Salsa Fargo - A New Adventure

Introducing the Salsa Fargo, our latest creation. Can you say drop bar , disc brake, off road capable, adventure touring, 29" bike? OK, now say it faster. We are really proud of this new model. The Fargo can bring you places far, far away....And then it can bring you back home. Time and time again. Today, we thought we'd take some time to share part of our Fargo story.

In my humble opinion, our team really outdid themselves with this bike. It comes from the heart's of our team. It comes from true passion for bikes, for travel and for the journey to somewhere. Who doesn't love adventure and traveling? If you are reading this blog you must love cycling. Why not put those passions together?

The Fargo started as a concept somewhere in the design process of the Casseroll. The Casseroll really caused quite an internal stir. At the time, we kept arguing over producing a touring capable bike or a really nice versatile road bike. At one point, we even used the term heavy duty Casseroll when discussing the Pre-Fargo concept. Thankfully, the Casseroll ended up as a fine road machine. Thankfully, we took our time and built Salsa's ultimate adventure bike.

Just over a year ago, we took the Heavy Duty Casseroll concept a bit further. Joe Meiser, our Industrial Designer and leader of the design team, started putting our concepts on paper. He took it upon himself to start this project on his own time. He later built a modified El Mariachi as well. I still remember the day he came to the office and said he'd worked on it all night at home. After showing me what work he had done, discussing some details and just a bit more work, OK a lot more work, our final concept came together. After that, it went to our engineers for development of the proprietary front and rear stainless drops, the front and rear post mounts, and the final tubing/geometry. We then turned it over to Wes and Kid to develop a beautiful powder coated finish and graphic treatment. Our whole team got behind this project and in the end, I think we got a pretty cool, unique, functional, effective and authentic bike.

For me personally, I saw this as an opportunity to build a bike that would also satisfy my dissatisfaction with current touring bikes. There are some really good road touring bikes along with a few gravel touring bikes, but I wanted more. You see, back in the mid 90's I did a big adventure tour from Alaska to Utah.

The road to Wonder Lake, Denali National Park

This trip had everything including a dead body, bears, back packing, kite flying, the Oregon Microbrew festival, fishing, single track, crazy people, ice climbing and miles of gravel and pavement. It culminated with a 10 day trip through Moab and Canyonlands.

Canyonlands, Maize District

On this trip, I really figured out what worked and what didn't. Little did I know at the time, but I'd be looking back on this trip and using what I learned to help design what I consider my ultimate bicycle. If I could only own one bicycle, it be a Fargo.

The bike is hard to put in one category. It can be ridden a lot of places and built in a lot of different ways. We are offering it as both a frameset ($650 msrp) and a complete bicycle ($2000 msrp). The complete bike is spec'd for some serious use and abuse. Every part was chosen for a specific reason. Each part has been tested and proven in miles and miles of abuse. I won't go through all the details of spec, but it's all great stuff that is built to last.

Over the course of the summer, the crew has logged a lot of pavement, gravel and single track on our prototype Fargoes. Personally, I've logged over 1000 miles of riding on the prototype that will be in our booth at Interbike. One of my favorite thing to do with this bike is the Friday Morning Breakfast ride. It's an hour of pavement to meet the crew and have breakfast. After breakfast, we pedal about 5 miles of pavement. This is followed by 10 miles of twisty MN River Valley single track and ends just a mile or two from work. After work, I take a slightly different route home that consists of 12-13 miles of single track followed by about 8-9 miles of pavement to get home.

The Fargo is a bike that can make you think big. It's big wheels add comfort and eat up the pavement, dirt and gravel. If you want to ride it off road, slap some big tires on there and shock your flat bar riding friends.

For some of us here at Salsa, the Fargo represents our dreams. A couple of the crew are planning big trips because of this bike. It is also inspiring some of our product development. Those are words for another day and another story. Until then, enjoy the following slide show. I took these pictures throughout the summer while riding a prototype Fargo.

Fargo...Go Far!

OK, here are a few details you might appreciate when considering building your own Fargo.

