Monday, September 27, 2010

Fargo - The Story Continues

It's been a while since the Fargo found it's way into the garage and it's been through a few different setups and more than a few rides.  Let's get caught up with the story...

The first changes to the stock setup was the addition of the rack, fenders, and brooks saddle.  The saddle was no decision at all.  I had it on my old single speed cross bike townie and just like the feel of it.  It's a great fit for the Fargo and really takes the edge off the trails.  It is spring loaded and sometimes I get my bounce on while riding on a rough trail but it just adds to the fun.  The fenders and rack was the plan from the beginning.  I wanted to this bike to be and SUV that I could ride on the local trails and haul panniers full of beer and food home.  The pedals are Crank Brothers Mallet 1s.  They are designed for downhill racing but they work really well on this bike.  The nice big platform lets me pedal well with street shoes.  The eggbeater in the middle clips me in when the ride is road and/or trail.  I also read that Crank Brothers put more durable bearings in the Mallets, which also sounded good to me.  In a quick  test, I seemed to me that the Mallet bearings also spin better at the axle than other CB pedals.

The rack is the Portland Design Works Payload.  The good: I think the bamboo deck and curved lines look awesome!  The styling won me over straight away.  It's also rated to carry 77 lbs, which I think I tested on some errand runs that included groceries and beer.  The bad:  The slots in the deck and the curved supports just don't work with some pannier systems.  I brought it into stores to make sure panniers would sit right. I ended up going with Ortlieb Back Rollers (in bright yellow).  They work great, are waterproof, easy on/off, and seem to be durable so far.  More on them in another post.

You may recall this odd bike came stock with drop bars, road brakes, and bar end shifters.  I gave that setup a few weeks trial run and decided I didn't like it.  The drop bars and brakes were actually really comfortable, and it was kinda fun flying down hill in the drops.  But I just didn't dig the bar end shifters.  I didn't like the motion of moving my hand from the hoods or drops to the bar end and work a lever to shift.  It's just much easier to work the gears and brakes when it's all within fingers reach.  The bike doesn't tour enough at the moment to justify having them.  I use it as a trail bike and a commuter bike so a mountain bar setup made more sense.

I did a bunch of research into what the bike community is calling Alt bars and settled on the Soma Clarence Bar.  It's similar in design and dimensions to the more popular On One Mary bar, but a little wider.  It was also cheaper and easier to order.  The brakes and shifters are Shimano XT.  The bike (in XT build) is all XT from the hubs out so I had to finish that off on the bars.  Yes the grips are leather!  Another well made product from PDW, the Dapper Dan grips are lock-ons and really comfortable without gloves.  This was key since I ride this bike about town without my trail gloves on.

As for the ride report on the Alt bar setup, I didn't really dig them either.  They were kinda comfortable and felt good for out of saddle climbing.  But they put my elbows in towards me at a weird angle.  Off road, the downward slant of the grips caused my hands to literally bounce down the ends of the bars, which is super interesting!  And the combination of the 25.4 clamp and 2-bolt road stem had way too much flex for trail use.  So the Alt bars were replaced.  More on that later.

The stock tires are WTB Vulpine 2.1 29er tires.  They are billed as XC race tires but they worked really well on this bike.  The center knobs are almost flat and roll fast on roads and hardpack.  The outside knobs dig in pretty well but on the loose harpack out here the bike got a little shifty.  The tires always caught but it made for an interesting ride on fast corners.  Kind of like skiing in soft snow.

The brakes are Avid BB7 Mountain (not road) discs and they work really well on this bike.  Haven't even thought about swapping for hydraulics.  One of the many really nice design features of this frame is the placement of the brake mounts inside the rear triangle.  This leaves easy clearance for the rack and fender eyelets.

 The paint color, a sparkled olive green that Salsa calls Fun Guy Green, seems to be a real 'love it or hate it' color among riders and reviewers.  I happen to love it.  I also really dig the decal work.  The one above says "Designed In Minnesota, Made In Taiwan"

The one above says "If it ain't Moto, it's worthless".  This  a long time Salsa slogan.  If any one knows what it means let me know.  I think it's rad.

And last but not least, I really like that the folks at Salsa print instructions right on the frame.

By the way, this 3-word instruction manual is also etched into the drop-outs.  And that's what I try to do.  Just ride and smile...

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