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Salsa Fargo Review: Long Distance Hauler

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Built for long distances and multi-day tours — but also suitable for commuting and moderate mountain biking — the Fargo by Salsa Cycles is one of the more unique bikes you might find at the shop. It has drop-bar-style handlebars and attachment points for gear racks, fenders, and up to five water bottle cages.

Salsa calls the Fargo an “off-road touring bike,” and its one-of-a-kind design makes the bike just as at home on long cross-country singletrack or for 100-mile days on a gravel road. Though it has no suspension, the Fargo is a cushy enough ride for its task — 29-inch wheels and a shock-absorbing seat post dampen the blows.

Salsa Cycles’ Fargo complete bike

This spring, I have put the Fargo complete bike, $1,650, to the test riding gravel roads and some easy singletrack. First impressions? The bike is built like a tank. Its steel frame, big wheels, and “ram-horn” handlebars give the initial feel of power and bulk. It’s a bit heavy, ranging past 26 pounds, depending on size, and it starts up slow on the pedal, as many 29ers can. But once rolling, this big bike really moves.

The big wheels — 29-inchers with Formula hubs and DT Swiss rims — seem to perpetuate motion even more on this hybrid bike. Or maybe it’s the drop-bars; you can get into a tuck and crank on the Fargo. Another speed increaser: The bike’s suspension-less frame grants good response and zero bounce.

Fargo has a “full compliment of braze-ons”

Comfort is another hallmark. The seat, a WTB Pure V Race saddle, mates with a Cane Creek “Thudbuster” seatpost, which absorbs shock. For hand position, the drop bars give you a lot of options. On a long ride, switching grip around as you fatigue is a big bonus.

The Fargo excels less on technical trails. It’s not a race bike, and its bulk and big handlebars make it not ideal on twisting singletrack, drops, or for steep climbs. The lack of a suspension fork isn’t a huge deal with the big tires, though anyone used to some spring up front might wish for that add-on.

Fargo frame up close

But black diamond trails are not this bike’s venue. As noted, there are five — five! — water bottle cage mounts. A “full compliment of braze-ons,” as Salsa puts it, give mucho options for mounting racks, bags, and panniers. On moderate trails and dirt roads where you need to haul gear and go long, this one-of-a-kind mountain bike has it made.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. A version of this post ran originally on Gear Junkie’s blog on VentureThere.com, a USA Today property.

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