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  1. #1
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    a Fargo ownership satisfaction question

    Fargo owners, howdy.
    Please take a moment to read my question thoroughly. I know it's easy sometimes to get all excited and trigger happy with posting opinions and rarely will someone be honest and forthright enough to actually say "Nope, it wasn't what I expected. I made a mistake in buying it and here's why."

    but...

    If that's your situation I'd sure like to read about it. See I'm getting ready to buy a Fargo as my cross the state, ride the divide, explore Moab, spend a week exploring north GA and NC, load that beetch up and head out for true adventure riding on a mount that's designed specifically for adventure touring and pulls it off like champ. Think Grizzly Adams on a bicycle, that's what I want. Too young for that reference, think Brokeback Mountain on a bicycle with all the scenery and adventure but none of the sex.

    Lots of words, I know. Stick with me.

    I've seen pictures of some Fargos that get MTB flat bar and shifter and brake conversions and I wonder, why didn't you just buy a mountainbike? Why a buy Fargo and then make a top end conversion?

    So (and thanks for staying with me this long) the question is...
    Is the Fargo truly an adventurebike designed to take you just about everywhere and do just about everything, or is it just a mountainbike with drop bars and very little more?

  2. #2
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    So. I got a first generation Fargo as soon as they came out, with plans for it to be a mstly tarmac based touring bike. I had this bike set up with Woodchipper, drop bars Didn't take me long until I started riding it on the dirt more and more, to the point where on a lot of weekends, it replaced my 'proper' mountain bike as my ride of choice for an all day, not super-tech, trail ride....

    Loved this bike so much, I bought the Titanium one.

    Being able to run a suspension fork has opened up a LOT more riding capabilities for me, and let's me go for overnighters (and eventually some multi day stuff) that I may not have attempted on the rigid fork.... The only thing I will say negatively, is that I don't like the suspension fork - drop bar combination, and have since changed to a 25 degree swept flat bar (Ragley Carnegie).

    Now this bike does everything. I plan to race a 100 mile mountain bike event in November. I am going on a week long bikepacking trip in September (for my birthday) on a mix of tar and dirt, and am able to carry not just my stuff, but some of the weaker riders in the groups stuff too.... Next year, I want to go to Scotland to visit a girl, and I'm definitely taking the Fargo and getting up into the Highlands. I even commute on it a lot....

    My advice after almost 3 years of Fargo ownership : regardless of your handlebar, tyre or whatever set up needs/wants, if you are considering a Fargo, get one. There is no way you'll be disappointed. This bike can do SO much.

  3. #3
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    OP is too long-winded..........................


















































































    So, I see you're doing another adventure JB ????

  4. #4
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    The "more" of a Fargo compared to a mountain bike with drops is:

    - many well thought out braze ons (5-6 water bottle mounts, Everything cage mounts, rack and fender eyelets)
    - rear disc brake on chainstay so racks and fenders mount normally
    - geometry designed for a drop bar (tall head tube, shorter top tube)
    - a little more bottom bracket drop than most mtbs (moreso the first gen Fargo than the 2nd). This generally improves road handling at the expense of some pedal strikes off road.
    - a bit longer chainstays, so room for panniers

    I would say the Fargo is still the best (and really, the only) production adventure mountain bike. That being said, I also just bought a gen 2 Fargo fork to put on my Ti hardtail (a Motobecane). I think that will give me many of the Fargo benefits with a flat bar, mostly for variety. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking this would allow me to downsize my gen 1 Fargo, but... I really like my Fargo.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by HOLLYWOOD33 View Post
    OP is too long-winded..........................

    So, I see you're doing another adventure JB ????
    always planning my next adventure Brother! Let me know when you're coming this way. I'll take a vaca day and we'll hit all the trails.

  6. #6
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    PM sent.
    - Joe

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetblast10 View Post
    always planning my next adventure Brother! Let me know when you're coming this way. I'll take a vaca day and we'll hit all the trails.
    It'll be when it cools off and drys up for sure...

