Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Here... The Salsa Big Mama FS 29er & El Kaboing FS 26er

The production version of the Big Mama FS 29er - 4-inches of travel with some "special stuff" going on in the rear end. To find out more about what that special stuff is, you'll have to check back here later, after I've gotten some saddle time on my own Big Mama, which is in the cards for the (edit) not so near future, according to Jason at Salsa. Photo: Salsa Cycles

This is the bike I've been waiting for... I've been biting my tongue for more than a year, after riding prototype number two with Jason from Salsa back in mid-2007. It was really good back then, even in its formative, prototype stages, and I can't wait to see how good it's gotten since then! Check out what's shakin' at the Salsa Sol Sessions on the Salsa Amigos Blog, or on 29 I've been looking forward to being back on a true full suspension 29er for a long, long time, so this is going to be really good, I can tell already. This bike is one that is worth waiting for, and I know I'm not going to be sorry I did. It won't be a long wait now, I hope (Edit: Actually, due to an ultra-successful press launch at the Sol Sessions, it seems my wait may now be longer than I had thought... perhaps as late as September. :-()


Jason said...

MG, having been on versions of the Big Mama what's you opinion on it being used for Solo events (12/24 hour)? Seems like a frame set could be built up lighter than what the Complete bike weighs in at. The Complete uses a nice mix of solid, reliable parts, but it would be neat to see what some wheel changes would have it weighing in at. Thoughts?
Also how do you think it's handling would be different from the Dos and the Mamasita?

Looks to be sweet ride. Anxious to try one out for sure. Jason and the gang really did their homework on this one it seems.


Bruce Brown said...

Looks like a great addition to the Salsa frames. When do you get yours?

Matt - I need some Ponca trail tire advice. Looks like you ran a Nano rear and an XR up front on your El M last summer at the Ponca Marathon. This Saturday is a Psycowpath XC race and I've never been up there, so wanted to get your feedback on what rubber to roll based on the terrain at Ponca.

Any rocks there? Logs? Sand? Loose stuff?

I've got Nanoraptors on my Dos at the moment which I imagine would work just fine. Any chance a small Karma up front, Crow rear might be a decent fast choice for Ponca?



MG said...

Hey Jason -- You're right on target with your thoughts. Salsa hit the nail on the head with the spec on the complete bike, but the need to make the bike more of a "generalist" as opposed to a "race-specific" ride perpetuated many of the parts choices on the complete bike.

As a result, I'd definitely look at the wheelset first in terms of major weight savings, because that's your biggest bang-for-the-buck change, both from a weight standpoint, and also from a "racy feel" standpoint. You know how race wheels make a bike feel... just right. That's the first thing I'll do when I get my complete Big Mama -- put the light wheels on.

As for the handling, I need to ride the final production geometry before making a final call, because the prototype I rode was far from "final," but I had no maneuverability issues whatsoever at Murphy Hanahan on Proto #2, even in the slow stuff. It's definitely responsive feeling for a FS bike. It's not a mush-mobile. It's got a tight, solid handling feel in corners. If you like the Mamasita, I think you'll love the Big Mama. It's going to be their best Solo 12/24 bike ever.. or to-date, I should say, because you never know what the future holds. I know they're never content to stand on the status quo!

But that said, the Salsa crew definitely did their homework, and more importantly, took their time developing these new bikes, and their patience in bringing them to market shows in the thoughtful details -- like the post mounts for the rear brakes (and industry first) and the one-piece forged swing link -- they included with the frames.

I can't wait to ride the final production bike!! It's going to be awesome!

Thanks for your thoughts Jason.

Hey Bruce -- I was supposed to pick my new Big Mama up this weekend at the Big Wheel Ballyhoo, but since that got cancelled, I'm not sure when it's going to happen. I really hope soon, both because I want to report on how the bike works to you guys, and also for purely selfish reasons -- I've been waiting for this bike for more than a year now!!!

As for your Ponca tire selection, the dirt up there is a silty/sandy mix, with very few rocks and just a few roots. You don't need big knobs, and you want something that rolls pretty fast, but that said, I like something that still has a bit of volume to soak up the chatter, which is the primary type of bumps you encounter on the trail.

Of the tires you list, I'd go Nano on the front with a Crow on the rear. I'm not a big fan of the Karma on the front, but perhaps that's more of a personal thing than anything... If I end up going to Ponca, I'll be running a Weirwolf LT on the front with a Crossmark on the rear. I know it's not the lightest setup around, but I love the steering feel of the WWLT, and it's what's on the wheel I'm going to run. I don't want to mess with it too much prior to race time, so that's what I'm runnin' if I race. Easy decision, 'huh?

