New for 2013: Introducing Warbird

Today we introduce Warbird, our gravel race bike.

New for 2013, Warbird is a bike designed for racing gravel, not just for finishing those events, but for winning them! It is the culmination of many years of gravel experience, and countless hours of dreaming of an ideal gravel race bike. Sure, it takes a nod from some of our other models such as the Chili Con Crosso, La Cruz, and Vaya, but this is a whole new bike. Read on to learn more.

For those not familiar with the growing gravel racing scene, let me explain what it is like here in the Midwest. In Minnesota, passionate event promoters put on the Almanzo Gravel Race Series, a series of free gravel racing events. These events are generally 100 miles in length, but each has its own character, personality, terrain, and seasonality. For example, the Almanzo 100 allowed 800 entrants this year, while the Heck Of The North had a field limit closer to 100. To our south, the annual beast known as Trans Iowa sends riders out for 300-plus miles of unsupported gravel, with a time limit of 34 hours. Even further south, the Dirty Kanza keeps its mileage to 200 but always involves a tire shredding course, and usually extremely hot weather.

Lots and lots of this has gone into the development of Warbird...

While a great many participants take part in these events to enjoy a great day on the bike, or to challenge themselves, there are of course others who are truly there to race and see who is best on the day. As with any sport, evolution and progression take place. As Salsa sponsored rider Tim Ek puts it, "A few years ago, you could count on folks being friendly for the first 10 or 15 miles, but now we're working hard right from the gun."

Sponsored rider Tim Ek took on the 2012 Dirty Kanza 200 onboard a pre-production Warbird Ti...

The idea of a gravel-specific bike has been thrown around for years within the Salsa team. Every March, a couple of us go out on a series of gravel death rides, which culminates in the “Cannonball Run” - 140 miles of gravel suffering. Once the ride is coming to an end and we decide to be friends again, we usually discuss what is and what could be. The same goes for the post-race talk at the gravel races. This always includes discussion about our bikes, what worked, what didn't, etc. As a Salsa product designer I always take mental notes of what the people around me say they want and relate it to what I personally want. Conversations like this, but more importantly the experiences, wins, and losses, are what created the Warbird, the bike we've always wanted for racing on gravel. It is a stable, lightweight ripper.

Warbird Ti complete bike - MSRP $3899. Warbird Ti frameset - MSRP $2499.

Warbird 2 complete bike - MSRP $2499. Warbird 2 frameset - MSRP $1299

The foundation for any bike starts with the geometry. We took what we learned from our previous bicycle models and prototypes and applied them to the Warbird. I wanted to keep the bike nice and stable at speed, and have the front and rear end feel very balanced. It needed to climb with agility but also descend with confidence. When doing a long race like the Dirty Kanza or Trans Iowa you want a bike that’s more like a best friend, rather than an annoying tag along.

How the frame conforms to the rider and to the road, usually discussed as frame compliance, is a large part of what gives the bike its feel. We chose titanium and Extrolite EV6 aluminum (for Warbird Ti and Warbird 2 respectively) because we knew we could tune both those materials well for this type of riding. We're excited because we are now able to match similar characteristics between the titanium and aluminum versions, such as the double-butted and formed tubing. The ability to shape the tubing, such as the flattened seatstays and tapered chainstays, let us design a smoother ride quality into the frame. We wanted a bike that was quick on the go without beating you up.

Shaped chainstays on Warbird Ti...

...and on Warbird 2...

One of my favorite outcomes of the formed chainstays is the Warbird’s ability to run 38mm tires. It’s not just the ability to run 38mm tires though. In gravel racing the ability to shed mud can play a huge part in the race.

At the Trans Iowa two years ago I remember standing at the end of yet another muddy B-road. I was in the lead group of five and we were all stopped, kicking, scraping, and poking mud out of our frames with any stick we could find. I realized at that moment that if I could have a frame that shot mud out as fast as it came in that I could have an advantage over my competitors. While everyone else was stopped poking the crud out of their frames I would be able to just keep riding. We've tried to eliminate as many mud catching points as possible., including removing the chainstay brace, using a top pull-only Shimano CX front derailleur, and disc brakes. Warbird is an absolute mud-shedding freak.

The addition of disc brakes on the Warbird wasn’t just for their ability to be unhindered in muddy conditions or their superior stopping power, but because they can make you faster. During my second take on the Ragnarok 105 I remember wishing I had disc brakes. I realized with the steep descents, sharp turns, and the fact that it was my first time on most of these roads, that if I was able to hold more speed into turns and not have to worry about what was around the bend, I could hold my speed and reduce my overall effort.

Full cable housing is used throughout to keep your shifting out of the elements as much as possible, because nobody likes gravel, dirt, or a cow paddy mucking up their shifting. The cables are tucked neatly out of the way, under the toptube, keeping the bike from accumulating dirt and grime during these long events. Add a Tangle Bag from Revelate Designs and the cables are hidden away, and you have room for hundreds of miles of Twinkies and beef jerky.