  8. #8
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    For me at least when going offroad (singletrack) the rigid fork held me back as the weight of the loaded bike meant you couldnt flow through the trail and the 'fun' was comprimised. I didnt get on with the sizing either, im 6ft4 and had an XL, which not only lacked any standover clearence but still felt too short. What it did do very well on was smoother more managed off-road, such as dirt-roads etc. Onroad its ok but even semi-slick offroad tyres are a drag on long rides. Obviously you can switch out the Fargo to road tyres but then it stops you taking it offroad and my Surly LHT just works better for that anyway. I should say i dont get on with the woodchipper type bar either, prefer standard style road bars so having a woodchipper on there might have put me off a little, also as it was so short anyway there was no way i could have ridden it with a flat bar without having the saddle way way back.

    So im going to be selling mine as im now riding a Salsa Spearfish instead. All the abilities of a Fargo on-road with the bonus of being on an FS-MTB offroad (and a damn good one at that!)

    Rich.

  9. #9
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    I'll put this out as "Third-party" stuff, and precede it with the fact that I am a Salsa dealer - but a couple of comments that I have heard from customers have me believing that this bike, if used for it's real purpose (more a go-anywhere road/trail bike than a true off-road MTB) it is a great bike. One of my customers is a retired business owner who has a PILE of bikes and toys. He rode his Fargo through Costa Rica back in June for a 3-week tour, and then took it with him to Alaska for the summer. In e-mails and during phone calls he has told me numerous times that this bike is the best money he has ever spent on two wheels. He loves his Fargo. Another customer has taken his from Prudhoe Bay to Anchorage, and while he hasn't been back in since he recently returned, communications with him were also very positive on the trip. My business partner rides a "commuterized" Fargo as his primary bike, and we have done a couple of them up for other customers for the same purpose. They are all happy as pigs-in-s#!t.

    While at Dealer Camp in the Park City/Deer Valley area a few weeks ago, my old roommate who also attended, rode a Fargo on a test ride and took it down some Black Diamond trails in Deer Valley, and was able to ride down in control and as comfortable as you'd expect on a rigid bike on rough stuff. He was grinning like a kid for a good part of the ride.

    So - it's not a bike for someone planning on getting out and railing trails and hucking, but if you are looking for a nice ride that is comfortable, and adept at getting you from place to place, with a lot of gear as an option, you should at least take a look at a Fargo. There are some cool bikes like this starting to come out - Salsa just has a bit of a jump on the others, IMO. If you send me your e-mail B/C I can probably get you in touch with the owners of the bikes used for these trips and you can get their input directly. One note: 2011 Fargos were spec'd with a front derailleur that would interfere with fenders, and requires a change. It sounds like they have this figured out for 2012. If you get an older stock bike, expect that you'll need to change that to put fenders on. If you don't need fenders, no problemo. Also, this bike NEEDS fat tires. Running narrower than about 1.8" or so, and the trail is affected and makes it handle pretty sketchy. 2.0 rubber or bigger and this beast has a nice feel to it. If you plan on using skinny tires on it for road riding, start thinking about a different bike! Good luck on your search for the adventure ride.
    R.I.P. Corky 10/97-4/09
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetblast10 View Post
    So (and thanks for staying with me this long) the question is...
    Is the Fargo truly an adventurebike designed to take you just about everywhere and do just about everything, or is it just a mountainbike with drop bars and very little more?
    Both statements are true, I think. It's a steel-frame, rigid mountain-bike with drop bars. That makes it rugged enough to go just about anywhere. All the braze-ons make it possible to carry along your stuff.

    I originally bought mine because of all the mounts. I wanted a non-suspension-corrected 29er on which to install fenders and a rack for use as an errand-running bike. However, the thing proved to be too much fun for random rides on whatever combination of double-track and gravel roads I could link together. I never did put on fenders and a rack.

    I ran mine one season with flat bars. That proved suboptimal. The geometry just isn't right for non-drops. I put on Woodchipper drops beginning my second season. I've kept to those. I've been happy w/them. They give good leverage on singletrack. I have to run a stack-o-spacers to get them high enough, but otherwise I'm happy with the Woodchippers.