- Availability: Frames November. Complete bikes Feb 09.
- Sizing: Frames are sized by effective TT length and optimized for drop bars. This means the head tubes are bit longer than a typical 29" bike as well as a slightly shorter TT. Match your desired top tube length. If you own a Salsa mtn bike from the last few years, buy the same size (assuming it fits right). As and example, if you have a medium Dos Niner or El Mariachi, buy a medium Salsa Fargo.
- Flat bars: Folks will certainly ask if you can run flat bars on a Fargo. Of course you can, just remember it is optimized for drop bars. You may need to go a size bigger for flat bars or you may need to run a slightly longer stem if you want a smaller, more off roadable frame size.
- Fork: The fork is all new and features new stainless forward facing drop outs, post mount disc brakes, two bottle cage mounts and an extra eyelet to attach a strap (to hold your precious water or fuel in the fork cages).
- Low Rider front racks: If you run a low rider front rack, the two bottle cages on the back of the fork legs can't be used for bottle.
- Water Bottle/Fuel cages: Speaking of water bottles, adjustable cages work the best. Someday, you may see an adjustable Salsa water bottle cage. Until then, we highly recommend the Velocity cages for this bike.
- Cables/Housing: You will need tandem length cables and housing for rear brake and rear derailleur. It pays to buy good cables and good housing.
- Pump: There is a pump peg on the head tube. On the medium, if you run both bottles on the down tube, you can't use a full length frame fit pump. That is why in the picture of the complete bike, you see my personal bike with an under the down tube mounted pump. Oh...And the lower bottle mounts are reinforced.
- Chainring sizes/front derailleur: The bike is spec'd with a trekking crank with a 48tooth outer ring and a traditional high clamp front derailleur. If you run lower than a 44 tooth outer chain ring, you should use a top swing (low mount) front derailleur
- Rear disc brake: When you mount the rear caliper, it is easiest to mount the rear brake caliper first before installing the rear wheel

Build and enjoy! Look at the horizon and go for it. Repeat often.

Ride & Smile!

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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.


 Anonymous |

Hi, the Fargo looks mighty nice. I’m riding a 54 cm Salsa la Raza (which did the PBP 07 just fine, though a bit more mudguard clearance would have been nice). So what would be the appropriate size for the Fargo if I decided to add another Salsa to my bike menu?

 JMeiser |

I’m sure someone will run the Fargo with fenders.  We mounted up the Planet Bike Cascadia 29’s.  They mount and clear everything as we designed them to fit.  Personally, I haven’t run fenders, there’s simply too many rogue singletrack lines on the my commute and I find the Cascadia Fenders just a bit flexy off-road.  I also have a set of 60mm wide Gilles Berthoud fenders that I have not mounted on a Fargo.  They would fit with their radius, but I just haven’t found the need…yet.<BR><BR>This discussion about the DT shifters is interesting…We discussed this a lot in the design process and ultimately chose to use the bar-cons.  It will really depend on how people use the bike.  I’m actually thinking about switching to STI levers.  I love the feel of the Shimano levers and there is still an r600 9 speed lever available.  Right now however I’m running campy 10 speed. Why? Because I can.  <BR><BR>Bar cons would be great for touring in remote areas.  Let’s face it though, there is nothing remote in the U.S.  Most shops will have parts to get you rolling.  If they don’t they can likely get parts from a distributor overnight, or in a couple of days.

 Anonymous |

I think the Fargo needs at least four or five more bottle mounts ; )<BR><BR>What was that Pedro’s thingy on the downtube of the Casseroll Single that was shown at Eurobike ‘08?<BR><BR>I second (or is it now triple or quadruple) the motion to see or hear more about the new Selma bike!

 Anonymous |

Please tell us/show us now about Selma!

 Joel |

Jason….super cool bike!  I wish I would have held out for a Fargo instead of a LHT :(<BR><BR>How well do fenders mount….got any pics with fenders?<BR><BR>BTW, cool new salas socks!

 Joel |

What the F is a Selma? (I probably need one though)

 Anonymous |


 Timothy |

Very cool bike!  How about a front rack that is a little wider than that M12 and rides lower, closer to the tire.  As much as I love Nitto racks, aesthetically it just looks wrong to me to have that rack perched so high. A long shot, but since you said the bike was inspiring product development… <BR><BR>- Tim

 Anonymous |

The addresss got cut off for some reason:<BR><BR><BR>derail/slbadapt.gif

 Anonymous |

Guitar Ted said, “...I don’t want those pesky protuberances sticking out of my downtube waiting to gash my inner leg in a fancy get off.”<BR><BR>I don’t think those adjustable cable stops that mount to “downtube bosses” stick out any worse than the adjuster already on the Fargo.  If anything, they look like they have a sharper edge than the nearly smooth cable stops.<BR><BR>Have a look:<BR><BR>You could run downtube shifters and not ride on the road.  Plus, it’s just that much easier to find a fix if you’re out in the middle of nowhere.  Break off a bar-con or STI in the middle of nowhere and the shop only has left over RSX downtube shifters…not a problem.

