A closer look at Salsa steel road bikes

If you've been reading the blog and blog comments for anytime, I think most of you readers know the retiring of the S3 Primero and the OX Plat La Raza has been a hot topic. I thought we'd take a little time to dig a little deeper into these two models and briefly discuss some direction for Salsa steel road bikes.

First, just a little history to bring folks up to speed and to get readers on the same page. Last year we discontinued the Primero road bike. The Primero was our highest end road bike and our most expensive production bike we've ever done. It was a beauty and while many folks debated the merits of a sloping design vs traditional, few could find fault in the way this model rode. It is a beauty and those whom are lucky enough to own one rave about the ride quality. We discontinued the Primero because the s3 tubing proved difficult to manufacturer on a larger production scale and frankly, we didn't sell enough of them to justify the time, money and effort. It is sad. I know of at least 2 of the Salsa crew that still wish they would have bought one....Me being one of them.

To make matters worse, we also discontinued the OX Platinum steel road model this year. The La Raza is a beautiful bike. Classic lines. Simple and effective carbon fork. A real looker if you ask me. The La Raza is quite a contrast to the Primero. Not only did the bikes have vastly different geometry, they had very different price points and in the end, they had very different reasons for leaving our range. The La Raza left our range because it was in our range just a little too long in its current configuration. It lasted 3 years with the same paint, same geometry and very few changes. That's a long time for a model to endure and a testament to its classic nature.

That leaves our beautiful, comfortable and versatile Casseroll as our lone remaining steel road bike. Despite the great ride and simple beauty of the Casseroll, we know this isn't the high end bike that many folks desire from Salsa. I want to acknowledge that. While I personally thought the Casseroll would hurt the La Raza in sales numbers, it wasn't until recently that I personally realized how much I appreciated the beautiful and classic La Raza and believe there is a unique position in our line up for such a bike.

From our perspective, we think it is pretty darn interesting that we've heard more about these models since we discontinued them than when we had them in stock. There are a lot of potential reasons for that including a growing demand for Salsa, a decline in high quality production steel bikes, and the fact that our Casseroll doesn't meet the needs of the high end performance steel customer. I know there is more to this than that, but this is long post and I don't want to make it longer.

So....If any of our readers or dealers want to purchase either a Primero or a La Raza, here is a fairly complete list of remaining inventory from our Authorized Salsa Dealers. Pricing and details are between you and the following dealers. Call them, email them or stop in to check for complete details. Check geometry here in the archive. Remember, the Primero is a sloping design (add 7cm to the frame size for the effective top tube length)

Grand Performance
Saint Paul, MN
Primero 49, 51

Robinson Wheelworks
San Leandro, CA
Primero 47
La Raza 49, 54, 56, 58

Alpine Shop
St. Louis, MO
La Raza 54, 56

World of Bikes
Iowa City, IA
La Raza 54, 56

Bicycle Business
Sacramento, CA
Primero 49
La Raza 52, 54, 58

Cycle Smith
Salt Lake City, UT
Primero 47

Bath Cycle and Ski
Woolwich, ME
La Raza 54

Bike Works
New Braunfels, TX
La Raza, 54, 56

Counter Balance Bicycles
Seattle, WA
La Raza 52, 60

Surfin Cycle Xenia
937 376 7873
Xenia, OH
La Raza 58

Hollywood Pro Cycles
Hollywood, CA
La Raza 54, 58

Now....Onto the future.

One thing that is partially out of our control is timing. We sure wish we didn't have this void of high end performance steel road bikes in our line up right now. We know we do. While we are not ready to talk about the exact details of our future line up, we can tell you that we hear you and we are working to deliver a high end steel road bike for model year 2009. That's all we can say right now.

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Jason Boucher

Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.


 Guitar Ted |

Funny all this “steel” road bike talk is bubbling up in an era of carbon fiber road everything. I was just in the basement today looking at my two old trusty steel steeds, (a Tomassini and a Colnago Super) and wondering if I’d ever see a really cool steel road bike with modern touches again. <BR><BR>Looks like I probably will. I’ll be here waiting….........

 Anonymous |

I never realized the La Raza accepted 28c tires…that would be awesome.  I couldn’t get over the sinister political implications of the name “la raza” and its association with Aztlan.  Great bike, horrible name.<BR><BR>I’d love to see a decent steel tubeset on a bike with slightly relaxed geometry, room for 32c or 28c tires, and a steel straight-blade fork.

 Anonymous |

as a current Casseroll owner, I can asure you that I’ll be waiting in line for a new higher end Salsa Steel road bike when they arrive.

