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Help a newb understand a few things please

Old 08-29-14, 04:05 PM
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Help a newb understand a few things please

Howdy, thanks for your time here.

I'm new to things, and I have a tendency to read to the point where I confuse myself. I'm about 95% sure that my first 'real' bike investment (I have a nice cheapo Trek 820 now) will be a touring/cyclocross type of bike. Most of my riding is on road/gravel/fire roads and such and my wife has expressed interest in some 'load up and let's go' type of rides, so I'm trying to understand the differences from one bike to the next.

Using, for example, 3 bikes from Salsa simply because they have 3 'touring' bikes that get good reviews and are similarly priced:

Salsa Fargo 3 - Salsa Fargo 3 - Old Town Bicycle
Salsa Vaya 3 - Salsa Vaya 3 - Old Town Bicycle
Salsa Warbird 3 - Salsa Warbird 3 - Old Town Bicycle

I dunno if I understand what the heck I'm looking at and what I've read, so let me know where I am way off base please (note - i'm not necessarily looking at buying one of these 3 specifically, just trying to understand the differences when I look at components and the build of various bikes)

To me, the Fargo looks like a mountain bike with drop handlebars, the Warbird looks like a road bike with thick tires, and the Vaya is a hybrid between the 2. From a functional standpoint, is that what they are essentially? The Fargo a "mountain bike lite", the Warbird a 'gutsy road bike' and the Vaya the genetic cross between the 2?

Looking at the chainrings and rear cogs as specified, it seems the Vaya seems to have substantially more gearing options and I assume a much higher "potential" top speed, while the Fargo will be best in really difficult terrain (3 chainrings for that "really low" gearing)

What other type of "functional" differences are there? I'm not necessarily talking about "SRAM vs. Shimano" or whatever, more like "the Vaya has <component> which makes it far better suited for <activity>".

Again, just trying to really research and figure out what it is I'm looking at (And what I need to look for) when I do make a purchase, as I want to end up with something that is going to suit my needs and last for awhile.
I bike about 16.5 miles to work each day, mostly on hardball, but there are some trail areas which are mostly just gravel, divots, soft and hard-packed dirt and rocks and some potholes that tend to sneak up out of nowhere. I want something that won't suck on the road but won't fall apart if I hit a pothole or go over some tough gravel and potholes and such. I love my little Trek 820 but it really sucks on the road. I'd also like to someday not have to carry my stuff to work with a darn backpack, that gets tiring and obnoxious on the shoulders and neck, obviously.

anyway, thanks again for any time spent on helping me out or explaining stuff. I'm doing my reading, I promise, just trying to calibrate my eyeballs to ensure I understand what I'm reading.
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Old 08-29-14, 06:36 PM
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Is there a question in all of that? Are you looking to buy a new "touring" bike? Don't obsess over gears. That can all be changed out when you purchase, if purchased at a decent LBS. Just select that bike that you find comfortable to ride.

Many people choose traditional touring bikes but that really isn't necessary. Touring bikes do have a lot of advantages like longer wheelbase, ability to fit wider tires / fenders, more heavy duty braking etc. etc. If you can afford one then it they are worth a look. They can be pricy. Jamis has the Aurora that sells for under $1000 US. It is an excellent deal.
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Old 08-29-14, 07:14 PM
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Go for the Vaya, or similar. Widest gear range for steep hills, mounting points for a rack to unload your back, will take wide tires for your commute on sketchey surfaces, narrow, lighter tires for road touring. (You may need a second set of rims for <32 mm tires.)

Ignore advice that you gotta have >32mm tires for loaded touring on pavement. 28's or even 25's are just fine, and more responsive.

Fit is First. Be careful there.
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Old 08-29-14, 08:00 PM
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Haven't we already had this discussion? You seem like the type to suffer from "analysis paralysis". Maybe it's time to go test-ride a couple of bikes? You'll likely learn more by doing that than from reading Internet forum posts...
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Old 08-29-14, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel
Haven't we already had this discussion? You seem like the type to suffer from "analysis paralysis". Maybe it's time to go test-ride a couple of bikes? You'll likely learn more by doing that than from reading Internet forum posts...
yes, we discussed many of those things, and thanks for responses. I was trying to understand what else I'm looking at is all.
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Old 08-29-14, 10:44 PM
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Try some bikes, get the one you like to ride then get an Extrawheel trailer to haul camping gear.
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Old 08-29-14, 11:47 PM
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Hi! Three years ago I was in the exact same position as yourself, trying to figure it all out. Although this is my first post here on BF I've been a lurker for years, and mostly owe it to BF for what I've learned. Coincidentally, after the process of what you're doing now, I eventually purchased a 2012 Salsa Casseroll (now discontinued) - not a touring bike though a tourer was initially what I thought I wanted, and much research was done toward that goal.

