What’s Next?  Carbon Fiber?

Greetings everyone. It's the time of year in Salsa land where we look back, talk a lot, and then talk about what's next? Salsa has got a lot of questions that we are attempting to answer. Why not ask each of you? Here goes. A little segment we'll call What's Next? These questions will be vague. That's intentional. We want to know what you think and more importanly why you think that? This is an experiment. We'll see where this goes.

So, here goes....

Carbon fiber is everywhere in the bicycle world! Heck, we use it already on bars and seatstays on our successful Mamasita, Campeon & Moto Rapido frames.

Do you, our readers & customers, want Salsa to offer complete carbon frames and/or complete bikes?

If yes, what models or categories would you like to see?

If no, why?

Lastly, if you respond, could you please identify yourself as a dealer or a consumer?

Thanks for your help.

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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.


 joel |

From a consumer/racer stand point - I would love to see a full carbon line up from Salsa. Go for it.<BR><BR>That would make my decision easier between the GF Superfly and the Mamasita. To make that decision a step easier would be a complete bike option. <BR><BR>Mamasita, Campeon, Dos, F/S 29er (hopefully in the near future!)

 Jayson |

I am a little of both I consume your bicyles but also help sell them.  I would love to see a full carbon road bike from you guys in some amazing paint scheme like the others.  As for completes I don’t really know how easy that would be to sell at least in my area the market is flooded with full carbon bikes (shimano/campy/ and now SRAM).  I think it might be easier to get into people’s hands if you offered the frame, fork, and headset combo.  There is always the option of completes through QBP’s bike builder but you guys probably don’t see the cheese in the end with that.  Overall I think I probably saying all this wishing you make a full carbon bike so I can EP it at some point but my El Santo gets more compliments than I can count and I am sure the——- (insert name here) would do the same with competitive pricing.

 MG |

I have to say that, as a Salsa team rider, I’m a bit jaded, and I am also a bit old school when it comes to my view of what the Salsa brand stands for.  And when I think of Salsa, I automatically lust for my sweet steel El Mariachi, or my beautiful CroMoto SUL stem…<BR><BR>That said, back in a former life I used to ride for a certain bike brand that’s also well known for their four-letter acronym carbon frames that have been raced to numerous wins at a high profile road race across the pond in the land of pomme frites, so I know what a good carbon frame can be, in terms of ride quality and durability.  Both can be quite good.  <BR><BR>I know the potential that carbon can hold, and I believe Salsa can build great carbon frames if it chooses to go that route.  Of the models you currently produce, the Dos is a prime candidate for the first carbon transplant due to its unique design criteria and needs, and how they can work with carbon’s strengths.  It would be an awesome marriage, especially if you evolved the Relish damper to take some additional weight out of that as well.  Or, perhaps have DT make a carbon-bodied damper for you?  That’d probably cost an arm and a leg, so perhaps not, but it’d sure look sweet, and boy it’d be light!<BR><BR>Are carbon Salsa frames necessary?  Probably not.  My steel El Mariachi is awesome.  My scandium Dos Niner and Chili Con Crosso are both incredible.  I don’t want for much, other than a full suspension 29er (hint, hint…), but I do think that progression is a good thing, and carbon fiber would allow you to progress your frame line in directions that metals don’t necessarily allow you to go.<BR><BR>No, perhaps it’s not what the “retro-grouches” would do, but last I checked, Salsa wasn’t a company made up of retro-grouches.<BR><BR>I’m a bit surprised by what I just typed, but there you have it, my opinion.<BR><BR>Alrighty then, let’s go ride!<BR><BR>Cheers,<BR>MG<BR>Semipro xc and ultra racer<BR>Salsa/Monkeywrench Cycles team<BR>industry journalist

 Anonymous |

Coming from a retailer I think a carbon cross and 29er frame would be excellent.  There are a lot of carbon road frames out there so competition would be steep.  If you came out with a cross and/or a 29er frame you would one of the few.  These are growing segments in cycling.  Customers are now looking for the latest greatest and lightest in these disciplines.