 Jason |

I’d love a sexier, updated version of the La Raza, in either 853 or Ox Platinum. Maybe with a slightly sloping top tube, straight blade ALU/carbon fork and room for 28 tires.<BR><BR>I looked hard at the Primero, but it was a bit too much “rocket ship” for me. The Campeon is a gorgeous bike and I like Scandium, but I’m not crazy about lots of carbon (forks excluded).<BR><BR>How about something in steel in between the Campeon and Primero?

 Smitty |

I hope the readers of this blog go and scoop up those remaining frames.  I look forward to seeing what you give us for 09, but I won’t be giving up my Primero!

 Anonymous |

New high end steel complete road offering for ‘09 is great news.  No complete scandium, though?

 Butcher |

Scandium Completes? = Remember, this is a post about steel.  We’ll share our direction with scandium at another time.

 Anonymous |

Salsa will have quite a challenge improving upon the already beautiful and classic La Raza, but I’m sure they’ll rise up to it.  About the only thing I’d change from La Raza on a new high end steel road frameset would be slope the top tube no more than 5 degrees to add a bit of stiffness; make the rear triangle OX Plat as well as the main triangle; add a full carbon fork (i.e. carbon steerer as well).  If I were to offer it as a complete bike, I’d offer it with a group no lower than Ultegra level.  Looking forward to the new offering in 2009!

 Anonymous |

Ditto above, and would also add that the complete steel road bike offering should weight no more than 18 lbs.  Otherwise, it’ll be too tempting to go with a complete aluminum (i.e. scandium) road bike offering instead.

 Rico |

I’ve owned a 47cm Primero, since late Summer 07.  Fabulous ride, and to that end, I emailed Pepper Man, raving about the ride quality, after ~300 miles.  A knock-out tubing set, and quality construction.  Sorry to say that I wasn’t surprised to hear of it’s demise—difficult to sell a high-end steel frame, unless perhaps, from a custom builder.  The construction is probably bloody difficult as well with that thin tubing, and you can see where the welder struggled a bit to maintain a tight, even, bead. With a sweet, snappy, ride quality, and ample BB and rear triangle stiffness, it climbs well, and never ‘wags it’s tail’ during sprints or during wicked descents.  It’s a keeper, for sure.

 Anonymous |

Serotta’s stock Fierte Steel road complete road offering comes in at 18.1 lbs (54 cm) and $3,000 with full Ultegra.  It has carbon stays and an Alpha Q CS-10 fork.  <BR><BR>Now, if Salsa can do a high end steel complete road offering at no more than 18.25 lbs, and sell it for $2,000, it should blow Serotta out of the water in the ‘plush’ category and win the ‘2009 best plush bike’ category in Bicycling Magazine (I’m not a big fan of this mag, but it would give Salsa great exposure and possibly even increase sales).

 Anonymous |

I’d love to see something that keeps the classic lines and paint. With at least the same tire clearance. An option for a carbon or matching steel fork might be an idea worth considering…..

 Anonymous |

I’d also love to see a complete Campeon offering, although one that looks more traditional, and less tacky than the current one.  Think back to the amazingly classy, yet racy 2004 red/black Campeon.  I’m ready to pay $2,500 for a sub-18 lb. complete offering with full Dura Ace anytime Salsa is ready to offer it (hopefully for the ‘09 line?).

 Anonymous |

I agree with the post above concerning the current graphics on the Campeon.  They need to be toned down.  Salsa has done such a great job with the graphics on its newer bikes.  They should carry this on to the Campeon.  <BR><BR>Here’s what Bicycling magazine had to say about the Campeon (in their May ‘08 review): <BR><BR>Buy It If: You want a…bike that’s stiff in all the right ways yet still quite comfortable <BR><BR>Forget It If: This Salsa’s bold graphics are too spicy for your tastes—it’s a love or hate affair

 Anonymous |

For an example of how to do a classy scandium frame, take a look at what IRD did back in ‘05 with it’s Elite road frame (now discontinued).<BR><BR>As an aside, I’m not sure scandium has much of a future when it comes to road racing.  Carbon has pretty much become the standard.  I think scandium still makes sense in cross or mtb, but no longer in road. Most aluminum road frames being built today are lower end, and more for enthusiasts than racers.<BR><BR>Perhaps it’s time Salsa did a carbon road frame?

 kenjihara |

I had my eye on a LaRaza for a while now, wanting to replace my hard-working steel bike with something a little classier, and I had a work opportunity coming up this summer where I knew I would be coming into a bit of extra money… the LaRaza was discontinued seemingly ten minutes before I had the money for it… why toy with my emotions like this?

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