I read the Salsa manufacturer forum at MTBR; your basic impressions of Fargo, Vaya, and Warbird are essentially correct, except that the Warbird should not be considered a true touring bike because the frame allows only a double crankset and does not have eyelets for racks. It would probably work for ultralight framebag touring on pavement. The Fargo is a rigid 29er mountain bike and the Vaya is a heavy-duty 700c road bike. The Fargo is stouter and and slower on roads than the Vaya, but it can go into offroad territory where the Vaya should not.

You're right about differences in the bikes' gearing. The Warbird has a 46-36 crank with a 36-30t low gear; it's intended as a quick cross bike, not a tourer. The Vaya's road 52-42-30 crankset with a 30-30t low gear is unusually high gearing for a bike advertised for touring, but some other manufacturers have similar on their "tour" models. If you have expectations of climbing under a load, the crankset should probably be swapped for a "touring triple." The Fargo's mountain double 42-28 with a 28-36t low is more suitable low gearing for tours and climbs, but its top gear of 42-11t is not very quick on smooth roads and downhills. Combined with the Fargo's overall hefty frame profile and wider 29er tires, it's not a lithe or quick bike for long rides on pavement. The Fargo is limited to a double crankset; most touring bike are triples for a wider range of gearing to account for load weight and terrain.

Hope this helped somewhat. A search on "Salsa Vaya vs Fargo" or any "[bike model] vs [bike model]" here at BF or on the internet will offer all the detailed first-hand information and opinions you could wish.
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Old 08-30-14, 05:25 AM
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my take on it is the warbird is out. it's not a touring bike. Like others have said, the Vaya is a better "touring bike" for roads and the Fargo is better if it's going to be more off road. I just got a Fargo because I expect to use it off road as well as on road. If I was going to use the bike on gravel and dirt fire roads I'd go for the Fargo simply because with the Fargo when you see a left turn down a worse road, you can probably take it. If your gravel road takes you to pavement in 1/2mi and you're going to stay on pavement 90% of the time, then go with the Vaya but if you're going to end up on wet, muddy, dirt roads at times, the Fargo can't be beat. I got the Fargo3 but I do wish it had higher end components and even lower gearing. I'm probably going to swap out the crankset for lower gearing but we'll see. People tend to adapt to whatever their riding. You'll go where you can and do what you can with the bike; the trick is to realistically evaluate what you actually WILL do with the bike before you buy it. That's not always so easy.
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Old 08-31-14, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by athasi
Hi! Three years ago I was in the exact same position as yourself, trying to figure it all out. Although this is my first post here on BF I've been a lurker for years, and mostly owe it to BF for what I've learned. Coincidentally, after the process of what you're doing now, I eventually purchased a 2012 Salsa Casseroll (now discontinued) - not a touring bike though a tourer was initially what I thought I wanted, and much research was done toward that goal.

I read the Salsa manufacturer forum at MTBR; your basic impressions of Fargo, Vaya, and Warbird are essentially correct, except that the Warbird should not be considered a true touring bike because the frame allows only a double crankset and does not have eyelets for racks. It would probably work for ultralight framebag touring on pavement. The Fargo is a rigid 29er mountain bike and the Vaya is a heavy-duty 700c road bike. The Fargo is stouter and and slower on roads than the Vaya, but it can go into offroad territory where the Vaya should not.

You're right about differences in the bikes' gearing. The Warbird has a 46-36 crank with a 36-30t low gear; it's intended as a quick cross bike, not a tourer. The Vaya's road 52-42-30 crankset with a 30-30t low gear is unusually high gearing for a bike advertised for touring, but some other manufacturers have similar on their "tour" models. If you have expectations of climbing under a load, the crankset should probably be swapped for a "touring triple." The Fargo's mountain double 42-28 with a 28-36t low is more suitable low gearing for tours and climbs, but its top gear of 42-11t is not very quick on smooth roads and downhills. Combined with the Fargo's overall hefty frame profile and wider 29er tires, it's not a lithe or quick bike for long rides on pavement. The Fargo is limited to a double crankset; most touring bike are triples for a wider range of gearing to account for load weight and terrain.

