Thursday, September 04, 2008

Global Debut of the Salsa Fargo

Here's the bike we've all been waiting for... The Fargo -- Salsa's new drop bar off-road, adventure touring frameset. Its global debut is today at the Eurobike trade show in Germany, but MW, -jb, Guitar Ted, -dp and I got the opportunity to see it, and I actually even spun around on it back in July on Guitar Ted's Death Ride Invitational in Iowa.

I look at the Fargo as an evolution of off-road touring framesets beyond what has ever been available before. It's a 29er, logically, and it's got clearance to run just about any tire currently on the market. It's got features and details not before seen in a production adventure touring frameset and I predict its versatility could make it Salsa's best-selling frameset ever.

Guitar Ted himself does a bang up job explaining the technical details of the new Fargo on his site, so I won't double up on his great effort, but I will definitely say that I plan to get one of the first Fargos to hit US shores, and I'll look forward to showing it off to anyone who's interested in seeing it. It'll be available in limited quantities as a frameset or a complete bicycle. Monkey Wrench Cycles is Lincoln's Salsa Cycles dealer. Click here to find a Salsa dealer in your area.


CJ said...

Man...I love this idea and the frame color is really nice IMHO. I have some cash sitting around right now. I just need to off load my 58cm Surly Cross Check frame. Anyone...interested???

Thanks for the picks and info MG!!

Peace out

GNAT said...

Thanks MG. Nice write up.

Sure would be nice to once again be riding some of those roads in Iowa, or Nebraska, or anywhere I guess....

D.P. said...

Dang that's a good lookin' setup. Good life Gravel Adventure - Ready!

MG said...

Oh yeah CJ. Wait 'til you see it in person. You'll really dig the color. It's rad... I suspect there are gonna' be quite a few frames on the used market coming up real soon, because the demand to go far on the Fargo is going up by the moment, it seems, based on the buzz I'm seeing on the various boards across the Web.

Speaking of which, Gnat, thank you sir, for being the mind behind the Fargo. I know it's not solely you responsible for the design, but the Fargo's design touches certainly benefit from the experience you gained while riding your bike across Alaska 15 years ago.

To a certain extent, this is the realization of many of the things you wished you had at the time. It's an amazingly well thought-out design, and you deserve every bit of the success you're going to have with the Fargo. It's pure -- from the heart. It's who you are.

Can't wait to see you at the GLGA, d.p. We're gonna' have an awesome time, and heck, maybe a Fargo or two might even show up??? You just never know? I sure don't, so I guess people will just have to show up to find out if the Fargo is going to be there. Maybe we'll get really lucky and Gnat will appear on top of one of 'em??? Man, wouldn't that be sweet?

Thanks guys,

GNAT said...

MG/DP - What is the GLGA and when is it?

MG, thanks for the kind words. The last few days have been crazy. The Fargo, and words about the Fargo, are turning up all over. It's going to be fun year.

Vik said...

Glad to see Salsa making a cool bike like this, but if they really wanted to make a go anywhere do anything long distance touring rig disc brakes and 29" wheel are deal breakers. If you roll into a small town in Mexico will a busted front wheel or needing brakes are you going to find a 29" MTB wheel or disc brake parts? No, but you will find a 26" MTB you can strip for a wheel or a set of v-brakes. A curved fork with v-brakes would not only be simpler/easier to maintain, but more comfortable than a straight stiff disc fork.

Regardless it's cool they are thinking about this type of bike at all. Thorn has some great 26" wheeled adventure touring bikes that solve all of the issues I mentioned above, but it would be great to see a bike like that easily available in North America that doesn't carry the cost of buying/shipping from the UK.

Cornbread said...

The Fargo looks like an ideal bike for long gravel rides. Love the water bottle mounts on the fork.

Gnat, GLGA is The Good Life Gravel Adventure. The info can be found

Emily said...

cj, email me. emilybrodersen at hotmail.

Guitar Ted said...

Vik: I see your point, but in all honesty, there still isn't much to go wrong here. Let's take look.

