Salsa Vaya 3 vs Specialized AWOL- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Salsa Vaya 3 vs Specialized AWOL

    I looked at the Vaya today and it's nice bike. I LOVE my El Mar 2 - it's an awesome bike! However, I have an interest in doing long-ish trips, 50+ miles, maybe bikepacking along rails-to-trail but not sure riding those distances on the El Mar will work. I want the El Mar for flowy single-track stuff and don't want to change bars or anything. Additionally, the El Mar on the pavement with Racing Ralph's doesn't have the least rolling resistance.

    So, how does the Vaya compare to the Specialized AWOL?

  2. #2
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    I have neither but you are describing the very purpose the vaya was created for so. I'm guessing the vaya will be the best and most evolved. Personally I would go with the vaya. They been making it for many years now, and specialized just tries to cash in on a "market" trying to make a buck, knowing nothing about it. fuk specialized.
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    Specialized sucks ass.

  3. #3
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    I seem to recall NateHawk has/had a Vaya and didn't particularly like it.

  4. #4
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    I know 6 people that have Vayas and they all love them

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    Thanks, all. I rode a Fargo the other day and, dang, that's one nice bike! Seems a lot better than the Vaya.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanath View Post
    I seem to recall NateHawk has/had a Vaya and didn't particularly like it.
    Incorrect. I love mine. I hated its predecessor, an On-One Pompetamine.

    I have no experience with the AWOL, so can't say anything there.

    I debated between a Vaya and a Fargo, and went with the Vaya because I wanted a pavement bike that can handle some gravel. The Fargo is a mountain bike that can take street tires.

  7. #7
    jrm
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    If it werent for the revised on one pompino geometry id had bought a all city NB al ong time ago.

  8. #8
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    I owned/rode a Vaya for three years. Sold it due to financial reasons, and really wish I hadn't. That said, I have a demo AWOL coming in a week or so.
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  9. #9
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    I've got a Vaya also, and I love it. I've put about 22,000 miles on it in the last 4 years and I still love riding it. It would be a great gravel grinder.
    Whiskey

  10. #10
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    I think they're both great frames that are more alike than different. I'd say that the Vaya may be a better fit for heavily loaded road touring (four panniers & bar bag), as it feels a little stiffer from the head tube to the dropouts. It's also been in production for years, so there's less of a chance of unhappy surprises (though I did get a misaligned Vaya fork that had to be warrantied).

    I'd give the nod to the AWOL for more "adventure" oriented mixed-surface riding with more modest loads (just two panniers or a bikepacking setup), as it feels a little more compliant and has clearance for larger tires. Mine's built up with Nano 2.1's, and it's a confident and super-fun fire road bomber. (It's fun on singletrack too.) Other salient differences from the Vaya include the long reach/short stem geo. and the belt-compatible--if somewhat fiddly--adjustable dropouts on the Comp model.

    Here's my AWOL just after I built it up in May:
    Salsa Vaya 3 vs Specialized AWOL-awol.jpg

  11. #11
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    When I unboxed my demo AWOL Comp, I was immediately reminded of Spinal Tap.

    Thereís something about this thatís so black, itís like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black. Ė Nigel Tufnel

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  12. #12
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    ^^ Looks like an 'eleven' to me!

  13. #13
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    Some photos of the AWOL:







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  14. #14
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    Nice pics. Any seat-of-the-pants impressions yet?

    Also weird that the fork isn't drilled for fender mounting...
    Last edited by albeant; 07-20-2014 at 06:43 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRAVELBIKE View Post
    Some photos of the AWOL:



    Congrats, a good looking bike! Except for those weird dropouts, but I guess that is what lets it go single or belt drive if you want?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by albeant View Post
    Nice pics. Any seat-of-the-pants impressions yet?

    Also weird that the fork isn't drilled for fender mounting...
    Yeah, it's odd--especially when you consider that the seat/chainstay bridges are both drilled/tapped for fender mounts.

