No foolin’

The Salsa Vaya, coming to an Adventure Cyclist issue near you.

The Salsa Vaya, coming to an Adventure Cyclist issue near you.

It’s New Bike Week here at Mad Dog Media, a 57cm Salsa Vaya 2 having arrived just in time for what passes for spring in these parts (37 degrees, 10-mph wind, etc., et al., and so on and so forth).

The Vaya is Salsa’s touring and “road adventure” bike — hey, all the roads are an adventure in these parts, Sparky — and it sports all the usual goodies, from braze-ons for racks and fenders and three bottle cages to a Shimano 105 10-speed drivetrain to some big ol’ honkin’ 700×40 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires that weigh 940g (!) apiece.

The color is Smokey Blue Robinson, in case you were wondering.

We went for our maiden voyage yesterday, just an hour or so of chewing on the wind and inspecting some recently concluded work on the north-south bike path (fresh concrete, yay!). Once the temps inch up a bit we’ll do it again, because the weather wizards are calling for a chance of rain or snow Wednesday night.



25 Responses to “No foolin’”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Are those Ciussi Inox bottle cages I see there? With those Marathon Plus tires, I know, they are heavy as a brick, goat heads don’t stand a chance. I have pulled them out, with tweezers, from my Marathon Plus tires with no problem. I also pulled a radial wire from a blown truck tire, out of these tires without a puncture.
    Looking forward to the review since this is one I considered before buying the Saga.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Pat, those are REI cages. I like to do a little bit of business with them from time to time, though I spend most of my bike money down at Old Town Bike Shop.

      The two framesets are nearly identical — slightly shorter chainstays on the Salsa, a little more fork rake, but that’s about it. I will say it feels mighty frisky in the corners, for a guy who corners about like a UPS truck.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Two negatives. One, I for the life of me can’t get used to kilograms of tires. I suppose if I was touring Central Asia, they would be a good idea. My pair of Schwalbe Land Cruisers, at a mere 700 grams apiece, are hanging forlornly in the garage, even though they ride real nice.

    Two. The gearing is anything but “touring” or “road adventure”, at least according to the Gospel of Frank Berto. That looks like a 30 or larger granny ring paired with a 27 or 28 largest cog. I would think anyone throwing serious panniers and tent on that bike and headed for where the road points up would have to immediately put on a 24 or 26t granny and swap out the rear cassette for one with at least a 32 tooth low cog, perhaps a 34. That might mean ditching the lovely Shimano 105 RD, too.

    The disks look nice. I’ve always thought a loaded touring rig should have disks rather than rim brakes.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      K, the gearing falls afoul of the John Schubert Final Climb Theorem as well. It’s a standard road triple — 52/42/30 — with an 11-30 cassette. My Soma Saga, meanwhile, sports a 48/36/24 with an 11-32 cassette. The rear derailleur is a Shimano Deore to handle the extra teefuses.

      I’m starting to appreciate discs, too, though the IRD Cafam cantis on my Soma stop me just fine.

      • khal spencer Says:

        My long haul trucker sports a 48-36-24 as well, along with either an 11-32 or 11-34 cassette. That kind of setup seems to be the weapon of choice for serious loaded touring.

        Mind you, the average weekend warrior or credit card tourer may do just fine with a 1:1 ratio in most terrane, but I still can’t fathom why a Serious Touring Bike(tm) would be built with a standard road triple except to cut costs.

        I’ve yet to do my imitation of An Old Fat Guy Trying To Climb Coalbank Pass On A Sport Bike. The Cannonballs both have compact cranks (50-34) and I generally have a low cog of 27,28, or 29. I’ve been meaning to try that setup on a Real Climb(tm). The other option is the LaCruz, which is set up with a compact in front and a 12-34 or 11-32 XT in back, depending on which wheelset is on the bike. If I do that climb in either case, I’ll let you know in advance in case someone has to pull me out of the ditch and apply CPR.

        I’ve heated up my rims nicely on descents of Camp May Road. Seems a loaded tourer on a five mile switchback descent would want to keep the torch away from the casings, but people have been riding loaded touring rigs for a lot longer than disk brakes have been on them.

      • veloben Says:

        The bane of buying a new “touring” Bike ™ is having to re-jigger the drive train to accept the reality of loaded touring not ho-hum commuting. I’d say all the non-niche manufacturers go for some road spec set up geared down a bit to bemuse the knowledgeable.

        My Volpe has gone through several operations and is now geared much like your Soma Saga at 48/38/24 and 11-32. It has to be as with racks and cages it weighs in at 30lb. with gear and water for a long day close to 80lb.

