CULTURE BLOG

ADVENTURE BY BIKE®

El Kaboing and Big Mama - A Pictoral

Hopefully, you've already checked out our two new models. If not, please take a close look at our newest models, El Kaboing and Big Mama. These bikes started a long, long time ago. Thankfully, the time is here to share them. I'd like to take a few moments to introduce you to our new models and to share just a little about their history.

The story behind these bikes is that we really wanted to design and build the best all day riding trail bikes we could. These two model represent what Salsa believes is industry leading in performance, reliability, durability and attention to detail. That says something, but the reality is that these are bikes we wanted to build because we ourselves wanted to ride them. Frankly, for me personally, these bikes have allowed me to ride more, ride faster and ride longer without straining my lower back.

In the end, we think we've built 2 very cool bikes that have some very unique and innovative thinking designed into them. Here's a visual history and few words discussing some of the earlier prototypes and cool features. Please don't take my words as complete or as if I designed these bikes. While I was certainly involved in the end result and rode these bikes a lot, these words and pictures are just my experiences and thoughts. These bikes challenged us. Our whole team should be given credit for these great new products.

V1 is a fun bike. We wanted to try a few things with this bike that we hadn't done on our previous suspension bikes, the El Santo and Cabellero. With this prototype, we tested a forward pivot location and some hydroformed tubing. As I said already, this bike is fun...going downhill! With a forward pivot location, this bikes handles bumps really well. The long pivot arm (distance from front pivot to wheel axle) just feels like it gobbles up bumps. Unfortunately, we didn't like the way this bike climbed. I rode this bike quite a bit anyway because it was so darn comfy and fun. I also took this bike to Fruita with a short riser stem and big tires. I had a blast until I crashed and broke my shifter. The bike is currently being rebuilt as a "play" bike. The build includes a new Shimano SLX group, a prototype 120mm Reba, and Salsa Gordo rims with big tires. It will also be the test sled for our prototype Maxle rear drop outs. Sweet bike.

I've ridden this bike in MN, IA, CO & CA. I love this bike. It is closer to our final product in several ways. It has the correct rear lower BB pivot point. It also has our custom, round drawn tubes. Every tube on this bike is custom drawn Scandium. Of all the prototypes, this is the bike I've ridden the most. I got it last July. I've had it set up light with my XTR group, DT 240s wheels with Semi rims, and fast 2.0 tires. I've also had it set up burly to serve as a borderline All Mountain bike with Gordo 35mm rims and 2.35 tires. Currently, I'm testing a FOX F29 120mm fork on it as this prototype has a slightly modified geometry that works really well with the longer axle to crown of the F29120mm. I also set the rear end up with a bit more sag. It is what I'd call my training or everyday bike. My body loves the plush 120mm. However, it is clearly not as dialed nor as fast as Version 3. If I am riding with my fast friends, I always pick V3.

This bike is very, very close to final production bike. Everything about this bike is refined quite a bit from the previous 2 versions. Geometry is optimized for longer offset 29er forks. Our new seat tube is so much cleaner and stronger with fewer welds. It has a 31.6 seat post if you want to run a height adjust post. It also uses our 1 piece forged link, as opposed to 2 piece on V1 & V2. Speaking of forgings, every part on this bike that isn't a tube, a bolt or a bearing is forged. Forging is stronger and on average 10% lighter than an identical CNC'd part. One other big difference is the upper pivot location on the seat tube. We changed this slightly to tune the flex of the rear seat stays. The result is amazing. This bike's been ridden a lot and currently is my main ride for our Tuesday night group rides. I made a special trip to California in Feb to ride this bike. I rode it in Malibu, Orange (San Juan), and in San Diego. In fact, the bike survived a long 6 hour day in Noble Canyon while I did not.

It's hard to pick a favorite part of this bike. Every part is really well thought out. We pained over little details, even the cable routing. All 3 prototypes above have different cable routing. In the end, we ended up having size specific cable routing. Every bike size is optimized to have the straightest and cleanest routing.

I'd like to share some close up visuals and details of the rear end. There are some very unique and cool things going on here.

The post mount disc brake mount is quite possibly the most innovative part of this bike. Do you think there is a reason why all the fork manufacturers are switching to post mounts? Post mounts are stronger. They are simple. They remove the sheer forces on the bolts. Totally cool. Do you think there is a reason no one has done them on the rear end yet? It's hard. It's costly. They have to be forged. It requires all new tooling and quality control. We did it anyway. One note, if you want to run bigger rotors, all you have to do is buy post mount fork adapters for your specific brand of brake.

In addition to the post mounts, the drop outs themselves are pretty well thought out too. Forged. Strong. Removable. Replaceable. Giant weld surfaces. Standard and durable chain ring bolt hardware. We are also testing prototype Maxle dropouts. Sweet.

As I said earlier, every tube on these bikes is custom drawn Scandium. The custom seat stays are tuned into the ride. They actually enhance the ride and are one of the reasons this bikes bobs so little and climbs so well. They are darn sexy too! Salsa has been pushing and innovating with the flat Scandium stays for several years and these are a work of art. For those folks wondering just how much flex is in the stays, the answer is 8mm of flex on the El Kaboing and 5mm of flex on the Big Mama. Not much. The custom drawn chain stays are pretty notable as well. Notice the swooping nature of the stays. This reduces chain slap and optimizes welding surface at the drop out.

In the end, we are really proud of these bikes. They ride so great. You can ride them all day. That said, we know not everyone will like them. Oh well, you can't please everyone. But even if you don't like like them, we think you can probably appreciate some of the finer details or design elements we put into these bikes.