Both Warbird Ti and Warbird 2 feature ENVE CX carbon forks for fantastic ride quality and bump absorbtion...

Additional features include the PF30 bottom bracket which gives you the option of running your BB30 crankset or running one of the numerous bottom bracket options for your 24mm spindle crankset. The Warbird has the ability to run a 38-tooth inner ring and 53-tooth outer ring crankset. All frame sizes can also carry up to three water bottles.

  Warbird Ti Complete Bike Spec
Frame Warbird Titanium
Fork ENVE CX Disc, Carbon, Tapered
Headset Cane Creek 40 ZS/EC44
Stem Salsa Pro Moto 1
Handlebar Salsa Cowbell 2
Grips Salsa Gel Tape
Shifter Shimano 105 STI
Front Brake Avid BB7
Rear Brake Avid BB7
Brake Lever Shimano 105 STI
Rotors 160mm Front/140mm Rear
Seatpost Salsa Pro Moto 1
Saddle WTB Valcon
Front Der Shimano CX70
Rear Der Shimano Ultegra
Front Hub DT Swiss 350, 32H
Rear Hub DT Swiss 350, 32H
Spokes DT Swiss Competition
Rims HED Belgium No Brake Track
Tires Clement USH 700c x 35mm
Cassette SRAM PG-1070 11-30T
Chain KMC X10

FSA Energy PF30 34/46

  Warbird 2 Complete Bike Spec
Frame Warbird EV6 Aluminum
Fork ENVE CX Disc, Carbon, Tapered
Headset Cane Creek 10 IS42/56
Stem Salsa Pro Moto 2
Handlebar Salsa Cowbell 2
Grips Salsa Gel Tape
Shifter Shimano Tiagra STI
Front Brake Avid BB7
Rear Brake Avid BB7
Brake Lever Shimano
Rotors 160mm Front/140mm Rear
Seatpost Salsa Pro Moto 2
Saddle WTB Valcon
Front Der Shimano CX50
Rear Der Shimano 105
Front Hub Salsa 2 by Formula, 32H
Rear Hub Salsa 2 by Formula, 32H
Spokes DT Swiss Competition
Rims Sun Assault No Brake Track
Tires Clement USH 700c x 35mm
Cassette SRAM PG-1050 11-30T
Chain KMC X10
Crankset FSA Gossamer PF30 34/46T



Key frame specs include:


Warbird Ti -
• Frame: Double-butted 3/2.5 seamless Titanium, 3D-formed
• Fork: ENVE CX Disc carbon, tapered
• Headset: Cane Creek ZS44/28.6 upper, EC44/40 lower
• Seatpost: 27.2mm
• Seat clamp: 32.0mm, Salsa Lip-Lock included
• BB: Pressfit 30, 68mm
• Front brake: 160mm rotor, post mount
• Rear brake: 140mm rotor, IS standard
• Rear spacing: 135mm

Warbird 2 –
• Frame: Extrolite EV6 hydroformed aluminum
• Fork: ENVE CX Disc carbon, tapered
• Headset: Cane Creek IS42/28.6 upper, IS52/40 lower
• Seatpost: 27.2mm
• Seat clamp: 32.0mm, Salsa Lip-Lock included
• BB: Pressfit 30, 68mm
• Front brake: 160mm rotor, post mount
• Rear brake: 140mm rotor, IS standard
• Rear spacing: 135mm

We hope you are as excited about Warbird as we are and gets you fired up to race, or ride, some gravel. If the Vitamin G scene hasn't come your way will!

Jason Gaikowski riding a prototype Warbird Ti during the 2012 Dirty Kanza 200...










This post filed under topics: Gravel New Product Sean Mailen Ultra Racing Warbird

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Sean 'Mailman' Mailen

I was born and raised in the hills of Tennessee. I decided in high school I wanted to design the best bikes and parts possible; I’ve been following my dream ever since. I love about every possible mode of cycling, mountain biking is the most fun, but if I’m on two wheels I’m happy.


Daniel | August 6th, 2012

Super psyched. Deciding between this and a colossal. Any word on availability in shops??

Will | August 6th, 2012

Nice, shame we don’t have the gravel scene but looks a good option for cx sportives that are appearing over in the uk and general riding around on fireroad and firetracks

Ed | August 6th, 2012

Very nice Salsa. Those of us who don’t race but like gravel riding will surely love this bike.

D. | August 6th, 2012

You had me until the $1299.

