hasn't been cut, just reduced in choice to one model with two color choices.

That said, it is a nice bike set up with 105 and the new fork the Warbird gets dubbed the Waxwing. This makes the Vaya, in my opinion, the steel gravel bike Salsa Cycles should have had all along. It's got really awesome tire clearances, and now it has all the versatility that many gravel riders want. The thing is, with only one spec level available now, many might overlook this machine. That's too bad, because I know Vayas handle spectacularly well, and, of course, they are steel, so they have all the toughness and ride feel that steel is known for. Plus, you can get a purple one! 

The least expensive Warbird, the Warbird Tiagra.
 The Warbird has been redesigned, and we knew all about that months ago, but we didn't know exactly what the bikes would look like, or how they would be spec'ed. There are five levels of spec now, with two SRAM 1X choices, an Ultegra Di2, a 105, and a Tiagra level spec in Shimano 2X set ups.

A couple......well a few.....comments here- First of all they finally got the Warbird right. Versatile, able to handle all the water bottles, fenders, racks, and bigger tires you might want, yet it is light and spritely. Versatility and "racy" are not mutually exclusive traits. Then they went and tweaked the geometry for more stability, and what they did was to shorten the rear center and lengthen the front. I totally agree with this, by the way. I could get all into that, but I'll save it for another rant......

They offer a wide range of spec choices, which I appreciate. Not everyone likes Shimano and not everyone likes SRAM 1X. Neither of those suit you? They sell a black frame set. Go nuts with it. In fact, I probably would take that option myself. That is, if I could justify the price, which is $400.00 cheaper than a complete set up with Tiagra. If I didn't have a bike to strip parts from, and a bunch of spares, I probably would just buy the Warbird Tiagra. I doubt you could spec your own for less than $400.00 including labor. The frame sets are 2G, by the way.

They screwed up their take on the prototype paint job here.
I've been highly critical of the Warbird in the past. Salsa Cycles didn't like it when the bike was first introduced and I bagged on it. But, they missed the mark until v4. This one finally nails it, albeit, carbon. Not a huge fan here, and that's because carbon has a proclivity for wearing away in abrasive mud, and I will sometimes be found in those situations. Just check out any of my steel bikes. I don't think any of them, save for the newest one, the "Bubblegum Princess", have any paint in the chain stays where the tire passes through. Had any of those bikes been carbon, well....... I bet I would have roached at least a couple by now. See where I am going here?

But that said, this is the first Warbird model I would be willing to take a chance with carbon on and the first Warbird of any kind I would consider buying. Salsa got it right and I really like the design. Had they chosen to mimic the prototype's paint job with some other, cool, bright scheme, I would have been all over that. However; they decided to make it look like battleship camo and it just looks wrong. Uggh! It could have been so cool too. Another reason I'd likely just get the black frame set and go nuts with something like a flashy set of Industry 9 wheels or anodized bits where I could.

Finally, in a somewhat ironic twist, I found out late yesterday that Salsa posted a "Story of the Warbird" in which Trans Iowa and myself are mentioned. What they had to say about myself and Trans Iowa is pretty humbling and I am honored and thankful to think that I and the event made some small contribution toward the Warbird and, more importantly, toward changing some folks lives there. That's an honor I do not take lightly. But that said, it doesn't sway what I have written here. In fact, I had most of this post done before I became aware of that Warbird story.

But I have to say a big "Thank You" to Mike "Kid" Riemer, Jason Boucher, Joe Meiser, Sean Mailen, Paul Errington, Tim Ek, Matt Gersib, Andrea Cohen, and any other Salsa sponsored rider, QBP photographer, and Salsa Crew member that had anything to do with, or any part to play in, attending Trans Iowa, promoting it in their marketing, supporting it with their thoughts and efforts, and for just being great people. They had a great impact not only upon Trans Iowa, but on myself as well. Thanks all of you!


Kaz Jar said...

Hey, I just joined the ranks of Fargo owners with a 2019 orange tiagra model. I wanted a versatile touring bike i could take with me into retirement in the next couple of years and the Fargo seemed like the perfect bike. Just wondering about racks. I'm reading that the Salsa rack is best fit for the bike. I'm wondering if there are any cheaper rear racks and front racks that will fit the bike or is it better to go with the Salsa racks to avoid headaches.
Great site by the way
Thanks, Ken

Guitar Ted said...

@Kaz Jar- Well, since I really don't specialize in racks, I would either hop onto Facebook, or Mountain Bike Review, and scroll through/search for "Fargo Rack" on the respective Fargo pages/threads. You could also post on the RidingGravel.com forum and ask there.

Sorry, that's the best I can do. I just don't bother with racks at all these days with all the excellent rackless options that are out there now.

Kaz Jar said...

Thanks for response. What are some of the tackles options you like? Do they include Salsa Anything fork holders and bar bag? Looking for a good on off road touring setup that can hold enough gear.

Kaz Jar said...

Sorry, I meant "rackless options".