Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Friday Casseroll Gravel

I've been riding my Salsa Casseroll a ton lately.  Starting late last week with Jason in the Umore Park area, through the weekend out near Valley Grove Church, and into this week out near Stanton MN it's been a great bike to get out on.  The longer I ride this bike the more I like it.  It's efficient, comfortable, and it fits me perfectly.  I think this should be a serious contender for anyone looking for a CX type gravel bike.

During these rides I've been taking photos, something I've not done nearly enough of lately.  It feels great to get out and ride with friends, and I'm loving taking photos again.  While we missed first light in favor of a little more conversation in comfy chairs, Friday's morning ride with Jason was stunning.  This is on one of my favorite roads in Umore next to a gorgeous wheat field.

Morning dew on thistle flowers in warm sunlight.

Jason's Casseroll sports a mix of modern parts and vintage Mafac canti's.  His bike is gorgeous.  I love the team socks as well.  Continental Speed CX tires in 42c make another appearance!

Both of us have been really busy lately, which has made getting out for these rides difficult at best.  It was a great morning for a heck of a nice ride with a good friend.  Thanks for the ride sir, see you in September.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mukluks and a Gogo

Just a short one today.  We've got a lot of fun new products coming in over the next few days.  Here's the start!

Salsa Mukluk 3's are in stock in all sizes save XL and are ready to go!  Our 17" and 13" Mukluk demo bikes are also now available for check out and test rides.  

We also now have a Gogo LE from Nemo in for stock.  These are super cool, ultra light one person shelter options.  Weighing very little with a crazy small pack size these things kick butt.  The Gogo series utilizes Nemo's AirSupported Technology to eliminate the need for poles while increasing weather resistance and support.  It's a hell of a cool set up for light bike packing or back packing adventures. 

So, fun stuff today, more stuff tomorrow and the next.  We're having fun, stop by and check it all out!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: All City Nature Boy


I love single speed bikes.  There is just something in the uncluttered simplicity offered by a bicycle with one gear and brakes.  When there's a hill you pedal harder.  On flats you spin as efficiently as you can.  Down hill you go as fast as you can spin, and as quick as your abilities allow.  The aesthetic appeal of a dedicated single speed is also hard to ignore.  There are fewer cables hanging around, no dangly derailleur bits hanging off anywhere. Simply put, it is a bicycle, uncluttered and not complicated.

The All City Nature Boy appealed to me for these and other reasons.  I wanted to build up a single speed cyclocross/gravel/mess around town bike.  I wanted a bike that felt like my Potts in terms of simplicity and clean lines.  I was looking for a bike that was a bit less than true race quick.  The Nature Boy fits all of these requirements.


I like svelte bikes.  Not necessarily light bikes as commonly thought of, but bikes that feel light under foot.  Sure handling, nimble, and easy to spin up to speed.  Part of that comes from a solid frame and fork with well designed geometry, but components factor into that as well.  This bike is a mix of light wheels, big tires, old parts, new parts, comfort and performance.  I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Geometry wise this bike could have been built for me.  It has a 565mm effective top tube with a traditional longer seat tube.  This makes for a bigger open triangle for shouldering when CX racing.  It fits my size foot, long legged frame perfectly.  The head tube on this bike is taller than say Surly's Cross check by quite a bit.  This works really well for me, and yet isn't so tall as to be too high for most folks.  The bottom bracket is lower on this bike than true race bikes, keeping the ride stable and  reducing the feeling of being on top of the bike.

A nice head badge and crowned fork really class this bike up a lot.  TRP mini v-brakes handle stopping nicely.  They are easy to set up, and offer nice modulation and power.  I like the aesthetic of the straight arms on this build.  I think the clean cable runs and fit and finish compliment the overall feel of the build.  Both the fork and the frame have plenty of clearance for the Continental Cyclocross Speed 42c tires I prefer.

Old Race Face I Beam road cranks really add a further touch of class to the bike.  I found these used a while ago and have been waiting for a project to use them on.  I love the unique look of them, and the offer a very narrow q factor which feels great.  Gearing on this bike is 42-20.  It is hard to get up the hardest hill around here, and spins nicely on the flats.

