The Story Of Powderkeg

As you may or may not remember, the first time we publicly talked about our tandem project was way back in October of 2010. We wanted to show it to get ideas, feedback, thoughts, rants, appreciation, love, hate, and all-around opinions on what a tandem from Salsa could possibly look like.

Introducing Powderkeg...our 29er Mountain Tandem...

Since then our tandem prototypes have seen thousands of miles from the Dirty Kanza 200 to local singletrack trails. Salsa sponsored rider Kurt Refsnider even took one of the prototypes across America in the Tour Divide Race. Impressive! We tweaked geometry, created a rigid fork for it, added features, tested the living hooey out of it. Much of that was far more difficult than you might think.

Destination Antelope Wells, New Mexico...

Back in 2010 we had created two tandems, one based off our Fargo geometry and another based off our El Mariachi geometry. Both were fun to ride but once the dust settled more of us liked riding the El Mariachi version. This allowed us to move forward and create the three geometries Powderkeg now uses.

Further iterations of prototyping went on and we set out looking for a good rigid tandem fork…but couldn’t find one. We finally decided to do our own. Pete Koski, another of our engineers, went with the biggest tubes we’ve ever used on a fork because of the extra weight and “ungraceful flight” a tandem duo achieves.

Powderkeg fork...100% beef...

That was still just early in the whole process however as we carried on with a lot more tandem work. During the coming years, many things changed…repeatedly. For example, geometry: Let’s just say some riders were sitting a little too close together, much like an awkward backward hug on wheels. Heck, we even started making jokes like: “Lick my back”. Features also changed. And then there was the testing. There was an incredible amount of stringent testing applied to this product.

That is the short version of a really long story, but what really matters in the end is that the Powderkeg is now a reality for MY2016.

All The Details

Click here for complete Powderkeg information


Powderkeg Complete Bike - U.S. MSRP $3999

Powderkeg Frameset – U.S. MSRP $1999


Summer 2015

As they say, it’s a bicycle built for two. In this case, actually a mountain bike built for two, and we think that offers up many new, unique riding opportunities for the adventurous. Whether you decide to take on some challenging singletrack (take note! it is not easy!), explore some backroads, race a gravel event, or just go for a ride with a good friend, Powderkeg offers a new way to roll.

We hope you enjoy creating and sharing some new experiences aboard Powderkeg.

This post filed under topics: Gravel Mountain Biking New Product Sean Mailen Tandem Touring

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Sean 'Mailman' Mailen

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.


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Kiwi Pete | February 21st, 2015

Cool at last and a Rohloff hub can be use too :-)

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Chsad | February 21st, 2015

can a suspension fork be used on it?

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Rush Carter | February 21st, 2015

Now where is the tandem Fatbike?

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George Toal | February 21st, 2015

We just purchased a DaVinci.  The Powderkeg would have on the top of our list. Just add slicks and you have a great touring bike.  Independent coast pushed to the Da Vinci.  Love my Vaya.

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Felix | February 21st, 2015

Looks amazing! I look forward to seeing one in the flesh

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Brent | February 21st, 2015

Looks like a divorce in the making!

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Chris | February 21st, 2015

Awesome! and Finally!  I have been waiting since I saw the one Kurt and Caroline took on the TD.  Are you sure you can’t make one for 2015? I’m doing the Idaho Hot Springs Route with my wife and kids this summer and this tandem would be perfect.

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Kiwi Pete | February 21st, 2015

Hi it said Availability Summer 2015 which I take is this year? being that in New Zealand we are in 2015 how!
I’ll have to think witch to buy 1st a Fargo or the Powderkeg?

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Steve | February 22nd, 2015

Will there be frame bags available for it?  Looks great!

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Peyton | February 22nd, 2015

What is the bottom bracket height for both the captain and stoker?  I didn’t see this info on the geometry page.

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Caspar | February 23rd, 2015

Looks d… Nice , now do a xl/l size with room for 29+ and a 177 rear.

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bagusgowes | February 23rd, 2015

29’er tandem. (Y)

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Wade | February 23rd, 2015

With a smaller rear tire would a kid conversation crank clamp to the seat tube.

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | February 25th, 2015

Chsad - Yes, a TANDEM-RATED 100mm suspension fork can be used.

Peyton - We use BB Drop as a Geometry measurement on all our bikes, which in this case is 60mm. BB Drop equates to the height difference between center of axle and center of BB. So, 740mm diameter wheels divided by 2 = 370mm. 370mm - BB Drop of 60mm = 310mm. 310mm equals a bottom bracket height of 12.2 inches. Keep in mind of course that the Captain’s BB utilizes and eccentric for timing chain adjustment and therefore can vary higher or lower depending on setup. Hopefully I explained that clearly enough.

