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  1. #1
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    2013 Salsa Warbird, Ridden, Reviewed.

    Spent some time on the aluminum and titanium Warbirds on Saturday. Detailed thoughts after the jump.

    Short version: Impressive handling, great (amazing) vibration dampening, clever design, careful attention to details. Both frames ride very well; the Ti frame is other-worldly. Frame clearance easily for 40c tires...maybe 42s. Fork clearance for 38s...maybe 40s. Maybe.

  2. #2
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    Nice review! Very helpful for everything except the bank balance!

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    Great review, thanks

  4. #4
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    Looked at and rode the same titanium Warbird you did yesterday. (It's E-Fred's bike from Salsa Cycles)

    It hasn't got the proper wheels or fork. (The fork is actually a Whiskey carbon fork)

    We actually did mount Clement X'Plor MSO tires in that bike. These are listed as 40mm tires, but mine, which have been ridden quite a bit, still measure as 38mm tires. There is minimal clearance with MSO's. You could run them in dry conditions and probably be fine, but mud? Not likely to be a good scenario.

    Otherwise I mostly agree with your take. Great geometry, the titanium definitely rides better than the aluminum, but then, it should, shouldn't it?

    One note: The titanium frame is not noodly at all. When mashing up some steep single track yesterday, the bottom bracket area was not flexing much, if at all. It rides stiffer than a lot of titanium mountain bikes I've been on, but it still feels like a Ti bike, if that makes sense.

    The aluminum one is even stiffer. Zero loss of efficiency there. A true racer's rig.

  5. #5
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    Great stuff Lawfarm! Thanks for your work. I think I like that Ti Warbird as my next all-road bike.
    Randy

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    Thanks for this. Very interesting indeed.

  7. #7
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    Hm. There sure are some familiar frame features on that alu frame. Some things in the tube shaping that REALLY remind me of the Chili...

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the impressions! I'm definitely looking forward to trying one of these out...

    It's pretty interesting how the prototype had fender eyelets and top-routed cables. Ah, what could have been...

    http://www.dirtragmag.com/webrag/ana...-kanza-200-rig

    (link via Guitar Ted, in another thread)

  9. #9
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    Is the War Bird a cross bike, a road bike or some hybrid of the two? I can't tell yet. Help the naive!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Padre View Post
    Is the War Bird a cross bike, a road bike or some hybrid of the two? I can't tell yet. Help the naive!
    None of the above.

    In my opinion, the top tube is too high (and BB too low?) to make a good cross bike. Then again, I use a Vaya for cross, so what do I know.

    The geometry is not optimized for road use...although if you slapped some 23 or 25s on it, it would probably do acceptably well in a pinch.

    It's got a more stable geometry and a frame that's set up to give greater vibration dampening than either a road or cross bike. It's kind of in a class by itself.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Padre View Post
    Is the War Bird a cross bike, a road bike or some hybrid of the two? I can't tell yet. Help the naive!
    It is road bike optimized for gravel roads rather than for pavement.

    It looks like the sort of road bike that I could take through a pothole, or down a curb, and that appeals to me.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    It is road bike optimized for gravel roads rather than for pavement.

    It looks like the sort of road bike that I could take through a pothole, or down a curb, and that appeals to me.
    Thanks!

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    Can not wait to build one up.

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    What is the weight difference of the Warbird Ti vs the Vaya Ti?

    Can anyone quantify the speed difference of the two bikes assuming the same wheel-set?

    I love the Warbird for speed on gravel but I love the Vaya for the ability to accommodate wider tires and ability to mount racks and fenders.

    How much slower is a Vaya really?

    Thanks

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by xxxxx View Post
    What is the weight difference of the Warbird Ti vs the Vaya Ti?

    Can anyone quantify the speed difference of the two bikes assuming the same wheel-set?

    I love the Warbird for speed on gravel but I love the Vaya for the ability to accommodate wider tires and ability to mount racks and fenders.

    How much slower is a Vaya really?

    Thanks
    First...there is no more Vaya Ti. Not this year, at least. It was discontinued. I hope it's back next year, but no news yet. There is now the stainless steel Vaya Travel. And if you're hoping to find one in a store somewhere--good luck. I don't think there are many out there.

    Second, if you were comparing frame weight to frame weight, straight up, without forks or any components, the weights would probably be pretty close. I'd guess the Warbird weighs a bit more, given the oversized headtube and larger frame main triangle within a set size. If you add in the Vaya Ti's steel fork versus the Warbird's carbon ENVE fork, things might get a bit more equalized.

