Casseroll and a Little Casseroll History

Greetings Amigos. I hope that everyone is doing well. I want to thank many of you for all the ideas in the Blog Topic Brainstorm post. Salsa got a lot of good ideas. Not sure how we'll use some of them yet, but there are some real gems in there. One thing for sure is that lots of folks are interested in the design process and some of the decisions that go into a final product. Today, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the Casseroll and how it came to life.

First, I'd like to share where and how the Casseroll idea came to life and also identify some of the key folks invovled in this project. Almost 3 years ago Kid Riemer, Peter Redin (now with Surly bikes) and I went to Japan to re-introduce the Salsa brand to Japan. It was an amazing trip. If you are interested to know more about that trip, check out Kid Riemer's recap of the trip in our blog archives. Click here. Truly an amazing trip and Kid's recap and pictures are awesome.

On one day we went to a high end commuter focused shop. It was beautiful. Not one part was out of place. It had a beautiful wood espresso bar and a meticulous work bench and small parts area. As I looked at the walls in this place I saw unbuilt cross bikes from IBIS, Bontrager and Zunow. We had a great conversation here about the need for a higher end commuter friendly road bike. Later that night, we got together with some Japanese dealers and a bunch of our distributor's employees. Many beers and plates & plates of chicken wings were consumed. I learned so much this night and asked at least 100 beer induced questions about bicycle products and ideas.

A couple of nights later before leaving for home, Kid, Peter and I grabbed some beers and hung out in a hotel overlooking the Shinjuku shopping area. We just kept coming back to this idea of a more versatile road bike. We kept talking about what "It" was. These conversations went on for quite some time. Weeks in fact.

Later after we returned home, we still talked a lot about this bike. We started to include some other folks in our work group and a few from the product design work group. Once we decided we had a valid idea and did just a bit of research on how to position this bike in the market, we formalized the criteria and turned it over to Joe Meiser (our industrial designer) and the product team. Ideas and designs were developed and prototyped. Wes and Kid Riemer nailed the graphics and the rest as they say is history.

The Casseroll will be the best selling model for Salsa in 2008. It such a nice road bike. Hard to believe considering most folks think we are a mountain bike company and others only look to us for either Cross or 29" mountain bikes.

I'd like to share my own personal Casseroll as a focus point of this discussion. Yesterday was my first ride on this beauty. I picked my components for this bike to really keep it true to where and how the Casseroll concept was created. The parts were carefully chosen to reflect the inspiration and what I personally like in components.

For me the highlites of this build are the parts I purchased or received as gifts from our Japanese partners and friends. Each of these components have so much style, function, durability and beauty. I think they are the perfect match for the Casseroll. Those parts include a Nitto bar, Nitto cromoly stem, Nitto cromoly racks, Nitto forged seat post and Honjo hand hammered fenders (fenders not installed yet). The only US made non Japanese inspired components on this bike are the Paul Thumby shifter adapters. Fortunately, they were designed for nice Japanese Shimano bar end shifters.

We'll share more on some of the defining decisions of the Casseroll at a later time. Decisions include tubing selection, color, names, drop outs, geometry, etc. If you've got a specific question about the Casseroll, let me know and I'll do my best to answer it.

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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.


 Smitty |

You know, when you do a posting like this one for Casseroll (and I presume you will do it for other bikes) you should link to it from the Casseroll Bike page.  I think hearing this story will help sell some people on the bike, plus I think the shots of Jason’s bike might get some people thinking about what they could do with their Casseroll to make it their own.  And it’s a good way for you to get some more people sucked into the brand, like most of us who are posting here.

 Anonymous |

Mick—you may want to take a look at La Raza.  And you may want to do so before Salsa decides to pull it from their lineup.  I never was able to get my hands on a Primero, and I wish Salsa had been more open about telling clients how limited the Primero’s production run would be.  Now all I can do is wait for Salsa to release a new S3 or Ti road frame.