As much as I'd love to see ya' and hang with you, Bruce, I actually hope I don't see you this weekend, because that means I'll be making a commando run up to Minnesota to pick my new Big Mama up... I'm still thinking about trying to talk Jason into lettin' me drive up and pick it up from him, even though we're not meeting at the Ballyhoo. I think some guys are still meeting in Decorah, so I might try to pick the bike up in Minneapolis, then take it down there for some rippin'. We'll see if it all works out. Whatever I do will be totally last minute...

MG said...

Bruce, to clarify, when I say silty/sandy mix, the dirt at Ponca is pretty tight overall -- it's not loose. It gives great traction.

A.B. said...

Man, you're so lucky! At this point, I just wish to see that bike, maybe even touch it one day. I love all the details that went into this frame. Those seatstays are awesome! The bb area looks solid! Love the execution of the swing link.
The Big Mama instantly shot to the top of my wishlist, blowing everything off in it's path. Can't wait to see your pics and review!

MG said...

Thanks a.b. Whenever I've got a bike here in Nebraska, I'd be happy to hook up with you and let you take it for a spin. If it's at the top of your list, I think we really need to figure out a way to get you a test ride!

Thank you, my friend.


Bruce Brown said...

Thanks, Matt. I might even go Crow front and rear on my Sugar 293 (let the suspension take care of the chatter and the wheels roll) of on the Dos. Kind of like you - because they are the current tires mounted up on my wheels. Or the Nanos on my Delgado Discs. Either way or a combo - sounds like a fast course is what I'll face on Saturday.

I'm not far from Minneapolis. You want me to pick up your Big Mama and ride it for a week or two and then bring it down to you? ;-)

Can't wait to hear your report on the Big Mama. I can't quite figure out the color yet. Your pix look orange like G-Ted's, but the Salsa website looks more brown in hue.

Cornbread said...

Very nice! Looking forward to seeing one in person.

MG said...

Hey Bruce -- Sounds like a good plan on the bike/tire setup. You and I are often singin' from the same hymnal!

Cornbread, I look forward to giving you the first-person lowdown on the Big Mama when we get the first one here in Lincoln. You'll be at the top of my list, brother.

A.B. said...

Hey, thanks for the offer, MG. Hopefully I'll run into you on the trails sometime.

Hehe, bruce said, "...pick up your big mama..." Those are never going to get old :P

MG said...

LOL... so true, so true. That Bruce -- he's a sly one with the written word. ;-)

Bruce Brown said...

At least I had enough couth not to say "...ride her for a week or two..."

Whoops! Now I said it. ;-]

Matt, we want a full report with know - the full Big Mama experience once you have her safely in your arms.

I ran Nanos and the Dos at Ponca yesterday. Nice trail. Climbs that left my legs feeling used and abused. But I've got to say - that is one beautiful Nebraska State Park and I can't wait to go back for the next event held there. A pack of guys from Lincoln were there, but no Matt....

MG said...

Yeah, sorry Bruce... I wasn't feeling all that great this weekend. The plates in my arm have been giving me some grief since the Dirty Kanza, so I didn't feel like wasting a bunch of money beating myself up. My arm is pretty fragile.

Unfortunately, it seems I'm not going to be getting a Big Mama as quickly as I'd hoped, as opportunities for the press to test the bike after the Sol Sessions have made the bike I was going to ride unavailable for an extended "session" of my own. As a result, I'll likely be waiting for production bikes to arrive, just like everybody else, and it's likely my mountain bike season may be on hiatus until my arm starts feeling better.

Maybe I'll take up running again?

I think I'm going to go order some new running shoes... Hello

Then my arm will feel better and my knees will be shot... I can see it now.

Shit... I'd better stick to bikes, 'eh? I'd better just get the Dos built, and quick. My arm isn't getting any better without a damper on the rear wheel, that much I know for sure. Hardtails aren't cutting it. A fork helps, but rear wheel impacts still sting the arms. Trust me -- 20 screws in my right arm tell me about it all the fucking time...

MG said...

... and it's not like El Mariachis are harsh riding bikes -- they aren't. It's just how fragile my arm is. And also how sensitive it is to changes in weather/barometric pressure. They drive the plates/screws crazy...