Posts Tagged ‘Fargo’

Salsa Cycles Fargo: Conclusions

June 13, 2009

Normally after this long a period with one bicycle I would be giving a “Final Review”. The thing is- I’m not done with this bike yet. The Fargo is just too versatile a rig to put a final word out on it already. That said, I am going to give you readers my thoughts on the Fargo and tell you where I’m going with the bicycle after this point.

 

Two single trackin’ Fargo rigs.

The “Big Question”:  First of all, the Fargo elicits a strong reaction from folks. Often I get a “Just what is that bike for? Is it a______” (Insert any one of several specific bicycle types here.) The “Big Question” really should be the “Big Clue”. It means that the Fargo is, if nothing else, a very versatile bicycle that could do many tasks well. I can not possibly call out every one of the Fargo’s possible uses, but I can tell you what it is<em>really good at</em>. The other question about the Fargo has to do with its “drop bar centric” design. I’ve covered the drop bar thing in great detail, but if you have not seen any of those posts, you can check them out here: Part I Part II Part III Part IV  Part V.

 The Fargo blends in well, no?

The Off Road Fargo: The Fargo off road is a wonderful rig. It really is a fun single track shredder. One thing to remember though: The Fargo is a rigid bike with a non-suspension corrected fork that has a specific offset designed to work with the geometry of the frame. Okay, what does that mean exactly? Well, it means that you shouldn’t put a suspension fork on this bike. You really should stick with the stock fork as it comes with the Fargo. The good news is that this is a fantastic steel fork. The bad news is that this is a fantastic steel fork! The “rigidness” of the Fargo imparts a certain riding style and technique, a certain use that will not be suited to, oh let’s say…..<em> all mountain riding</em>. (Although, once upon a time mountain bikers rode all over the place on rigid steel rigs, ya know.) I think that the Fargo is best suited to buff single track to maybe some light technical trails. I rode it on several occasions where there were rooty, rocky descents, drop ins, and tight, twisty ascents. The Fargo can do this, and it shreds in fast, flowy trail settings. However; the Fargo has a lower bottom bracket height that may, or may not, be a problem for you. I liked it, and yes- I got ejected out of my pedals and struck things with the pedals from time to time.

 Designed in Minnesota, Made in Taiwan

The Back Roads Fargo: This is where the Fargo starts to come into its own. The Fargo absolutely shines on fire roads, dirt paths, gravel roads, and the like. Anywhere a road bike starts to become a liability, the Fargo starts to really make a lot of sense. Of course, if you are putting the Fargo to touring duty, and you have to traverse this sort of terrain, there are not many other choices in 700c wheels that can do what the Fargo can. One thing I found is that the heavier the load, the comfier the Fargo gets, just like a nice steel touring bike for the road. Gravel road riding and dirt road riding, for fun, adventure, or racing is tailor made for Fargo owners. Call it “multi-terrain”, or whatever, the Fargo is the right tool for the job here.

 Back roads are the Fargos forte’

The Pavement Fargo: Here is where maybe some folks will have a harder time justifying the Fargo as a viable choice, but they really shouldn’t. Put on some nice, voluminous street rubber and the Fargo becomes an urban pot hole eating machine. That burly steel frame, the rider position bred from off roading, and the way the Fargo’s steel frame gives in that classic way that only steel can makes it a great choice for the urban-bound rider. Add in the fact that it can be decked out easily with fenders, racks front and rear, and any assortment of bags one could desire, and you have a sleeper of a commuter rig. Not only that, but you could spend about a half an hour and swap out rubber, remove some of the urban trappings, and be mountain biking on your favorite secret inner city trail. Going real skinny with the rubber will cause you to have a bottom bracket height that may be an issue though, so if high speed city travel or spirited club riding is in your cards, their are far better rigs for those purposes. (Perhaps Salsa’s own Casseroll model?) However; don’t discount the Fargo as pavement bike. It is a suitable heavy city cruiser capable of carrying a big load and laughing at rough city streets.

 Urban scenes are Fargo territory too.

The Fargo From Here To…: The Fargo here at Twenty Nine Inches is now going to be set up as a light tourer in more of a “bike packing” vein. Think minimalistic gear, lighter weight than full bagged touring, and capable of going off road. The adventures will wait until I can assemble the proper satellite gear, but when I do, I’ll be back with some reports.

