Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lucky La Cruz... A Month In -- And A Good Weekend Of Ridin'...

After a month with my Salsa La Cruz, I thought I'd give a quick update on some of the things I've done to tweak it to better fit my personal needs and style.

It's nickname is "Lucky" like my cat because it's orange like Lucky, and it's the bike Lucky loves. No joke -- he totally digs this bike. He's always rubbing up on it when he's hanging out with me... So when I'm on the road, it's sort of like a little piece of him is with me. If you know the story about Lucky the Cat, it's totally apropos.

In a nutshell, here's what I've changed from the box stock La Cruz Complete:

Smooth: The black King headset made it over from my Chili Con Crosso.

Long Stroke: Shimano R600 compact crankset got me the 175mm arms I needed, with a more useful 34/50 gearing spread, great performance and subtle, pleasing aesthetics. It's not expensive either. That's the best part.

The Weekend's Ridin'...
It was a much smaller pack Sunday than it was for Saturday's insane hammerfest, but both days were awesome rides. Saturday's ride was highlighted by the fact that we had at least a 20-strong group, and when I say it was strong, I mean it -- it was STRONG. It was by far my hardest ride of the year overall, and I really enjoyed getting to ride back into town with Super Don Raskey and Shawn Hansen -- both super cool guys and strong riders, and we ended up with a solid (and fast) 69 miles for the day.

Today we went south and west, but primarily south. Most ended up in Cortland. I didn't end up going quite that far, but still clocked 51.50mi anyway, so it was a good recovery day, if you can call a day where I went out and traded pulls with Troy Krause 'recovery'. It was fun nonetheless. I was stoked to see Endurosnob and my GB Jeff Avey on their way out of town as I rolled back into town too. They were enjoying the rapidly beautifying conditions Sunday afternoon.

These new Time pedals are AWESOME! The engagement is super positive, retention is like a pitbull, and the adjustable tension actually has a level that's so tight, I ended up backing it off to the middle tension level after riding them once. They seem impervious to mud and muck, and feel totally solid. I give 'em the early thumbs-up.

Ouch!!! The first two rides proved why road shift/brake levers are the most vulnerable pieces on a drop bar bicycle in a crash -- they hit the ground, guaranteed.

Unfortunately, my first two rides on my La Cruz came when there was a lot of black ice on the ground, and I found some of it on each ride. You see the result to each of the shift/brake levers.

Oh well... You knew they couldn't have stayed perfect forever, no matter what -- they're mine after all. ;-)

Overall, the La Cruz is a keeper. It's the perfect gravel road companion, and makes a super "one bike" choice for a rider that perhaps has a more road-oriented bias. Where a mountain-biased "one bike" rider might choose an El Mariachi, the La Cruz is the road-side option, and as such, it's a beaut. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to have both an El Mariachi and a La Cruz in my stable, because as a die-hard steel fan, you really can't do better these days than True Temper's OX Platinum air-hardened tubeset. Salsa crafts these premium pipes into a sweet riding frame that is also a solid value, and if you ask me, that price to performance ratio is where these frames really shine. I don't think you can do better in any material, period.

Great work Salsa. One month in and I'm still lovin' my La Cruz.



-kw said...

Mmmm ... drops.

millhouse said...

Glad to hear you are liking the new ride. Someday I'd like to add one of those to my stable.

redstone said...

Compact gearing? CMON Matty! :)

redstone said...

heh heh. Guess it is a cross bike now...

MG said...

LOL... You know I'd rarely use a 53 on gravel Dave. Who do you think I am, Tinker Juarez?

Millhouse, you'd totally dig a La Cruz. It's an awesome drop bar compliment to the El Mariachi. I hope you do end up getting one. Not to mention the fact that the orange will look hot with your red El M. Hoowee... That'll be sweet. Can't wait to get my red frameset. Won't be long now, I've been told.

I like red...

Kev, I'll be giving you a call later in the day.

Y'all have a great day now.


James White said...

Sweet looking La Cruz! What size frame is it and how tall of a rider are you?

Chris said...

I've got one that's the Salsa 53, trad 56. I'm 6'1 with semi-short legs and long torso. Fits perfect with stock (lovely orange) stem.

My $.02,