Fatsgiving 2.0

Late fall along the Oregon coast is freezing cold, wet, windy, rainy and generally unpleasant. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. Instead, a group of friends and I were greeted by bluebird skies and t-shirt temperatures in the afternoons when we arrived at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It was the second consecutive Thanksgiving weekend we set out to explore just a fraction of the 30,000 acres of rolling sand that stretches nearly 40 miles from Florence to Coos Bay.

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While the dune buggies, sandrails and other off-highway vehicles draw most of the visitor traffic to this portion of the state, fat bikes are popping up as a legitimate draw, especially in the off season. A few bike shops along the coast rent bikes and we saw a handful on the backs of cars headed up and down the coast. Word is getting out.

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The condition of the sand can vary with wind, precipitation and season, but we had perhaps the best traction yet. (Well, perhaps not when airborne.) The new Maxxis Minion FBF and FBR 4.8 tires on my Salsa Mukluk certainly helped in the floatation department too. We also ventured out onto the beach where we found some Japanese tsunami debris, the half-eaten remains of a seal and a lot of driftwood to practice riding skinnies. This part of the coast doesn’t get many visitors so it has a much more wild feel than the touristy spots.

We’re already planning our next adventure so stay duned!

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If you go

How to get there: The most popular starting point is near Lakeside, Oregon, about 3.5 hours from Portland or 2 hours from Eugene. See a map of the area.

Where to stay: We rented yurts at Tugman State Park. They sleep three to five people, have electricity and heaters and some are pet-friendly.

Where to ride: I recommend starting on the John Dellenbeck Dunes Trail, departing from the Eel Creek Campground, which is basically across the street from Tugman State Park.

Gallery

Click on the magnifying glass to see full-size photos.

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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.

Photos

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First ride on the new 2016 Salsa bikes

Deadwood

Somewhat surprising is this 29plus touring bike that Salsa says will be produced in somewhat limited numbers. More evolutionary than revolutionary, it’s kind of like what you’d expect to get if a Fargo and a Mukluk enjoyed a little too much bourbon around the campfire before snuggling into a sleeping bag together.

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It’s built with Salsa’s more heavy duty Cobra Kai steel tubing also found on the Powderkeg tandem and Marrakesh touring bike. Here you’ll find all the features and mounts from a Fargo but with the Boost 148 spacing on the Alternator rear end to accommodate the 29×3 Surly Knard tires on WTB Scraper rims. The fork is identical to the standard Fargo model though.

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The deep copper paint is lovely in person, and subtle touches like the special logo treatment and subdued graphics are really eye-catching.

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I had a chance to take it for a quick spin and I think it could really be the perfect vehicle for riders who want to tackle touring/bikepacking routes at a more casual pace and are willing to trade some speed for comfort. The huge tires soak up the bumps without creating excess rolling resistance. My guess is it’s the kind of bike that will leave customers either salivating or scratching their heads.

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The Deadwood will retail for $2,599 or $1,099 for a frame/fork.

Cutthroat

Salsa says the Tour Divide race was the inspiration for the Fargo model, but in the ensuing years the bar for speed has been raised (or lowered?) and top gravel racers are looking for something even lighter and more aggressive. The full carbon fiber Cutthroat is the result.

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An even more streamlined vision of what the perfect Tour Divide race bike could be, the Cutthroat does away with the Alternator dropouts but still retains rack mounts near the dropouts. The triple cage mounts on the fork are still there too, as it shares the Firestarter carbon fork with the high-end Fargo model.

In the back is the new “Class 5 Vibration Reduction System” that made its debut on the Warbird gravel bike. In an effort to absorb impacts and vibrations the seatstays bow outward considerably to flex. When you’re racing 2,800 miles in two weeks on unpaved roads and trails, any bit helps.

The Cutthroat with a SRAM Rival 1×11 build is $3,999 and the SRAM Apex/X7 2×10 build is $2,999. The frame/fork can also be had for $1,999.

 

Marrakesh

While the Vaya has been carrying the “light touring” torch in the Salsa lineup for a few years, the brand admits it can be a bit overwhelmed when carting heavy loads. The Marrakesh was built from from Salsa’s Cobra Kai steel tubing to carry you and ALL your gear to its namesake exotic lands.

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A touring bike in the classic sense, it has a 3×9 drivetrain and bar-end shifters on the drop-bar model. The flat-bar model is an entirely different frame geometry to achieve proper fit, but is otherwise identical. Each version is available in two colors with a Shimano Deore kit, SRAM BB7 disc brakes, a rear rack and a Brooks saddle. The Alternator dropouts allow you to rig a singlespeed setup if you destroy a derailleur or to built one with an internal-gear hub.

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The Marrakesh will retail for $1,599 or $650 for the frame/fork.

 

Ponyrustler

Spotted as a prototype at Sea Otter, the new 27plus full suspension bike from Salsa made its official debut today with two carbon fiber models and an aluminum model built around the excellent Split Pivot suspension.

