Last weekend I had the awesome excuse to get out of Portland to check out Salsa’s 2016 models in their natural habitat. That’s right, I got to go hang out in the woods for the day up at Sandy Ridge. For those of you that didn’t get my memo or didn’t get the chance to check out my write-up about last year’s demo – this is really a fun opportunity to go out and try out the bikes that you already know, love and want to buy but may have some performance questions about. Well. . . if you had been there, you could have gotten them answered by a truly bonafide Salsa rep, various bike shop representatives (different shop people on the different days) and most importantly – got to shred some dirt.
The event ran from 2pm – 7pm, but since it was both of our day off, we were planning on rolling up there for a lazy afternoon of playing with bikes and chatting with folks. It was a little before 2pm when Brad got a call from a friend and rep that we were expecting to be up there asking when and if we were planning on being there. Turned out he was unable to make the trip due to a family emergency and the Salsa rep was left all by his lonesome. . . so. . . we tossed our stuff. . . and our absentee friend’s bike (which he had left at Brad’s work) in the car and were on our way in a slightly more speedy trajectory. When we arrived around 3pm we were greeted by Eric, “The Salsa Ambassador,” holding down the fort pretty awesomely.
We created a clunky system of Eric doing most of the work and Brad talking to people with me mostly getting in the way and underfoot, kind of helping people fill out the waivers, taking and giving back their IDs, and taking off the pedals on the demo bikes. (Or at least trying to. Some of them got wrenched on a little snugly and I didn’t feel comfortable mashing at them.) It was steadily busy all day long. I mean, it was work. Like, real work. Like a job. There were still bikes in the van when we got there because Eric had gotten mobbed by people right at the beginning so I helped pull out the rest of the Beargreases, which Brad and Eric ended up putting together because I got distracted or something. They are pretty big bikes. I mean, not unwieldy or anything. I mean, I hauled two of the Carbon SUS XO1 models out of the van without the front wheels over my shoulder like they were purses. And they were the larger sized models. Their considered racing fat bikes and I’d believe it. They’re slick. Decked out with the SRAM XO1 drivetrain, the Bluto fork and not to mention that wicked tequila sunrise fade-job from pink to orange. What’s not to love? If that’s not your thing, there is a red/black or purple/blue option. . . but that really seems a waste when pink/orange is an option. (Not to mention the aluminum black.)
You’re not here to read about models that already existed, though. You want to hear about the new rides. One that everyone was stoked to try out was the Pony Rustler. (Not to be confused with the Horsethief.) People loved this bike and wanted to try it so much that my small size was constantly out on the trail. All day long. Seriously. There was not a time during the day that I could have stopped what I was doing and taken it out for a moment. It just wasn’t there. And the moment that it came back, it was gone. So elusive. Just as a rustler should be. But what I did get to do is TALK to the people that got to go out with the Pony Rustler and get their feedback on the bike. I didn’t get any negative feedback. Everyone loved the more upright feeling of it. They loved the amount of suspension and the feedback that the bike gave them. The great thing about this bike is that it’s a 27.5+, but has the space for 29ers so if you have the inclination to build up two wheelsets, you basically have two bikes in one! (This is not a revolutionary idea. I just thought it was worth a mention. Because it’s cool. And it may make the price tag easier to swallow if you realize you can use the frameset for so many different terrain opportunities.)
The bikes that I was stoked about weren’t full-suspension. The first of which was the “Deadwood.” This is their 29+ dropbar mountain bike. It is fully rigid. Deadwood is sexy. I would totally get it if I met the mininum height requirement. Unfortunately for a small, recommended height is 160cm – 175cm and I fall short at 152cm. If I hadn’t been so darn busy I would have tried to at least stand over one at the event. (The one pictured in the slideshow is a medium.) There was a guy that took it out on a test ride and he said that it rode nicely on the trail, but while Salsa does consider it “mountain bike ready” he would have preferred a little more cushion. Technically, it’s more for off-road touring like the Oregon Outback or the Tour Divide. Maybe not careening down a rocky mountain bike trail complete with berms.
Speaking of the Tour Divide, the Cutthroat was another hot mama I was eyeing the entire afternoon. This hot carbon 29er is the sexiest race bike that ever came to race town. I don’t even care that I’m too short for this bike. I wants it with a passion that is fiery burning.
Then there is the Marrakesh. This is fun in a different kind of way. But then, so is Marrakesh (the place). I was excited about this because I love touring and touring bikes. I am always interested in how different companies decide to put their spin on their specific touring bikes. This one comes in two different models; a flat bar and with their new “Cowchipper” drop bar. I really wanted to see that one in person. I am kinda “anti-dropbar.” It hurts my hands and back to reach down to dropbars and so this newer, squished version interested me. I had seen different forums talking about a couple different brands recently which have also piqued my interest. These might be usable for me and not just wasted space. Marrakesh also comes in five different sizes starting at 147cm (4′ 8″). The only downside is that it comes with the Brooks B17 and doesn’t seem to have any option to swap it out with a cruelty-free cambium version.
All in all, I think the Pony Rustler won the “amazing bike” of the day award. If there had been an award for best bike that day.
After we got the van packed up; Eric, Brad and I headed back into town to get snacks and rest after the long day. Brad, who is a big fan of brew pubs, found a sign at Sandy Ridge that there was a very science-themed one right in Sandy, Oregon called Bunsenbrewer. Let me tell you, this place is amazing. Also, if you have a GPS system or Google Maps on your phone, etc – you should use it. It’s kind of tucked back there. It’s right on the main road, but it’s in a business warehouse area and is kind of inconspicuous. Once you’re there, it’s fantastic. There’s a stage area where about a dozen instruments from cellos, drums, violins, guitars, tamborines, etc were available for people to experiment with. There’s also a corner full of board games as well as a Nintendo 64. They have quite a few beers on tap (many they make in-house) including rootbeer! And while their menu is limited as far as food, they have a little something for everyone including hummus, quinoa salad and soft pretzels.