A couple of weeks prior to Interbike, I was invited to Salsa Cycles headquarters inside of parent company Quality Bicycle Parts warehouse and office complex in Bloomington, Minnesota. The purpose of the visit was to preview the 2009 Salsa Cycles line up and ride the new Selma single speed 29″er.
The Selma is basically a take off on Salsa’s Mamasita 29″er geared hard tail bike. The two models share the same geometry, (tweaked for 2009), the same Scandium enhanced aluminum frame with carbon fiber seat stays, and 29 inch wheels. The difference is that the Selma is a dedicated single speed rig, sporting an eccentric bottom bracket, and no provisions for cable stops for derailleur cables. (There is a derailleur hangar for those that would want to rig the Selma for gears.)
I got to swing a leg over the Selma at one of the best single track loops in the Mid-West, the Murphy-Hanrahan trail system. The trails are swoopy, have nice climbs and descents, and basically just smile inducing terrain in a typical upland woods atmosphere. The Selma I rode was equipped with a Fox F-29 front fork, Mavic Cr29max wheels shod with Hutchinson Pythons, and was running a 34 X 19 gear. The gear was perfect for the fast buffed trails with the Fox fork providing excellent steering characteristics with it’s 46mm offset mated to the new front head angle on the Selma/Mamasita bikes. Steering was intuitive and didn’t require a lot of arm input or crazy body english to get around the tighter corners at “Murph”.
While this was my first ride on the Selma, I have been on several Mamasita’s, so I had a backdrop to compare the Selma to. The new tweaks to the geometry have made the Mamasita/Selma platform better, in my opinion. I no longer feel that the front wheel is tucked too far beneath the frame in descents, which made the bike feel nervous in those situations. Now I feel the bike can be let go to fly down hill more since it has a more stable feel on the backsides of the steeps. I also noticed that the Selma felt torsionally stiffer than previous Mamasita’s I had ridden. I asked about this and was told that European testing standards are getting more stringent in regards to bicycles. This prompted Salsa to spec a slightly heavier, thicker down tube on the new Selma and Mamasita to insure the frames would exceed the testing standards. However that may be, it results in a more precise steering feel, and for the Selma, a great feel on out of the saddle grunts which are common on single speed bikes.
Of course, the rear end carries over from the Mamasita frame and here again, the magic of the flattened Scandium chainstays, flattened carbon seat stays, and exposed seat post make for a ride that is smoother than your typical hardtail. All without feeling flexy, or inefficient. Talking about efficiency, the Selma delivers in spades with a solid bottom bracket area and quick acceleration when you decide to stomp on the pedals. It is definitely a high performance single speed platform.
Then you have the Selma’s looks, which are in line with the rest of Salsa’s 2009 line up graphically. It has a distinct look without going over the top. The blue is pleasant to the eye and will lend itself well to anyone liking the new trend for white components or blue anodized componentry. (See the Selma show bike decked out with blue Hope components.)
Overall, the Selma should satisfy those who clamoured for a single speed Mamasita and should also appeal to those looking for a high performance single speed sled in 2009. It handles with quickness, but retains downhill stability, is very efficient in power transfer, but has that nice ride quality that the unique frame design has to offer. All in all, a fantastic new addition to Salsa’s 29″er line up.