Disc caliper: If you are running Avid BB-7's, the only thing you would ever need to keep them going are pads. Arguably something you should have as extras in your bag anyway. Cables too, for that matter, but those moght be available in remote places as well, since most bikes use them, 26 inch wheels or no. Spokes are another thingI ould cart along too. Most traditional touring folks do that anyway. So all you are left with is getting a rim. You got me there!

However, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibiity to run a 26 inch wheel on your Fargo, and even if it wasn't a disc rim, you could limp along until you could have a wheel shipped to you in Mexico, or wherever.

So I don't see it as a deal breaker like you do. There's always a way to make it work.

Vik said...

GT - if you are willing to deal with getting parts shipped to you than you can run with just about any parts you like. However, as you are doing this internationally, especially in a less developed country, and while on tour this is not a simple matter, but sure it can be done. Also keep in mind if you are cool with waiting for stuff to be Fedex to you in Bolivia you could run a carbon frame and full suspension setup.

As for the discs you have to assume that on a long tour you could also need to replace tires, the disc rotor could be trashed and although the caliper is the last thing to need attention it could need replacing [sure you can swap front and rear to keep going, but 1 brake on a loaded touring bike is not fantastic].

The reason I brought up my issues with the wheel size and brakes is this quote:

[When asked about the non corrected nature of the fork, Jason replied, ” That’s intentional. This is a go anywhere in the world bike including almost any road in the world. Sus forks aren’t the best for that intended application.” Jason also addressed the disc brake versus cantilever brake debate by stating, “I get it, but we like disc brakes on this bike. Avid mechs are proven.”]

Clearly they are thinking about the issues of maintenance and it was so important to them they decided not to even bother with a suspension corrected rigid fork. That to me says the design is committed to the principals of being a "...go anywhere in the world bike..." - that's great, but then the choice of wheel size and brakes are at odds with the purpose of the bike.

If you look at bikes that are actually being used for international touring there is a reason 80%+ will be running 26" wheels and v-brakes.

You can look at it another way - let's assume this bike did have 26" wheels and v-brakes....what would it be giving up? You can ride effectively on 26" wheels anywhere that you can on 29" wheels - people do it all the time in every category of cycling [except pro road racing and similar racing activities]. Unlike the quote the fact is Avd mech discs [as much as I like them] are not proven as "...go anywhere in the world bike brakes..." V-brakes and cantis hold that distinction without a doubt. They also stop your bike very effectively in all, but very muddy and winter conditions. I've done some remote dirt road touring with BB7s and they required loads of attention to keep running and had significant pad wear in just a few days. If I had to do weeks of that kind of riding I'd swap in v-brakes because they'd work as well and be less maintenance. I'd also be able to get spares much more easily on the road.

As I said cool bike and I'm glad Salsa is thinking outside the box, but the choices they made don't make sense in the context of their stated purpose for the bike and I think you'll see few or none actually bought/used by the folks that take their bikes "...anywhere in the world..."

Vik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vik said...

TW - GT - I should say that there will be lots of folks who will dig this bike and get great use out of for other types of rides than I'm talking about in my comment above. In no way am I suggesting it's a bad bike or a bad design.

MG said...

I understand what you're saying Vik, and believe you represent that one percent of riders who take their bicycles to places where others dare only dream to go.

On my La Cruz, I've run the exact same pads on my BB7s all season, including racing in TransIowa v.4, the Dirty Kanza 200 and riding in at least a dozen rides of between 100 and 200 miles in length on gravel in the midwestern United States. That's durable enough for me. I'll run discs on every bike I own from here on out if I have my say in the issue, and I prefer BB7s. I'd love it if Avid would make a BB Ultimate disc brake.

Please Avid, make the brake. Make it and they will come. I will come. We all will come together.

Let me here you now...

Good Life Gravel Adventure -- September 20. The route has been ridden. I've been given word.

Sorry I've been out of the loop. Was helping NE Tourism with a writer tour. Sweet...


Guitar Ted said...