        Though the appeal of disc brakes gets stronger every time I wail on those Shimano canti’s while towing a 80lb Lab in a 25lb trailer (resistance workout) the work of getting something I can afford back into the sweet spot of gearing is just too much. Maybe I’ll just accept extended stopping distances as the trill of my twilight years.

        The Hobo looks good, but the hippster inspired copy just puts me off.

        One of the joys of flat land riding around here is I don’t have to find out how taxing the Giant’s 52/34 compact with 11-28 is going to be getting me up some incline greater than an over pass.

        Looking forward to the next few Adventure Cycling Mags.

  3. Steve O Says:

    Invisible kick stand included?

    • khal spencer Says:

      I think that is Patrick’s dad’s USAAF swagger stick poking up by the seatstay/seat tube junction.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      That there is a Click-Stand, gents. I saw one on the Southern Arizona tour I did some years back, and it is a handy little dickens.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Combine that nifty stand (I’m going get one of those) with a velcro strap to wrap around the downtube and front wheel as a parking brake, and you can park anywhere. Strap does double duty for keeping long pants out of the chainrings when needed.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        An old toe strap works too, Pat. You can tighten it around lever and handlebar to close your front brake and keep the bike from moving around that way. I have a bunch of old toe straps lying around and put ’em to good use alla damn’ time.

  4. bromasi Says:

    11-34, I just need that to get my ass up the hills with out the panniers

  5. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Please excuse a brief detour from the subject of the Vaya. Our relative humidity just hit 2 percent. That is the lowest I have ever seen in our town.

  6. Steve O Says:

    April Fools is also the birthday of the internal combustion engine. Appropriately

  7. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I had a Trek Pilot which I enjoyed for a few years. But my interests in riding changed. So I sold it and a Trek 520 I had and bought a Trek Portland. It had the same drivetrain, if the cassette is a 11-28, that the Vaya does. I put a rack and 700/28 Conti Gatorskins on it and thought it could do double duty as a road and light touring bike. On the road it was really nice, but when I tried an overnight tour to Bisbee on it, with 12 pounds on the back in two panniers, the final climb into Bisbee was a real slog. Ran out of gear about 4 miles from the hotel and just mashed the rest of the way. So, I bought another 520 and use the Portland on the road for a few years then sold it. I should have kept it for just a road bike. It had BB7 disc brakes and a Bontrager Switchblade carbon fork and had a decent ride for an aluminum frame. I guess Trek was a few years ahead of disc brakes being approved for CX racing. I assumed pushing it as a commuter/light touring bike was a way to use a CX frame until they could race it.

  8. Larry T. Says:

    The Vaya looks nice enough, I’m still trying to figure out who disky brakes are good for other than a) the people selling ’em b) someone who rides a whole lot in wet conditions where rim brakes don’t work so well. And I don’t know squat about loaded touring (or “self-contained” as the locals around here describe it) as camping out to me is any bed that’s not my own at home. My current gearing for those “oh-my-gawd” climbs like the Mortirolo is 30 X 29 on the low end so it would seem pretty tough to haul much luggage up any sort of steep climb with that gearing. My guess is the folks at Salsa don’t figure too many folks are going to put everything but the kitchen sink on one of these things and then try to ride it anywhere?

    • khal spencer Says:

      My impression was that loaded touring went out with the 1970’s except for a small niche market handled by folks like REI, Co-Motion, Bruce Gordon, etc. I’ve seen a few tour groups out here in the southwest who were obviously carrying everything but the kitchen sink (one of these days someone will invent a scaled down carbon fibre kitchen sink for bike tourists).

      I bought a ‘cross bike from a buddy here who got bored with it. Its a Salsa LaCruz and it came with disks. I didn’t buy it for the disks and in fact almost didn’t buy it for the disks. But I think they are easier to modulate and they definitely provide a boatload of stopping power when needed, irregardless of how wet the rims are. Plus, the rims can be designed to simply be rims rather than braking surfaces. Our old set of tandem wheels, which I have retired, have obvious brake grooves on the rim sidewalls. At some point, that gets dicey. Not sure where that point is because I usually retire or break wheels before that.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      I was mistaken. My Portland had a 12-27 cassette which made for a 30×27 low gear. Even for my lightly loaded hotel room overnight trips, that was not low enough 6 years ago. Shit, I have a 34×34 low gear on my road bike now with no rack!

  9. Gay Says:


    No foolin

  10. Discuss Says:


    No foolin

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