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Ponder this while we are at Interbike

Greetings all. Thanks for all your comments this past week. It's been fun to get the email notifications regarding new comments. I'm stoked that folks are using it and I'm even more stoked about the time and detail put into some of the responses. Based on this last week alone, I'm confident that we will be able to use this medium to help reach our goals. Again, thank you.

So, as Salsa goes into Interbike, I've got two things for you.

First, due to this little event called Interbike, we will not be in the office next week. That means we won't be able to answer comments here on the blog, answer Pepperman emails, or even answer the phones. That's right, all of us in Salsa land are going to Interbike. Please bear with us and we'll get back to you quickly when we return the first week of October.

Second, since you have some time to ponder things, I've got a big question for you. Steel. Steel is real right? Well, my question is about the various steel tubes offered to us and your thoughts about each of them and how they relate to Salsa.

Every time our crew comes up with a new frame concept where steel is the best material for the specific criteria, we must decide what steel tubing to use. In some cases, the criteria will define which one is appropriate, but in others, we have to decide what quality or brand of steel to use. Options are pretty wide open. We can easily choose between 4130 CroMoly, True Temper, Reynolds, Columbus, Tange, etc. Each come with their own issues, prices, lead times etc. In fact, in 2007 we used True Temper S3, True Temper OX Platinum and classic butted 4130 (Salsa Classico tubing). Our steel frames ranged from about $550 to $1300.

What should we use? What do you want from Salsa? Stay high end with TT OX or Reynolds 853 or expand our Classico line of bike offerings? Got opinions? I bet you do.

I know this is a bit vague. It's intentional. I want to know what folks think and/or want from Salsa.

Oh, and since this is a post about steel, here is a shot of my new La Cruz locked up and sandwiched between two other steel steeds. Our new La Cruz is my current favorite Salsa steel bike. It does everything. I love steel.

Ride and Smile

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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 (24)

 Anonymous |

stay high end mostly…love the TT tubes on my El Mar, great ride feel, but a Reynolds 853 tubeset would be cool too as it also has a great springy feel.

 BG |

A vote for Reynolds 853. S3 is bling, but 853 builds a frame with nice regular sized tubes. There are manufactures using 853 for road bikes that achieve 3.6 pound (56cm) frames.<BR>I’d definitely buy a Salsa Taiwanese-made 853 (all tubes pro lite 853, not just regular 853 in main three tubes like in the old La Raza’s). If you can achieve a 3.6 pound frame with TT O/X that would be just as good. IMO, compact frames and weird proportioned tubes look ugly. The old La Raza “Baja Blue” powder coat color was awesome and durable!

 Butcher |

Well, we are back from Interbike.  Look for some fun posts in the coming days.<BR><BR> Thanks all for commenting.  This has been fun topic.  If you’ve got more to say, please keep those comments coming.  <BR><BR>I really wanted this discussion to be about steel and not so much about Salsa and Surly.  I can assure you, regardless of what we do or what steel we use, Salsa is ALWAYS aware of our positioning with our sister company.

 Ian Dowdle |

Steel is real, the big world players are producing frames they would like us to have. The frames built to be nuetral, uninspiring,<BR>boring, the same, no character, <BR>remove the stickers and paint could you tell the difference ?<BR>Salsa has offered something they do not,keep doing it.<BR>People want choice, the individual feel of a particular frame,and frame material.<BR>Why have a stiff frame material and add intellegent suspension to make it fit to be ridden , why not<BR>make the frame intellegently in the first place, steel for example?<BR>But do one thing PLEASE give people the choice of what brakes to run. You could do this by offering a bolt on system like the clamp aftermarket system already used before. You get to keep the customers who want v brakes.<BR>So keep offering choice, its who you are, its why we like you, you offer what others do not.<BR>many thanks,<BR>Ian Dowdle Robin Cycles England

 Anonymous |

ANSWER: Stay with high end steel.  Especially on the more racing-oriented/fast riding frames.  Avoid the Salsa Classico (except for the occassional awesome non-racing frame, like Casseroll). Repeat. <BR><BR>Next!

 Anonymous |

In contrast to Ian, I prefer no canti studs.  I chose a Gunnar over an Ala Carte a few years ago because of the canti-studs.<BR><BR>Let Surly have the disc- and v-mounts.  A premium bike bare canti studs do not make.

 Anonymous |

Bartender’s Guide to Salsa Road Frames:<BR><BR>La Raza….like a fine wine.<BR><BR>Campeon….like a premium tequila.<BR><BR>Casseroll..like a Belgian beer.<BR><BR>La Cruz….like a mix of the above!

