We've been talking with Mark since last year about building a lifetime worthy touring bike. The idea for the bike build was to build a bike that would be fun unloaded on gravel and back country roads while performing traditional touring duties equally as well. We arrived at the consensus that the Salsa Vaya in titanium would meet his needs best. It has sporty enough touring to cruise gravel with aplomb, while handling the short overnight, and ultimately cross country tours that Mark has planned.
Any great bike starts with a killer frame, (check,) and awesome wheels. This bike will roll on some of the nicest touring wheels you can get. The build starts with deep red colored Chris King disc hubs. These hubs roll really well, and they are as durable as it gets. These are arguably the nicest hubs money can buy, and they'll work very well for the foreseeable future of this bike. They use fully serviceable cartridge bearings throughout. Anything from Chris King is stunning to look at. They are like bike jewelry. These will match a headset and bottom bracket also from King. Combine all of those with a Ti frame and steel fork and the most expensive parts on this bike will last forever.
The wheels are shod with a really cool set of tires from Continental. These are called the Cyclocross Speed. This is the larger 42c version. It features a generous file tread smoother center section with actual side knobs. This is a near perfect tire for dry, smooth gravel. They are big enough to provide ample comfort, and they roll like crazy. These also feature a reflective sidewall, something I am a huge fan of. It provides a large measure of safety and visibility for no weight penalty. These would make an excellent mixed condition touring or commuting tire as well. At $25.99 they are quite reasonable. Big, squishy, go fast. I love 'em!
These wheels are build on DT Swiss's proven TK series touring rims. They are reasonably light for their intended purpose, and the have proven to be very durable under some of our most demanding riders. For spokes we used Sapim's triple butted Force spokes. These have more material down at the spoke elbow. They seat into the hubs very positively, and reinforce the weakest part of the spoke. The spokes weigh almost nothing more than a standard butted spoke, which makes them a no brainer on this kind of wheelset.
This is the start to what promises to be an amazing bike. We just received the frameset from Salsa, and I'll be assembling the bike over the course of the week. I'll have full build photos and a write up when it's complete.
Happy hump day everyone. We hope it's a good one for you.