 Butcher |

Wayne….Oh I mean Elvis.  It is true.  If you use a low rider rack, the rear braze on’s for water/fuel bottles can’t be used for bottles.  <BR><BR>Sorry….But I still think you need one.  Who knows, maybe someday that issue will be solved. ;)

 Butcher |

Down tube shifter bosses - I kinda like the idea.  Not going to change them now, but after seeing how people are actually using this bike, we’ll see.<BR><BR>Rob, not sure what you are saying about the EBB.  The Fargo does not have an EBB.  If it did, I see it could be set up as you described.

 Elvis |

you’ve broken my heart Jason… (let me explain)<BR><BR>I love the Fargo. It’s everything I could ever ask for in a “genuine” outback tourer. And quite possibly the ultimate commuter for western Sydney’s roads.<BR><BR>But to read that i can’t run my Surly Nice racks (lowriders) on the front with a full assortment of bottle cages is just too painful.<BR><BR>Tell me it ain’t so?<BR><BR>Elvis.

 Anonymous |

Great concept & about time. With the vertical dropouts and eccentric BB, could it be adapted for a Rohloff with the shifter stem mounted or possibly end of drop bar. The Rohloff gives lower maintenance for adventure riding. This is the set up I'm looking for & may have to go the custom route. I like the 5 bottles.<BR><BR>What are the handlebars.<BR><BR>Rob

 Baabaa |

I like the way your people in white coats have cooked this one up but could you now look at making a cage to fit a Trangia instead of all the water bottles.( top one, near the headset please!)<BR><BR>I love my Trangia but it really is a dirty little thing to throw IN the panniers each morning, noon and night and to think it could hang in on the frame and rattle away knowing that the rattle is the Trangia and not your rear hub about to die would make all those long trips just a little bit better in each and every way.

 alex carrell |

hmm. I looked at the casserole last year, liked it. Looked at my 2001 a la carte. hmm i thought. I thought an a la carte is robust. It can take 29er wheels 38c no problem, even cyclo cross style. Well, i get bosses welded on for some touring, bridge for the rear disc brake, etc. It is more robust and 853 steel is great to ride. Now, what do you do to me a 8 months later.<BR><BR>This is war, i am going to have to add S&S and a big rohloff friendly BB, more welding and cost. And still have a bike i can pop 26 wheels on for mtb(the just is not quite enogh clearance for 29 2.1 tyres). Even then I wonder what you will do next, fufill my desire, pop my balloon. Podio looks good too.<BR><BR>thanks<BR><BR>alex ;-)

 Anonymous |

Salsa Selma says she’s ready to take over on day one.  Bring her to us now!

 Anonymous |

I like the Fargo, but I think we could use a ‘super La Cruz’ in addition to the ‘super Casseroll’ Fargo. A super La Cruz would be good for those of us who enjoy adventures that may range in duration from 3 hours to 3 days, and don’t need to carry six water bottles and 100 lbs of gear.<BR><BR>Just as Fargo is the child of Ma’ Casseroll and Pa’ Mariachi, so could super La Cruz be the child of Ma’ Ala Carte and Pa’ Pistola.

 MG |

boy, you’ve got the PR machine cranked to 11, ‘eh hosers?

 Anonymous |


 Anonymous |


 Joel |

Don’t try to search for “salsa selma” will be greatly disapointed :(

 Cyclists for a Better Society |

Please introduce us to the new VP candidate from Bloomington, MN: Salsa Selma!

 Anonymous |


 Anonymous |

Hurry up and spill the beans on Selma

 MG |

Heavy Duty Casseroll… I know that phrase well.  I believe I’ve uttered it a few times in reference to this bike’s concept.  A love child of the Casseroll and the El Mariachi, you could say.  It’s been a long time coming and the Fargo concept has grown beyond my wildest expectations.  My hat’s off to Joe, Jason and the rest of the Salsa team for taking it to a whole ‘nother level!  Amazing!  <BR><BR>When first saw the Fargo, it was clear that it is going to open up a whole new world of riding for a lot of riders—drop-bar off roading.  It’s like 1985 all over again, only better.  We’ve got the benefit of modern tubesets, drivetrains, disc brakes and big wheels and tires.  The time for drop bar off-roading v.2 is neigh… at least for me it is.<BR><BR>Thanks for making the Super Casseroll… er, the Fargo, reality.  It’s a beauty.  I’m in.  Let’s go far.

 MG |

Hey Joe—I’ve been thinking STI, or perhaps Ergopower for my Fargo as well.  I just don’t have any problems with my shifters on a repeated basis, and I’m not riding in the middle of Africa, or somewhere else where supply could be an issue.  If push came to shove, I’m confident that I could bodge together a three speed if need be to get me by as well, and I like the hoods on the integrated shift/brake levers so well that it’s hard not to want to get them simply to have that sweet perch for the times when I’m using them for that as well.