Again, these are just a few pictures and notes from the prototypes. For all the other details on the final version, please take a look at the frame and bike pages at http://www.salsacycles.com/. Also look at the various animations of the suspension movement and the slide presentation.

These bikes are dialed. Now it's time to go ride them with some important industry people. They've come from as far as Japan and the UK. We are off to spend 3 days in the woods riding, camping and having fun. We'll be back in the office on Friday to answer questions.

El Kaboing and Big Mama. Two new bikes. Too much fun.


Ride & Smile!

Share this post:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

COMMENTS (21)

 Marty |

Thank you thank you thank you!<BR><BR><BR>Hawt bike, and am I ever glad to see it ‘oot and aboot’. Can’t wait to ride one.<BR><BR>Any chance at all of having a few samples at Decorah yet?

 Joshua L |

Nice work.  Can’t wait to try it out!

 Anonymous |

It’s great to see Salsa taking a mental leap (pun intended) and puting out these two new complete bikes.  From an aesthetic point of view, I would’ve preferred to see a complete El Santo. The tubing on the new offerings is a bit too ‘different’ for me.  I also prefer the old decals to the ones used on the new offerings.  That’s just personal taste.  I’m sure they’re great bikes, though.  Buen trabajo, Salsa!

 Anonymous |

I like the two new bikes, but will the El Santo stay for the comming years?

 Smitty |

Nice work Salsa Amigos.  Can’t wait to test ride meself.

 Lynx |

Jason and Crew, excellent work. it would seem that you did your homework, browsed online, listened to what people were saying and implemented alot of things people would like to see on a FS. I love that both drop out are bolt on leaving the option to go bolt through, that you’ve used Enduro bearings for durability and doubled them up on the drive side. The build/complete bike parts selection is very smart adn FINALLY someone realizes that when a person buys a XL/22” bike they have long legs and   generally would like a crank longer than 175mm.<BR><BR>Major kudos to you guys, will be anxiously waiting to read more reports on its ride and hope that I can get a demo maybe sometime very early in September.

 Anonymous |

Great looking bikes…Perhaps you could make a bit more of an effort to distinguish the two from each other?  <BR><BR>Good Luck!

 Anonymous |

Pretty cool looking.  I hope I get a chance to ride them soon.  In the meantime I’ll take the El Santo out as often as I can.

 Smitty |

So, when are these available at finer bike shops everywhere?

 MG |

Clean, simple design.  Innovative, yet elegant execution.  All whipped up with a good dose of that famous Salsa Pepperjack Style.<BR><BR>Post-mounts for the rear discs… YES!  Way to go Salsa in pushing for this innovation—a first in the industry.  Super sweet!!<BR><BR>I can’t wait to ride the production bike…<BR><BR>Have fun in the woods… talk to ya’ Friday.<BR><BR>Cheers,<BR>MG

 Anonymous |

wow. after i bought my casseroll this year, i swore i would never ride another brand of bike ever. when i heard a full suspension trail bike was on the way, i started to prepare for purchase…unfortunately, i am thinking that this awesome bike (big mama) is going to be way out of my price range (4-5K complete?). they are both beautiful and make me sad that i cannot save more money in this stupid recession/depression!

 Anonymous |

Nice bikes.  Would have preferred something closer in spirit to Salsa’s 1996 El Kaboing, though.  Something, say, like a scandium, full suss 2008 Ala Carte.

 Anonymous |

Regarding the title of this post: the correct spelling is “pictorial”, with two “i’s”.

 Peak Region Cyclist |

That new 29er rig looks mighty nice and bet it would sweet on some of our trails here in Colorado Springs. Look forward to trying one out some day. -Jon

 Anonymous |

very very sweet. Can not wait to get my butt onto an El Kaboing.<BR><BR>When can I have one in Australia?

 Anonymous |

have you considered making a Salsa garden shed to keep your bikes in?<BR><BR>you could call it the…<BR><BR>“Big Mama’s House…”<BR><BR>ok… I’ll leave now.

 Guitar Ted |

smitty: I’ll butt in here and let you know what they told us last Monday night. Frames come in September, completes in January.

 Anonymous |

Good efforts for the Minnesota Salsa crew! The disc mount is a sweet design. Ross would be impressed! Good to see some inovation at Salsa. Simple and clean! NICE!<BR><BR>We’d like to see the seat stays beefier and stiffer. Why? Make the rear shock do its intended job! Its easier to tune a shock than seat stays. Also, flexing seat stays can fatigue, crack and… We’ve seen this happen in Ti Moots full sup. designs.    <BR><BR>Make the seat stays stiff and you’ve got a winner. Keep it real!

 Joe Meiser |

I’d like to pipe in and comment on the seatstay feedback that was left by an anonymous poster.  So you know who I am, I’m the Product Design Manager here.  We have 3+ years experience with flexing stays on our Dos Niner and not once have we seen failure in the seatstays themselves.  We’ve learned a tremendous amount from the Dos and that experience was put into the Big Mama and El Kaboing.  In addition to tuning the suspension the flexing stays also allow us to eliminate a pivot in the rear end.

 Anonymous |

Very valid points on both previous posts. Nice bikes Salsa. Good point on the 3 years feedback on the Dos Niner with the flexing seatstays not breaking. Typically welds fail and are the weak link, not the stays themselves. Lets be honest, the Dos Niner has an inch of travel at best, and the new bikes have 5”. One less pivot is a nice delete!

 Anonymous |

I am a little confused as to why you think there are shear forces on the iso brake mounts? <BR><BR>I love the design, just a little confused on the logic. I can picture tensile stress and a some bending stress, but not shear if the bolts are tightened.<BR><BR>Please explain.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.