First Impression: Salsa Powderkeg Tandem

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My girlfriend Emily and I have always viewed tandems with a mix of intrigue and skepticism. The former inspired by the ability to intimately share a cooperative experience with someone special, and the latter a result of the seemingly patriarchal examples we often see out in the world. With this in mind, Emily and I jumped at the opportunity to review Salsa’s Powderkeg for the upcoming issue of Bicycle Times, and to write a story about our experience touring dirt roads in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest.

Our relationship with any test bike begins when each bike arrives at the doorstep of the Bicycle Times World Headquarters. This giant bike  arrived with more than the usual cursing from our friendly UPS driver due to the sheer size of the box.

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Once assembled, we were pleasantly surprised by the reasonable 42 pound weight of the Powderkeg, despite the burly Cobra Kai CroMoly tubing Salsa custom-drawn for the Powderkeg’s frame and fork. This weight allowed us to utilize any of the portable repair stands we have here at the office without any tipovers.

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The second feature that impressed us is the number of braze-ons for water bottle mounts and Salsa’s slick Three-Pack mounts for its Anything Cages. We also really appreciated the robust simplicity of Salsa’s Alternator Rack 135, which mounts directly to the upper bolt of the Alternator swinging dropout. This genius system utilizes the upper brake adapter bolt to secure both the dropout and the rear rack.

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The Powderkeg is a true workhorse with more than enough mounting options for an extended tour. If you max out gear storage on the Powderkeg, you should probably consider paring down.

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With the bike assembled, the next challenge was transportation. Fortunately, the Powderkeg fit inside our Honda Element with the front wheel off, handlebars turned 180 degrees and the rear wheel rolled almost all the way up to the center console. But, if your tandem doesn’t fit inside your vehicle, there are quite a few car-mounted tandem racks options on the market.

From our very limited previous experience aboard tandems—a few minutes here and there—we knew we needed to work together to get the most out of this experience. Fortunately, the Powderkeg made getting in the groove extremely easy. From the very first ride, we clicked with this bike and our excitement swelled as we look forward to our touring adventure.

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Look for out touring story and the complete review of the Powderkeg in issue #37 of Bicycle Times. Subscribe by August 17 to have the issue delivered to your door. To read more about the development of the Powderkeg, check out the Salsa blog here.



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