In the corner of the office today, looking all shiny and cool, is a Salsa Pistola, the American manufacturer's steel sportive and distance riding frameset. Whereas the material might be traditional the geometry certainly isn't, with a 7cm drop on the sloping top tube, a longish head tube and 74°/72.5° head and seat angles putting it firmly in the compact sportive camp.
Salsa have used True Temper OX Platinum tubing, which adds Vanadium to the standard Cr-Mo mix. It's a light tubeset that True temper claim is more fatigue and impact resistant than most, and is strengthened by welding or brazing. Opinion among steel builders seems always to be divided between shaped or straight chainstays for maximum comfort; we've heard arguments for both man times. Salsa fall very squarely into the latter camp, with the skinny stays ruler-straight. The frame is mated with a straight blade Carbon fork from Alpha Q, also part of the True Temper group.
Steel isn't the stuff to use if you're gunning for all out stiffness at the expense of anything else, and this isn't what this frameset is about: Salsa have aimed for "an appropriate level of stiffness" that will translate into rider comfort over the long distances that the Pistola is designed to cope with. The big slope on the top tube, which will expose more post, will help with that, as will the Salsa Pro Road 'bars which are a personal favourite of mine and very comfy, especially on the drops.
Salsa's own finishing kit is used elsewhere too. the Cromoly stem is a classic and fits well with the look of the bike, which is understated enough to not make you feel self-conscious if you pop to the shops in your jeans. You get a Salsa seatpost too. The transmission is SRAM's RIval groupset with a 50/34 compact, the wheels Aksium Race; the complete bike as we're testing it weighs in at 8.8kg/19.4lb. You can choose whatever kit you want though, as the Pistola is supplied only as a frame and fork package by UK distributors Ison, at a price of £999.
We haven't been on a six-hour epic on the Pistola yet but a few rides in the signs are good: it's a smooth, responsive and comfortable road iron thus far. Watch this space for the full report
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.