    Were I in the market today I would consider a Vaya instead. That's because my main use of the Fargo is as an "any road" bike, and that use seems better met by the Vaya. Maybe. Hard to say without having tried one.

    The suspension-corrected fork on the current model is a huge turnoff. Suspension on drop bars makes little sense to me. If I need suspension, then I prefer a full-on mountain-bike with riser bars, not drops. There is too much forward weight bias on a drop-bar bike for me to want to ride it on trails with big roots and rocks that might toss me over the bars.

    The reason I hedge a bit in my previous statement about buying a Vaya instead is that I do like running large tires, and I like the ruggedness of the Fargo frame. Last Sunday I took the Fargo on a 28-mile, point-to-point ride that was a mix of ATV trail + doubletrack + gravel road + single track + pavement. The bike performed adequately across all those different types of trail and road. That I think is what makes the Fargo special. On almost any trail or road surface, it will perform "good enough" for you to enjoy the ride. It's not optimal for anything, but it's "good enough" for everything.

    I really like my Fargo, for what I use it for. I'm glad I bought the original, non-suspension-corrected version. Someday I'd like to compare with a Vaya. That's pretty much my summary.

  11. #11
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    I originally bought mine (one of the very first original Fargos to hit the streets) with hopes of using it as an "only one" bike for everything. I've ridden it on all kinds of trails and roads, including some very technical singletrack. It works OK, but it's just OK. I quickly ended up with another bike for singletrack, which now gets most of my riding.

    I now ride the Fargo mostly on dirt road exploration rides (did 4 hours on new-to-me roads yesterday), and as a general purpose around-town bike. I use flipped Mary bars on it. I like having all the options, including the option for singletrack if it presents itself. I occasionally wish I had a Vaya, but not enough to switch.

  12. #12
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    I appreciate the opinions everyone. When I get it added to the stable I'll post up a pic or two.

  13. #13
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    I had a gen1 fargo until a few months ago, pre-ordered it as my 'jack of all trades' bike. I used it for commuting, gravel centuries, MTB, etc. I swapped it out recently for a Mariachi with a fargo fork for a couple reasons:

    The drop bars, while comfortable, didn't inspire confidence in technical MTB situations, even unloaded.

    The limitation that drop bars have on brake options, in that I HATE BB7 brakes. Yeah, I know they're the best mechanical out there, but for me, they don't hold a candle to a good set of maguras. (they don't cost as much either, but that's another story).

    I ended up with a mariachi with the fargo fork. In doing so, I gave up 2 bottle mounts and the rear rack mounts. With the Relevate tangle bag in the frame, I couldn't use the upper fargo DT mount anyway, and I never used the 'under' DT mount previously, as I don't typically carry a stove or fuel bottle.

    Once I didn't need such a universal frame, I came to see my dissatisfaction with the fargo as a technical MTB specific bike. Plus, I can run a suspension fork on the new bike, which is another reason I made the change.

    If you're comfortable and proficient on the drop bars, I see no reason NOT to get a fargo over a Mariachi. If you're getting the fargo becuase of the braze-on situations (or lack thereof on the mariachi), I would suggest the fargo fork and some quality frame bags to cover the gap, rather than compromising on your frame choice.

    My 2 cents.

    Plum
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plum View Post
    I had a gen1 fargo until a few months ago, pre-ordered it as my 'jack of all trades' bike. I used it for commuting, gravel centuries, MTB, etc. I swapped it out recently for a Mariachi with a fargo fork for a couple reasons:

    The drop bars, while comfortable, didn't inspire confidence in technical MTB situations, even unloaded.

    The limitation that drop bars have on brake options, in that I HATE BB7 brakes. Yeah, I know they're the best mechanical out there, but for me, they don't hold a candle to a good set of maguras. (they don't cost as much either, but that's another story).

    I ended up with a mariachi with the fargo fork. In doing so, I gave up 2 bottle mounts and the rear rack mounts. With the Relevate tangle bag in the frame, I couldn't use the upper fargo DT mount anyway, and I never used the 'under' DT mount previously, as I don't typically carry a stove or fuel bottle.