    Third--speed. A Vaya or a Warbird is as fast as you can pedal it. There are differences in the geometry that affect the handling, certainly. There are differences in the frame that affect how they handle rough surfaces, undoubtedly. But neither bike is faster than the other, until you pedal it faster.

    If you build up a dream Vaya Ti and a dream Warbird Ti, and put them both on gravel, in a race, my guess is that the Warbird would feel more at home, given that it was designed specifically for that purpose and has been optimized for that purpose. The Vaya would probably feel a bit lazier--at bit less racy. But by no means would either bike be slow. The Warbird has been put together as a purpose-built bike, with design decisions made for racing and grinding gravel. The Vaya makes more compromises, and is more versatile. Either can be fast.

    It will be curious to see if Salsa responds to some of the public concerns about the Warbird by adding fender and/or rack mounts in 2014.

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    Thank you for the thoughtful response and I enjoy reading your blog.

    I have my eye on a Vaya Ti that is still in a store. I'm torn between the Warbird and Vaya,

    From a 12 hour comfort perspective is one inherently more comfy than the other?

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    Quote Originally Posted by xxxxx View Post
    Thank you for the thoughtful response and I enjoy reading your blog.

    I have my eye on a Vaya Ti that is still in a store. I'm torn between the Warbird and Vaya,

    From a 12 hour comfort perspective is one inherently more comfy than the other?
    I haven't spent 12 hours on a Warbird--so that's hard to say. I will say that, based on how the one I did spend a little time on felt, if you can get the fit right, it will be a very comfortable rig.

    When I got my Vaya, I thought fender mounts were important. I have a set of fenders that have been on the bike 3 times. Frankly, when it rains, I get wet. Riding in the varied conditions that I ride in, I would end up getting rocks caught in the fenders, having the 'emergency releases' on the fenders pop, would get them buried with mud, etc.

    I also thought that the rack mounts were important. For camping or overnight stuff, they make perfect sense. For other rides...even long, loooong rides, I've found that I prefer a frame bag and an oversized seatbag (like my Porcelain Rocket Booster Rocket)...and likely a stem bag as well. And for overnights, a handlebar bag could be pressed into service as well (one of the rolls--again, I like Porcelain Rocket).

    If I was shopping for a bike today and could get the Vaya Ti again, I would do it in a heartbeat. There are no areas where the bike lets me down. Not one. I cannot see ever replacing it. I love it. LOVE it. Unless you're an extreme racer, I cannot see someone being disappointed with a Ti Vaya. The only complaints I've ever read are: 1) some think the steering is too slow (I can't say I agree); and, 2) the frame triangle is too small. The Warbird definitely has more room for a frame bag in the main triangle. But I'd still get a Vaya.

    If there were no Ti Vayas, and my choices were Vaya SS, Steel Vaya, Warbird Ti or Warbird Al, I'd get a Warbird Ti, without any reservations at all. As I said, the fender and rack mounts really aren't a dealbreaker for me. The sweetness of the Ti frame is a deal breaker, though. I love it. Guitar Ted has raised some legitimate concerns about tire clearance...and it looks like 38s are as big as will fit on the Warbird. That isn't a dealbreaker for me, either, as at 150# soaking wet, I'm deeply in love with my Continental Cyclocross Speeds in 700x35c that I have a hard time even looking at other tires (unless it's muddy). Even on wet gravel, loose gravel, slime...I like 35s. I can happily run my 35s at 40psi, without issue--but I'm a lightweight. (On mud, don't tell anyone, but I actually run 30c tires (Michelin Mud 2s, that measure out at about 33mm)).

    I don't think you can go wrong. If you absolutely need fender mounts (e.g. you're going to use it as a commuter bike in Portland) or rack mounts, get the Vaya Ti. If you want more versatility, get the Vaya Ti. (But do it quick, before it's gone). If you can't get a Vaya Ti, consider whether you NEED the features of the Vaya (mounts and tire clearance). If you don't need them, get a Warbird Ti.

  18. #18
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    Thanks again for the responses. I appreciate your advice. I will post back once a deal is done.

    Josh

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawfarm View Post
    It will be curious to see if Salsa responds to some of the public concerns about the Warbird by adding fender and/or rack mounts in 2014.
    I agree. Do gravel racers ever use fenders? It certainly seems to me they would be useful for longer races in wet and muddy conditions. Why is it that lack of fender/rack braze-ons has become something a marker of "serious" race bikes? At least it seems that way, especially among CX bikes. Braze-ons weigh next to nothing and don't detract from performance an iota. It will be interesting to see what Salsa does since they are basically inventing a new niche here.