 Anonymous |

Bartender’s Guide to Salsa Road Frames:<BR><BR>La Raza….like a fine wine.<BR><BR>Campeon….like a premium tequila.<BR><BR>Casseroll..like a Belgian beer.<BR><BR>La Cruz….like a mix of the above!

 BG |

My bad. My previous post needs a correction, so:<BR><BR>I remember reading that 853 is almost always used in just the main three tubes w/ a Reynolds 700-series tubing recommended for the stays. I suppose True Temper’s OX has a similar mix of tubes. Anyway, just keep offering a all-steel road bike with downtube shifter compatibility, a level top tube, those proven geometries, and the durable powdercoat finishes - stock frames like these are getting harder to find.

 Tony Gjessvag |

The Vikings of Norway would really like to see some “all mountain” high end steel frames with slacker front geometry accomodating longer travel forks (like a Revelation 130mm) for traversing steep terrain.<BR> <BR>This would make for a really versatile AM-steed without having to go full-sus. British company Cotic already make their Soul-frame, but it is not readily available, neither in Europe nor the US.

 Anonymous |

What is 4130 CroMo?  I don’t mean chemically, what is it but what is its size, butt lengths, taper thicnesses?  When you say Reynolds 853, the buyer can’t find out what the thickness of the tubes is, he can see literature on the processing.  He knows it’s seamless.  Is your 4130 CroMo even seamless?  I guess what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter if it is high end tubing but it does matter if the customer knows what he is getting.  So maybe setup a tech page if you use proprietary tubing that actually SAYS what the tubing is, not just some label “Salsa Classico”.

 MG |

The Salsa brand, to me, will always be a higher-end brand, so I don’t see anything lower quality than the Casseroll, not that the Casseroll is a bad frame (I just built one for my wife you may recall).  <BR><BR>As Jason knows all too well, I very much enjoy the ride qualities of the current OX Platinum El Mariachi, and the short rides I’ve done on JP’s new LaCruz have been really positive.  In fact, with CrossMax 29 wheels, that LaCruz feels like a freaking ROCKET!!  It’s awesome!  But I digress.<BR><BR>One thing I don’t see, is a big need to go to something like 853 when pipes with similar qualities exist in True Temper’s inventory (OX Platinum, in fact), and your existing relationship with them seems to me to make more sense to continue speccing TT pipes for your high end steel moving forward.  853 is so 1997…<BR><BR>Perhaps you’ll find that there is a significant draw/benefit to doing a 953 frame, but that’s TBD.  I don’t know enough about that tubeset to be judge and jury on that one at this point.<BR><BR>I like the idea of having a “Salsa for any use,” because I’m a guy that likes to ride one brand of bikes.  But currently, you’re doing a pretty good job of covering all the bases for me.  You’ve got mid-range steel bikes like the Casseroll that I can commute on, and sweet high-end steel road, ‘cross and mountain frames that I can rip it up on.  Life is pretty good right now!<BR><BR>And that’s not even mentioning your Scandium frames, which you know I’m a big fan of too!!<BR><BR>Have fun talking bikes in the city of sin.<BR><BR>Cheers,<BR>MG

 Anonymous |

Amigos—the QBP site describes Salsa as “Premium road, mountain, and cyclocross bikes”.  Notice the emphasis on “Premium”.  In my mind, this would include high end steel (e.g. TTOXP or 853).  By contrast, the QBP site describes Surly as “Studry, no-frills road, mountain and cross bikes”.  Notice the word “no-frills”.  See the difference?  While Salsa is always ‘beautiful’, Surly is ‘sturdy’.  Salsa is ‘premium’, but Surly is ‘no-frills’.  <BR><BR>I think the QBP site does a good job at differentiating the two brands, as described above.  So, amigos, please stay true to your legacy and keep making premium, high end steel bikes.  Leave the more common stuff to others.

 Anonymous |

I agree with Jeremy’s comment re: well thought out frames.  However, I think tubing is just as important.  After all, Surly also puts good thought into their frames.  Better tubing is one of the ways (there are more than one) Salsa can rise above Surly.

 Guitar Ted |

Well, if you could figure out how to get Tange Prestige tubing I think that would be my favorite steel “feel” ever.<BR><BR>But I’d say definitely stick to the better stuff. Lots of companies already are mining the standard steel vaults.

 Anonymous |

I agree with Ted.  I just got a surly 1x1 with the 4130.  I love the bike but I settled for it because right now I can’t afford a salsa.  But my goal is to get a El Mariachi in the spring, because of the high quality steel, etc.

