Rewind to 2008. Several Salsa staffers including myself had been pushing for and riding fatter tires on our cross bikes. We wanted drop bars, disc brakes, and the capability for mountain knobbies. I was in the early (really early) stages of planning for a race of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) in 2009 after catching the ultra bug in 2007. We began talking about the collision of fat-tired drop bar bikes , ultra racing, touring, and drop bar mountain bikes from the 90's. A project of depicting what a drop bar mountain touring bike would be emerged. We nicknamed the project "Rosie," but Jason, aka Gnat, will have to tell that story. We used the phrase "If you were going to tour or race the GDMBR, this would be the bike to do it on" to inform our ideas and decisions. We were captured by wanderlust.
Joe's original Fargo before cutting back on his equipment for the GDMBR
Everyone from Salsa contributed to the Fargo. I was charged with making it become a reality. Salsa Engineer Pete Koski and I explored geometry ideas and worked on the dropout into the wee hours of the morning. I remember sitting in the discussion where we decided to test some water bottle mounts on the fork, influenced by Mikers experience racing the Arrowhead 135 and Jason's experience while bicycle adventuring from Alaska to Utah. In June of 2008 we recieved our first round of samples and began testing the bike in varying configurations and conditions. My proto started with a Campy drivetrain, Surly cranks, full touring racks, and 2.1 tires. I hauled full loads that included boxes of vegetables from our CSA share, gear for work, bikecamping kit, and a strawberry pie. I rode the Fargo everywhere on all kinds of terrain. I showed up to a road ride once with it only to be shunned until I hung in and took my pulls. In fall of 2008 I recieved a kit of frame bags from Revelate Designs and my mind was blown. I had a lot to learn before I raced the GDMBR. I've still got a lot to learn now that I've completed it.
Gnat's new Fargo in Big Sky country
I chose the Fargo to race the Divide because we had developed it for the GDMBR experience and it was time to prove it. Drop bars provide me with better ergonomics and more hand positions. Not once did I have hand problems that are so common on the Divide, just some mean calluses afterwards. The fit and handling of the bike is well suited for long days in the saddle and the occasional technical terrain that mountain touring presents. There were just a few passes that required some technical line picking on the decent. I never needed a suspension fork, but thought one might make the experience just a bit more fun. That is if you think faster descents on rough terrain are fun, which I do.
On Old Bannack Road in southern Montana I was presented with a challenge that set the tone for the rest of my race. In tire-sucking mud that sought to swallow my bike and break my spirit, I lost my drivetrain. Mud caked up the rear derailleur and I pulled it directly off the frame with one hard pedal stroke. My chain was twisted, my rear derailleur in pieces and my derailleur hanger ripped off of the bike. With none of these pieces at my disposal I was forced to hole up in Lima, Montana for 26 hours and wait for repair parts to arrive. By now, you might know that I got back on the bike and finished.
New dropouts feature a replaceable derailleur hanger
Fueled by our personal experiences as well as yours, we've made some exciting changes to the Fargo. It is now more capable than ever! I'm proud to say that 'if' I did the Divide all over again, I'd choose the Fargo over any other bike.
Each frame size now has 5 bottle mounts and both front and rear rack mounts
Heading into the clouds in Montana
We've been testing both the steela and ti models and couldn't be more excited with the performance of them. These changes have reignited my connection to the bike and the experiences that I've had on it. It is also inspriing new experiences for me and I think it will do the same for you.
Note - We will have full bike spec, geometry and other info updated on our site after we return from Interbike. Thanks for your continued interest in the Fargo.
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I've had a lot of good luck and made a series of choices to be working for the brand and in the bike industry. In 2007 I signed up for the TransIowa just to see if I could complete it. I completed it and discovered a few things about myself in the process. Adventure cycling has been in my blood ever since.