    I haven't weighed the bike yet, but it feels somewhat heavy when you lift it. Riding it, however, it feels fine. In addition to weighing the complete bike, I plan on weighing the wheels, too (to see how they compare to my 29er's wheels).
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  17. #17
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    I had to double-check, but my crown is drilled:

    Salsa Vaya 3 vs Specialized AWOL-awol-crown.jpg

  18. #18
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    And here's some weight info for my size M Comp frameset:

    Frame (w/ collar and bottle bolts): 5.2 lbs.
    Fork (w/ crown race): 2.45 lbs. (300mm steerer)
    Frameset (both above + included headset): 7.85 lbs.
    Included 350mm seatpost: 311 grams

  19. #19
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    I don't think the Vaya is going to take much more than a 42mm tire. Specialized says the AWOL will take a 55mm tire. That alone says something about the functional difference between the two. The AWOL looks a lot closer to the Fargo but a few hunderd dollars cheaper.
    Last edited by Gyro_t; 08-08-2014 at 11:01 PM. Reason: none

  20. #20
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    Ended up finding a deal on a Fargo 2 and went that route.

  21. #21
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    My Vaya frame was 2200g, so like 150g lighter. Also it can take about 48mm tires. It's a great bike but I'm sure the AWOL is too.

  22. #22
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    I'd be interested in hearing if the AWOL is more like the Fargo or the Vaya. Sure seems like it would lean more towards the Fargo in fit and style, but I've never ridden an AWOL. They sure look nice!

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    I think the AWOL is more like a Vaya, as the geometry is steeper and the chainstays and fork quite a bit shorter than the Fargo's.

    For dedicated dirt touring, I'd have to go Fargo simply for it's ability to run larger (and lower pressure) tires, which I think are a huge asset for gravel touring (or I'd just get an ECR). That said, the AWOL just rips off road. It will take a 2.1" SB8 with room for mud or some wheel wobble, and the long reach/short stem geo feels completely dialed. To me, the AWOL feels less like a touring bike than a good steel monster-cross-all-rounder.

    The frame has very good compliance, perhaps too much for old-school four-pannier touring, as the heavy rear panniers will wag the rear end a bit. I just got back from riding the IHSMBR on my AWOL with bikepacking bags (Revelate Terrapin, Harness, and Tangle), however, and it was perfect. The only thing I think Specialized should do with future versions is to provide everything-cage style braze-ons on the fork for added gear carrying options.

  24. #24
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    That AWOL is stunning. I have been looking for a new commuter or light tourer with some gravel potential, Kona Rove/ Sutra and Jamis Bosanova have come to the top of my list. I hadn't considered Salsa, as the Vaya line has been out of my price range, until you brought up the Vaya 3.

    Why did you decide on the Vaya 3 and the AWOL of all the options? What made the AWOL your choice? Any thoughts on these two versus Kona Rove (especially Rove AL) for the price?

    Thanks in advance and congrats on the glorious ride.

  25. #25
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    Imo you definitely want steel for touring/non competition riding. Its much more comfortable and durable, at the cost of weight. But yeah 500g one way or the other on the most important part of the bike?? Who cares.. Other low budget brands (non botique, run off the mill) that make steel is Genesis, and that british company that made the "roadrat" whatever they are called. Surly and Soma. There are probably at least 10 more low budget brands that makes something suitable.
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    Specialized sucks ass.

  26. #26
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    Salsa Vaya 3 vs Specialized AWOL

    Just thought I'd chime in on this.

    The two bikes are very comparable and I would dare to say equally good. Obviously, ideally if you're considering both, try both. The geo is a little different between the two. Both of them felt comfortable to me. The AWOL felt a little heavier, but not terrible.

    I was looking at a Vaya in a local shop. I was really interested in a white one they had built with Ultegra drivetrain, bar-end shifters and Hayes brakes. Really sharp looking and rode super smooth. They had the blue and green Vaya 3s at the shop too for a couple hundred bucks less, but the "Vanilla" one with blue bar tape was just calling me. I went back and between the bike getting some chips in the paint and the guy at the shop not being terribly helpful I decided to not get it. $1750 was REALLY pushing it as far as my bike budget goes anyway. If I'm gonna pay that much for a bike, it better be flawless and I better be the one putting the first scratches in it. Anyway, that has nothing to do with the quality of the bike. The Salsa Vaya totally kicks ass, but I decided to keep shopping.

    Went to the other LBS, not expecting much. They had an AWOL and it was the right size. Rode it and it fit a little different than the Vaya, but rode nice and smooth. Also tested a Tri-Cross. That was ok; lighter, shorter and quicker, but not something that I felt like I would want to try riding a century on. Rode the AWOL again and didn't want to stop riding it. That's how I felt about the Vaya too, like "I could ride this all day." I don't necessarily like the idea of supporting Specialized's way of doing business sometimes, but I think it's silly to act like they don't know what they're doing as far as bike design. I fell in love with the bike enough to buy it. The AWOL was $400 cheaper and in mint condition. Sora components instead of Ultegra. The Sora stuff shifts fine.