    Once I didn't need such a universal frame, I came to see my dissatisfaction with the fargo as a technical MTB specific bike. Plus, I can run a suspension fork on the new bike, which is another reason I made the change.

    If you're comfortable and proficient on the drop bars, I see no reason NOT to get a fargo over a Mariachi. If you're getting the fargo becuase of the braze-on situations (or lack thereof on the mariachi), I would suggest the fargo fork and some quality frame bags to cover the gap, rather than compromising on your frame choice.

    My 2 cents.

    Plum
    One of the most thoughtful and well communicated posts I've ever seen.

    Truly a wealth of useless information.


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  15. #15
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    Plum - I think you nailed it for about 99% of the people out there - the Fargo is not a bike that MOST people will want - I might want one for a long tour that would have some dirt road, trail and the need to carry a lot of gear - but an El Mariachi is a better chassis for me for 99% of what I do. An Enabler Fork also works well on the El Mar - gives you the ability to use a HUMONGOUS tire and has extra braze-ons for bottles. Of course, you need the 135mm hub tho... (more spoke triangulation). For what it is, the Fargo is a great bike - but it's a niche bike.
    R.I.P. Corky 10/97-4/09
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATBScott View Post
    Plum - I think you nailed it for about 99% of the people out there - the Fargo is not a bike that MOST people will want - I might want one for a long tour that would have some dirt road, trail and the need to carry a lot of gear - but an El Mariachi is a better chassis for me for 99% of what I do. An Enabler Fork also works well on the El Mar - gives you the ability to use a HUMONGOUS tire and has extra braze-ons for bottles. Of course, you need the 135mm hub tho... (more spoke triangulation). For what it is, the Fargo is a great bike - but it's a niche bike.
    The fargo (referring to the Gen2) is every bit as capable a mountain bike for those proficient with drop bars as the Mariachi, IMO. It'll also take the enabler fork, plus all the racks and such.

    What does it give up to the Mariachi? Well, it gives up the alternator dropouts, which some may or may not miss. It gives up a 'normal' bar setup and limits brake options to a fairly narrow selection of mechanical brakes. After that, I'm not sure it's giving up a lot.

    I guess my point is, there's not a lot you give up with the Mariachi as a MTB touring rig either, the rear braze-ons mostly, but then you gain the alternator option, which could be handy if you tear off your rear derailleur and need to SS it out. I think the frames could be viewed and more or less interchangeable, based on your handlebar preference. Maybe the fargo rides better while loaded with racks, but then bags are a real, available viable alternative these days, and a 'bagged' mariachi is probably going to be pretty neutral loaded up as well, due to the weight distribution.

    Dunno. My primary use for that bike is going to be technical, faster MTB, and I think the Mariachi is well suited for it. As a backup, if I wanted to take an overnight or do a gravel tour (or even a road tour) I thik the bike will work fine for what i need, with the obvious compromise of the flat bars (hand positions). A titec j-bar helps with that situation.

    In short, pick your bar preference, then match it up with the frame is designed around that, you'll be happy.

    Plum
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plum View Post
    A titec j-bar helps with that situation.

    In short, pick your bar preference, then match it up with the frame is designed around that, you'll be happy.

    Plum
    Gotta definitely agree with you on the bars - that makes a difference but so subjective. I love the J-bar and have been using it on a few bikes now. They'll be going on the El Mar I plan on putting together next month too. My "99%" comment was directed towards most people leaning towards flat-bar "MTB" bars over a drop for their bikes. I have ridden drop-bar MTB and there are many places where it's nice, but most people aren't going to ride them off-road on rougher or more techy trails. (Then again, most people aren't going to ride J-bars, but that's their loss! )
    R.I.P. Corky 10/97-4/09
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    Both statements are true, I think. It's a steel-frame, rigid mountain-bike with drop bars. That makes it rugged enough to go just about anywhere. All the braze-ons make it possible to carry along your stuff.

