Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Big News Day: Salsa Cycles & WTB

 Yesterday was a big news day in cycling for new product with Salsa Cycles announcing a new mountain bike platform and WTB announcing new puncture protection gravel tires. First up, let's take a look at the news from Salsa Cycles from my viewpoint. I'm sure y'all have seen the news splashed across social media and endemic news sites already, so I'll spare the techy bits here. And as always.....

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

The Cassidy aluminum frame-only option.
Okay, with that out of the way, here's what I think about these new full suspension rigs. The Blackthorn and the Cassidy are, for all intents and purposes, basically modular platforms, both being capable of being set up similarly. Only the basic spec of parts would be different here. A switch of a linkage sets and the rear shock yields a 140mm or 165mm rear travel bike. So, you can essentially buy one of these, the spare linkage sets and rear shock, and have the ability to tune your suspension for wherever the heck you want to ride. 

Versatility in wheel size is also there, as the new bikes accept 27.5+ and 29" wheels. So, although the bikes are spendy, you can, with a little extra coin, get two bikes in one basic platform. Nice. 

I'm not real big on the new 'long/slack' geometry that 'new-school' mountain bikes use. It isn't very Mid-West friendly, for one thing. Since that's where I ride, the whole new geometry thing is kind of lost on me. However; I can see the application for real mountain biking. I have ridden in places where bikes like these would make a ton of sense. For those that live in such places, bikes like the Cassidy, especially, make a lot of sense. 

The Blackthorn 140mm travel bike.

But in my opinion, the mountain biking situation is becoming much like the skiing industry. Why buy when you can rent? Going to Colorado, Utah, or Arizona? How about NorCal or even Pisgah or The Kingdom Trails? Why drag a bike from the Mid-West that, for one thing, doesn't work well here, and just rent one out there that is tuned for the riding there? Especially when three years from now, likely sooner than that, your shocks will be requiring overhauls and, more than likely, will be outdated by some new standard or feature set. 

And how about that SuperBoost, speaking of standards. Yeah..... Makes me want to buy a new bike, for sure..... Plus, in many ways, owning a big full suspension rig like this here seems like an equivalent to owning a Toyota TRD Tundra and never driving it off-road. I mean, it seems sorta useless to my mind when a rigid hard tail gets you everything you really need here. Especially with the poofy tires and wide rims we have now. 

OR- Where are all the Mid-West friendly designs Salsa used to make? It seems that the pendulum of geometry has swung hard over to the steep, long sight-line, manicured trails side. Anyway.......

Now as for the WTB thing.... They introduced a new technology for their tires, not any new tread patterns, just to clear up any confusion there. WTB sent me three sets of the SG2 infused tires about a month ago now.

I mounted the new SG2 Raddlers on the Orange Crush.
First of all- the newsy bits, techy stuff, and first impressions can be found here and here on Riding Gravel. 

Now for the opinions: It's about dang time WTB offered a puncture protection option. This has been an Achilles heel for the brand for many years. While all the other brands offered this, WTB suffered from folks having issues and puncture protection probably would have saved them a few customers. Oh well.... At least they offer it now.  

I like the way they added a supple casing and puncture protection to keep the ride feel basically the same as the 60TPI tires, which rode pretty well. WTB tires are not the smoothest riding, by any stretch, but typically those very smooth riding tires have their own issues and I've experienced them first hand. You can do a lot with air pressure and a tire like the new SG2 WTB tires which allow you to get that smoothness without the rest of the hassles of thin cased tires run tubeless. got three sets of tires- one set of Resolutes, one Raddler, one of the Byways. So far I am really liking the Byways, but that may be because they are the new ones to me. I put those on the G700 FLO Cycling wheels and I am really liking this combination. The Resolutes are.....Resolutes. I like Resolutes a lot. But the main thing is that they have that puncture protection belt. That's what is nice. If you need peace of mind or if you just like better air retention, or both. 

Oh, and the Raddlers? They are a curious tire. WTB and others have been sporting some models which seem to be more about trail riding than gravel/back road riding. The Raddler would fit that mold, to a degree. It isn't necessarily a bad tire for the Mid-West, but you can sure do a lot with less, as in the case of the Byways. The Raddler seems to my mind a tire best suited to Winter-ish riding around here, but that may be just me. 

More soon. 

Note: WTB sent over the three models of SG2 gravel tires to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We were not paid nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and reviews throughout.


Steve said...

First of all- the newsy bits, techy stuff, and first impressions can be found here and here on Riding Gravel. Might want to put links in. Steve

Stud Beefpile said...

Mountain bike suspension is so good these days that most full-suspension XC/trail bikes (~120mm) will be a hoot just about anywhere unless you're really hucking it or mainly doing lift-serviced DH.

I haven't ridden these longer suspension bikes, but having ridden at Angel Fire and Trestle, for roughly 80-90% of the mountain biking population, the full suspension they already have at home will capably rock these trails. I was doing 1-3' drops with 120mm, and never bottomed out (and I was 210 lbs. before a 4L Camelbak and body armor).

Bigger (suspension) numbers sell bikes I'm sure, but Salsa's Spearfish or Horsethief are very compelling all-around MTB's, whereas both the Cassidy and Blackthorn are quite niche.

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve - Thanks. Links were there, just not *there*. Fixed now.....

@Stud Beefpile - Good perspective. I think geometry has a lot to do with this as well, as I say in the post. Shorter travel bikes from ten years ago will work better in the Mid-West than what the geometry is now for most FS bikes (long, low, slack)

That said, I haven't been on a recent shorter travel FS 29"er. I should try one.

Skidmark said...

Old bike mechanics tend to evolve toward simpler, less complicated equipment; enthusiasts tend to go in the other direction.