    The AWOL's geometry seems even more upright than the Vaya's, but that might just be me. Mine came with enough steerer room to move some spacers and tweak it if I need to. So far, I feel fine on it and look forward to many miles on it. I do sorta wish I could have got the Vaya with that sexy white and blue finish, but the stealth bomber black of the AWOL doesn't suck either.

    I really, really like my AWOL. If things worked out differently, my heart would have told me to go with the Vaya, but that was the Vaya 2 with Ultegra, not the Vaya 3 with Sora like the thread started about.
    Last edited by shining_trapezoid; 09-16-2014 at 02:11 PM.

  27. #27
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    I recently test rode both of these bikes- Vaya3 and AWOL. I spent quite a bit of time comparing them. I also rode a Fargo. A Fargo is basically a mountain bike and feels as such when riding.

    The Vaya and AWOL are very similar, in fact there is little that sets them apart in terms of ride quality and appearance. The AWOL does have flared seat stays. Another thing that I did notice is the AWOL seems to have a shorter reach for some reason. I rode a 58cm Vaya and a Large AWOL. The AWOL is supposed to have a longer top tube by a fraction but it certainly felt like a shorter reach to me than the VAYA.

    The AWOL seat angle is .5 degrees more agressive but I'm not sure if that is enough to make it feel as short as it did. Either way, both are nice bikes but I would buy the Vaya simply based on the way it fit me. It felt perfect from the get go, while the AWOL seemed a bit short in reach to me.

  28. #28
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    Back on this again. I'm looking at the same two options now. Vaya 3 vs the standard AWOL. I test rode the Vaya 3 in a 57cm and it was just a tad small since I'm 6'2". Thinking I would need the 58cm. The Vaya was nice and seem to pedal really well in and out of the saddle. Position was comfortable and hand position was good on the bars. Bike seem fairly quick in handling.

    I then rode the AWOL in XL and Large. The XL felt huge and stretched out. Then I tried the large which fit better. Bars were still up high but not as stretched out. This bike seem to pedal well both in and out of the saddle however had a more neutral handling.

    Another thing is that the AWOL feels heavier than the Vaya 3.

    So now I'm torn. Which one do you think I could run bigger tires on?

  29. #29
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    AWOL has more tire clearance. It's also a lot heavier.
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  30. #30
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    I agree on the weight. My dilemma is really sizing at this point as I can get them both in the same price range.

    I'm 6'2" with 34 inseam and ride XL on my mountain bike. I tend to like to run a shorter stem although I'm not sure if I can apply the same thought to these kind of bikes.

    As I said before I rode a large and XLarge AWOL. The XL felt big but also had a longer stem. The large felt better but I had to extend more seatpost out.

    I'm only able to test the 57cm Vaya 3 I tried so I have no idea how the 58cm will feel. The 57cm felt small.

    Any advice?

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbrain View Post
    Back on this again. I'm looking at the same two options now. Vaya 3 vs the standard AWOL. I test rode the Vaya 3 in a 57cm and it was just a tad small since I'm 6'2". Thinking I would need the 58cm. The Vaya was nice and seem to pedal really well in and out of the saddle. Position was comfortable and hand position was good on the bars. Bike seem fairly quick in handling.

    I then rode the AWOL in XL and Large. The XL felt huge and stretched out. Then I tried the large which fit better. Bars were still up high but not as stretched out. This bike seem to pedal well both in and out of the saddle however had a more neutral handling.

    Another thing is that the AWOL feels heavier than the Vaya 3.

    So now I'm torn. Which one do you think I could run bigger tires on?

    Fwiw, I'm 5'11" and ride a 57cm Vaya.

    40's with fenders are about the max on the Vaya, might be able to fit certain brand 42's under there, probably 45 max without fenders.
    Oh noes. I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcaino View Post
    Fwiw, I'm 5'11" and ride a 57cm Vaya.

    40's with fenders are about the max on the Vaya, might be able to fit certain brand 42's under there, probably 45 max without fenders.
    Thanks jcaino! Are you running a shorter or longer stem?

    Now I'm thinking at 6'2" the 58cm Vaya would be too small.

