Archive for the ‘Network’ Category

Salsa Dos Niner: First Impressions

January 7, 2007

Now that I’ve spent nearly a month riding the Dos Niner, I am ready to give you all a lowdown on the frame. First, I will list out some of the component highlights of the build on this rig.

Since you can build up your Salsa Dos Niner anyway you want to, I won’t go into hyper detail here. The drivetrain is SRAM X-9 with a Truvativ Stylo Team crankset. The brakes are the classic Avid BB-7’s actuated by Avid levers. The wheels have Salsa Delgado Disc rims laced to DT Swiss 340 hubs. The front fork is the soon to be classic Reba SL 29 inch model. Handle bars, stem, skewers, grips, and seat post are all Salsa products. The Saddle is a WTB model. Solid build for no worry frame evaluation!

One other thing I need to make special note of. The frame I was supplied was a special unit that mixes the main tubes from the ’06 spec with the seat stays of an ’07 spec. (No canti bosses) and it’s all done up in the new “Orange Peelz” paint job. You can get your ’07 Dos Niner with the newer, stiffer downtube and the blazing eye candy in a few months from now, maybe sooner!

All right, with that out of our hair let’s take a look at what I found in the Dos Niners ride. The tests so far have been all over the map terrain-wise with commuting mixed in. Trail conditions have ranged from frozen dirt to hardpacked dirt, to slimy mud infested slogs. (Don’t worry! No permanent trail damage was done during testing!)

The Dos is a surprising sort of frame. It’s Scandium, so it’s a different flavor of aluminum than I’ve ridden before. Sure, aluminum mixes with other “wonder metals” have been done before with varying degrees of success. Most of the time, the ride characteristics of such frames left me with ahem! something left to be desired, shall we say. The Dos was a surprise in that it’s special aluminum recipe was a totally different experience.

Certainly, a soft tail design like the Dos is going to take a little edge out of the trail, but I think the magic of this bike is really in the front triangle. A friend of mine that I loaned the bike out to for a ride put it best, I think. He said, “It’s like it flows around the corners with you.” Indeed, the Dos Niner is a much kinder aluminum frame than those I had ridden in the past.

The Relish damper out back was an easy thing for me to dial in and basically was transparent after about the second or third ride. I set it and forgot about it, other than to see if I was getting the full travel out of it or not. To be fair, this has been a concern in other reviews of this frame, but in reality, once you realize that the Relish is a low, low pressure affair, tuning it is a breeze. I started out at 20 psi, and I was getting all but abot two millimeters out of the travel. A bit lower pressure and I will be there, as far as optimum travel is concerned. Some folks have ridden the damper with as low as zero psi, and that’s okay too. A quick check on the rubber “o” ring around the shock to measure travel from time to time is all you need to do. Then adjust air pressure, or not, as the case may be.

The front end geometry on the Dos was a nice blend of stability and quickness. Really close to the “sweet spot”, as far as that goes. The Reba was working as only a Reba can which let me concentrate on the trail at hand. No quirky traits were really noted so far. The rear end, other than being plusher than a hardtail, was a “no drama” affair as well. My muddy, mucky ride didn’t show any flaws with clearance, but I did have a 2.0 Michelin tire and not a more commonly run 2.1 or 2.3 back there. In the future, I plan on swapping out tires to some wider models to further test that feature of the frame.

Did the soft tail help in climbing? You bet! I nearly always find myself assuming “the posistion” on really steep climbs. You know, the hover-just-above-the-nose-of-the-saddle posistion? Yeah, well a well placed bump can mean……well, it can be painfull if you catch it just right. Well, I’m happy to report that the Dos sucks that little bump up for me. Nice! I suppose it keeps the rear end hooked up better to some degree, but for me, it’s all about rider comfort. Downhills were much like a hard tail, only with less bouncing around. Crossing logs and other trail debris was much nicer. But again: it’s the overall feeling at the end of the ride that you didn’t take so many jabs, and that you felt better the next day.

That’s it for this update. Hopefully I’ll be back again in a month or so with some more tidbits on the Dos Niner. That is, if winter keeps forgetting to come here!