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Eurobike Final Thoughts - What If

Now that I've been home for a week, the trip has really sunk in. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts, both personal and professional. Sit back and enjoy.

Eurobike is different for me and for Salsa. We don't have our own booth. Cosmic Sports, our German distributor, manages all the logistics, set up, etc. This is both good and bad. It's good because it is so much less stress for me. Sounds pretty selfish, but if any of you do tradeshows and do your own booth set up and tear down, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Additionally, I enjoyed a level of freedom because I had originally not planned on going. As a result of my late booking, my schedule was pretty open. This meant that I actually got to walk a show and look at a lot of stuff. The not so good part is that because it's not our show, our distributor picks and chooses what to show and how to spec it. This meant that our new complete bike offerings and most of our 29er stuff were not shown.

It's hard not to walk through a bicycle tradeshow and think "what if"? What if Salsa did carbon road bikes? What if Salsa was a commuter or trekking brand? What if Salsa built a downhill bike? What if we were a one stop brand with trekking bikes, mtn bikes, road bikes, cross bikes, bmx bikes, and trikes? What if we did titanium bikes? What if we went back to full scandium frames because we could build them lighter and keep the ride qualities the same as our scandium & carbon frames? Seriously, about a thousand "what if" questions come to mind when I walk a show. I don't know if this happens to everyone or if it is just me.

While this may appear to drive me crazy, it doesn't. It is the thing I love most about my job. Thinking about all these things helps me find clarity for me and for Salsa. Asking these questions helps me think big and think about just how far or what Salsa could do if we so desire? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? Who is going with us?

So enough of the "what if" questions. Let's look at some pictures. Here are just a few things I learned and found interesting.

"What if I ate one of those peppers?" Ask Marty_HD. Watching him afterwards was painful. I will say that because I witnessed his painful experience, I will never forget Marty_HD.

"What if Salsa was a commuter or city bike brand?" I'd bet it would look something like this with a little more color. This bike was so beautiful. I'd probably buy one if it wasn't a shaft drive and came as a dedicated SS or Rohloff bike.


"What if Salsa only did carbon fiber bikes?" These two bikes were awesome. One was from Momo and one from a brand I couldn't make out by the logo (I think it said Swift or something). They both won design awards. Simply stunning and who can't appreciate tubuar mtn tires?

"What if I were taller?" Cloxxki, Hubert and Jelle (Ye-laaaa) have some serious height and it's no wonder they love big wheels. I can't imagine seeing them on 26" wheels. Thanks for driving and having dinner with Devon and I. Hubert, if you are reading this, keep spewing the 32" propoganda!

"What if I leave the show early on Sunday to decompress and relax before my 18 hour trip home?" Well, here is my parting shot from Germany. I sat with my good friend Scott, who is the man behind the new Civia Cycles, enjoyed a few cold beers, and watched the Europeans enjoy life. It was a nice way to end the trip. Can't wait until next year.

For all of you that have made it this far, I'll be the first to admit that I don't have all the answers to the above questions. I've certainly thought about many of them. I'm betting some of you bike junkies thave thought a lot about this stuff too. So, as we roll up to Interbike later this month, we will be launching a new blog that will allow users to comment. Yep, we are hoping to interact with our loyal readers and seek you input. In the coming weeks, months and years, we plan to ask just those questions. I hope you join us and share your thoughts. It should be a fun journey.

Ride and Smile. Life's just too short to not enjoy it!

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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 (12)

 J/tati |

That Salsa no longer adheres strictly to steel as the ultimate, do-everything material has diluted the brand in some sense, but as the previous poster mentioned—that’s a losing strategy in an increasingly crowded space. I like that Salsa has for the most part avoided the fixie fray, and although such products are not exactly my cup of tea, the carbon bars and frames are really interesting from a design perspective. There is a really strong internal consistency across the entire product line, which is something you really do not see too often. As a shop owner, I really look forward to the new Casseroll and La Cruz completes. These are the best looking Salsas to date. They are unique without being too niche, and they are priced competitively. Amazing.

 Butcher |

Wow!  Thanks.  This is the type of feedback we were looking for when we planned this interactive thingy on the blog.  <BR><BR>Let me digest this a bit before commenting.  My immediate response is thanks.