Pants and Jacket | August 6th, 2012

I dunno, the price on the alu frame set (and the completes too actually) seem pretty solid when you consider the included ENVE fork has an MSRP of $530 or so…

ChadQuest | August 6th, 2012


BluesDawg | August 6th, 2012

Looks like a great bike and I’m sure it will be showing up at the front of the pack in many gravel grinders. I am a little surprised that you didn’t give it a little more room for tires wider than 38mm. That may be plenty wide for most conditions, but what would it have hurt to have the option of going a little wider, like say, 42mm?

Scott Kocher | August 7th, 2012

Until some smart company dials in a high end rain bike (fender eyelets please) we will see lots of these in the Pacific NW and the 2 or 3 other places where it sometimes rains.  Unfortunate name.  Comparison of sport to war is common but forgetful of the many who have war experiences and inappropriate if you stop and think about it.

Chris | August 7th, 2012

Couldn’t you have spec’d a scratch ‘n sniff decal set and bumpers and called it the Pretty Kitty? Just kidding; it looks like I need to sell my La Cruz. Thanks for doing some different, if not perfect.

Dave | August 7th, 2012

I was following Salsa for the past 2 years reading about all the adventure gravel bikes, following Ek, Meiser, Gnat’s gravel blogs and was really waiting with a full bank account for this bike that-in my mind-was to be the perfect adventure bike

Well…you almost had me.  Fender mounts would have been great for my needs for a WI salty roads/winter bike.  WHere’s the smooth steel option?  Wider tire clearance?  Honestly, I’ve read so much about the benefits of running a skinny 29’er/wide 700c on things like DK, TI that I thought for SURE would have been part of this bike’s spec sheet.

So, here I sit-do I wait until Salsa tunes this one up-or just go for a Kona Rove?

Frag Spawn | August 7th, 2012

La Cruz has been my go to gravel bike, since buying it though, I’ve gone up to the maximum 42mm tyre (wormdrive), and installed big cassette, long cage & compact crank. It suits the sub 100k all-terrain adventure rides we do.

Warbird ticks a few boxes where the La Cruz has been wanting, but I think that warbird is less adventure and more competition. As such, us mere mortals are still getting out on those steel steads in the Salsa arsenal. But I am loving the Orange alu with the oversized headtube! Lustworthy.

alex | August 11th, 2012

It’s a cool bike, but I can understand why a few might complain. The CX cycling press has ripped the Chili con Crosso for not being course-worthy in the past, so apparently Salsa has decided to kiss off that crowd entirely by not putting the cables on top. A brave decision.

alex | August 12th, 2012

I’d also like to add - good move making it in aluminum alloy and ti. A steel frame with discs is a tank, and would scare off the competitors. I notice your own crew always races on titanium. The alloy model makes it relatively affordable, and hopefully sub-20 pounds.

James | August 13th, 2012

I really like this…I would like to see the addition of fender mounts {maybe on inside of seatstays just above disc brake} I feel that this would only add to a super looking bike…

Steven | August 18th, 2012

My only complaint about the specs is the pressfit BB.  BB30 has been notoriously problematic since it’s inception on the road and CX circuit, as any reputable shop mechanic, and gravel racing will most definitely show the glaring weakness of pressfit BB’s.  But all-in-all I get it, race parts don’t last. If you put in the miles expect to be replacing BB’s at twice the rate of a threaded system. For gravel racing durability is paramount, more so than slightly stiffer BB or a handful of grams you save with pressfit, they’ve just proven to be too unreliable.  Could this be the only reason I pass up on a Warbird and go custom? Probably, unfortunately.

Eugene | August 28th, 2012

I have found my next bike! The Warbird Ti checks all the right boxes for nice long weekend rides on what passes for roads around here. I have a nice Ti road bike now and even with the 25 mm tyres I spend as much time in the saddle as I do out of it - need something tougher and with bigger tyres, but something still fast. Oh and the disk brakes are a Must! Well done Salsa!

Pete Goeser | August 31st, 2012

That’s a big price difference between my ‘11 CCC and the Warbird, boys. A better fork, disk mounts and a bottom bracket shell I don’t want for a 5 hundo price difference? Hell I love my CCC- I love the ride and the front end could not be stiffer but sheesh!

David | September 3rd, 2012

Very pretty bike!  I understand that you wanted to keep the cables away from the front wheel splatter, etc., but by routing them under the top tube you have made it darn hard to use for cyclocross, and certainly something that I would not purchase as I need my gravel ride to double for cross.  In my opinion, you have missed out on a really good opportunity to reach A LOT of folks that run the same bike for multiple needs.  And why no fender eyelets?

scott schwartz | September 3rd, 2012

Cables UNDER the top tube?? Adios to any CX use. On TOP of the top tube and you’d have had twice the audience. Interesting marketing choice there. Glad I already have my Lynskey Pro CX and Salsa Vaya Ti cuz this Warbird can’t do what they both do for sure.

james | September 4th, 2012

I agree wholeheartedly with the above 2 comments…time for a re-think?

scott schwartz | September 6th, 2012

Who is fabricating these for Salsa? It’s not Lynskey anymore as I’ve talked with my contact there. Are they still made in USA?  Or has it gone overseas to Taiwan???

