Special Report: Salsa Cycles 2013- by Guitar Ted
As I announced earlier, I had the opportunity to check out the Salsa Cycles line up for next season recently at Carver Lake Park in the Twin Cities vicinity. While it isn’t a big year for model introductions for Salsa Cycles on the mountain bike side, here is what I saw there.
Horsethief: The Salsa Cycles Horsethief expands to three models for 2013 with the top of the range bike being this Horsethief 1 shown in black with flashy gold decal on the all new, hydro-formed down tube. The 6000 series aluminum frame gets the new down tube to accommodate a water bottle mount in the main triangle. (Gasp! Someone still believes in water bottle mounts? )
All Horsethief models will have through axles front and rear and will have routing for dropper seat posts, (with the Horsethief 1 getting spec’ed with a Rock Shox Reverb dropper post.) The Horsethief 1 will also have the new Fox 34 and new CTD Float rear damper with Kashima coating on both dampers for even more gold appeal. The drive train will be a mix of SRAM X0, X-9, and X-7 components and the bike will come with DT Swiss hubs laced to Stan’s new Flow EX rims. Showing that the Horsethief is a serious trail/AM bike, the spec also shows MRP 2X chain guides on this and the Horsethief 2. Travel will be 120mm/120mm out of the box, but the front is convertible to 140mm travel.
The Horsethief 2 gets an unusual spec on the fork with a White Brothers Loop showing up here set at 120mm travel. The drive train bounces down range on SRAM’s scale to a X-5, X-7, X-9 mixture and will also have Salsa branded Formula hubs laced to Stan’s Flow EX rims.
The rear damper on the Horsethief 2 is a Fox CTD with “Boost Valve”, while SRAM gets the nod for brakes here with Elixir 5′s. As with the Horsethief 1, the brakes are 180mm front, 160mm rear. All the Horsethief models get Continental’s 2.4″ Mountain King tires for rubber. The seat post, stem, and handle bar on the Horsethief 2 is from Salsa’s component line. In this case the Pro Moto 2 series.
The Horsethief 3 will move to a Rock Shox Sektor fork set at 130mm travel, a Rock Shox Monarch RL damper, and will have a Shimano Deore triple crank set. Rims go to Sun Inferno 28mm wide, and the stock color will be black with a red downtube decal. (No Horsethief 3′s were at the demo.) All Horsethief models have 460mm chain stay length, and at 120mm fork setting, the Horsethief sports a 69.5° head tube angle, with a 140mm fork that leans back to a 68.6° head angle. All Horsethief models come in Sm, M, L, and XL sizes.
Spearfish: For 2013 the Spearfish continues with new colors for the 2 and 3 levels and the 1 gets blue anodized bits with blue decals over the same black anodized finish as the 2012 Spearfish 1 has. Spec levels follow suit with the Horsethief, with the Spearfish 1 getting a mix of X-0 and X-9 components and the 142 X 12 rear through axle. The 2 and 3 Spearfish models go back to a quick release rear, and sport painted finishes, with the 2 shown above and the 3 being a nice, bright red color. Interestingly, the Spearfish 3 gets a tapered steer tube Manitou Tower Pro fork. Geometry remains unchanged from 2012 models. Spearfish models are available in Sm, M, L, and XL sizes.
El Mariachi: Much has been written about the El Mariachi Limited Edition single speed only bike. These will be hard to get, since only a handful are being produced for the run. More attainable models will grace the line up, including a complete titanium model which will have Altenator drop outs for single speed capabilities just like the steel El Mariachi 2 and 3 models. The El Mariachi 2 will be a black color with green decals this year and the 3 will be red and sport a Manitou Tower fork. The titanium Selma has been dropped for 2013, so the El Mariachi remains as the only single speed capable 29″er in the Salsa line up now. (Unless you want to count the Mamasita, which could be a single speed with an eccentric PF-30 insert.) Geometries remain the same from the 2012 models.
Fargo: The drop bar Fargo continues and as with the El Mariachi, the Titanium Fargo is now offered as a complete. The new colors for 2013 Fargos are brown (Fargo 2), and a nice blue, (Fargo 3). As with the El Mariachis, the geometries remain the same with no major changes for the Fargo from 2012 models. Both Fargo and El Mariachi will be available as frames with the El Mariachis as a frame only. The Fargos will come with Fargo steel forks.
Fat Bikes: While fat bikes may not seem like 29″ers, the diameter of the fat bike tires measures up to big wheel spec, so I am including them here. The big news for 2013 for Salsa is a new fat bike model called the Beargrease and several refinements to the Mukluk line up are coming as well.