    I originally bought mine because of all the mounts. I wanted a non-suspension-corrected 29er on which to install fenders and a rack for use as an errand-running bike. However, the thing proved to be too much fun for random rides on whatever combination of double-track and gravel roads I could link together. I never did put on fenders and a rack.

    I ran mine one season with flat bars. That proved suboptimal. The geometry just isn't right for non-drops. I put on Woodchipper drops beginning my second season. I've kept to those. I've been happy w/them. They give good leverage on singletrack. I have to run a stack-o-spacers to get them high enough, but otherwise I'm happy with the Woodchippers.

    Were I in the market today I would consider a Vaya instead. That's because my main use of the Fargo is as an "any road" bike, and that use seems better met by the Vaya. Maybe. Hard to say without having tried one.

    The suspension-corrected fork on the current model is a huge turnoff. Suspension on drop bars makes little sense to me. If I need suspension, then I prefer a full-on mountain-bike with riser bars, not drops. There is too much forward weight bias on a drop-bar bike for me to want to ride it on trails with big roots and rocks that might toss me over the bars.

    The reason I hedge a bit in my previous statement about buying a Vaya instead is that I do like running large tires, and I like the ruggedness of the Fargo frame. Last Sunday I took the Fargo on a 28-mile, point-to-point ride that was a mix of ATV trail + doubletrack + gravel road + single track + pavement. The bike performed adequately across all those different types of trail and road. That I think is what makes the Fargo special. On almost any trail or road surface, it will perform "good enough" for you to enjoy the ride. It's not optimal for anything, but it's "good enough" for everything.

    I really like my Fargo, for what I use it for. I'm glad I bought the original, non-suspension-corrected version. Someday I'd like to compare with a Vaya. That's pretty much my summary.
    I owned a V1 Fargo, sold it and bought a V2 which I still have and I have a Vaya with lots of miles on it. I'd be glad to give you my 2 cents on all three bikes. PM if you want to.
    Wally

  19. #19
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    I personally feel that too many people are thinking of the Fargo as a "mountain bike". As many people in this post have already pointed out, it is not an overly accomplished bike on very technical trails. I should say that I am referring to the Gen 1 Fargo. I have no experience with the Gen 2.
    What appealed to me so much about this bike is it's ability to handle huge tires and go just about anywhre I want with it.
    For reference to where I use the bike, I live in New Hampshire and we have a lot of technical riding, not much "open space" like out in the mid-west. I like the I can get on my Fargo at my house and connect pavement, singletrack, rail trails, snowmobile trails, dirt roads, etc.
    Like others have also stated it is not awesome at anything, but is good at just about everything. This is where I have troulbe with people saying it's not good a technical stuff. Well, I honestly don't think it is supposed to be. I wouldn't race it in a crit, but that doesn't mean it won't ride decently on the road, it just means that it isn't the extreme that this bike was meant for.
    I went back and forth between a Vaya and Fargo for about 3 months before buying a Fargo frameset. For me the biggest determining factor in the end was the Gen1 Fargo frameset went on sale for $315 while the Vaya was still $600.
    There are days I wonder if the Vaya would have been a better choice, but for the most part, the Fargo fits the use I bought it for. A tourer that goes off road as well, and to commute to work on a road that is in the 3rd year of a 5 year construction plan. Maybe after that pavement/rebuild job is finally finished I will move on to a Vaya.
    If I want to ride technical trails I bring my mtn bike, if I want to go fast I use my road bike, if I want to explore roads and some easy trails I take my cyclocross bike, and if I want to explore and go camping, I grab the Fargo.
    So the closest I get to buyers remorse is the idea of Vaya vs. Fargo.

  20. #20
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    The V2 is more mountain than V1; that was the goal and it was met. V2 is suspension corrected but I personally have a tough time doing that. The V1 handled technical trails, slowly but it handled them fine - the V2 handles them better, faster, with more control. But it doesn't handle the gravel, dirt and crappy road surfaces as well meaning its not as comfy or as easy to ride there.

