Monday, July 5, 2010

The Fargo by Salsa - How it got to Gershfeld Garage.

Welcome readers!  This is my first post and I have to dedicate it to the finest piece of gear I have acquired in a really long time: my new bike, the Salsa Fargo.  I was lucky enough to procure this bike at a screaming deal that I just could not pass up (I will refrain from admitting the details to protect the innocent, but they know who they are, and they get props!).  And no, I do not work for Salsa.  But I will entertain a job offer if they are reading.

I was looking for a steel hard tail 29er and I didn't want to spend a ton of money on a custom build.  I have to admit I didn't think this would be the one.  But the deal was offered to me and I found out that a local shop actually had one in stock, built up in my size (XXL).  I had to check it out.

At first sight it's a strange looking bike, I know.  Salsa bills this bike as a specifically designed off road touring 29er.  It comes with every conceivable braze-on for racks and fenders and bottle mounts on the frame and fork.  You can read the details on the Salsa site.  It is supposed to be able tour any surface anywhere.  I didn't really have ambitions of exploring every dirt road in the US and beyond, but I really liked the idea of a bike that could ride well on pavement, gravel, fire roads, some local light trails, and be able to carry a rack and panniers for town commuting.  It just gave the impression that it could get things done and have a good time at it.

I got a good feeling about the bike right from the first ride.  I used to have an un-suspended steel 29er single speed, so I was familiar with the big wheel concept.  But I was surprised at how quick this bike took off, considering it's probably at least 30 lbs in the biggest size.   I was not immediately sold on drop bars or the bar end shifters but I thought it was worth a try.  Who knows, I might get used to them and grow to like them.  In case you're wondering, bar end shifters are preferred by most tourers, which is why they are spec'ed on the Fargo.  It was explained to me that they are the simplest, most durable, easily repairable in the third world, shifting mechanisms available.  And even when they break they still sort of work.

From the shop I climbed a short hill up to the edge of a park where bike are not allowed.  But I ducked in just enough to check out the Fargo on a bit of dirt and rocks.  I remembered how well the big wheels rolled over stuff.  I turned a quick corner, rolled over some roots, and went off a short rock shelf.  I ducked out of the park and back on the road, which was now a fast downhill back to shop.  I made sure to pop on and off some curbs to do a proper test ride.  By the time I got back to the shop I was sold on the geometry and the quality of the ride.  It really did handle all the conditions I threw at it with ease.

Over the next few days I read alot of reviews and blogs about the Fargo. People from all over the world seemed to be setting them up all different ways and riding them in all different sorts of terrain.  All the stories were really positive.  Many of the photos of riders generally included a smile.  Even after a short demo ride I could see why.  There was something very interesting and satisfying about a bike that could offer so much versatility.  Especially if I could get it for the price of an average Boulder wheelset.  I put my order in and the bike was on it's way.

Stay tuned for more stories of my Fargo, how I set up, and where it's been riding...

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