 Butcher |

Thanks for all the feedback.  It’s been interesting to read and think about what “We” think Salsa is and what “the readers” think Salsa is?  <BR><BR>Carbon is a question I have.  I love my Mamasita.  I ponder the whole carbon bike question almost everyday.  Keep that feedback coming.  If anyone else posts about Salsa and carbon, I’d love to know why you think what you think.  <BR><BR>I’m really stoked too about the disc only stuff.  Disc only is so clean & simple.  The LaCruz is near perfect for me.  <BR><BR>Regarding the La Raza, I’d like to see it with a steel fork too.  <BR><BR>Yes, Surly and Salsa are both owned by the owner of QBP.  <BR><BR>Yes, you are correct, it is “switch”.  One of the European readers pointed this out earlier in a private email.  It was a beautiful bike.  <BR><BR>Keep it coming.  This is good stuff.

 Butcher |

La Raza in unchanged for 2008.  <BR><BR>If we were to offer a new version, what would you like to see?

 Anonymous |

Personally, I think the La Raza is perfect as is.  Alpha Q fork might look too radical and ‘futuristic’ on such a classically-inspired frame.  Maybe update the decals so they look more like the new ones on Casseroll ‘08?  And yet, here’s a thought: “El futuro de La Raza”.  This would be a traditional, non-sloping tube like current La Raza, with same classic, beautiful looks and understated carbon fork, but with S3 tubing instead of TTOXP!!!  Kind of a what you’d get if La Raza and Primero were to have a beb?.  Only drawback, though not for Salsa, is such a frame, if made reasonably affordable (as Salsa usually does), might put a number of independent steel framebuilders out of business!  La Raza + El Primero = El Ni?o?  Offer as a complete bike at Interbike with Salsa’s scandium stem, Salsa’s carbon S&S bar, and a full SRAM Rival Force group and watch Salsa’s competitors tremble with fear!

 Anonymous |

I’m not into any of the carbon stuff from Salsa.  At most, a carbon fork on a road bike is all I’d consider.  A nice straigh-bladed steel fork to match the La Raza would be awesome though.  <BR><BR>I’ve always had good luck with Salsa’s handlebars, chainrings, stems (I love the threadless cromoly stem), grips, etc.<BR><BR>Oh, and I’m really glad to see the El Mariachi and the Ala Carte have lost the canti-brake studs.  It’s purely aesthetic, but I would have bought an Ala Carte years ago if that were the case then.<BR><BR>The La Cruz is a home run!  I hope to get one in the next year.<BR><BR>P.S. Aren’t Surly and Salsa both QBP subsidiaries?  They both have quality stuff.<BR>P.S.S. That black and red carbon bike looks like it says SWITCH, not SWIFT.

 Anonymous |

I think it’s great Salsa is asking lots of ‘what if’ questions.  Presumably, such thinking has brought us the brilliant casseroll ‘triple’ and ‘single’.  Salsa’s MTBs are among the best in the industry.  Primero was a spectacular value, and I don’t understand why it was retired (I’m sure there’s a good business reason in there somewhere).  La Raza is a delicious frame, and should never be retired, in my opinion.  However, Salsa must also be careful to understand its brand identity and market, and not try to be everything to everyone.  There’s already plenty of other bike brands trying to cover every single market micro niche, and creating plenty of uninspired bikes to fill them.  I’ve always thought of Salsa as offering consumers quality production steel frames that are something between, say, the cheap and reliable but ultimately uninpressive and adolescent brand experience and products of Surly, and the charming, yet overpriced and devolutionary/retrograde experience of, say, Rivendell.  Put differently, most bikers will eventually outgrow Surly, and if and when they reach a Rivendell stage, they find there is nowhere else to go from there.  They stagnate.  Yet, a biker can thrive riding Salsa bikes and identify with the Salsa brand (more mature than Surly, but not as crusty as Rivendell) most of his or her life.  What I personally have looked to Salsa for in the past is great looking bikes (Rivendell) made with the best steel (e.g. Waterford) at an unbeatable market price (Surly), and with innovation.  Salsa is not afraid, for instance, to add carbon stays and use scandium in it’s Campeon to make it a bike that competes in value and performance with bikes two or three times the price.  Neither Surly nor Rivendell would consider building something like the Campeon.  Salsa already occupies a unique market space, and it should simply focus on solidifying it’s positioning with the consumer and expanding it’s dealer network.  On the other hand, Salsa should also understand what it stands for, and should not loose focus.  For example, I don’t think a full-carbon frame would make sense for Salsa.