 Anonymous |

Agree with Guitar Ted.  For instance, a complete Ala Carte with a rigid carbon or titanium fork (or what about a half Ti, half carbon fork!?) would have been very interesting.  A complete Ala Carte with a TTOXP fork (like El Mariachi) would have been somewhat interesting.  A complete Ala Carte with a plain CrMo fork is nice and retro, but not all that interesting I’m afraid.<BR><BR>As an example of where Salsa might go without playing the “monkey see” full-carbon game is the kind of product On-One is doing.  Their Inbred 26” MTB frame, for instance (made with inferior steel than used for the Ala Carte, mind you) is nonethless creative and different, as it accomodates suss forks up to 100mm (now the new ‘short travel’).  One-One offers a rigid carbon fork to go with it as well.  The Mary bars are very funky and different, and I’m told they handle well.  So they take something ordinary (4130 frame) and mix it up with something unusual (super large tire clearance, rigid carbon fork, weird bars, etc).  And they’re able to offer this at a price that is not ridiculously high.  <BR><BR>I think On-One’s Inbread is a good example of what a prior poster above referred to as Beethoven-like thinking.  Old and new.  High and low.  Classic, yet also creative and unique. <BR><BR>Salsa has excelled at this in the past, and I’m sure Salsa can come up with things that are much more interesting and high quality, at a decent price, than anyone else in the marketplace before going the now common “hey, I’ve got all-carbon too, guys!” route.    <BR><BR>Salsa rocks.

 Guitar Ted |

Jason, great topic!<BR><BR>My take is that Salsa shouldn’t get in on a crabon frame unless it’s got something going on that others haven’t already covered. I’m guessing the resources to pull off that sort of coup would be huge. <BR><BR>In that regard, I would be very hesitant to do anything in full carbon. <BR><BR>I like the track Salsa has already laid for itself: Using carbon where it makes sense. You know, a great carbon rigid mtb fork could be a great addition, or looking at ways to use carbon fiber in the Shaft seat post. Heck, how about my dream bar: A carbon off road drop bar! <BR><BR>In as far as frame materials go, I can’t explain why I feel this, but using titanium just seems like a Salsa thing to do. Carbon? Not so much. Kinda like how I feel about Ibis’ new rigs. While they are very cool bikes, they just do not seem “Ibis” to me. If that makes any sense. <BR><BR>Guitar Ted: Shop rat, Industry scribe, rider.

 Anonymous |

Since Salsa in the wide handlebar King, how about a model with a sweeping arc, rather that the usual abrupt bend. Something gracefully retro, yet still functional, a bit like those pictured here:<BR><BR>http://forums.mtbr.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=316482&stc=1&d=1196876843

 Anonymous |

Does anyone know if Salsa is planning to release a complete bike offering that will be a bit more aggrssive than Casseroll Triple?  Maybe something like a complete La Raza?  Thanks, a consumer.

 joel |

DAN from FL…..you took the thoughts right out of my head!<BR><BR>Or a dos with an EBB

 Anonymous |

As a consumer, I beleive that a CF frameset does not fit the Salsa image that I have in my head. However, please, please, please build me a Mamasita with EBB so I can replace the Juan Solo with a 29er. I am too old to ride a steel hardtail. Dan from FL

 Simmons |

Four words:<BR><BR>Carbon Fiber Snow Bike :)<BR><BR>Consumer

 Tim |

I agree with much of what has been said about Salsa’s image, that of classy, somewhat retro stylee with a modern flair.  <BR><BR>One of the bikes I have always lusted at was the Lemond spine road bikes.  Carbon stays, seat tube and top tube in monocoque, combined with steel lugs and downtube, chainstays.  That is my epitome of classy and modern.  However, I cant be caught dead on a lemond, so…...<BR><BR>How about that?  Instead of one or the other, like the night/day difference between my El Mar and my Mamasita, combine them into one frame.  A road frame or a 29er, using steel AND carbon in the same frame would be oh so gorgeous.  And I could have one frame instead of two.  The other thing I see is Salsa taking the “Patagonia” approach to bikes.  They make a hard effort to make clothing work in a variety of conditions, so that people do not need large wardrobes, further contributing to consumerism and natural resource use.  Rather than expand the frame line, try and use these technologies to improve what you have.  <BR><BR>All those comments were the consumer in me.<BR><BR>As a dealer, I think there is no way you are going to compete with the likes of the Big S and Big T in carbon fiber.  And Salsa should not be the manufacturer that sells lower cost product just for the sake of it.  Leave that to Jamis, Raleigh and the like.  So unless you have a niche, a carbon road bike will have little to offer in competition to the big guys except maybe a lower cost, and that is a horrible way to develop brand image.  Unless you can create something that is very unique and niche, I would leave the idea be.