Mark S. | September 6th, 2012

Hi Salsa, Strong work on the new rides. I’m interested. What is the total weight of a 53 cm Warbird Ti? Thanks

scott schwartz | September 11th, 2012

Salsa, will you please tell us who is making these and where? Did I get the last quality, USA made Ti Salsa??

Gone | September 23rd, 2012

Its a it road gravel bike, not a cross bike.  Hence no need for cables on top of the toptube. A full blown cross bike woul also not use a 7.0 bb drop.  Its ot ment to be or doule as a cross bike folks.  Its imed at a specific market segment.  Same reason why it does not have fender eyelets, its not targeted or meant to be a commuting bike.

JeffS | October 2nd, 2012

Why didn’t you paint the fork? You got it right on the Colossal. Why not here?

brent | October 8th, 2012

“New for 2013, Warbird is a bike designed for racing gravel, not just for finishing those events, but for winning them! And “While a great many participants take part in these events to enjoy a great day on the bike, or to challenge themselves, there are of course others who are truly there to race and see who is best on the day”. Pearl Izumi tried and ad campaign similar to this three years ago, pointing out while runner participation was up 300% avg. times were way down.  They would point out how disgusting it was and went as far as to suggest elite runners need to start having children together to creat a stronger “breed”. Kind of interesting tactics.  Failed big time as they offended the 300%. So my question is this, as an average rider whom rides a lot of gravel and would like take on the “heck of the north” and such someday, why is this bike then not a good choice for me. I was excited about this bike but now am concerned because its for the winner and not for the guy is going to bust his ass to make the time cutoffs and finish 4 hours after the winner?  What is about the bike that makes it a poor choice for me? To aggressive a position? Fargo of Vaya are a better choice and why?

JeffS | October 8th, 2012

Road riders emulate racers. The sale of cyclocross bikes went up in response to the increased publicity surrounding the races. Spinning this as a “race bike” is nothing but a way to make it equally as interesting to the average wanna-be.


Kid Riemer | October 9th, 2012

Brent - I’ll give you my personal take on the matter. We say the bike is designed for winning them because it is.

This bike could be a fine choice for you or any person interested in riding/racing gravel:

Does the geometry and rider position suit you? Yes, it is more aggressive body position than a Vaya or Fargo, but some of that can be influenced by stem/handlebar choice.

Do you like the maximum tire size? Max tire width goes up from Warbird to Vaya to Fargo.

Comfort level of frame material. I’ll rank them Ti, steel, then aluminum…though the aluminum Warbird has gotten extremely positive feedback. And keep in mind that tire size (width can also be used to further increase comfort).

Other bike features? Are there things about the Warbird you prefer to the Vaya or Fargo? Or is there something about them you prefer?

Wallet size. Only you can answer that question.

Personally…I’ve done the Almanzo 100 twice a few years apart. The first time was on a singlespeed Casseroll set up with a flat bar. The second time was on a Fargo, again set up flat bar. Both were steel frames and performed well for me. I had a faster time on the Casseroll but that could because of any number of things, and was most likely because I was more fit the first time around.

Each of the bikes you mentioned is a good bike. If I boil it down to one thing, I’d tell you that primary objective of the Warbird is to go fast on gravel.

I hope this helps out a bit.

BB | January 8th, 2013

Bummer. But for the cables I would have gotten this for gravel and cross racing. Many cross bikes have a 7.0 drop (Vanilla for one uses a low BB drop)

Jeff | February 13th, 2013

I am extremely drawn to the warbird ti, but the dealbreaker for me right now is the lack of fender mounts.  Who says we’re all going to be riding/racing on gravel in dry weather?  It would be sweet, and entirely possible, to run full coverage SKS fenders with a 35mm tire.  I know this is a long-shot, but I want to see them on the fork too. 

Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Chuck Oliver | May 29th, 2013

I would be VERY interested in a Colossal or Warbird if they had proper fender mounts front and rear.  Single speed option?  Even better.

ChadQuest | June 17th, 2013

To any anyone that sees this page in the future.

I am personally running 40c tires with ease on the TI Warbird. Clement MSO on Iron Cross rims. This is the perfect light but fast “bigger tire” for this bike, if that is what you want. (fwiw, setup tubeless @39psi, i weigh 180lbs)

I have gotten the bike very muddy a number of times now on midwest B-roads, and am very glad the bb area was open, devoid of mounts, and shed mud quickly.

After riding numerous other CX frames on gravel, the amount of room in the front triangle for a Tangle bag and bottles is amazing. Much easier to get bottles in and out from under a bag then other frames.

Simply the best, well thought out, frame i have ever rode.

North Central Cyclery

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