 Anonymous |

MAYDAY!  Salsa ship hit yet again, this time by a Titanium torpedo!<BR><BR> reports Planet X (sister brand of On-One) has just launched a Sportive Ti road bike, made in USA—not Taiwan like Salsa—by Lynskey, and selling for much less than a Lynskey-branded Ti bike.  <BR><BR>Salsa, retaliate!

 Victor |

I agree with Smitty, I would love to understand how you came at the market positioning?  We all think we see trends, but how to choose positioning, especially for something so versatile, would be really neat to know something about!

 Anonymous |

The graphics are the only unfortunate thing about the new casseroll. Last years sticker kit was much cleaner and sharper. Now it appears as if the cassseroll went to college and got some tribal tattoo’s to try to prove something. I am an owner of one and love the bike but am much happier with the look of the 07 model.

 Anonymous |

I was disappointed to see the La Raza now in the Archive section of the website, suffering the same fate as Primero.  I guess it’s now official then: the Casseroll has taken over the La Raza segment.  Is this good or bad?  Well, if you’re a retrogrouch this might be good.  However, if you’re a roadie, or someone who is more forward-looking, and if you were hoping Salsa would make good on its promise to be more than just an mtb brand, it’s not so good.  The onus is now on Salsa to demonstrate it can be a serious road brand when Interbike ‘08 rolls around.

 Anonymous |

1st: just picked up my Caseroll from my LBS with some immediate mods: nitto noodle bars and a brooks swift saddle and woody’s fenders to style it up vs. the stock sks’<BR>2nd: i too mourn the demise of the Primero, it would have been my choice a couple of years ago except for the limited clearance for larger tires (my roads are rough and i like 700x28’s)<BR>3rd: personally, i think that a higher-end tube set would probably add nothing, except cost, to this ride…check out Rivendell’s web site for more on this philosophy.<BR>4th: i like the new stickers/graphics although the old ones were just fine.

 Smitty |

Thank you for the Casseroll story, that was great.  Keep the story coming.  This small comment, “Once we decided we had a valid idea and did just a bit of research on how to position this bike in the market” has me intrigued. If you get a chance, could you elaborate on the research done at this point?<BR><BR>My $0.02:  Sloping top tubes are not a trend.  There is a place in the industry, and in Salsa’s line, for both “classic” and sloping geometry.

 Anonymous |

Wow!  Lynskey just blasted a shot over Salsa’s bow at the 2008 NAHBS with a new S3 road bike.<BR><BR>Take that, Primero!<BR><BR>Will Salsa fire its cannons back at Lynskey at Interbike 2008?  I sure hope so!

 Anonymous |

Lynskey is also now making both road and mtb Ti frames for UK-based On-One Cycles, which one could argue is a Salsa peer and competitor.  <BR><BR>So On-One will have its own branded Ti frames to compete with Salsa (Salsa has no Ti frames to date).<BR><BR>As Sigue Sigue Sputnik would have sung back in the 80’s: “Salsa, hit back, HIT BACK!”

 Anonymous |

Yes, love the utilitarian sport/touring Casseroll design, it is fantastic and a great value!  I recommend this frame to anyone looking for the do-it-all bike.<BR><BR>If you only unveiled a Casseroll made out of better tubing (like the OX of the La Cruz) AND with either S&S couplers or the Ritchey BreakAway system, I’d be in heaven.<BR><BR>Looking forward to another good season racing my Campeon & to the 2008 road offerings.<BR><BR>Thanks, <BR>Mick

 Anonymous |

That Casseroll sure looks tasty!  <BR><BR>Hopefully we’ll see a full carbon frame/complete bike from Salsa at Interbike ‘08…

 Jason |

Great post with some cool insight!