 Going far? Go with a Fargo

The Bottom Line: The Fargo is not only a very unique 29″er, it is a very unique bike- period. It is capable of pulling off mountain biking, and doing a decent job of it. It can shine as your “multi-terrain” steed, or it can pull duty on city streets with the best commuter rigs. Is it the one bike for everything? Well, the answer to that question is “no” of course. Here’s where I stand on the Fargo: If I had to get rid of all my bikes but one, the Fargo would be at the top of my list of choices to keep.

Thanks to Salsa Cycles for providing the Fargo for review. Stay tuned for some “adventurous” updates soon.

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Salsa Cycles Fargo: Conclusions

June 10, 2009

Normally after this long a period with one bicycle I would be giving a “Final Review”. The thing is- I’m not done with this bike yet. The Fargo is just too versatile a rig to put a final word out on it already. That said, I am going to give you readers my thoughts on the Fargo and tell you where I’m going with the bicycle after this point.

origin8crank09-035

The “Big Question”: First of all, the Fargo elicits a strong reaction from folks. Often I get a “Just what is that bike for? Is it a______” (Insert any one of several specific bicycle types here.) The “Big Question” really should be the “Big Clue”. It means that the Fargo is, if nothing else, a very versatile bicycle that could do many tasks well. I can not possibly call out every one of the Fargo’s possible uses, but I can tell you what it isreally good at. The other question about the Fargo has to do with its “drop bar centric” design. I’ve covered the drop bar thing in great detail, but if you have not seen any of those posts, you can check them out here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

origin8crank09-013

The Off Road Fargo: The Fargo off road is a wonderful rig. It really is a fun single track shredder. One thing to remember though: The Fargo is a rigid bike with a non-suspension corrected fork that has a specific offset designed to work with the geometry of the frame. Okay, what does that mean exactly? Well, it means that you shouldn’t put a suspension fork on this bike. You really should stick with the stock fork as it comes with the Fargo. The good news is that this is a fantastic steel fork. The bad news is that this is a fantastic steel fork! The “rigidness” of the Fargo imparts a certain riding style and technique, a certain use that will not be suited to, oh let’s say….. all mountain riding. (Although, once upon a time mountain bikers rode all over the place on rigid steel rigs, ya know.) I think that the Fargo is best suited to buff single track to maybe some light technical trails. I rode it on several occasions where there were rooty, rocky descents, drop ins, and tight, twisty ascents. The Fargo can do this, and it shreds in fast, flowy trail settings. However; the Fargo has a lower bottom bracket height that may, or may not, be a problem for you. I liked it, and yes- I got ejected out of my pedals and struck things with the pedals from time to time.

fargotest08-019

The Back Roads Fargo: This is where the Fargo starts to come into its own. The Fargo absolutely shines on fire roads, dirt paths, gravel roads, and the like. Anywhere a road bike starts to become a liability, the Fargo starts to really make a lot of sense. Of course, if you are putting the Fargo to touring duty, and you have to traverse this sort of terrain, there are not many other choices in 700c wheels that can do what the Fargo can. One thing I found is that the heavier the load, the comfier the Fargo gets, just like a nice steel touring bike for the road. Gravel road riding and dirt road riding, for fun, adventure, or racing is tailor made for Fargo owners. Call it “multi-terrain”, or whatever, the Fargo is the right tool for the job here.

fargotest08-022

The Pavement Fargo: Here is where maybe some folks will have a harder time justifying the Fargo as a viable choice, but they really shouldn’t. Put on some nice, voluminous street rubber and the Fargo becomes an urban pot hole eating machine. That burly steel frame, the rider position bred from off roading, and the way the Fargo’s steel frame gives in that classic way that only steel can makes it a great choice for the urban-bound rider. Add in the fact that it can be decked out easily with fenders, racks front and rear, and any assortment of bags one could desire, and you have a sleeper of a commuter rig. Not only that, but you could spend about a half an hour and swap out rubber, remove some of the urban trappings, and be mountain biking on your favorite secret inner city trail. Going real skinny with the rubber will cause you to have a bottom bracket height that may be an issue though, so if high speed city travel or spirited club riding is in your cards, their are far better rigs for those purposes. (Perhaps Salsa’s own Casseroll model?) However; don’t discount the Fargo as pavement bike. It is a suitable heavy city cruiser capable of carrying a big load and laughing at rough city streets.

fargotest08-087

The Fargo From Here To…: The Fargo here at Twenty Nine Inches is now going to be set up as a light tourer in more of a “bike packing” vein. Think minimalistic gear, lighter weight than full bagged touring, and capable of going off road. The adventures will wait until I can assemble the proper satellite gear, but when I do, I’ll be back with some reports.

fargotest08-010

The Bottom Line: The Fargo is not only a very unique 29″er, it is a very unique bike- period. It is capable of pulling off mountain biking, and doing a decent job of it. It can shine as your “multi-terrain” steed, or it can pull duty on city streets with the best commuter rigs. Is it the one bike for everything? Well, the answer to that question is “no” of course. Here’s where I stand on the Fargo: If I had to get rid of all my bikes but one, the Fargo would be at the top of my list of choices to keep.

