|The Tumbleweed Stargazer. Image courtesy of Tumbleweed Bikes.|
The bike's rider, Jason Boucher, then the Brand Manager of Salsa Cycles, was a very proud 'papa' that day. He was getting out Salsa's latest bike, a bike that would help to redefine the company, give it its own legacy under QBP's ownership, and arguably was the bike that kicked off the whole bikepacking/adventure biking craze which is still happening to this day.
We got to see an actual production prototype, which was just how the bike came out later in the Fall that year. But we didn't get to see the model name. Jason had covered that up so loose lips could not spill the beans on the bike's name. What he used to cover that name up with- a strip of black electrical tape- became the bike's unofficial name for about a month and a half. "Black Electrical Tape" was a big hit already with many of us 29"er/gravel freaks, and when the name "Fargo" was revealed, well the enthusiasm for this bike was enormous.
Since that Summer sneak-peek at the GTDRI, the Fargo has gone on to become the longest lived model in Salsa's line. It is there for good reason. The bike is versatile, comfortable, and does what it does very well. However; there was never a bike- a "Fargo Gen I" - like that 2008/9-2010 one. After Salsa started tweaking the bike, all that charm and non-suspension corrected glory went missing.
|The Singular Gryphon- Not influenced by the Fargo!|
The Bombtrack Beyond, Kona Sutra, Breezer Radar, and many others have tried to bring that Fargo-flavor. Some do it well, others.....? meh! There was just something about those earliest Fargo bikes and many are still coveted rides to this day. However; 2008 was a long time ago in terms of bicycle technologies and standards. So those older Gen I Fargo bikes are starting to get a little long in the tooth.
Well, Tumbleweed Bikes, who have had one model, the Prospector, for several years now, have just announced a new, drop bar design for fat 27.5" wheels or big 29"er wheels. It's called the Stargazer, but you can totally see this as what a 2008/2009 Fargo would be like if it were updated to 2021 standards.
| The Stargazer can fit 27.5 X 3.0" tires. (29'ers shown) Image courtesy of Tumbleweed Bikes|
But many things which endeared the Fargo Gen I to its fans are still here in the Stargazer. First and foremost is the non-suspension corrected steel fork with a 440mm axle to crown. That fork also has rack mounts along with the triple bosses which are ubiquitous on adventure bikes these days. Rear rack bosses are there, as well as the under-the-downtube bottle bosses. The longer head tube gets those drops up where an adventure biker wants them without the janky 'stack-o-spacers' look. The fork and head angle are right out of the Fargo Gen I stats- 69° and 55mm of offset.
And the frame and fork are steel, of course. NOT aluminum, not carbon, and nothing weird here- just steel. If you are going after that Fargo theme, steel is a requisite frame and fork material. It is just the way that it is.
I like that this bike can be fitted with big, fat 27.5" tires or the 2.5" X 29"er tires. I know some may wish for those 3.0" 29"er+ tires, but honestly, those are getting on to be dinosaurs in the bicycle world these days. 29+ is pretty much on its way out, and I can see why Tumbleweed chose to stop at 2.5" for clearance on 29"ers.
Here's my verdict- At the asking price, this frame and fork is a steal. I think it nails the look and geo numbers are so close, that this may as well be a Fargo Gen I updated. But.....I do not need this! My Gen I Fargo is still a good bike. My Ti Muk can cover a lot of what the Gen I does not. Plus, I'd rather put my money towards a Rohloff "Summer" wheel set for the Ti Muk someday rather than get a whole 'nuther bike, which would be redundant. But for you? Maybe this tics a lot of boxes. Tumbleweed Bikes website.