I used a 20t White Trials Freewheel on this bike because I had it laying around.  I love the way these sound, and the engagement is nice even on the road.  Stand up and crank and they wheels are instantly there.  It feels great on fast ride on this bike.  The All City Hennepin Bridge drop outs with built in tensioning screws work and look great.  The wheels on this bike are built around Paul Components bolt on, high flange hubs.  The roll forever and look amazing.  The wheels are laced with DT's ultralight Revolution spokes in a three cross pattern to some 440 gm Bontrager CX rims with black brass nipples.  They are light and plenty stiff.  Combined with these tires they spin up and roll like a dream.  

The color of this bike is listed as "Blackened Blue."  It is a black paint with a blue and purple metallic clear over the top.  It is quite hard to photograph well, but looks stunning in person.

To get the brake cable out of the way for shouldering All City chose to run the cable through the top tube.  I've had this done on custom bikes for myself in the past and I'm a huge fan of it.  It's clean and works very well.  The little lugs around entrance and exit holes are a classic touch.

This is a great bike.  It's stable, stiff, and lively feeling.  The components really match the intended use of the bike, and it's a blast to ride.  From around town bombing to gravel to single track this bike has proven to be a hell of a lot of fun.  I look forward to riding it for a long time to come.

I'll leave you with my favorite photo of this bike, and of any bike, I've seen in a long time.  It was taken by my good friend John Ebling on one of our town ride around Northfield.  Lit by bike light.  I love it.  Have a good one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Go Fast Salsa Casseroll


So a few weeks ago I decided to look at take a stab at another bike project.  I had recently completed an All City Nature Boy and decided I wanted a geared counterpart to that excellent bike.  I really like the way the All City rides, and it fit me out of the box just great.  I like the lower bottom bracket, taller head tube, and relaxed head angle compared to modern racing cyclocross bikes.  Looking for those qualities brought me to somewhat unlikely conclusion, I wanted a Salsa Casseroll.

The Casseroll is likely the least heralded of Salsa's models.  It's color is understated, it's complete build parts spec is classically simple and not shouty, and frankly it looks a bit like a softy.  Now, if you're a guy or gal looking for a neo-classical sport tourer/commuter, this is perfect.  If you're looking for a slightly aggressive, yet stable gravel road bike it's probably not going to spring into your head as an option.  Seeing potential beyond the easy going complete build, I wanted to build a bike that would show another side of this bike.


Here it is.  I like it, a lot.  I had most of the parts of the build already including kick but White Industries hubs laced to Hed rims with ultralight Sapim spokes, and a Ultegra 10 speed drivetrain with bar end shifters.  I added a cockpit and seatpost from Salsa, a carbon fork from Bontrager, and superb brakes from Avid.

These tires kick ass, period.  For hard, dry gravel I've yet to use better.  They roll like crazy, are affordable at $26.99 per, they have reflective sidewalls which I love, and they look great.  If they have a failing it's that when they break loose in corners they slide out really quickly.  Keeping that in mind, these are great.  Paired with the crazy fast wheels these make this bike feel like a road bike on tar.  Avid's Ultimate cantilever brakes are worth the price of admission.  They are hands down the best canti brakes I've used.

I've set the bike up with a compact, compact crank with 34-44t rings. The rear end is an Ultegra 11-28t cassette.  This set up really works well for the roads I ride.  It's high enough that I can't run it out on flat ground, and it's low enough to climb up the hills of Sogn Valley if I do my part.  Paired with Shimano bar end shifters shifting is flawless.

Salsa Cowbell 2 Bars are far and away my favorite drop bars I've used.  They look great, and feel better.  These are tightly double wrapped to increase the girth a bit for my XL sized hands.  Sram's 500 levers are really very good as well. Salsa's Promoto Ti stem holds everything together.

Salsa's new carbon 2 bolt seatpost works well, looks good, and matches the build very well indeed.  I am not super pleased that it is only offered in a 5mm offset version, but it that works for you it's a great post for the money.

This is another very versatile bike from Salsa.  With the addition of the cantilever brakes, this bike has much more capability than it's complete build would suggest.  I really like the bike for the purpose I've set it up for.  It's stiff, comfortable, stable, and it looks great.  Stop in and check it out if you are interested, or give us a call if you'd like more info on this bike, a frameset, or a complete.