Thanks to Salsa Cycles for providing the Fargo for review. Stay tuned for some “adventurous” updates soon.

Salsa Cycles Fargo: Update III

June 2, 2009

The event in Kansas was attempted and for reasons of poor health was cut short for me a bit. This post is about the Fargo and how it did in the brutal, rocky, dusty conditions in the Flint Hills of Kansas. I will recap from the same photos I used last week in this post so there will be some continuity to this discussion.

The Course: The Dirty Kanza 200 is a gravel, dirt, and pavement ride through the Flint Hills region of east central Kansas. If you think of Kansas as flat and boring, well……you need to go here! At any rate, the roads are a mixture of flint gravel, bed rock out cropping, small drops, (up to a foot and a half), water crossings with sharp rocky bottoms, straight up dirt double track, and a bit of pavement that traverses a course of 200 miles over tall hills with long, steepish grades that can end up in climbs of up to three miles. The wind, which is always around out there, was especially wicked this year with gusts at times of over 40mph and temperatures that hovered in the mid 90’s for most of the day.

dscf4342

The Set Up: The performance of the entire set up was spot on. Not one hiccup, skip, or worry was experienced at all. This was a great thing, obviously, but was a small surprise as well, given the super rough sections that Dirty Kanza’s course covered this year.

dscf4343

The Banjo Brothers top tube bag was a big success. It held whatever I tried to jam into it and didn’t flop around, even when I inadvertently unleashed one of the stem straps. No worries, I reattached it on the fly and it wasn’t a mistake that caught me out. I should mention that the Salsa’s extended head tube design makes one of these sorts of bags a great fit.

dscf4344

My “found” seat bag performed flawlessly as well, never coming loose at all, staying stable, and not falling apart. The Fargo was weighted just right, I thought, with this load here and the water on the fork blades. It felt very balanced.

dscf4345

Here is something I found pretty interesting. The Edge Composites wheels with the American classic hubs didn’t flinch, flex, of fail me in any way. The WTB Vulpine tires might possibly be the best rocky, dry, hard pack conditions tire I have ridden in terms of speed, durability, and climbing. A quick note: The course had several low water crossings that featured rocky bottoms. After each one I crossed, the casualties along the roadside from pinch flats were numerous. Not a problem for the wheels and tires I rode, and I slammed through every water crossing at speed and with impunity. I would definitely trust this set up for any long trip, adventure, or race. (And yes- I was using tubes)

dscf4346

The carrying of water on the bike instead of on my back was a great improvement in an event like this where a full suspension bike is overkill, too heavy, and slow. The Fargo arrangement, with two bottles on the fork blades, is no problem at all to steer. In fact, I didn’t notice any improvement after I emptied the bottles on the fork blades. The steering felt exactly the same to my mind. My only regret is that I didn’t mount a sixth cage under the down tube. As for retention of bottles, I would recommend that you use the available braze ons for a toe strap to hold the bottles in on the fork blades, or use a Cat Eye cage like I did, which was perfect for on the fly water bottle grabs and the cages never showed any signs of ejecting the bottles. Even over the rough, rocky drops and downhills that Kanza has on offer.

Conclusion: The Fargo exhibited the nice frame cush that I felt it had on my rides at Interbike. The frame rides better the harder you push it. The Fargo climbs great, out of the saddle sprints are straight forward matters. No surprises, no odd sensations. The drive train I was using is pretty much the same as a Fargo Complete, and it performed spot on. Shifts were crisp and were accomplished under power. The brakes were excellent, (but that has a lot to do with a careful set up on Avid mechanicals). No fade, plenty of power.