 Big John |

Salsa seems to have evolved from the whole steel, classic only type of bicycles. The beauty of Salsa is that they still offer such things. I think from the variety of answers we’re seeing carbon fiber does have a place to grow in Salsa’s line up. However..and from the previous suggestions I think alot of folks would agree with me; don’t make more carbon fiber bikes at the expense of your “classic” style line-up. That being said it would be nice to see their classic steeds grow and evolve too. I personally think the La Raza needs a steel fork…or maybe a lugged construction. I have never had a better riding road bike than my Primero either. I’ve had alu, carbon, and even a boutique custom steel job as well and would love to see a Primero comeback or even a suitable replacement. It’s tough to say whether a full carbon Salsa road and or cross frame would do well. It’s a sure thing both would end up being hot fire! I think full carbon mountain frames are whack but at the same time there is a market for them(along w/ the road and cross frames in full carbon)...and for the right application would serve a purpose.<BR><BR>Thanks for hearing me out,<BR>John-mechanic of a stocking Salsa Dealer

 voodoo |

I agrees with the previous suggestion of a carbon ‘cross bike. That’s the fastest growing segment of cycling and there are very few carbon rides to pick from. It’s also an area that makes sense because damping and weight probably matter more in a cross race than any other. <BR><BR>I’m already jonesing for a Con Crosso, but put that design on a high fiber diet and you have true rig to lust for in the fall!

 Anonymous |

New product ideas, from a consumer:<BR><BR>Salsa “Ganador” frameset: 700c roadster frame with TTOXP main triangle, carbon seatstays, carbon chainstays, and ‘classic looking’ carbon fork (like on La Raza).  Classic frame design, paint, decals.  An offering for those who miss the Primero, and who want a reasonably-priced, fast steel roadster that’s more traditional than Campeon.<BR><BR>Salsa “Campesino” complete:  Classico CrMo 26”/29” MTB with 100m travel suspension-corrected classico CrMo fork.  Salsa post, bars, rims.  BB5 disc brakes.  X-7 SRAM derailleurs and shifters. LX hubs.  FSA Gamma crankset.  27-speeds.  A complete MTB for people seeking a traditional, nice steel MTB at a lower price point than Ala Carte.<BR><BR>Salsa “Purasangre”: basically, an Ala Carte with carbon seatsays, carbon chainstays, 100mm susp. corrected carbon fork. 27 speeds. Similar to the “Ganador” idea above.

 Chris |

I’m a consumer.<BR><BR>If you guys are going to make a carbon fibre bicycle frame, make don’t do it cheaply like so many other companies do just to keep up with the trend. Use unidirectional quality carbon, not some design that is offered by a frame builder in taiwan. Make it nude carbon, and make it a 26” hardtail.

 BluesDawg |

consumer<BR>I’m pretty much indifferent to the idea of carbon Salsa frames. I guess a carbon road frame would potentially be more interesting than MTB. But then there are lots of those already.<BR><BR>I would be more interested in a replacement for the Primero. An aggressive steel road bike.<BR><BR>I would also like to have an option to get a suspension fork with a complete El Mariachi. Aftermarket 29er suspension fork prices are pretty painful.

 Andrew |

Use what ever material is going to be best. If its carbon that will make your next full suspension bike lighter (your current design works well, but it is heavy) then do it. If full carbon road will make for a better road bike then do it. If you have to sacrifice the strength and speed, then don’t. <BR>How about a a carbon seat post? <BR>Or how about carbon chain stays? Or a full carbon rear end on the Dos Niner, Mama, and Moto? <BR>Just continue doing what you guys are doing, making great bikes, that look super cool, and are wicked fast!<BR><BR>-Andrew from Maine, consumer/pro racer

 Anonymous |

I’m gonna beat a dead carbon fiber horse here and agree w/ everyone else.  <BR>i just got into the salsa mindset this fall (thank you new moon for my rapido!) and i’ve been blown away at the products you offer, the people that run the joint, and the “community” that i now feel apart of.  its that distinction that makes me proud to swing a leg over my rapido every single time, not cause my ride is chasing the newest trend.  <BR>whatever path salsa chooses, i know you guys will make the right decisions. to keep it true to form and true to what we all know and love.  nate j, proud consumer!

 Anonymous |

There are only two types of people I’ve met so far that ride, full carbon bikes:<BR><BR>1.  Sponsored pros who only race on the course<BR><BR>2.  Brain surgeons who only race in their heads.<BR><BR>Ti, Scandium, Reynolds 953—these are all examples of advanced, high-quality, durable, super light materials that can be used by Salsa to build frames that are superior, more beautiful, more comfortable and, in many cases, less expensive than full carbon frames.<BR><BR>A consumer.

