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Salsa's Swiss-army-knife bike lands at road.cc towers...

Apologies for the the fact that the pics above don't show the bike in showroom condition but the Salsa Fargo is the kind of bike that you just want to have a blast around on as soon as it shows up, so it's already been round the block a few times, on the tarmac and off. What is the Fargo? Well, technically it's a touring bike, say Salsa. But really it's a rigid 29er MTB with drop bars and a host of extra braze ons for all your kit.

The frame and fork are made from Salsa's Classico Cromoly tubing, which is custom drawn for Salsa and used on many of their framesets. It's a very compact unit which means you'll run plenty of seatpost and have lots of standover room which is good news when your bike is loaded up; the long 'post also softens the ride a touch over the rough stuff. A lot of thought has gone into the design: for instance, the dropouts have been designed to run the disc brake between the stays, leaving the dropout free for guard and rack mounts, a design that's been brough through to the new Salsa Vaya. There's plenty of room for some big tyres, too: the bike comes specced with WTB Vulpine 2.1 rubber and even with 2.3's there's room for some mudguards, and fittings for them.

Versatility is the name of the game with the Fargo and as well as mounting points for front and rear racks there's space for no less than six bottle cages, four on the main triangle and one on each fork leg. The long wheelbase and slowish steering will be welcome when you're all packed up for a big tour, but even though it's designed to cope with being loaded to the max the bike itself is not a heavyweight, weighing in at 12.5kg/27.6lb without pedals. Stripped down it's more than happy eating up the road miles and first off-road forays are encouraging too.

Kit-wise the Fargo runs a 27spd Shimano XT drivetrain, controlled by bar-end shifters. Brakes are Avid BB7 mechanical discs with Tektro levers, and most of the finishing kit is Salsa's own, including their excellent Bell Lap bars. Wheels are XT hubs mated to Salsa semi 29er disc rims which will take 'cross and touring tryes as well as off-road rubber. All in all it's a well-specced bike; Salsa aren't known for bargain prices but at £1,599 the Fargo certainly isn't pricing itself out of the market, especially when you consider what it can do.

And what can it do? Well, a full test will follow but first impressions are of a bike that's massively versatile: light and dynamic enough for an urban commute, but also capable of a big tour or a trip to the trails. There's no one bike that can do everything but some are better at multitasking than others; Cyclocross bikes are often touted as the do-it-all solution but the Fargo is trying to take that versatility to the next level. And will it succeed? Find out here!

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

9 comments

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workhard [400 posts] 7 years ago
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Drop bar levers and Avid BB7 MTN discs. Are those Tektro levers some sort of special lever? If they ain't then they ain't gonna pull cable in such a way as to work those discs brakes properly. Surely it needs Avid BB7 Road discs with drops?

Otherwise it could be interesting when it is fully loaded.... eek... crash.... thud.

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dave atkinson [6329 posts] 7 years ago
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The levers are Tektro's RL520s:

http://road.cc/content/review/12339-tektro-rl520-v-brake-compatible-drop...

they're designed for linear pull brakes and the BB7 MTNs pull the same amount of cable, so it's all good.

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John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 7 years ago
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workhard wrote:

Drop bar levers and Avid BB7 MTN discs. Are those Tektro levers some sort of special lever?

almost certainly RL520 Aero V levers - pull the right amount of cable for Vs & thus discs.

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workhard [400 posts] 7 years ago
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thanks; no brifters and the right levers and it'll stop on a sixpence.

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fourstringsisplenty [58 posts] 7 years ago
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This is such a good idea that I've already built one myself, out of an old Stumpjumper! (And my friend Russell did the same using an old Mountain Goat frame – nice.)

Of course, mine hasn't got rack mounts or 6 bottle cages. But then, as I hardly ever go riding in the Great Australian Bight/Mojave Desert/Kalahari, that's not a big problem.

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monty dog [463 posts] 7 years ago
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I had XACD build me a custom titanium frame similar in design, including a rigid ti fork 5 years ago. I run MTB wheels on mine in winter - closer ground clearance means it's more stable and really 'digs-in' on deep mud and sand.

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purplecup [217 posts] 7 years ago
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sounds great monty - got a pic?

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solentine [96 posts] 7 years ago
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Spot on fourstringsisplenty.

Managed to knock the Mountain Goat together from shed bits and ebay and cost about £50. Can I get the Salsa for that?

It does get hot in the Cotswolds in the summer what with this global warming thing, so might have to add some extra bottle capacity.

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dave atkinson [6329 posts] 7 years ago
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solentine wrote:

It does get hot in the Cotswolds in the summer what with this global warming thing, so might have to add some extra bottle capacity.

A few Zefal Gizmos'll sort you out  1