What would I change? I would go with a titanium seatpost next time, or maybe a Cane Creek Thudbuster, the course is that rough, but most likely a titanium post would suffice. I would go with the full compliment of six cages and bottles. Otherwise, I would change nothing. I was super pleased with my selections on equipment and the Fargo is a no brainer for this event. It could be set up as a “fast” bike with skinnier rubber, (although I seriously question that choice), and you could go even more minimalistic than I did to lighten the rig even more. Still, whatever you decide on equipment, to my way of thinking, you can not find a more efficient, comfortable way to hang a rider on a bicycle for this long, rough, and grueling event than a Fargo. Whether you are racing, touring, or riding for fun, the Fargo excels at this sort of thing. I can not think of any better bike for a mixed terrain ride than the Fargo from Salsa Cycles.

Salsa Cycles Fargo Update II

May 26, 2009

The “race Fargo” set up is complete now with my final tweaks having been made on a training ride over the holiday wekend. Here’s a look at the Fargo as it will appear at the Dirty Kanza 200 event on May 30th.

The final Dirty Kanza 200 set up.

The final Dirty Kanza 200 set up.

The basic foundation, of course, is the Salsa Cycles Fargo, which I feel is a perfect rig for the person that wants to complete an event like Dirty Kanza. It isn’t the fastest rig you could take into an event like this, but it definitely would be the most efficient and comfortable rig for the rider, when you take all the factors into consideration. Just one thing that quickly comes to mind is the fork. Salsa Cycles has obviously put a lot of effort into this fork, and it shows. I haven’t ever really said much about it, because, well…..the rest of the bike sort of overshadows it. However; last Monday, I could literally see the fork working like crazy and I wasn’t feeling anything at the bars. Nothing. Nada. Zip! That’s awesome, because normally this isn’t what you would expect from a tough, braze on laden steel fork. It’s just one of the reasons that the Fargo is a supremely comfortable rig for the long hauls.

The Banjo Brothers top tube bag thingie

The Banjo Brothers top tube bag thingie

I chose this Banjo Brothers bag for the top tube because it isn’t too big, and it rides on the rough gravel without moving. It has a clear flap that Velcros over as a cover, so you can see what is or isn’t left inside. I will be putting my head light’s external battery pack, a cell phone, a camera, some wet wipes, and a bit of nutrition in there.

The piping is reflective too. A bonus if I end up riding into the night. (I probably will!)

From the "Land of Misfit Bags". From the Land of Misfit Bags….

I had a nice old Kangaroo seat bag on my Fargo for a bit, and it would have worked, but I wanted a rain jacket that would work as a cool weather covering. I found that in the Endura Stealth jacket, but it isn’t the most packable jacket in the world. So I was pondering what to do, when I came across this red beauty in the “long forgotten” department at work. It was a take off from a trade in, I imagine. It doesn’t have any identification as to the maker, but it looked to be really solidly made with double gnarly Velcro seat post straps and nylon strapping for the back end that slipped through the snap down brackets on the top of the bag. What is even better is that I can get the Stealth jacket in with the entire contents of the old bag, plus another tube, patch kit, and multi tool with room to spare. Would it stay stable on rough gravel? Well, after 40 miles, it showed no signs of slipping, movement, or anything negative to put me off from taking it, so I am taking it. We’ll see how that works out.

Hoops of High-techy-ness

Hoops of High-techy-ness

The wheels will be the carbon fiber rimmed, American Classic hubbed, Edge Composites set up. I will admit that these wheels are crazy expensive, but they ride really nicely on gravel by reducing vibrations a ton. Stuff that would normally rattle me enough to cause fatigue will take a lot longer to get to me with these wheels on board. They are pretty light and strong to boot, so I thought a 200 mile ride in the Flint Hills would be just the ticket for these.

Plenty of H2O!

Plenty of H2O!

Probably one of my favorite things about the Fargo: The water bottle mounts! Five bottle mounts, (I could have set it up with six!) should get me from check point to check point with plenty of water- none of which will be on my back- which will also reduce fatigue on my body that would cause me to not be as comfortable on the bike. The bottles all stay put, are easy to reach, (yes, even the fork mounted ones) , and do not mess with the handling of the bike to any great degree. The Fargo also has a pump peg, so my favorite Blackburn frame pump comes along. (Note the zip tie rear peg!) The tires are the WTB Vulpine 29″er tires which roll really well on gravel, have a pretty thick tread area, and the WTB tough side walls that will hopefully repel the flint rock down there. I have injected the tubes with a bit of Caffelatex for good measure.

Well, that’s the main set up. I will give a report afterward on the performance of these things and a rundown on my performance on the flinty roads of Kansas next week.