 Jason |

I’m a consumer and a racer for a team that is lucky enough to have Salsa as a frame sponsor. Just giving 2? of opinion on the subject:<BR><BR>I agree with some of the above sentiments about CF. When I see carbon fiber mountain bikes I get that lusty look in my eye. BUT then I ask myself many questions too…<BR><BR>Is it right for a mountain bike? How durable would it be for racing? What’s the warranty? Would it bring more benefits to the rider/racer than the light weight scandium/CF frames that Salsa already produces? Is the consumer willing to pay $xxx more if the weight savings and ride improvements are not significant?<BR><BR>What frame type is best suited? Mamasita, Dos Niner, Campeon? Seems that a HT would have the most noticeable benefits of being full carbon fiber. I know my Mamasita dulls some chatter just with CF seat stays, so full on carbon might help more. Plus with the introduction of the ‘08 GFs and the Orbea Alma 29 last year, there’s at least proof that riders are in to the idea of a full CF hard tail.<BR><BR>On a soft tail like the Dos Niner,  it might be harder to have any noticeable ride characteristics since you’re already getting some of the edge dulled by the Relish shock. BUT if a CF soft tail design could be made lighter, or if full carbon would allow more compliance in the stays and MAYBE a bit of an increase or sensitivity in travel, THAT might just be something! I love the simple design of a soft tail over a full on FS. <BR><BR>I’m not into the idea of full on CF for pivot design FS bikes only because I don’t see how if the shock is giving your 4” of suspension what a material like CF is adding to the ride? I’m not into Ti FS bikes for the same reason.<BR><BR>A road bike also would be sweet, but the market is pretty saturated with CF road bikes of all types.<BR><BR>Not sure I helped with any of my above blathering. Having been on Salsa frames of various kinds for 3 years now I’m sure that if Salsa goes that direction they will find a unique platform to make bike whores like me get that look in their eye ;)<BR><BR>Personally I’m a fan of Ti. I love the durability and compliance of Ti. I had Ti HT once and it rocked. It was handicapped though (26” wheels!) and I needed to sell it! :) <BR><BR>Good luck. Look forward to seeing what spicyness the minds at Salsa cook up.<BR><BR>Jason

 gunnar |

No. To me Salsa was about good quality steel frames and stems at a reasonable cost. That was a long time ago, but it’s what sticks in my mind. Doing CF to me is jumping on the bandwagon. Is this move about offering a product to fill a pricepoint? Or is it about creating a quality product at a reasonable cost? <BR><BR>There’s alot of other CF bike makers out there to choose from. What will make Salsa’s offering different? Are you making them in house? Overseas? There are a number of European makes having CF frames made in Asia, not saying that they are all bad, but a number of them seem like cookie cutter bikes with different decals. I would hope Salsa doesn’t go this route.<BR><BR>I’m not a dealer, but spent a considerable amount of time in retail.

 Butcher |

One comment in hopes of not de-railling this conversation.<BR><BR>IF we do Carbon Fiber, it will be done right.  They would be our own designs.  Salsa is NOT interesting in cookie cutter bikes.  They would be totally unique and proprietary.

 Anonymous |

I’m a consumer.  <BR><BR>What I’ve always admired about Salsa is how it combines tradition, classic styling and beauty with advanced materials (e.g. scandium), high end steel (e.g. 853, TTOXP), as well as carbon components or frame parts (e.g. seat stays, forks, handlebars).  A great mix of old and new, and at a great price point.  Some examples of this are the current La Raza, Campeon, Moto Rapido.  <BR><BR>In music, the best comparison to the Salsa I have in mind would be Beethoven.  Beethoven composed music that was firmly grounded in the Classical tradition of the past, all the while breaking and experimenting with that very same traditon, and reaching out to what would become Romanticism in the future.  <BR><BR>In doing this, Beethoven created something that was at once entirely new, yet also very recognizable and beautiful.  It’s extremely difficult to do this, so much so that it made Beethoven immortal.  If Salsa finds a way to make bikes/frames/parts in the spirit of Beethoven’s music, and relatively affordably, it can make Salsa a lot of money.  <BR><BR>I like what Salsa has done with the Casseroll and the Ala Carte complete offerings, though they don’t quite fulfill my image of Salsa as Beethoven.  Maybe they’re more like Haydn—above average quality and very well executed, but a bit boring to listen to after a while.  Not exciting.  Not unique.  Not genius. <BR><BR>Let’s not forget, though, that both Mozart and Beethoven both were greatly indebted to Haydn. I think the Ala Carte, with its high end steel frame and great components, should’ve been offered with a suspension fork right out of the box.  <BR><BR>Almost no one makes high end complete mountain bike offerings with CrMo forks anymore, except for small builders that wish the early eighties had never passed.  This is not like Salsa, which tends to me more forward-looking and willing to experiment.  An Ala Carte with suspension fork would take us from Haydn to Mozart.  A higher, more complex level of genius.<BR><BR>The current Casseroll is both beautiful and versatile, and I bet it’s both comfortabe and a blast to ride.  But again, I don’t see it as offering anything truly bold or different, and it’s playing in a space where there are many other similar alternatives at lower price points.  And yet, here’s one case where I think the CrMo fork works, as it’s paired up with a CrMo frame with no pretentions to modernity or being high end, high tech, etc.  The Casseroll is like a deeply satisfying Baroque piece where everything comes together perfectly.  Sometimes it’s great to just sit back and listen to some Vivaldi.  It doens’t need to be intense or brilliant all the time in order to be beautiful.  Relaxation can be a good thing.<BR><BR>The above is just to illustrate my point of what I’ve liked about Salsa in the past.  Maybe Salsa can have two product lines—one which offers nice, no frills, traditional CrMo bikes/frames at a lower price point (like the Casseroll).  The other line could be one where Salsa continues to experiment with those creative mixes of high end steel, carbon, scandium, etc. while making a nod to tradition.  Obviously, these would have a somewhat higher price point.<BR><BR>I think Salsa has been correct to dip its foot in the carbon pool, but before jumping in head first I think it should explore the Scandium, Titanium, S3 and 953 waters a bit more. <BR><BR>I also suggest maybe playing some Beethoven during Salsa brainstorming sessions.<BR><BR>And what about full carbon Salsa frames?  Well, they say Wagner was genius, but have you ever tried to sit wide awake and alert through an entire Wagner opera?  The only reason most of us would ever do that is if we were offered free tickets (and perhaps also if there was absolutely nothing better to do).  Professional cyclists don’t pay the exorbitant price tags for their full carbon bikes, and when something goes wrong they get replaced—for free.