  20. #20
    Harmonius Wrench
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    Quote Originally Posted by bolandjd View Post
    I agree. Do gravel racers ever use fenders? It certainly seems to me they would be useful for longer races in wet and muddy conditions. Why is it that lack of fender/rack braze-ons has become something a marker of "serious" race bikes? At least it seems that way, especially among CX bikes. Braze-ons weigh next to nothing and don't detract from performance an iota. It will be interesting to see what Salsa does since they are basically inventing a new niche here.
    Gravel racers show up at Trans Iowa with fenders all the time, albeit clip on ones. My take is that the lack of fender/rack mounts do not denote a "serious race bike", but rather, they denote a "seriously not versatile bike".

    Look- the titanium frames are expensive. Wouldn't it be nice if they worked for more than just racing for some folks? Yes- some hard core racers would count every gram and not want those braze ons. They would have a training bike, and a bike they could fender/rack up other than the race rig, but not everyone is "that guy".

    Perception is everything, so making a bike like the Warbird probably is affected by how Salsa's designers and marketers felt it would be perceived in the market place. Calling it a "gravel racer" probably dictated the omission of the rack and fender mounts, along with the fact that the activities associated with rack and fender users is covered by the Vaya.

    Whatever- I see Vayas used as gravel racers all the time. Warbirds will also be used, but as lawfarm says, "it's the rider, not the bike" that makes it go. The Vaya and Warbird are both eminently capable gravel racers. Choose the one that works best for your desired goals and in the way you want to pursue those goals. That said, my take is the Warbird could have been made a bit more versatile with no expense to performance/weight goals set for it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawfarm View Post

    Second, if you were comparing frame weight to frame weight, straight up, without forks or any components, the weights would probably be pretty close. I'd guess the Warbird weighs a bit more, given the oversized headtube and larger frame main triangle within a set size. If you add in the Vaya Ti's steel fork versus the Warbird's carbon ENVE fork, things might get a bit more equalized.
    One thing to note, is that the Warbird uses Triple butted Ti tubing, and the Vaya was designed with tube thickness to handle the weight and stress of racks and loaded cargo.
    The Warbird doesn't have to make concessions for that stress.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hand/of/Midas View Post
    One thing to note, is that the Warbird uses Triple butted Ti tubing, and the Vaya was designed with tube thickness to handle the weight and stress of racks and loaded cargo.
    The Warbird doesn't have to make concessions for that stress.
    True. However, the big, rangy 58cm frame I rode on single track was no flexy. springy rig. In fact, it wasn't as plush as my titanium Mukluk with 29"er wheels on it. To my mind, the titanium Warbird I rode felt like a stiff, steel framed bike more than a titanium bike.

    Either one of these rigs, (Vaya or Warbird in titanium), will ride one heckuva lot better with tubeless tires anyway. Frame stiffness at that point is muted somewhat. And with a Vayas longer seat post extension, a titanium seat post will get back whatever smoothness you lost with the stiffer steel, touring spec tubing of the Vaya. (In fact, I know of a Vaya set up as such and it rides quite smoothly for its owner.)

    Point being that I feel either bike is capable. It comes down to what perceptions you believe and what the rider feels will work best for their stated purposes. Frame materials have some effect, but the way the titanium Warbird seems to ride, I am not ready to say there is a vast difference between it and how one could get a Vaya to ride.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted View Post
    True. However, the big, rangy 58cm frame I rode on single track was no flexy. springy rig. In fact, it wasn't as plush as my titanium Mukluk with 29"er wheels on it. To my mind, the titanium Warbird I rode felt like a stiff, steel framed bike more than a titanium bike.

    Either one of these rigs, (Vaya or Warbird in titanium), will ride one heckuva lot better with tubeless tires anyway. Frame stiffness at that point is muted somewhat. And with a Vayas longer seat post extension, a titanium seat post will get back whatever smoothness you lost with the stiffer steel, touring spec tubing of the Vaya. (In fact, I know of a Vaya set up as such and it rides quite smoothly for its owner.)

    Point being that I feel either bike is capable. It comes down to what perceptions you believe and what the rider feels will work best for their stated purposes. Frame materials have some effect, but the way the titanium Warbird seems to ride, I am not ready to say there is a vast difference between it and how one could get a Vaya to ride.
    We've rode the same bike.

    I was talking along the lines of frame weight, and agree tire setup makes a big differance.

    Now put my name on your T.I 9 list already.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hand/of/Midas View Post

    Now put my name on your T.I 9 list already.
    There are ways to get on before registration opens, especially for someone in your position.

    P.M. me if you want to discuss.......

  25. #25
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    The deal is done. Vaya Ti is in the basement! Rode an hour on fresh gravel this morning. Really happy so far. Pictures:





    Thanks for all the advice throughout the decision making process.

    Josh

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