Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Salsa Fargo -- Holy Cow, This Thing is Fun...

Dream team - My green El Mariachi singlespeed is hidden from view in this shot, but here is 75 percent of my 2009 mountain bike arsenal. It's an all Salsa Cycles party. No surprises there. It's been that way for three years now. No reason to mess with something that's working and just keeps getting better. And as hard as it is for me to believe I'm saying this, the bikes are getting even better! Even after 2008, when I got to race my La Cruz, and the incredible red El Mariachi you see in the picture here... they still keep getting better.

Witness the other two bikes in the picture - the Big Mama and the Fargo. Both are bar raising bikes for Salsa in more ways than one. The Fargo is a totally new type of bike -- an adventure touring 29-inch mountain bike. It's unlike anything the bicycle industry has ever seen and one ride on it has me thinking I may have a new favorite "everyday" bike. As in, I could ride the thing every single day for the rest of my life! It's that good!

Yeah, it's got drop bars, but if you measure everything out, the position is almost identical to the rest of my mountain bikes. As in, within an inch in any direction... and that's with a short, 80mm, 10-degree rise stem.

Interesting trick... How do you get a 105 STI road shifter to run a Shimano mountain front derailleur? The cable pull requirement of the mountain derailleur is much greater. Give it the "MG Loop," that's what... Look closely and you'll see the cable actually pulls from behind the bolt, over the shoulder of the derailleur arm, 180 degrees around the head of the bolt and through the bolt in the "normal" direction. This decreases the mechanical advantage of the cable, increasing the amount of cable pull just enough for everything to work perfectly. Bingo!
Fantastic fork... This fork is amazing. When I first laid eyes on it, I saw its huge legs and thought it would be a bit of a harsh roller. Man was I wrong! I was totally surprised when the thing rolled smooth and steady over bumps on its maiden voyage Sunday night. I don't know what magic is lurking in those legs, but whatever is in there, I like it.

I'll have more to report as I get more miles in on the Fargo, but for now, my initial report is more favorable than you can shake as stick at. This thing is sweet! I had a tough time wiping the silly grin off my face last night, and then again today... Thanks to Jason at Salsa Cycles and the guys downtown at Monkey Wrench Cycles. Fargos are coming into stock now, so if you're jonesin' for one (and you should be if you know what's good for you), the 'Wrench should be able to get you hooked up too. You know what time it is. Time to ride... Actually, right now it's time for bed... Good night!

21 comments:

millhouse said...

Thats a sweet bike man. No Dos Niner in the rotation anymore?

MG said...

Thanks Millhouse -- I've still got my Dos. It's not built right now and believe it or not, I'm actually considering putting it up for sale. That's a really hard decision though, so I'm not rushing into it. It's sitting on my entertainment center, right next to my now-bare La Cruz frame (which is sad in itself). Oh the times they are a-changin'. But we'll call it progress, because the Fargo itself is so incredibly good. And so is the Big Mama. The La Cruz is a set of brakes away from being a complete bike again, actually. I even bought a new chain for it yesterday.

It's good to be a Salsa rider...

paxtoncoyote said...

I'm GREEEEN with envy! Nice bike, enjoy it.

MG said...

Thanks Matt -- I hope you're able to get one of these before the Ballyhoo this season. That'd be sweet!!!

EB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MG said...

Whoa! That's a pretty strong statement. I hate to say it EB, but I had to pull that one down. Even though you know I've got a good sense of humor, I gotta' keep it on the rated-PG side on the 'ol Interweb. I'm sure you know what I'm sayin'.

Thanks bro,
MG

EB said...

I wondered when I posted such slander.
Chat w/ ya soon-
EB

Guitar Ted said...

Hey MG- It's great to see your Fargo up and running. You know, I think you will be amazed at it's single tracking prowess once you get around to checking out all your favorite trails on it.

The fork is an amazing one. Come to think of it, I'm hearing a lot about Salsa forks lately. El Mariachi forks, Casseroll forks, and now this Fargo fork. Must be something in the sauce, eh?