  33. #33
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    I've owned 56 and 57 cm Vayas, and much prefer the 56 cm size. My saddle height is ~73 cm, and I run a 90 mm stem (height is 5'10.5").
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  34. #34
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    I love my AWOL! I bought a comp frame and built it myself. I didn't have an opportunity to try either the AWOL or the Vaya even though I looked at both. I still want to try a Vaya when I get back to the mainland but I don't see it replacing my AWOL. It rides super smooth and I'm perfectly happy with the way I built it.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcaino View Post
    Fwiw, I'm 5'11" and ride a 57cm Vaya.

    40's with fenders are about the max on the Vaya, might be able to fit certain brand 42's under there, probably 45 max without fenders.
    Anyone try the Bruce Gordon Rock and Road tires? They are sized at 43 which sounds pretty close to what should fit.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by CS2 View Post
    Anyone try the Bruce Gordon Rock and Road tires? They are sized at 43 which sounds pretty close to what should fit.
    The biggest tire I fit in my Vaya was a 29x2 WTB Nine Line, which measured closer to 48mm/1.9 inches. Rock and Roads would be fine and would probably fit under SKS p50 fenders.
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  37. #37
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    Reviving this thread as I am now looking at the 2017 versions of these 2 bikes, Vaya GX and AWOL Comp.

    Anybody have preferences one way or the other?

    I have pros and cons for both, but my biggest issue is that the nearest salsa dealer is several hours away.

    Both have generous tire clearance. I like the vaya carbon fork, 2x is probably carries a bit more utility for me, mechanical brakes give me more piece of mind in terms of cable failure with hydro on the Comp. Its cheaper.

    Awol has wide range 1x11 which is simpler. Hydraulic brakes offer better stopping power, slim seat stays offer more ride compliance which I like. Sram rival vs apex on the vaya.

    I'd probably change the chainrings on either one for lower gearing.

    Just wondering what popular opinion is on the current version of these bikes. Current stead is the Fargo for comparison. Thanks

    Sent from my VS985 4G using Tapatalk

  38. #38
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    If you are going to do loaded touring the 2X would be my choice, and a steel fork! If you are going to do light touring/gravel grinding, the 1X11 AWOL would be sweet. Not sure about the Rival vs Apex but there is a discussion here: SRAM Rival vs. Apex
    I like mechanical disc for dependability. Have them on a Ti Rove and a Ti Fargo/S&S coupled. I was sad to see the Ti Vaya go. It was the ultimate touring bike IMHO.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gyro_t View Post
    If you are going to do loaded touring the 2X would be my choice, and a steel fork! If you are going to do light touring/gravel grinding, the 1X11 AWOL would be sweet. Not sure about the Rival vs Apex but there is a discussion here: SRAM Rival vs. Apex
    I like mechanical disc for dependability. Have them on a Ti Rove and a Ti Fargo/S&S coupled. I was sad to see the Ti Vaya go. It was the ultimate touring bike IMHO.
    Mostly commuting and occasional weekend rides with easy trails once in a while. No actual touring here. I think 1x would be cool for this type of riding, but I'd want a small chainring for hills.

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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbandt View Post
    Mostly commuting and occasional weekend rides with easy trails once in a while. No actual touring here. I think 1x would be cool for this type of riding, but I'd want a small chainring for hills.

    Sent from my VS985 4G using Tapatalk
    I ran my older Vaya as a 1x for a couple of years and it was fine that way for my mellow commutes in flatter Indianapolis. I do appreciate smaller gaps between gears for pavement riding to optimize cadence, so I never went wider than 11-36 for my cassette. In fact, I'm still there, but I went 2x to make the bike more comfortable for long rides (did my first century last summer), as well as lower gears for hills. I'm currently on a compact crank, but I find the 50t just a touch big, and I'm thinking of replacing it with a 48t. With the Vaya being as burly as it is (rack and full fenders, as well as my full lights for commuting), I just never use the 50x11, and I find a fair bit of my riding is at an odd place where neither the 24t ring is a little small, and the 50t is just a little big, leading to crappy chainline. Moving the big ring to a 48t will put me in a better spot, I think.

    Which is where a lot of manufacturers are going with bigger-tired gravel type bikes, anyway.

    I think the newer Vaya is leaning even closer to casual gravel type riding and a little less towards light touring. Especially with the Marrakesh in the lineup definitely taking the heavy touring duties.

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