Thanks for playing, have a great night.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Early Morning Gravel.

Go out for some early morning gravel today.  I needed it.  The ride offered a couple of firsts, the first real hard ride on my new Salsa Casseroll, and the first ride of the season in wool and knickers.  It was a crisp 61 deg day, with a light breeze out of the west.  The gravel surface for most of the route was just on the wet side of dry.  It was just enough to keep dust down but maintain a nice tacky feel, non dragging feel.

These wheels just roll.  I'm growing more fond of the Casseroll the more I ride it.  Shod in these tires on these wheels it eats up roads.  They spin up hills with little effort and roll forever.  The Continental Speed CX tires in 42c are as close to a perfect local gravel tire as I've used.

Long shadow morning light is awesome.

Creek with a hint of moon reflection just north west of Nerstand.  Beautiful blue in color, my crappy camera doesn't even come close to capturing it to it's fullest.

Rolling hills sheltered by giant cottonwood trees.

A little movement shot to get the feel of the morning. The Avid Ultimate brakes on this bike are far and away the nicest cantilever brakes I've used.  Easy to set up, really stiff and smooth, they have both really good power and modulation.

Bad photo quality, straight into the sun, but I like it.  Kind of a cool quality to it.

This morning was as close to a perfect ride as I've had in a long time.  I'm going to try and get out again tonight to double it up, try and cash in on my thankful good graces today.  Have a great day folks, get out there and ride. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Mark's Titanium Vaya


Last week we completed another gorgeous Salsa Cycles Vaya Ti for a customer.  Mark came to us looking for a fast gravel road bike with light touring potential.  He wanted something quicker, more nimble, lighter, and more comfortable than the Surly Long Haul Trucker he's been riding for gravel currently.  The LHT is a great take on a classic touring bike.  It's low, long, stable and stiff.  It's great for full out, long days in the saddle, loaded down touring.  Unloaded it's a bit sluggish and heavy for the use.  Nimble is not a word most would use to describe the bike, it's not what it's made for.  As his needs have changed, the venerable Trucker wasn't quite cutting it for him any more.

Salsa's Ti Vaya fit the bill exactly for what he was looking for.  It's a light, lively frame with a lower bottom bracket for stability and angles steep enough to keep the ride quick.  It has a full compliment of braze-ons that will accommodate any rack he could want.  Mark chose to build the bike with high quality components through out.  His goals here were much the same as our last Ti Vaya build.  The components for both of these bikes were selected with a mind towards longevity, performance, beauty, and sustainable US manufacturing processes.  


This build is almost identical to the other Mark's Vaya.  We chose to go with a full Chris King group on this bike, albeit in green this time. Combined with the ti frame and steel fork, the most expensive parts of this build should last almost indefinitely. 

Drivetrain components for this bike are Sram's awesome performance for the dollar X9 group.  Set up with a 42-28 front, and a 11-32t rear this bike is geared for real world use.  It has a high enough gear for road riding with 35c tires, and has a low enough gear for any hill locally. The green BB peaking through the chainrings is a nice touch I think.

Braking is handled once again by Avid's Road BB7's with Ashima rotors.  These are the new black rotors, which contrast nicely to the brushed ti frame.  Green Salsa Flip Lock skewers round out the green bits.

This bike really ahs some racy lines.  A vintage Selle Italia Flite Ti and non offset Thomson seatpost provide a comfortable position for Mark.  These paired with the sloping top tube add to the rakish lines.

Up front Salsa's fabulous Cowbell handlebars are set up with Sram's brake levers and their barend shifters.  The tires on this bike are Schwalbe Marathon Supreme touring tires.  The wheels are built with Chris King hubs laced to DT Swiss trekking rims with Sapim spokes.

The green with hints of red accents really make this bike pop, subtly of course.

This is a stunning bike.  It should provide our customer everything he was looking for.  It should be an out of the box performer, and should last as long as anything.  When it comes time to replace parts it'll just be a drivetrain and wheel relace and he'll be off and running for another decade.  Well chosen sir, this is a great bike!