 Pat |

Just wanted to say I love my Salsa Fargo!  It is so sweet to ride. I researched and when I saw this bike online I had to have it.  Purchased it in March, 09 and haven't ridden any of my other bikes since then.
A hint-I use a Lizard Skin jumbo size chain guard to protect the top tube from dings (fits great) and the occasional swinging of the bar end shifters. In fact I use the other sizes of Lizard Skins to protect down tubes and the chain guard.  They come in different sizes and colors.
I have a well dressed Fargo!
Happy riding.

 Butcher |

I think it word work great.  No issues that I’m aware of as long as you have the right crank/BB/FD compatible with the frame and with the shifters.

 Butcher |

Sorry for the delay in answering this.<BR><BR>I use 2 different cameras, both of which are now busted.  Usually I carry a Cannon G9 with me.  I also have packed my Cannon Rebel DSLR with an 18-55mm lense.  It all depends on what bike I’m riding and where I am going.

 Josh |

I posted this over on to no response.  I’d like to run my Fargo with Kelly Take-offs.<BR>Anyone have any thoughts on pros/cons?<BR>

 Anonymous |

Gnat,<BR><BR>Pray tell, what model camera are you using for those Podio-in-nature pictures? Awesome!

 Anonymous |

Gnat,<BR><BR>Pray tell, what model camera are you using for those Fargo-in-nature pictures? Awesome!<BR><BR>Long weekend, but I got the bike name right the second time around (~:

 Terry |

This bike is long overdue!  I wish this would have came out last year.  I just spent a fortune building up a 90s MTB to get a tourer/adventure bike with half the capability.  It appears that you left no stone unturned on this one.  Hopefully I can talk my wife into letting me trade my Frankenbike in for a Fargo in 09!

 Guitar Ted |

Well, I’ll save the accolades because it’s likely everyone has seen my feelings about this bike somewhere. (If not, saying “I like it” is a huge understatement, okay?)<BR><BR>To the poster that is commenting on the downtube bosses, I would submit to him/her that this is an off road bike primarily. As such, I don’t want those pesky protuberances sticking out of my downtube waiting to gash my inner leg in a fancy get off. It just so happens that you could use the Fargo for on road touring, but ya know, for the off road side, you really don’t want those on there.  <BR><BR>Perhaps you could think of it like a cyclo cross bike, which rarely ever has downtube bosses. That’s a concious decision of the designers of cyclo cross bikes. Well, the Fargo is very similar in that regard. <BR><BR>In the end, I believe it was wise to leave them off, as it would cause more consternation than accolades if they had them on there.

 Anonymous |

Gnat,<BR><BR>Thanks for your helpful comments.<BR><BR>I will probably be running Midge bars, but also have H-bars, and will be using it on those rides where there is some double track, single track, and maybe 5 miles of road in the middle.<BR><BR>The 23.0” ETT of the large, seems awfully short, but perhaps the sizing on a drop-bar specific frame is different than what my experience would dictate?<BR><BR>Are the frames sized so that a “normal” length stem can be used?

 Butcher |

My personal experience with both H-Bars and with Midge is that I personally wanted the longer stem or longer top tube.  <BR><BR>With that in mind, I might recommend the XL.  All that said, it is important to understand that it is very difficult to fit over email or blog comments.  Bike fit is personal and should be viewed by a skilled bicycle fitter.  I’ll go on record and state clearly I am not that.  <BR><BR>I may see if I can take a photo or two that can show a comparison and then add them to this post.

 Tim |

HOME RUN!!!!!<BR><BR>Best blog / internets post I have ever read.

 Anonymous |

“DT shifter bosses? Good discussion. The short story here is that this bike comes more from off road than on road and our initial design criteria did not include down tube shifter bosses.”<BR><BR>I understand that the bike comes more from the mtb side than the road side, but shifter bosses can easily accept cable stops with adjusters.  <BR><BR>Basically, shifter bosses wouldn’t detract anything, but would add one more type of shifter that could be used (which could be very useful in a pinch out in the middle of nowhere).  Just something to think about for the next round of frames.