Beargrease: The new model is called Beargrease, and the big news here is the all new aluminum chassis based upon the tubes from the Mamasita and Spearfish, including the tapered head tube. The down tube is shaped and triple butted. Salsa claims a medium frameset weighs in at 5.2lbs. A complete Beargrease in medium weighs a claimed 28.5lbs. That is an astonishing weight for this class of bike. I hefted Bobby’s Beargrease, (a Salsa Cycles employee), and I can attest to its lack of mass compared to my own fat bikes. Bobby’s bike isn’t completely stock, but does use some heavier components than the 2013 production Beargrease will. Still, it was easy to loft the bike, and it felt like a trail hard tail with boat loads of grip. I tried horsing the handle bars to see how stiff the frame is and I was met with a lot of resistance, telling me Salsa has made the Beargrease a stiff bike. The finish is black anodized with blue accents and looks quite nice. Geometry is like the 2012 Mukluks for stability in slow/technical terrain and snow. We’re betting these will be quite popular with fat bikers.
Mukluk: Big changes came through for the 2013 Mukluks. Offered in titanium as a complete only, which changes little from last year, the Mukluk will be also offered in a completely new frame made from aluminum in two models. The aluminum Mukluk 2 and 3 models will now upgrade to the titanium Muks Altenator drop outs for ease of single speed set up, or for changing the wheel base, which is important in snow and sand.
The Mukluks will now also feature 44mm head tubes, (aluminum frames only, the titanium remains a straight steer tube bike for now), and this will allow folks the option of getting a Beargrease tapered steer tube fork, or other aftermarket tapered forks that may become available. (Yes- the Beargrease aluminum fork is going to come out as an aftermarket item later.)
The massive head tube on the bike makes the gusset seem a bit more natural on the aluminum frames now and should provide a stiff front end for off road pursuits whether on snow, sand, dirt, or rocks. All Mukluks will now be using Surly rims for 2013 as well as Salsa’s branded fat bike hubs. Finally, Salsa has exclusive E-13 designed fat bike specific cranks which are lighter with claimed better seals to keep out snow and grime. These cranks are optimized for chain lines that should clear the tires with Surly 80mm wide Rolling Darryl rims and 3.8″ tires in all gear combinations. The word we heard was that at some point these cranks would also be available as aftermarket upgrades as well.
Ride Impressions: Salsa Cycles Mamasita:
Salsa Cycles has been pumping out 29″ers since 2005 when they debuted the Dos Niner, (a discontinued model missed by many), and in 2007 the El Mariachi and Mamasita were introduced. These are the longest running models in Salsa Cycles current line up, and I wanted to take a closer look at the Mamasita for 2013.
The Mamasita has always been about going fast and doing it with a lightweight chassis. At first, that was Scandium enhanced aluminum with a carbon fiber rear triangle. Now days the Mamasita does the speedy thing by way of its Extrolite EV6 aluminum frame with a tapered head tube and a PF-30 bottom bracket. The bike is outfitted with a 100mm travel Fox fork and SRAM drive train with Elixir 5 brakes.
The Mamasita handles nicely now days with the 71° head tube angle. I was not put off at all by the tight, twisty Carter Lake trails. The Mamasita is definitely racy feeling. I stomped the pedals and it was quick to react, almost at a carbon frame level, really. The bike definitely hooks up well when you need to go. I was a bit perplexed as to why the back end was feeling nice, I mean….this is a stiff aluminum bike, right? Maybe it was the voluminous Conti Race Kings, or the seat post, (a Pro Moto 2 Salsa post), but whatever it was, I wasn’t getting zinged. Of course, this was just a demo ride, so a longer test may prove to find out something different there.
Components were working well in most cases. This was the nicest feeling Fox fork I’ve ridden in awhile, for one thing. However; the brakes must have been brand new, because I tried to grab a handful not long after starting the ride and I got a big surprise! There wasn’t much stopping power there, but I’ve ridden other Avid brake sets, so I assume this was simply a case of having new brakes that were not bedded in quite yet.
The Mamsita cuts a different line than much of Salsa Cycles line up. It is a straight up racing bike if you want it to be, and possibly could do that adventure ride as well. Just grab some of the Salsa Cycles frame bags and get your bike packing on. But for all the “Adventure By Bike” going on here at the demo, I felt the Mamasita was more of a refined, high brow steed than a rough and tumble backcountry adventure horse. That more than anything made it stand out to me as a bike in Salsa’s line up that may not get the attention it deserves.
NOTE: For pricing information, availability, and details see www.salsacycles.com or contact your nearest Salsa Cycles dealer.
Thanks! A big thank you to John Gaddo and Aaron Stehly of Salsa Cycles for helping me get to the demo and to all the Salsa Cycles crew for the work in putting on the show for everyone at Carter Lake.