Hope this helped somewhat. A search on "Salsa Vaya vs Fargo" or any "[bike model] vs [bike model]" here at BF or on the internet will offer all the detailed first-hand information and opinions you could wish.
Originally Posted by digibud
my take on it is the warbird is out. it's not a touring bike. Like others have said, the Vaya is a better "touring bike" for roads and the Fargo is better if it's going to be more off road. I just got a Fargo because I expect to use it off road as well as on road. If I was going to use the bike on gravel and dirt fire roads I'd go for the Fargo simply because with the Fargo when you see a left turn down a worse road, you can probably take it. If your gravel road takes you to pavement in 1/2mi and you're going to stay on pavement 90% of the time, then go with the Vaya but if you're going to end up on wet, muddy, dirt roads at times, the Fargo can't be beat. I got the Fargo3 but I do wish it had higher end components and even lower gearing. I'm probably going to swap out the crankset for lower gearing but we'll see. People tend to adapt to whatever their riding. You'll go where you can and do what you can with the bike; the trick is to realistically evaluate what you actually WILL do with the bike before you buy it. That's not always so easy.

thank you very much the both of you, between this thread and the other thread, I am feeling a lot more confident about the $$$ aspect and not so worried about spending it improperly.
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Old 09-01-14, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by sgtrobo
thank you very much the both of you, between this thread and the other thread, I am feeling a lot more confident about the $$$ aspect and not so worried about spending it improperly.
You're welcome. Much thought and emotion, both psychological and financial, can go into making that first big bike purchase.

Originally Posted by digibud
You'll go where you can and do what you can with the bike; the trick is to realistically evaluate what you actually WILL do with the bike before you buy it. That's not always so easy.
This is the truth. When I wanted to start riding a bike again as an adult, my husband's co-worker generously gave me her old Trek 800. After a time I wanted to buy a new bike, in part because it would be the first one I purchased in my life.

After research and reading biking forums, I fell in love with the idea of a touring bike; I loved its utility and capability. Eventually we drove a few times from Tallahassee to Gainesville, which has many more bike stores, to test ride bikes including Salsas and Surlys.

When it came time to decide on what to buy, I realized it was very unlikely I would do any kind of heavy-duty touring in my forseeable future. Life responsibilities and my own inclinations whittled my touring fantasies to a more realistic (for me) expectations of 1-3 day excursions, probably credit-card style. And of course, almost all of my riding wouldn't be on tours. I didn't envision needing to carry more than 20-25 lbs. of whatever with me on a bicycle. What I was most likely to do with a bicycle didn't require a touring or tough adventure bike, and as a small-to-average sized woman, the stiffer ride quality of an unloaded stout frame didn't have any advantage.

I finally chose the Salsa Casseroll because it was a better fit or what my real bicycling goals were. The 2011/2012 models were much more attractive than online photos, and I loved the ride. Though finally I decided against purchasing a actual touring bike, I was still in love with a touring-style setup and had the new Casseroll modified with Dura-Ace barcons instead of brifters and a Deore rear derailleur and cassette replacing the Tiagra 12-25t. I now have a wider gear range than I really use, but it gives me that "touring" sense of confidence I can ride uphill with whatever weight I can safely carry.

I'm happy with the bike I chose over my initial inclinations. Though my love of tours and touring bikes hasn't diminished, the Casseroll's frame tech, capabilities, and ride quality are more appropriate to what I actually do on a bicycle including my preferred style of light bike touring. And there's always n+1.

You appear to have clearer expectations of what you want your new bike to accomplish than I did, so you may not need serious reanalysis before purchase. Autumn and early winter can be a good time to buy a bike; current and earlier model inventory often get discounted and there's the push for holiday sales. Good luck on the search and let us know what you decide to buy!
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Old 09-01-14, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by athasi
You're welcome. Much thought and emotion, both psychological and financial, can go into making that first big bike purchase.

yes, that is exactly true. It's why I'm overthinking things. It's more than just the finances, I don't want to dick up my first "real" purchase here, I'd like it to last me a few years and I'd hate to have buyer's remorse on something that expensive

I finally chose the Salsa Casseroll because it was a better fit or what my real bicycling goals were.

this is one of those issues I have, truly analyzing how I'll use the bike. I don't want to buy one and say "well, I kinda locked myself out of doing that since my bike isn't capable".

You appear to have clearer expectations of what you want your new bike to accomplish than I did, so you may not need serious reanalysis before purchase. Autumn and early winter can be a good time to buy a bike; current and earlier model inventory often get discounted and there's the push for holiday sales. Good luck on the search and let us know what you decide to buy!

thanks a ton for the feedback, great stuff!
^^
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