Interbike 2012 Salsa Fargo Mini-Review

“Got any commuter bikes?”

“No.”

This is what my interaction was like when I walked up to the Salsa Bicycles booth to test-ride one of their bikes. Awkward, kind of, but I can see why the booth employee said no. The company labels their bikes to be “Adventure Bikes” and not before long, I found out why. I chose the “Fargo” bike as it looked cool and reminded me of a cross between a Randonneur bike and a Cyclocross bike.

Salsa Fargo Sram Apex

Another reason why I chose the Fargo was because it had a really cool-looking handlebar. I ride mostly road bike or singlespeeds so I wasn’t quite used to the “rad” styling of the handlebar at first. I rode on the top. I rode on the drops and even tried to ride with my hands on the brake hoods. All three positions were uncomfortable at first but as I kept on riding, it became more comfortable–I no longer noticed my discomfort.

Salsa Woodchipper 2/Salsa Gel Tape

Perhaps I stopped noticing because of the heavy foot traffic at Interbike that I had to feverishly avoid or perhaps it was because I became more focused on finding hydration booths to keep myself from getting dehydrated. Either way, I eventually fell in love with the handlebar. I know it’s impractical to swap out my road handlebar with the obviously less aerodynamic handlebar on the Fargo because I can’t go as fast. But I know that most of the time when I’m riding, I just cruise and this handlebar was perfect for it! This is something I know most commuters can appreciate.

I love steel frames. It’s technology that hasn’t really needed to be advanced and can most of the time combine the stiffness of an aluminum frame but has damping qualities closer to a carbon frame. I ride a Reynolds Steel-framed road bike and this Cro-Moly frame rode very comfortably.

Salsa Fargo Main Triangle

I know that I’ve got to factor in the “Thudbuster” seat post that naturally damps the vibrations of the road/path and the thicker tires but I gotta be honest…the Fargo rides very smoothly compared to my road bike with 700×23 slicks installed.

Thudbuster

Another plus about the frame is that it had plenty of eyelets, as demonstrated by the front fork, to use for front racks. (The rear also has eyelets for a rear rack but not as many as the front)

Four!

While I was riding the bike on different terrains like gravel, dirt, pavement and mud, I found the gearing to be very wide and sufficient for all applications.

Wide Range of Gears

I didn’t get to go on a steep dirt climb but when I did take it up a steep street, it rode more like a hybrid and a lot less like a mountain bike. I even took it down a long and windy bike path where I’m sure I easily hit 20 mph. When I did go off-road, the bike maintained its smooth ride–I went over rocks, potholes in the dirt and it was not a shocking, vibrating experience. In other words, no matter what terrain I put the bike in, the ride was very smooth.

Lastly, I didn’t really get to test the brakes all that well. I mean, they were disc brakes so they stopped on a dime but I mainly focused on the ride quality and whether it would be a bike that commuters should consider. As I said before, I mainly commute on road bikes but I would definitely recommend this to anybody looking for a commuting bike, especially those that commute over a combination of dirt and street.

Company Link: Salsa Fargo

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6 Comments

  1. Matt September 19, 2012 6:04 am 

    Salsa makes a lot of great stuff – some of which can be used as commuter gear. The Salsa Vaya is probably the closest thing they have to a commuter – they call it a “touring and road adventure bike.”

    The Fargo is more typically used as an off-road rig – the Woodchipper bars that you like are some of the most popular off-road drop bars.

  2. Jesse September 19, 2012 7:32 am 

    I’ve been commuting on a Vaya since late January and can honestly say it’s the most comfortable, useful bike I’ve ever ridden. I keep thinking about switching the fatty 40c tires for something a little quicker, but then I find myself traversing a construction site or hopping curbs to avoid oblivious trail users and quickly put that thought out of my mind! I don’t have the Woodchipper bars, but the Cowbell Salso stocks on the Vaya is a darn comfy ride as well. My only complaint is the brakes (BB-5), it took nearly 6 months of daily riding to get them tweaked and set up so they don’t ding, squeak, squeeeeeel, or knock. Now I ride in blissful silence – until someone honks that is…

  3. Ghost Rider September 19, 2012 7:39 am 

    Just for the record, some of the threaded bits on the fork are for bottle-cages, not racks. That’s why there are so many.

  4. Hermes September 19, 2012 8:09 pm 

    @Jesse

    I gotta be honest. I am honestly interested in Salsa bikes after my experience with the Fargo. Perhaps I’ll look into the Vaya.

  5. Dave D August 22, 2013 11:15 am 

    I am thinking of getting either a Fargo or Ogre for off road bike touring. I was wondering what your thought of each compared to the other?

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