I have been waiting to see what Salsa was going to do with their new lineup, having heard lots of rumors of big changes.  I saw most of it yesterday, but I wanted to wait and see what the thoughts and reactions have been from the media and the public (forums, etc).

Go here to see the entire line, but I wanted to comment on a few things specifically, and some generally.  Generally speaking, there is less steel and no Ti and more carbon.  The El Mariachi is gone and, it seems, so are the Colossal and the Marrakesh. The Vaya seems to have not changed a lot, or much at all, but did get a carbon fork on some models.  The Mukluk seems to be the old Blackborow, or so it seems to me, with carbon there as well.  Blackborow is kaput.

Wheel size choices are wide open on a lot of the models, many taking 29+, 27+, and standard 29er.  I have to assume that the Alternator dropouts that allow chainstay length adjustment also allow for the huge difference between 29+ and 27+.  Fork length would seem to also have to be included in this or BB heights will be all over that map.  Dunno.  Not much on this yet on the Salsa website.

Now to cherry pick a bit.


Timberjack –  All photos from the Salsa website.

Salsa Timberjack 2017

photography by http://www.scottharaldson.com

For me, this is not anything all that amazing in the marketplace as a whole, but it looks like it is a contender in the mix.

“An aluminum hardtail that can wear 27.5+ or 29” wheels and tires, Timberjack is eager to tear it up on singletrack or bikepack without missing a beat. It features a ton of versatility that makes it ready for almost anything.”  Salsa Cycles

Long and versatile, it is smack in the middle of the current trend of do-all hardtails in 27+ guise:  120mm fork, short stem, and the option of 29″ too.  Ready for trail use, XC use, bikepacking, etc.  The prices I have seen are well under $1500.00 for the top bike model and under $500.00 for a frame option.  Not bad at all, if the spec is good to go at that cost.

I bet they will sell out of these really fast, although the steel fans will be chagrined.

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Timberjack 27.5+ GX1 – U.S. MSRP $1,399.00

Timberjack 29 NX1 – U.S. MSRP $999.00

Frame Only – Timberjack will be available in the Matte Gray colorway – U.S. MSRP $399.00

AVAILABILITY: ETA is October 2016


Woodsmoke –

“Think of all the ways we talk about the actions, sensations, and experiences we have while riding our mountain bikes: Carve, hop, dive, huck, roll, cut inside, push outside, get loose, pull back, pop off, and million other terms come to mind. Put simply, when you and your bike are working together it seems like you can conquer any obstacle in your path. Each move through a line seems like a cohesive plan between you and your bike. A bike we feel will bring a new level of “cohesiveness” to your riding is the new Salsa Woodsmoke.”  Salsa Cycles

Salsa Woodsmoke 2017

photography by http://www.scottharaldson.com

Now when I heard about a new 29+ bike coming in to play, I was betting on a 29+ version of the Spearfish…a low travel, long distance adventure bike.  Instead, this is Woodsmoke.

“At the core of Woodsmoke is a progressive trail bike geometry provided by extremely short chainstay lengths between 400 and 417 mm (depending on wheel size).  Shorter than many road bikes, this rear-center length is then paired with long front-centers, short 50 mm stems, and wide handlebars providing the best seat in the house for trail domination. ”  

“We then apply this trail ripping geometry to different wheel sizes by using different tire diameters as an advantage (paired with the adjustability of our Alternator Dropouts Version 2.0) and the ability to run different fork lengths and suspension sag.  Using suspension forks between 100 – 140 mm in travel, or even our rigid Firestarter Carbon fork, the appropriate geometry can be found for how you want to ride Woodsmoke. Longer travel equals slacker headtube angles, while shorter travel (or our rigid Firestarter fork) create quicker, more race-style handling.  Note that 29+ suspension setups do require the appropriate 29+ suspension fork. It is not possible to use your 29er or 27.5+ suspension fork for that setup. 

Of course the Alternator Dropouts also allow you to set up singlespeed should you desire.”  Salsa Cycles

Interesting.  Trail domination, eh?  Who’s trail, exactly?  Not my trails, at least not for me.  I say that as, although I have not ridden this bike, I have ridden short stay bikes.  This rodeo has been held before, most recently in the Trek Stache 9.  I remain less than enthusiastic for ultra short stays for faster, rougher, wide open terrain.  It lacks balance IMO.  As well, as a 6’2″ rider, my butt ends up nearly dead center over the middle of the rear tire, and that means more bump force up into my spine and a lot more weight transfer to keep the front end down when seated climbing.