Let me try that again.<BR><BR>If you ride a Large Salsa mtn bike right now, you likely ride a large Fargo.  That is assuming you are running a more traditional drop bar.  <BR><BR>If you are running some kind of shorter reach drop style bar, a flat bar or something like an H-Bar, you may want to size up one size or run a slightly longer stem.<BR><BR>As a personal example, I’ll share my info and Fargo preferences.  <BR><BR>I am 5’11” and ride a medium El Mariachi and a 53 La Cruz.  The El Mariachi has a 23.5” or so effective TT and the La Cruz has a 56cm effective TT.  I ride a medium Fargo with a 57.5.  It is slighlyl longer than my La Cruz and shorter than my El Mariachi.  <BR><BR>For more road type touring or application, I could also size up and run the Large with a shorter stem(1-2cm) and drop bars.  <BR><BR>Again, if you fit a large Salsa mtn bike, you likely ride the large if you intend to ride this bike off road and use and abuse it as it was designed.  <BR><BR>More questions?  Give us a shout at 877 Moto Ace


<span class=“deleted-comment”>This post has been removed by the author.</span>

 Anonymous |

Still trying to understand the sizing for this bike.<BR><BR>I am 6’0” and 34” inseam. Ride a size L in an MTB.<BR><BR>Mamasita, El Mar, Dos, all have a 24.4 ETT in size L.<BR>Big Mama, 24.0” (but you knew that)<BR><BR>Fargo size L has a 23” ETT, XL, 23.6, XXL 24.0”<BR><BR>Please advise me, which size should I order? (because I am ready to buy one of these, now!!)

 Ben |

I think the phrase, “I love you guys,” came first into my mind.  <BR><BR>Thank you for giving us another fine bike to bring to customers, and to use ourselves. <BR><BR>Cheers,<BR>Ben

 Steve Fuller |

I think (no, I am sure) that you guys have hit a home run with this bike. I was originally thinking of picking up a cross bike for long gravel grinders. The Fargo looks to be a better choice for what I want to do. Has anyone at Salsa ran one with either an H-bar or something like the ITM Selego Trekking Bars?

 Butcher |

Please keep this to a discussion about bikes.  I know politics are important and it’s even more important to make informed decisions, but the Salsa blog isn’t a place for a political discussion.  <BR><BR>We will shut comments down and/or delete if needed. <BR><BR>This is a Fargo bike discussion.

 Cyclists for Obama |

We shall use our Salsa Fargo Weapons of Mass Satisfaction (WMS) to restore peace and prosperity to our great nation!

 Butcher |

DT shifter bosses?  Good discussion.  The short story here is that this bike comes more from off road than on road and our initial design criteria did not include down tube shifter bosses.  <BR><BR>Let’s keep this on topic and not on politics.  I know its important to discuss.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on this discussion.

 Anonymous |

What an ABOMINATION it will be if McCain/Palin win and destroy the beautiful Alaskan landscape Jason toured in during the mid 90’s!  We need more Salsa Fargos and less filthy oil and polluting pick up trucks!

 Anonymous |

Why doesn’t the Fargo have downtube shifter bosses?<BR><BR>That way you could run downtube shifters or simply put the adjustable stops in their place.

 Anonymous |

Please make the fork available separately for those of us that already have “29er touring bikes.”<BR><BR>It would be the perfect complement to what I’ve already got going. (assuming the geometry of it will work with existing 29er mountain bikes).

 Anonymous |

“That’ll be my exile vehicle to cross the border with if the wrong party wins the presidential election.”<BR><BR>What an Obamanation that will be.

 Spinner |

Awesome Bike.  The mini life story was fun to read and the slide show is really cool.  I can’t wait to try one of these.

 Anonymous |

Fargo rocks!  That’ll be my exile vehicle to cross the border with if the wrong party wins the presidential election.<BR><BR>Salsa Selma.  A new mixte for the ladies, perhaps?  Makes me thinnk of how Selma Blair is muy caliente!

Chris | February 24th, 2010

My Fargo represents my dreams too. I’ve ridden it a few thousand miles so far, around Minneapolis and then down the Mississippi to New Orleans, down the gulf to Mexico, and then all over Mexico. And I’m just getting started. :)

Stainless steel range hoods | March 13th, 2010

I also have a set of 60mm wide Gilles Berthoud fenders that I have not mounted on a Fargo.  They would fit with their radius, but I just haven?t found the need?yet.

This discussion about the DT shifters is interesting?We discussed this a lot in the design process and ultimately chose to use the bar-cons.

SMB | August 9th, 2010

The design of the Fargo has much to recommend it and if the frame were made of True Temper OX, Reynolds 853 or similar brand-name tubing I would want one.  Salsa’s prior commitment to using such quality steel was one of the main points that distinguished their frames from other mass-produced bikes offer by others.  Now that they’re using the same bargain-basement Asian-sourced 4130 cro-moly that everyone else uses, I think “the Salsa edge” is gone, and the justification for the higher prices attached to the marque go with it.

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