 Anonymous |

One of the things that currently sets Salsa apart is it’s high quality steel frames at reasonable prices.  Sure, Salsa could do less high steel and more 4130 CroMo.  But ponder this: if Salsa went to CroMo, what would distinguish it from sister brand Surly, and indeed from so many other brands making cheap frames with low end steel?  If Salsa went more low end, I’d choose Surly every time.  Why? Surly’s 4130 will likely be cheaper and the quality will be comparable (if not the same) to Salsa’s 4130.  But Surly and Salsa make well thought-out frames, but price and tubing being comparable, decals and branding alone would not suffice to tip the scales in Salsa’s favor.  However, if Salsa stays high end steel, I choose Salsa every time.  Why?  To illustrate: I recently purchased a La Raza ovrer a Surly Pacer. Why?  Simple: better steel (TTOXP vs. 4130), better paint (only powdercoating at Surly), carbon fork (not available at all with Surly).  Salsa has a history of using superior steel (e.g. S3) and materials (e.g. some carbon mixed in with the steel) and offering it at great prices.  This is what’s set Salsa apart in the past from, say, Surly.  To Surly’s credit, Surly is has a clear goal: market nice, cheap 4130 frames to urban hipsters.  Salsa, on the other hand, seems to be loosing sight of it’s goal.  I don’t see why Salsa can’t stay high end, all the while taking a few shots at Surly and one up ‘em, as it did with Casseroll (a superior frame to Pacer, in my opinion).  <BR><BR>Bottom line: Salsa should stay on higher end of steel spectrum, or else loose its identity and market share.  <BR><BR>Have a great time at Interbike, guys.  Hope you’ll surprise us with something really cool like you did with Primero last year!

 Butcher |

Folks, thanks and keep the commetns coming.  <BR><BR>One thing I want to point out is that this is a question and a discussion.  The last poster says we seem to be losing focus.  I just want to be clear that we are asking questions to assist in our future.  It’s intentional.  Please do not confuse questions with action.  <BR><BR>It is true, we have a unique challenge with our sister brand Surly.  I won’t go into the details of that, but if you look at our new La Cruz disc, you’ll notice it is a great departure from Surly’s very successful Cross Check.  It’s pretty clear we have different intentions.  <BR><BR>Keep it coming.  I’m leaving for Interbike now.

 Anonymous |

Butcher—I don’t believe the previous poster said Salsa was loosing focus.  I believe the last poster implied that, the more Salsa tries to be Surly, the more Salsa risks loosing its focus and being overtaken by Surly.  I think you’ve proved the previous poster’s point yourself by pointing out the difference btw. La Cruz and CrossCheck.  Crosscheck is 4130.  La Cruz is TTOXP.  That kind of difference, among other things, is what the previous poster was talking about.  La Cruz is obviouslly superior to CrossCheck.  The previous poster obviously likes Salsa better than Surly (as do I).  You’d probably be wise to re-read his/her post.  My opinion: QBP does not need two Surly’s.  It needs a Salsa and a Surly, with a clear difference between the two.  QBP needs to let Salsa take risks and stay higher endish, while continuing to milk the Surly cash cow.  Salsa has some of the best value frames/bikes in the market today.  It would be a shame to see that change.

 Butcher |

I guess I had a different impression.  It’s all good.  I don’t want to lead this discussion.  I want to see what folks think.  <BR><BR>Even though I didn’t ask the question, it is good that folks see and understand the difference between Salsa and Surly.  I still think that is a different discussion.  We can still be very, very different and offer unique products even if we both use 4130 butted CroMoly.  Think Casseroll and Pacer.

 Cellarrat |

Gonna go with ted on the True temper *feel* that la cruz is cool I want one… I’d have to make it a fixie though with that white idus. hub though!

 Anonymous |

That new La Cruz is awesome!  It points the way to what Salsa can be, and what it has been (as well as what Surly cannot be, nor has been).  Mabye I’m missing something here others are seeing, but I don’t see why Salsa needs to choose only btw. 4130 CroMo and higher end steel(e.g. TTOXP, Tange Prestige, Reynolds 853, etc)?  Do these two types of steel need to be mutually exclusive for Salsa?  Or can Salsa continue doing high end steel (like La Cruz), AND also do some 4130 CroMo bikes (like Casseroll)?  I suspect it is the latter strategy that will pay Salsa the greatest dividends…

 Anonymous |

PLEASE bring back the S3 tubing!!!<BR><BR>If you do, I promise I’ll buy one!<BR><BR>What about Reynolds 953? <BR><BR>I guess that’s a pretty firm opinion from me that high-end steel is what I’d like to continue to see in the marketplace!

 Jeremy |

The thing that attracts me to salsa (a casseroll is on my wish list) is not so much the quality/lightness of the tubing vs. other manufacturers but the details of the frame.  The dropouts on the Casseroll, for instance, allowing the versatility of gears or SS while being long, canted to maintain brake reach, and forward opening to help with those of us who like using flip-flop hubs.  To me, tubing is secodary having a well-thought out frame with nice geometry and good details.

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