 Anonymous |

Right on!  By the way, anyone know if a new La Raza frame is coming out for ‘08?

 Anonymous |

I agree with the OP.  Even a brief look at just the home page of Surly’s, Rivendell’s and Salsa’s websites illustrates the brand/product difference between these three.  Surly is dark, full of grafitti, urban, young.  Some people may also add: punk, infantile, rebellious, angry, faux-hipster, etc.  Rivendell is full or earthy tones, plaid, country gentleman scenes.  Some people might add: granola, retrogrouch, wealthy retired boomer nostalgic for 70’s touring bikes (or even 40’s French randonneur bikes), etc.  Surly would have you think their natural environment is the Inner City, somewhere in the less gentrified (but not too dangerous) neighborhoods of Brooklyn or Queens, perhaps.  Surly is a biker bumpily riding a cheap fixie into a one-way dark city alley with no exit while playing the Dead Kennedys way too loud on its Ipod.  Surly’s trademark emotion is Irony.  Surly’s slogan: “ride and shout”.  Rivendell, on the other hand, is at home away from the city, in the ex-urbs.  Rivendell gives up on civilization and anything new altogether, abandons society and heads out into the wild.  Rivendell would have you think their natural environment is an undiscovered place in rural New Zealand inhabited by imaginary magical creatures.  Rivendell is riding comfortably on an expensive lugged bike into a one-way dark cave with no exit while whistling a Beatles song.  Rivendell’s trademark emotion is Nostalgia.  Rivendell’s slogan: “Ride and complain”.  And what of Salsa?  A quick look at the home page reveals people riding in a suburban or perhaps a country setting, but they are still riding on pavement.  They enjoy nature while still being grounded on civilization.  The paved road may lead either into, or out of the City.  We’re not sure, but the Salsa rider always has the option of moving between these two worlds without having to inhabit either one exclusively.  Salsa’s slogan: “Ride and smile”.    Salsa’s natural habitat is everywhere.  Salsa is enjoyably pacing on beautiful, sensible, modern-yet-classic La Raza or Casseroll (or it might also be rocketing past you on a Campeon!) on a two-way street with multiple exits while singing the latest from the New Pornographers.  Salsa is firmly rooted in the past while also carefully reaching out into the future.  Salsa’s trademark feeling is Hope and Happiness.

 joel |

Full carbon would help eliminate up the “ez-chip” paint jobs and paper thin tubing. All my Sc salsas have a good amount of dings and pain chips. That gives me a great excuse to get a new fleet every couple years! <BR><BR>I think Salsa should offer the Mamasita as a complete through QBP (as built on your site!)<BR><BR>JW

 Anonymous |

I couldn’t agree more with the posting just above.  I would not want to do light touring or even a century on a Campe?n, and I would certainly not want to race on a Casseroll.  However, I can see myself doing either one, if I really wanted to, with La Raza.  In that sense, La Raza offers the best of both worlds.  I don’t really think La Raza can be improved upon, unless a fancier and lighter type of steel tubing is offered (such as was done last year with Primero).  As a point of reference, I think La Raza competes in the same price-to-quality space as Bianchi Vigorelli, LeMond Sarthe, and even Gunnar Roadie.  Thus, Salsa would be wise to focus on those competitors and think of how it might come up with a La Raza 3.0 that would blow them out of the Rio Grande.

 Anonymous |

Not sure about the straight-bladed steel fork on La Raza.  The carbon fork currently on it looks really nice, and it offers people interested in Salsa an option that falls somewhere between a Casseroll (sightseeing) and a Campeon (crit racing).  A steel fork on La Raza would look nice, but it would add weight to the frame and would only make for a frame that is similar to Casseroll (save for the top tube)—only less versatile because it would not accept the larger tires the Casseroll accepts.  The only other thing which would distinguish a steel fork La Raza from Casseroll would be the frame material (CroMo vs. TTOXP), and that might not matter much to most folks, especially since the weight difference between the two frames in such a scenario would not be meaningful.  That said, if Salsa decided to produce an S3 tubing La Raza frameset with the fork also made of S3 tubing…<BR><BR>Now THAT would be an awesome La Raza.

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