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If you’re ridden the Horsethief 29er and enjoyed it, you’re likely to feel right at home on the Ponyrustler, as they share geometry figures. In fact, the 2016 Horsetheif is the exact same frame and each model can swap wheels thanks to the Boost hub spacing front and rear. Salsa will continue to offer them as two distinct models though, and the ride experience is quite different.

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A quick demo ride largely confirmed that the ride experience somewhat splits the difference between a normal 29er and a full suspension fat bike. Compared to the Bucksaw full suspension fat bike the Ponyrustler feels much faster and more like a “normal” bike while still offering the extra traction and compliance of the larger tires.

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The frame offers 120 mm of travel the complete bikes ship with 130 mm forks, all with 110 mm Boost spacing. The Carbon XO1 model ships with the Pike and SRAM XO1, of course, for $5,499. The Carbon GX1 model has the Fox fork and a 1×11 GX build for $4,499. Finally, the aluminum Ponyrustler has a Fox fork and 2×10 GX build for $3,499. All three models ship with SRAM hubs laced to WTB Scraper rims with WTB’s new Bridger 27.5×3.0 tires. The carbon frame will also be available on its own for $2,499.

 

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Are 27plus bikes going to be the new normal in a few years time? Don’t be surprised if they are.

 

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Other changes in the Salsa line

Aside from spec and color changes, some notable tweaks:

  • The carbon Beargrease gets one of the coolest fade paint jobs ever. (Pictured above)
  • All of Salsa’s fat bikes now come with 150 mm spacing on the forks so they can be swapped with a RockShox Bluto if desired. Each of the hardtail fat bikes (Mukluk, Beargrease and Blackbarrow) is also available with one stock.
  • The Mukluk frame geometry changes to match that of the Blackbarrow.
  • The Spearfish is now available in carbon only, with two spec levels or a frame option.
  • The Fargo Ti rides off into the sunset, mostly supplanted by the Cutthroat.
  • The new carbon and aluminum Warbirds were unveiled earlier this year.
  • The Vaya Ti remains in the lineup as a complete bike or frameset.
  • The smallest Vaya models now use 700c wheels instead of 26-inch, and there are only six total sizes instead of eight.
  • The Colossal Ti rolls away, and the single steel model is offered with SRAM Apex or as a frameset.

 Correction

The Cutthroat does indeed feature hidden rack mounts.

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Salsa’s New Cutthroat, the world’s first carbon bikepacking race bike?

The Tour Divide may have the highest profile to participant ratio of any cycling event in the world. This year about 100 riders started the 2,745 mile long self-supported race down the Great Divide bicycle route. Considering how few riders that is compared to the bicycle market in general, makes it all the more amazing that Salsa greenlighted a project like this new carbon Cutthroat.

While the idea of a bike designed for bikepacking is far from new, Salsa is entering new territory with a carbon-frame, dropbar, suspension-corrected race bike.  While at first glance it looks like a carbon version of the well-loved Salsa Fargo, it shares much of the design and technology of the recently released Warbird gravel racing bike.

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The Class 5 VRS™ (Vibration Reduction System) provides some measure of suspension with engineered flex built into the bridgeless seat and chainstays. The rear triangle is tied together with a thru-axle to keep that flex going the right direction. Unlike many seatstays that are flattened in a horizontal plane, the Cutthroat’s (and the Warbird’s) are flattened vertically. Salsa’s engineers discovered that when the rear triangle absorbs impacts, they flex outwards rather than vertically, and this bow shape enhances this motion.

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The front triangle is designed with a framepack in mind, and includes mounts for a strapless Salsa-branded top tube bag that is still in development. The main tubes are flattened to increase frame bag volume, and have up to four bottle cage mounts, depending on size. The fork, which is also carbon, gets a Three-Pack mount on each leg, as well as a 15×100 mm thru-axle.

Salsa sponsored rider Jay Petervary is racing the Cutthroat in the 2015 Tour Divide. “With the nature of Tour Divide one needs equipment that is reliable, practical and useful while paying attention to bulk and weight. In the case of the bike itself, it needs to be comfortable in terms of ride quality and body position, but also needs to be very responsive in energy return. It needs to be stable for carrying a load and high speed descents. The Cutthroat to me has the important traits a Tour Divide race bike should have,” he says. “In my opinion it’s the best tool for the job.”

You can follow Tour Divide racers via Spot satellite here.

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As for that name:  “The Cutthroat trout, or a variation of Cutthroat trout, is the state fish for all the U.S. states that the Tour Divide (or Great Divide Mountain Bike Route) passes through,” says Salsa marketing manager Mike ‘Kid’ Riemer. “It was almost too good to be true when we learned that fact and the Cutthroat name became a keeper (pun intended).”

Cutthroat will be available in two complete bike spec’s and one frameset offering, sometime late in 2015.