Anyway, Ride On brother! We'll have a few Fargos on the GTDRI this year, no? (Which reminds me, I should pick a date for that!)

Gotta go, have a great day!

MG said...

It's true. Salsa's got some awesome mojo goin' on with their forks right now. I just happen to own each of the forks you mention, Guitar Ted, and I concur that they're all great. Each and every one of them. I'm not sure what it is, but I suspect it may have to do with the solid relationships Salsa has with their suppliers, and the consistency those relationships breed from season-to-season. There's a progression to their products, as opposed to a "fully-new" mentality, and that's something I place a lot of value in. I like the idea of progressing a product when it's needed, or inspired, not just for the sake of making it newer. And I like the fact that our friends at Salsa share my belief there.

Thanks for your thoughts G-T. Travel safely up to Frostbike!

Cheers,
MG

Russ Stringfellow said...

MG,
Nice review. I enjoyed reading the setup tips.

I've got a few questions for you though. What size is your Fargo? What size road and mountain bike do you usually ride?

I'm torn between a small and a medium. I know, I know. Salsa says get whichever size Salsa you would usually ride...but the virtual top tube lengths really mystify me. I'm used to riding a 54c top tube and a 16.5-18" mountain bike. This puts me squarely in the middle of the two. Whadyathink?

Cheers, Russ

MG said...

Hey Ross -- Thanks for checkin' in. Based on my experience -- I'm 6'1" tall, with a 34-inch inseam, and typically ride a 20-inch/large Salsa mountain bike or a 55cm Salsa 'cross bike, and I went with a 22-inch/XL on the Fargo. That was a last-minute "see the light" type of decision too, because I almost went with a 20-inch/Large. I'm glad I went the way I did, because I'm able to run a short, 80mm stem with just a few headset spacers to get the desired handlebar height, even with a deep drop bar like the Bell Lap. If I put a shallower bar on it, I might not even need headset spacers! Sweet! One of my pet peeves is how lots of DB bikes have 50mm or more of spacers under the stem, and I think that starts to look a bit unsightly. 50mm is one thing. When it gets to 75mm, that's wholly another matter, and there are some riders out there with that many spacers in-effect to get their drop bars on. That's not a frame that fits them right...

OK, I've started ranting... I'll stop. Sorry about that. It's Monday. I've got a bad cold. I'm a bit cranky apparently. Again, my apologies.

I think you'd be very well served by a medium frame, because the toptubes are short enough that you are well to size up in a pinch and use the extra size to your advantage for gear carrying and such. That's my advice. Just size by stem.

That said, my good buddy Gnat (find his link at the top of the blogs I read on the right hand side of my page) is a bit closer to your height (just a bit) and rides both a medium and a large Fargo, so he'd have some good perspective on this to add. Check his blog out too before you pull the trigger on your own.

Best of luck!! Either way you go, I guarantee you this -- the Fargo is going to be the most fun you've had on two wheels since you got your first singlespeed. I've been waiting for the next "big thing" in mountain bikes to happen, and incidentially, this just happened to have been "it" for me.

Cheers,
MG

MG said...

Oh, BTW Russ, I typically ride a 59cm road frame, for a model with a level, non-sloping top tube.

Russ Stringfellow said...

Thanks, MG!

Your info really helps. I'd be getting this from a buddy's shop (a BMX shop) so I don't have TOO much to compare it to in the store. It's not ideal, but it saves me a bunch. Now I just need to sell the appropriate amount of miscellaneous parts and goodies to fund the build.

I've followed Gnat's progress on Flickr. Man, talk about a dream build...although I really think he should have splurged on a better wheelset ;)

The only thing that's still got me concerned is that horizontal top tube length. I'd be running this bike predominantly as a rough stuff roadie/tourer and less of a mountain bike so I don't want to feel too----stretched----out.

Like you said, I guess I could just get a short, stubby stem if that's an issue.

Russ Stringfellow said...

By the way, sounds like somebody's got a case of the Monday's.

Eamonn said...
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Eamonn said...