 Anonymous |

Dear Salsa Claus:<BR><BR>Here’s my wish for Interbike 2008:<BR><BR>A full-carbon complete road bike called “El Negro”.<BR><BR>Yours,<BR><BR>Loyal Salsa customer

 commuter13 |

In responce to the first comment regarding the braze-ons on the down tube.  One of my employees, I own a bike shop, had is dad machine chili peppers in red and silver that fit over the braze-ons.  I know he has several extras.<BR>Let me know.  If you want pic’s I can send those too!<BR>

 Guitar Ted |

Jason, thanks for that “genesis” story on the Casseroll. I remember reading the incredible tales from Japan. Must have been quite an influential trip, by all accounts.<BR><BR>I will happily wait for the rest of this story. I love stuff like this. It gives the bikes more depth and meaning to us readers. Instead of “just another top tube decal” I now have a bike with a story behind it to look at. (Obviously I don’t own a Casseroll, but maybe I should!)<BR><BR>Thanks for the rack bit. I thought it looked like a Nitto.

 Dan Bailey |

I’d love to hear the same story about the Campeon.  Particularly the reason to go with scandium, and the switch in 2007 in the reduced-geometry setup.<BR><BR>(I love mine by the way, and I’m dying for spring to get here.  I need to riiiiiide.)

 Anonymous |

New Salsa road offerings for Interbike 2008 is great news!<BR><BR>Please, though, no more compact geometry.  That trend must end.<BR><BR>Nothing like a beautiful top tube that looks like a perfectly non-sloping line far away on the horizon, beyond the interminable ocean.

 MG |

I’ll play devil’s advocate to the anonymous post above and say that I’m a fan of having some slope on the TT of a road bike, so my opinion is that Salsa nailed it with the Casseroll design.<BR><BR>I like relatively long headtubes for the ability to achieve a good fit without resorting to rise stems and/or lots of spacers under the stem. I also like running a fair amount of exposed seatpost for the compliance it can impart on the ride.<BR><BR>The dropouts on the Casseroll are another design element I’m a big fan of.  They are beautiful, functional and versatile.  Aside from the possible addition of a disc mount, what more could you want?  Not much, IMHO.<BR><BR>Nice work Jason.  Those Nitto racks are awesome.  I want some of those for my La Cruz now…  I can’t wait to see it with the fenders installed.<BR><BR>Cheers,<BR>MG

 Butcher |

Regarding the shifter bosses.  <BR><BR>Personally, when I had my 2007 Casseroll set up as a single speed, I used Shimano down tube shifter adapters and removed the barrel adjusters.  That looked pretty good.  Long term, somoene (maybe us) will be making some nice little covers for those things.  Who knows?  <BR><BR>Regarding rumors of Casseroll replacing La Raza.  Not true.  They are different bikes with unique design criteria.  <BR><BR>I understand how it looks right now with the Primero going away and the discussions about the La Raza.  Do not worry.  We are working hard on our road offering and hope to show some new additions at Interbike 2008.  Nothing more on that though.

 spoken |

I’m building my Caserole as a single speed and was wondering what to put on the two braze ons on the down tube (You have what look like cable stops?)<BR><BR>Suggestions welcome.

 Anonymous |

A great story about a great bike with great prospects.  I hope Casseroll will be the breakthrough Salsa expects.  <BR><BR>Perhaps it would help to dispell the market perception that Salsa is strictly an ‘mtb’ brand by giving us a similar story on:<BR><BR>1. La Raza<BR><BR>2. Campeon<BR><BR>3. Primero<BR><BR>4. A new road bike concept Salsa might be working on.<BR><BR>I’ve heard rumors Casseroll is replacing La Raza.  Is that true?  It it were, I think that would be a mistake.  If anything, Salsa needs more, not less road offerings.  I also think La Raza fills a nice space between the ‘commuter friendly’ and ‘relaxed’ Casseroll and the ‘racer’ and ‘aggressive’ Campeon.  <BR><BR>I also thought the incredible Primero really made Salsa stand out in terms of road frames, and it made me take a serious look at Salsa as a ‘road brand’ for the first time.  I was sad to see it go, and hope it will be replaced (or resurrected) by something similar soon.

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