I remain skeptical.

That aside, I bet it will be a lot of fun when things are twisty and tight, so you woods riders ought to love it.

It is a bit homely though.  The Stache 9 wins the swimsuit competition here IMO.


Now for something completely different

Fargo in 27+…very nice

Salsa fargo 27.5+ 2017

photography by http://www.scottharaldson.com

“Fargo is our drop bar mountain bike. A cult classic with passionate devotees, it is for many the answer to the “if-I-could-only-have-one-bike” question. This year we’ve made some exciting changes to Fargo that should further establish its role as a leader in the world of adventure cycling.”

“The big change, literally, is that Fargo now fits bigger tires: 27.5+, 29”, and, on sizes small through x-large, 29+ tires. Pick 27.5+ for loamy, rooty, and twisty trails where body English and traction are key, 29” for hardpack singletrack, gravel and occasional pavement, and 29+ for cruise control momentum over all of the above. All three wheel sizes offer distinctively different rides, and broaden your opportunities for new experiences.”  Salsa Cycles.

I actually am not a fan of drop bar mountain bikes with the required high bar height, designed to allow the drops to be the ‘normal’ riding position.  Not for me. I do like drop bars for gravel bikes though, but that is not the same deal.  That said, this is a cool bike.  Have this bike with a rigid fork and a suspension fork for when the ride needs it, and you could go adventuring nearly anywhere you don’t need a full Fat Bike or a real MTB (and that is a LOT of the country).

Neat bike.


But I would buy this one if I was going to add one more bike to the stable, and it is not a Salsa (but it is still QBP).

The Karate Monkey lives on…

Karate Monkey 2017

New KM frame in “Rhymes With” Orange color…gotta love those Surly merrymakers.

“Years ago the Karate Monkey helped start the 29” wheel movement and, as time’s gone by, many companies ­– Surly included – have experimented with even more wheel sizes.

With so many different types and sizes of tires now on the market, riders have begun to understand the effect that tire width has on overall wheel diameter, and with ample tire clearance, you can see the benefits of multiple wheel sizes all on one bike. 27+ tires have the same rolling diameter as a 29” wheel, yet you get all the traction and floatation benefits of extra-wide knobbies. And that’s just the tires.

The Karate Monkey frame has recently gotten a make over that includes the addition of features like internal dropper post routing, a new tubeset that uses the same trumpet tubes found on our Instigator 2.0, and a slight tweak in geometry that is more progressive and trail-oriented. The Karate Monkey uses a horizontal dropout with a derailleur hanger that features Gnot-Boost spacing, which gives the rider the ability to run any kind of mountain bike hub they choose. 10 x 135mm QR, 12 x 142, or 12 x 148 Boost™ will all work in the Karate Monkey frame. The frame uses a 44mm headtube for broad fork compatibility and is ED coated for an added layer of internal protection. If, at any point, you decide you want to throw on some skinny meats, standard 29” wheels and tires can be swapped in with no issue. If you want to round-house kick some trail right in the face, the Karate Monkey is your sled.”  Surly Bikes

The Karate Monkey was my first 29er.  I ran it geared then SS.  Cool bike.  Flawed, but cool.  It hung in my garage as a frame for years until I built it up with spare parts and gave it to a friend who needed a bike for exercise and fun but had no budget for one.  He loves it and gets a lot of “nice bike” compliments from folks on movie sets where he works as a fire safety person.  The Monkey has street cred.

I am no real fan of the horizontal rear ‘drops’ on the KM, but other than that, the only issue is weight and that is just the way all the budget steel bikes are, although, quite frankly, you need to go a long ways up in cost to get a significantly lighter steel frame.

The new version ticks a lot of boxes.  27+ or 29, so trail or adventure…you choose the tire for the day.  Slacker, longer TT…lots of braze-ons.  Can run up to a 140mm fork…OMG!  Oh, did I say it was steel?  Yeah, we still like steel when we are not particularly in a hurry to get somewhere.

I am not planning on replacing my alu 27+ hardtail anytime soon as it is getting things done for bikepacking, but I would buy one of these like right now if I was because these are gonna’ sell out fast.


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