I'd been reading this forum before ordering my Fargo frame and based on what MG said about sizing went for the extra large. Unfortunately I managed to contact the place I got it from before they shipped it and changed it to a large based on advice from Salsa. Now I've built the bike and I'm looking for a stack of spacers that doesn't look unsightly. Frame feels a bit small to me as well - I don't have to steer much for my knees to get in the way of the handlebars. I'm 6'2" and have a 34" inseam. Anyway - anyone know how to get the whole headset-stem array looking as well as the retail bike? I've got the same bars, same headset, very similar stem but the spacers that come with the S3 are very cheap and there isn't much in the stack.

Eamonn said...
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Eamonn said...

One of the most interesting things I've done with my build is go for a custom gear setup: have dura-ace bar-end shifters, sugino cranks but with custom TA chainrings: 54/34/24T. Cassette is nine speed, 11-34T. This means I've got a big ring for on-road speed and MTB-style gearing for off-road. Shifts pretty well - main problem is shifting down from mid to granny but I think that's because I used a FD for a wider seat tube I got on the cheap. Shifting up and down between 54 and 34 is smooth. Just need to make is so I don't have to shift up to 54 to get down to 24 and it'll be perfect. Oh - one other thing: the chain for this setup is very long. I've made it as tight as possible to minimise gear loss but there's some rubbing when on granny and the smallest three cogs on the cassette. Not that you'd really use these anyway so no problem. Oh - my FD is deore LX and rear is deore XT.

MG said...

Hey Eamonn,

Wow... Some good comments. Thanks for the perspective. I'll pass along your thoughts on the sizing to the folks at Salsa too. I know this is a hard bike to size due to the diversity of its usage too. For example, I'm talking to Jason at Salsa right now about getting a size Large frame to do a special project with. Since I've got my XL Fargo set up so perfectly, I don't want to mess it up "experimenting," and I think for what I want to do (which is a shallow-drop setup) I want the shorter TT of a large frame anyway, so the goals are in-sync. It all has to do with what end you're looking for.

But that said, I think most people can work between two frame sizes. I'm 6'1, with a 34-inch inseam and I could ride either a large or an XL, no problem. I do like having an 80mm stem and only 30mm of spacers on a bike that I'm riding on the drops all the time. That's pretty darn cool...

Man, that gearing you're running is awesome! You've got some serious top end on that thing! I rarely, if ever run out of gear on my Fargo with the 44-11, but I also ride my Chili Con Crosso most of the time if I know I'm going into a ride that's going to be with super fast guys. I'm a "right knife for the fight" type of guy... And I've got a lot of nice knives, as it were (all Salsas, of course).

Thanks again for your thoughts. I look forward to seeing photos of your setup, or even better, to seeing you on the road or trail.

Cheers,
MG

Eamonn said...

Haven't had much time to look at it since the weekend but I fitted a conventional swing XT FD thinking that I might be able to solve the problem with shifting to the granny. I'm wondering whether something like the BB width can affect the positioning of the FD over the inner ring? Was looking at Sheldon Brown's site and he's experimented with gears too. Has suggested modification of the cage might be necessary to get some set-ups to work.

If anyone is interested I think bottom swing is more suited to this bike as the conventional swing FD needs to be positioned so that it's blocking the bottle holder a bit. Maybe not a big deal for some but I've probably ruled out using the ones on the forks by using tubus duo lowriders. Will try and fit bottles with the duos in case anyone wants to know whether it'll work.

Eamonn said...

To correct my previous posts:
The large frame size is right for me. Any bigger and the stand-over height would make off-roading pretty painful!
Sorted the gears out - needed to go 54/36/24. Problem was that the difference in size between the 54 and 34 was so great that the chain was down at the wider part of the derailleur (near the bottom) so it wouldn't shift from middle to granny.
I found the drop bars didn't do it for me off-road: the biggest problem is the amount of knee overlap I get with the handlebars means switchbacks are very tricky. On-road they're great though - I can really belt along in that 54-11 gear!