Wade - We would not recommend changing the rear wheel size, as the entire bike geometry will be thrown off. However, a kid’s conversion crank can be clamped to the seat tube with the following caveat:

The exact drivetrain configuration is up to the user so we cannot comment on compatibility but it is possible to install a sliding bottom bracket shell on the stoker seat tube. The sliding bottom bracket is what is needed to install the tertiary crankset and bottom bracket. The seat tube is a 34.9 mm OD tube, or 1-3/8 inch diameter. Please follow the sliding BB shell manufacturer’s instructions, and do not over torque the clamping bolts (we recommend a maximum torque of 5 N-m).

Thanks for your interest in the Powderkeg.

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Bob | March 19th, 2015

What is the funky looking mechanical piece under the rear seat?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | March 23rd, 2015

Bob - That is the suspension part of the Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost. It provides some comfort for the stoker since they cannot see impacts coming, and can help if he captain/pilot is not communicating. For more on the seatpost, visit this link:

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Bill McKnight | April 22nd, 2015

What tandem rated 100mm forks are still available?  I’ve seen a few older MRP Loop on line, but I’d really like a thru axle not a QR.

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Chris | May 26th, 2015

I really want to order one of the first ones off the boat but without having the opportunity to sit on one I’m trying to figure out if we will fit.  I’m 6’3.5” and my wife is 5’9” with really long limbs.  I’m assuming the L/M (20”/18”) might work but I fit better on a 21” frame and my wife on a 19”.  How is the effective top tube length calculated for the stoker?  If the BB to BB distance is 30” and the seat tube angles are both the same at 73 then the effective TT ought to be the same 30”.  Parallelogram?


Sean | May 26th, 2015

Bill - Currently there aren’t a lot of tandem rated suspension forks available.  The MRP Loop is also the only one I currently know of as well.  You may be able to contact some fork manfacturers and get better info if they have any available offerings.
Chris - If you look at the geometry & fit page for the Powderkeg the “A” stoker length dimension is accurately shown as measured.  So yes, you are correct, a parellelogram.

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Chris | May 27th, 2015

I’m asking about how it is measured because the geometry diagram shows the stoker effective TT measurement (A) on the L/M as 23.6” from the “extended” ST to ST.  It must not be measured as it is shown in the diagram or it would be the same as the BB to BB distance of 30.3” because it is a parallelogram.  If it were really 23.6” and measured as shown in the diagram the stoker would be face first into the back of the captain!  I measured the effective TT on my other tandem and it is 29.5” so I’m guessing (A) should be 30.3” and the 23.6” number is not measured as shown in the diagram as a line parallel to the BB line.  Could it be measured from some “virtual” HT in the stoker cockpit?  Also the inches measurement of the wheelbase is short by 30”.  It is correct in metric.  Obviously I’m obsessed with this bike!


Sean | May 27th, 2015

Chris - My apologies, upon further investigation, you are correct, the numbers in our geometry spreadsheet need to be updated.  I’ve already passed along the updates to our web team who should have it updated by tomorrow. 
In the meantime, the graphic is still correct but some of the dimensions were wrong.  The stoker effective TT length is 30.3” thus a parellelogram for the L/M.  Sorry about the confusion and it actually sounds like your current tandem and the Powderkeg in L/M are fairly close in sizing. 

Wheelbases are:
Med/Small = 1847.1 - 1863.8 mm
Large/Small = 1867.7 - 1884.3 mm
Large/Medium = 1897.7 - 1914.3 mm

Please check back tomorrow and the geometry page should be correct.  Thanks for your help Chris and glad you are stoked on the Powderkeg!

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Bob | May 28th, 2015

I bought and paid for one over two months ago.  Any idea when I can expect to see it?

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Chris | May 30th, 2015

No apologies needed.

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Scott Hubbard | July 4th, 2015

I love our PowderKeg!!!

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stephen gregg | July 19th, 2015

I just used your Warbird to ride from Boston to Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes (NY).  I would have loved to had this bike.  I would have brought my daughter.  If you build it “they” will ride it.

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Ryan | July 29th, 2015

We test rode a friends last night and we love it! Unfortunately it’s a little tight for my wife. Is there any chance a M/M frame is in the works?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | July 31st, 2015

Bob - They are in-stock for a while now, so I hope you have contacted your shop and picked yours up!

Ryan - I’m sorry but we do not have plans for a MD/MD frame at this point. I will let our product team know your request though.

Thank you all for your support.

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