 Andrew |

First off let me say I’m no expert concerning carbon fiber, however, I may know a little more than the average consumer (1 college course on composites in college and 2 semesters building a remote controlled plane out of carbon fiber).<BR><BR>Now then to my opinion pertaining to its application in mountain bike frames:  <BR><BR>Pro: As a structural material used properly it can have a crazy good strength to weight ratio.<BR><BR>Con: Relatively sensitive to damage, by this I mean if you scratch through some of the epoxy and maybe a layer of weave then you?ve weakened the area. Not that steel or scandium isn?t weakened by a dent.  <BR><BR>Pro: Using complex lay-ups you can get customized compliance characteristics. (For instance, you want it to flex one way but be very stiff another)<BR><BR>Con: Expensive to create / modify frame designs.  The investment in forms and molds in considerably more than a frame jig.<BR><BR>Pro:  Looks pretty cool and it?s the ?In? thing<BR><BR>Con: It?s the ?In? thing and is pretty expensive right now<BR><BR>To summarize, in a mountain bike frame that I?m going to be taking into the woods down rocky descents, I want a frame that can get hit with rocks or scratch by branches or crashed down a rocky descent then get up, brush off and finish the ride, not worrying about the scratch or chip on my down tube.  Also, I don?t want the frame to cost thousands of dollars.

 Anonymous |

That wasn’t Mr. Robinson—it was another of Benjamin’s parents’ friends, I believe.<BR><BR>CF road bike would be cool, but that is a very competitive market. From a business standpoint, I would not do it, if I were Salsa.

 Blogstyle |

As we know from Mrs. Robinson’s husband (motioning to the horizon), the future is in plastics.

Dustin Echoes | May 12th, 2012

I know I am a little late with my reply here. About five years it seems. Anyway I just wanted to say that if you guys made a carbon version of the campeon frame I would buy it. I also do not see how making carbon frames would hurt you image. You guys seem to make a bike for just about everyone. Except for the weight weenies.

Jdizzle | May 12th, 2012

The carbon bug will bite you… but it will pass… and hopefully common sense will prevail and you’ll realize that the only bike that makes you really smile is a steel bike. Like the one you started riding on. Sure - carbon bikes are as fast as hell - and its like riding with the devil on your shoulder. But it’s got no soul.  I had a Salsa Ala Carte sent back on warranty that was missing part of a weld… and was really disappointed when it didn’t come back cause you don’t make them anymore. I also had an El Mariachi. I’m fast, but not a pro… so like most consumers I ride for a smile not a cheque. Bring back bikes that make your consumers smile. Give me a nice steel frame over a carbon any day. Something I can put my Salsa chili bell on. I miss my salsa. Anyone got an old Ala Carte they want to sell me ?

martinmclark | August 4th, 2012

I would love to see a fargo with streamlined carbon frame with a dropout that will accept a singlespeed/internal gear hub drive train. I would Also like to see a beefy carbon fork for the fargo. But maybe I’m just dreaming.

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