First impressions: Traitor Cycles Slot

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The Slot from Traitor Cycles was born from the idea of a bike that could get you to the trailhead, carve some singletrack, then stop on the way home for groceries. Of course there’s the old adage “Jack of all trades, master of none,” so I am interested how well this bike will fulfill all its varied roles.

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Built from steel, the Slot is fully rigid 29er and features mounts for racks and fenders fore and aft, and of course a couple of bottle cages. There’s a mix of Shimano and SRAM drivetrain components, Avid BB5s and an attractive leather touring saddle from Gyes all riding atop a set of Kenda 2.1-inch Small Block Eight tires. Those tires would need to be swapped out for 45 mm tires if fenders are installed though. Overall a pretty respectable build for a moderately priced rig.

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My first ride on the Slot included as many surfaces as I could find and the bike performed well. I have always been impressed with how well the Small Block Eight tires handled a wide range of terrains. Once again, they didn’t disappoint. The tread pattern works well on gravel and smoother surface roads , but also hold up decently on dirt… as long as it’s not too wet.

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I’m looking forward to throwing some weight on the bike and taking it out on some longer mixed surface excursions. Watch out for a full write up in Bicycle Times Issue #37 and find out how well one bike can do it all. It will be hitting subscribers’ mailboxes and digital devices around September 10th and showing up on the newsstands a few weeks later.

Vital stats

  • Price: $1,399
  • Weight: 29.78 lbs.
  • Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
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Salsa unveils new Powderkeg tandem 29er and refreshed Warbird gravel race bike

Salsa's Mike Riemer introduces the new bikes to the audience at FrostBike.

Salsa’s Mike Riemer introduces the new bikes to the audience at FrostBike.

Each year, Quality Bicycle Products, the parent company of Salsa (as well as Surly, All-City and others) hosts a dealer show at is Minnesota headquarters. Salsa took the opportunity to announce it would be officially offering a production version of the Powderkeg tandem that has been floating around in prototype form for years.

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Powderkeg

bt-salsa-powderkeg-warbird-frostbike-12Not just an extended version of the El Mariachi 29er, the Powderkeg is built from Salsa’s new 4130 Cobra Kai tubing, a riff on the Kung Fu tubing in the El Mariachi. The fork is new as well, with a tapered, steel steerer and massive legs—as big as some steel bikes’ down tubes. It’s naturally equipped with a thru axle, or can be swapped with a 100mm suspension fork, if you’re brave enough to tackle singletrack. The timing chain is tensioned with a classic pinch-bolt eccentric bottom bracket.

While it’s stout enough for off-road, Salsa says it sees many of its customers using the Powderkeg for gravel riding/racing and adventure touring. A prototype was put to the test in the Tour Divide race in 2012. As such it’s equipped with rack mounts, and the fork uses the three-bolt bosses for Salsa’s Anything Cages. It also sets a record for Salsa with no less than nine water bottle mount positions.

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The Powderkeg will go on sale this summer for $3,999 complete or $1,999 as a frameset. It will be available in three sizes: medium captain/small stoker, large captain/small stoker, and large captain/medium stoker.


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Warbird

Salsa is proud to state that it “owns gravel”, and the brand has supported the growing gravel ride/race scene since it began to gain popularity in the past five or six years. From events like the Dirty Kanza 200 to shorter ultracross races across the country, the Warbird separates itself from cyclocross bikes with a longer wheelbase, lower bottom bracket and larger tire clearance.

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The second generation of Warbird bikes retain much of the same geometry of the first, but with a slightly lower stack height for a more aggressive position. The biggest visual difference is the bowed seatstays, which Salsa calls Class 5 Vibration Reduction System—class 5 referring to the gauge of gravel used on roads. The stays have a thin, flat profile that allows them to offer a small amount of give over impacts, a small amount that can add up quick over long rides. By mounting the disc brake caliper on the chainstay Salsa is able to allow both stays to function this way without having to support braking forces.

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Offered in both aluminum and carbon fiber versions, both models use the carbon Warbird fork with 15mm thru axle and tapered, carbon steerer tube. Salsa claims the carbon frame and fork reduce vibrations nine percent over the previous generation titanium model, and six percent for the aluminum frame and carbon fork.

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All that space in the stays means the Warbird can pack a big tire: 44c in the carbon model and 42c for the aluminum. Both models use PF30 bottom bracket shells and internal cable routing for mechanical or electronic drivetrains. Because gravel rides are often pretty long, it also has a third water bottle cage under the down tube.

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The carbon Warbird will be available this summer for $1,999 for the frameset or $3,499 with a SRAM Rival 22 build and hydraulic brakes. The aluminum models are in stock now for $999 for the frame set and $2,499 for a Shimano 105 11-speed build or $1,999 for a 10-speed Tiagra build.

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