Vik: Again, I'm not saying you aren't right, or that your points are not valid. I'm just saying the same thing MG is saying- me: four years of all winter long riding on the same set of Avid calipers, pads, and discs. Commuter duty five days a week all year long.

I've heard horror stories of complete pad meltdowns too, but then again, I've worn out V brake pads in a week before too, ya know?

Look, any time you go anywhere there is risk. Are you willing to take it on? That is the question. Take the dude that did the Australian continent end to end on Surly Endomorphs. Not likely you'd find a tire replacement for that beast out there......or much of anything for that matter, eh?

So, in the end, it's what you are willing to bet on, and I'm willing to bet on my 700c based bicycle anywhere. YMMV

GNAT said...

This is a great discussion. I love it in fact. VIK, thanks. You have strong opinions and it looks like they are also backed up by experience.

It was discussed and of course, interpretation is part of everything. I do believe you can ride this bike anywhere in the world. I also may be stupid, but I do think some folks will do just that.

In my experience on a 4000+ mile tour, I went through brake pads on my V-brakes. Additionally, I wanted more stopping power to haul my heavy self and all my gear down.

I do acknowledge that things can and will go wrong on a tour. Being prepared is a key element to any big tour.

I say ride what you brung or ride what you own.

One last thing, I did a 4000+ mile tour on 26" wheels and I'll never do it again. I'll ride 29" and risk having issues. I'll also trust that I will be prepared and will get myself out of the situation.

Again, great discussion. Look for a longer write up on the Salsa blog this week.

Steve Fuller said...


I knew Vik would have some strong opinions on this. While you, and others have had good luck with discs, I'll go on record stating that you're not exactly what I'd call a huge dude. ;) My last trip with the LHT, the bike and gear were right at 100 lbs, and with my 195-ish lbs on the bike, that's a lot of weight for any brake to haul down, and will definitely accellerate wear, especially if you are riding out in the mountains.

All that being said, *I* don't have any plans for an international tour any time soon, and as evidenced by the crap I carried with my on Dirty Kanza, I'm not afraid of adding a few lbs onto the bike to make sure I have spares (I had a tire, brake pads, chain, etc all with me). I'm working out the cash flow right now to put one of these in my stable. In the meantime, I'll make due with the Karate Monkey and some fat tire experiments with my Long Haul Trucker.

I think these are going to sell themselves in the right markets.

MG said...

Good points guys, all of you. Guitar Ted and Gnat, I know we're definitely on the same page, because well, I just do. Our opinions are in alignment.

And Steve, you make an excellent point -- I'm not a particularly heavy rider. That said, in challenging (read: abrasive dust, sand and/or mud), I don't think rider weight has much to do with brake pad wear rate, because the simple act of stopping, regardless of rider weight, is going to rip through pads. And as Jason/Gnat pointed out, it's going to do that whether you're on V brakes or discs. Grit doesn't discriminate, but disc brakes have the advantage of having the braking surface be up at the hubs, and not dragging through the muck at the rims.

I'll take that advantage any day and carry two extra sets of pads in a pannier.

I would never disrespect a LHT -- they're super nice rides. For the riding I aim to do however, the Fargo definitely suits my personal style much better. But that's just because I plan to, and will take the bike off road, and often.

I can't wait...

Franklin said...

aw man, I want one of those, gotta get a job, its just so versatile

Griffon said...


This is the most informative strand I've seen regarding the disc vs. canti/v-brake on tour issue. I'm a 6'5" lightweight from Colorado, and I've been weighing the pros/cons of the Fargo and LHT as my new touring rig. Price, brake type, and tire width range are really the only three issues worth debating, as I see it. I like the idea of uber-fatties for some of the gnar we call forest or jeep roads out here, and would likely be willing to sacrifice a bit of speed for comfort's sake. Can't really think of a rig more appropriate than the Fargo for my purposes...really turned on by the Rivendell Bombadil, but the price tag is a bit beyond my means unless the kid drops out of day care to get a job to support papa's velobsession.

Thanks again for the info...look forward to seeing more Fargo reviews as more people get 'em out into the elements. I hope they still have an xxl waiting for me if I decide to pull the trigger.