Friday, October 3, 2008

Magic Salsa, Hold the Chips

SO, what is it with Salsa bikes these days? In my opinion, they are getting a lot of things right for 2008. In fact, right now I could satisfy my bike longings with:

A - A beautiful SS in the new Selma. Very sexy bike. Gotta be fast on that baby.

B - An XC FS bike in the new Big Mama, and depending on the build, be there for everything but rides where weight is more important than comfort, like maybe 24 hour racing.

C - You know the 24 hour stuff the Big Mama may be too heavy for? How about a Dos Niner, maybe the king of affordable soft tail 29ers. Would make a killer 1x9 fireroad bike.

D - The Fargo. Wow, has this hit a niche that was untapped except for custom frame offerings!

E - Podio. A road bike even I would like to own.

F - Chile Con Crosso. I am not sure what I would do with it, but I bet I could find a spot somewhere.

And I have not even mentioned the Mamasita and El Mariachi and I hear they even make 26" wheeled bikes too, but this does not concern me as it is just a nasty rumor.

Now I could possibly come close to this with, say, Trek brand stuff if I mix Fisher in there too. Specialized....ahhh, almost, but no Fargo. Anyone else? Nope.

And it is not just variety. They could all be mediocre bikes and be varied, yes? But as much as I can tell, folks love these things. Very happy owners. And, they don't seem to break a lot either.

Good combo, all that. But there is more that sets them apart and it is a bit of an intangible.

I remember when Salsa Cycles was Ross's baby. I first knew them from custom stems, then the Ala Carte. Then a veritable outpouring of stuff that always had a cool factor to it. The little Pepperman guy, etc. I remember the Mangos De Amor, the Handles of Love barends. Still makes me smile.

So, 'back in the day' there was Salsa, Ibis, Fat Chance, Ritchey, Yeti, etc, all still made, if not by hand, at least in limited production numbers and captained by the guy that began the company, usally by accident cause he loved bikes and one thing led to another...voila, a bike business is born.

With most of the boutique bikes either swallowed up by big box type corporations or faded into history, there is Salsa, owned by a huge-ish entity, QBP. And there is Salsa, no Ross as far as I know, and yet still cool and innovative. Huh. How come? Why do I still want a Pepperman t-shirt and not a Yeti t-shirt (I don't own either bike brand)?

Must be in the hearts and talents of the guys running the show and I guess the folks that write the checks are smart enough to let them be dreamers and inventors and bike riders and bike nuts and whatever else separates them from Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, etc.

I think the brand appeals to riders who know what they want, are educated in cycling ways and do not need the bike shop to do the thinking for them. Maybe not first time buyers and maybe not the buyer looking for the Seven Cycles custom Ti or Litespeed, but there is a huge middle ground of seasoned riders with a medium budget and a desire to buy a niche brand that makes them feel like the old days when it was cool to ride a homegrown bike brand, even if they are too young to have been there 'back in the days'.

To sum it up, Salsa has remained cool and relevant and THAT is

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