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Cutthroat Carbon Rival 1 Complete Bike – U.S. MSRP $3,999

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Cutthroat Carbon X9 Complete Bike – U.S. MSRP $2,999

Cutthroat Carbon Frameset – U.S. MSRP $1,999

Details and specs below:

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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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Notice: Product recalls from Felt and Salsa

Felt

Felt Bicycles is voluntarily recalling two of its aluminum cyclocross models due to possible frame failure, which could cause the rider to lose control, fall and suffer injuries. So far 127 of the 150 sold were reported and remedied.

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According to the notice on Felt’s website, no incidents have been reported. Included are approximately 150 units of the 2015 Felt F65X and F85X aluminum cyclocross bikes, made in Taiwan and sold at bicycle specialty stores nationwide from June 2014 through September 2014 for between $1,200 and $1,500.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and contact their local Felt Bicycles dealer for a free inspection and frame replacement. If you have one, visit the Felt website and learn how to file your claim. You can also call Felt toll-free at (866) 433-5887 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday through Friday.

Salsa

Salsa has issued a recall on its Bearpaw aluminum fat bike forks, included with Mukluk bikes, framesets and sold individually, purchased between September 1, 2013, and November 17, 2014. The affected units have the date codes stamped 20130524, 20130710 and 20130826, followed by “CWI2201BAN2”. Also, you can use the compass to guide your way: if the fork has one on the outside, it is likely covered by the recall. The new forks have the compass printed on the inside of the fork legs.

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The affected fork may bend or break, causing a hazard to the rider. Contact an authorized Salsa dealer to arrange for a free inspection and refund or replacement. For more information, call Quality Bicycle Products at 877-774-6208.

 

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In Print: If It Ain’t Moto, It’s Music

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Words and photo by Kevin Murphy

Through the 1980s and ‘90s, Ross Shafer and Salsa Cycles were a force to be reckoned with. Salsa became one of the most sought-after boutique brands, which made stems, handlebars, quick releases, production and custom frames. But it wasn’t all just great product.

Shafer and his Petaluma, Calif. crew instilled a joyful soul into the brand and everything it touched. Annual festivals, fun apparel, and an ethos they lived and breathed. It was full-on fun, and moto. The incredible popularity and cult status among Salsa bicycle owners would be reason enough to tell the story of Shafer and Salsa. But there’s a hidden track on this LP.

Read the full interview.

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Introducing Salsa’s new Blackbarow adventure fat bike

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When the Salsa Mukluk first burst onto the scene in 2011, it was designed for backcountry exploration moreso than actual mountain biking. Well in the past few years things have changed quite a bit, and as fat bikes have become more specialized, tires have gotten bigger, and customers’ desires have changed, the bikes have had to evolve quickly.

See what makes the Blackbarow unique here.

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First ride: Salsa’s full-suspension fat bike, the Bucksaw

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We had seen it coming. There were spy shots and rumors tossed around about a full-suspension fat bike. In fact, the Bucksaw isn’t even the first one—several smaller brands have built bikes that qualified as “full-suspension”, but this one is different. This is a major brand making a big commitment to a new product segment, and bringing an advanced suspension design with it. Mike Riemer, Salsa’s Marketing Manager, said that Dave Weagle, the creator of the Bucksaw’s Split Pivot suspension, told him it was the most complex project he had ever worked on.

One thing is for sure, this is not a “stealthy” bike. From the big tires to the candy-colored paint, the Bucksaw is breaking a new trail in mountain biking. But how does it ride?

Click here to find out.

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‘The Push’ – a short film from Salsa Cycles

The Arrowhead Ultra 135, the coldest bike race in the Lower 48, begins one week from today in International Falls, Minnesota. Traversing the 135-mile Arrowhead Trail, it promises promises near-Arctic conditions and nearly always delivers. To finish, let alone win, is a triumph of man and machine over nature. Salsa Cycles‘ Mike “Kid” Riemer has put together this wonderful tribute to an event that is close to his heart.

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First Impression: Salsa Warbird 2

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I’ve been riding around on Salsa‘s 2014 Warbird 2 for the past few weeks and thought it might be a good time to share some of my first impressions of the bike. First off, the Warbird is Salsa’s take on a gravel racing bike. If you’re not already familiar with gravel racing it’s what it sounds like…racing bikes over gravel roads sometimes for incredibly long distances. Think Dirty Kanza at 200 miles, or the Trans Iowa which ticks off somewhere around 340 miles. The Warbird was designed to provide comfort while maintaining a light, efficient build that can push a fast pace over some seriously rough roads. Sounds like fun, right?

Find out in our full introduction.

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Review: 2013 Salsa Fargo 2

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Rather than a beefed-up touring bike like the Co-Motion Divide we reviewed last week, the Fargo 2 is actually a drop-bar mountain bike, with a lighter compact frame, 2×10 drivetrain, tubeless wheels, and slacker geometry than the Co-Motion. A tall, 44mm head tube means a higher handlebar for comfort off-road, and suspension-corrected geometry allows a suspension fork upgrade. 

Click here to read the full, long-term review.

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