    I know people ride their Vaya's on singletrack and face it, you can ride anything anywhere really if you take your time and pick your lines. Its all in what you want for the experience. I love the Vaya but its not a single track bike, and boy will this one raise hackles, its not a bona fide tourer either. It's a very comfy ride it 300 miles if you want sort of bike as long as you don't load it down with much. It CAN tour but its not it's forte. It rides gravel and packed dirt exceptionally well. Here in the wide open midwest, my singletrack trails are rooty, have lots of rocks, and are in heavily wooded areas so trees are sort of close together. We have lots of steep rollers in places, tight switchbacks, lots of off camber trails and I'd rather walk them than ride a Vaya through it. The Fargo handles them just fine though. Either version. One of them better than the other.
    Wally

  21. #21
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    I am not real in tune with all the small nuances between bikes as I am primarily a gravel grinder and not pushing the limits of handling or frame compliance. I agree the gen II is quicker handling than the gen 1. Then what surprised me is I think it handled fully loaded touring better than my gen 1 did. Did 5 days in southern utah pretty heavily loaded and the gen II was excellent. Not a waggle or wiggle to be found....just rock steady.

  22. #22
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    I have around a thousand miles on my first generation Fargo now. I have ridden a mix of singletrack, two-track and pavement. I absolutely love this bike. I too went the direction of many with the flat (or slightly bent) bar conversion. On technical trails I did find this to be advantageous both in the more aggressive handling and better braking with avid levers instead of the road style levers. Unfortunately I found the bike lost that magic "feel" it has running drops. I've since gone back to the original set up and couldn't be happier. You have to try it to know. Now the bike is back to hauling on the flats, carving high speed turns, and still handling quite well in the singletrack. It offers multiple hand positions as well which my hands and wrists appreciate. And what is best, it is back to having that great "feel" that makes this bike one of the best I have ever owned.
    Good luck

  23. #23
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    I agree with greenwater, whenever I change my Fargo to flat, I quickly go back to drops. It just doesn't feel quite right with flat bars, but with drops... it all comes together.
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  24. #24
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    Love it.

    From a Bikepacking trip:


    Salsa Fargo by mbeganyi, on Flickr

    Today I did ~62 pave, dirt, gravel, singletrack, doubletrack...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocho View Post
    The V2 is more mountain than V1; that was the goal and it was met. V2 is suspension corrected but I personally have a tough time doing that. The V1 handled technical trails, slowly but it handled them fine - the V2 handles them better, faster, with more control. But it doesn't handle the gravel, dirt and crappy road surfaces as well meaning its not as comfy or as easy to ride there.

    I know people ride their Vaya's on singletrack and face it, you can ride anything anywhere really if you take your time and pick your lines. Its all in what you want for the experience. I love the Vaya but its not a single track bike, and boy will this one raise hackles, its not a bona fide tourer either. It's a very comfy ride it 300 miles if you want sort of bike as long as you don't load it down with much. It CAN tour but its not it's forte. It rides gravel and packed dirt exceptionally well. Here in the wide open midwest, my singletrack trails are rooty, have lots of rocks, and are in heavily wooded areas so trees are sort of close together. We have lots of steep rollers in places, tight switchbacks, lots of off camber trails and I'd rather walk them than ride a Vaya through it. The Fargo handles them just fine though. Either version. One of them better than the other.
    Man, well said... I can ride the Vaya a little bit more off road around here, but I think that's b/c we don't have as many rocks. We have some flat, fast singletrack that a Vaya will just eat up, esp. with the right tire selection (46c Bontrager Jones XRs are rad).

    The v2 Fargo is definitely a faster, more confident off road bike, though it did lose some of the super low BB fun that the v1 bike had. I'll take the trade though, esp since I also have a Vaya and two El Mariachis in the stable.
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  26. #26
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    I should say too Matt that we aren't exactly overrun with singletrack around here. The best locations we have are reclaimed trip mines which accounts for the overgrown conditions, rocks, etc. Downstate we do have more fast flowing stuff but I'd rather use one of my other bikes there over the Vaya.
    Wally

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