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    Vaya or Fargo as a do it all bike

    This is not a VS thread. I've noticed that the Fargo seems to be moving closer to a pure MTB than a dual purpose bike. The latest incarnation with even wider tires IMO makes it more dirt friendly. I wonder if Salsa is going to keep the Vaya the same or make it more road oriented now that the Fargo is more MTB oriented.

    Either way they're both great bikes with a cult following.
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    The Vaya appears to be moving to more of a "general gravel/whatever" category and losing a bit of the touring focus (because Marrakesh does that better, anyway).

    Fargo doesn't look to be as "pure mtb" to me, but rather more dirt-focused touring. As I understand it, the Deadwood was an experiment that folks seemed to like. It wasn't really intended to be a "forever" bike. So when Salsa wanted to freshen up the Fargo, they decided to give it capacity for fatter rubber to appease those who appreciate such things.

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    I guess it depends on how you define "do it all." If that definition includes singletrack, loaded dirt touring, etc. then the Fargo is definitely the more versatile of the two. But while there have been tweaks to both bikes over the years, I don't think that assessment would have been any different 5 years ago. You can always run a skinnier tire on a Fargo, you can't exceed the width restrictions on a Vaya.

    I think the Fargo has always confused a lot of people, in large part simply because it has a drop bar on it. But at its heart, it has always been a mountain-oriented dirt bike.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    I've always liked the Fargo. But it seems like overkill for the type of riding I do. I'm probably 75% road and rest where ever I feel like. The Vaya is a better fit but there's just something about the Fargo.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CS2 View Post
    I've always liked the Fargo. But it seems like overkill for the type of riding I do. I'm probably 75% road and rest where ever I feel like. The Vaya is a better fit but there's just something about the Fargo.
    I chose to build a custom Vaya in 2015 over a Fargo and ended up running 27.5x2.1 mtb tires on it. In hindsight I should have just went with the Fargo as it would have better met what I wanted. The Vaya was a great bike but it always felt like a bit of a compromise when I would link the greenways to forest roads to some well groomed singletrack.

    Riding my friend's Fargo convinced me I made the wrong decision. However if you spend that much time on pavement maybe the Vaya would be better for your purposes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by keifla123 View Post
    I chose to build a custom Vaya in 2015 over a Fargo and ended up running 27.5x2.1 mtb tires on it. In hindsight I should have just went with the Fargo as it would have better met what I wanted. The Vaya was a great bike but it always felt like a bit of a compromise when I would link the greenways to forest roads to some well groomed singletrack.

    Riding my friend's Fargo convinced me I made the wrong decision. However if you spend that much time on pavement maybe the Vaya would be better for your purposes.
    Now that the Fargo actually comes in 27.5+ it should be a no brainer for you. I always suffer from buyers remorse. Actually I have a basement full of buyers remorse. I was hoping my next purchase would be my last bike. But we all know how well that works.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

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    I had the same dilemma as you with the same riding profile. I had a Bianchi Volpe that was stolen and I wanted to replace it. The Vaya was the logical replacement but I picked up the Fargo and haven't regretted it. It doesn't really weigh any more than the Vaya. It has a very practical Gear range - I don't miss the couple of high end gears that the Vaya has over the Fargo, but the Fargo has some nice low-end stuff for some real climbing. You are more upright on the Fargo, which could be good or bad. I do a lot of road riding with it and it's nice to blast over broken asphalt and potholes without worrying about it.

    One thing the Vaya can't do: I went to Minnewaska State Park in New York with my daughter. We did an 11-mile loop of the carriage ways. 3 miles of climbing, 8 miles of mostly bombing. Most of the carriage ways are well maintained crushed stone, but deeper in there's exposed bedrock, some of it jagged, baby heads, etc. We blasted through there like no-one's business. Riding those sections with the Vaya would've been slow and careful, if possible at all.


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    I have a Vaya. If I were you I'd get a Fargo. If I didn't need the S&S couplers on my bike I'd have a Fargo.

    I mean, on my Vaya I can run up to 2.0" 29er tires, but only without fenders. With fenders I'm limited to 37mm tires, which puts the Vaya firmly into the category of a randonneuring, tourer, gravel bike - and a Fargo can do that and a whole lot more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    I think the Fargo has always confused a lot of people, in large part simply because it has a drop bar on it. But at its heart, it has always been a mountain-oriented dirt bike.
    Back in 2006-07-ish, my good friend MG was bugging Salsa for what he called a "Drop Bar El Mariachi". The Fargo was the answer. It has always been positioned as a drop bar mtb within the line up. That said, a lot of folks were actually confused by the first gen bikes because they were not suspension corrected. They didn't know what to make of the thing. So, in that sense I agree with you.

    Of course, with Gen II and beyond they accounted for suspension forks to be a possibility on those Fargos, and that made them a "truer mtb", I suppose you could say. But yeah, it has been my experience that by putting a drop bar on a mountain bike you make many folks minds go wonky.

    I also wanted to share a recent friend's experience with the Fargo vs Vaya "one bike to do everything with" dilemma. He had a Bomb Pop Blue Fargo and loved it, but in an effort to pare down his fleet he got the recent Vaya/Bucksaw deal and sold off his Mukluk, Spearfish, a road bike, and the Fargo.

    He was very hesitant to sell the Fargo and questioned his decision until after getting the Vaya. He now couldn't be happier. I will add that the Fargo was mainly his go-to gravel road rig, and he did not use it as a mountain bike. The Vaya is doing what his fargo did and what his road bike did for him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted View Post
    Back in 2006-07-ish, my good friend MG was bugging Salsa for what he called a "Drop Bar El Mariachi". The Fargo was the answer. It has always been positioned as a drop bar mtb within the line up. That said, a lot of folks were actually confused by the first gen bikes because they were not suspension corrected. They didn't know what to make of the thing. So, in that sense I agree with you.

    Of course, with Gen II and beyond they accounted for suspension forks to be a possibility on those Fargos, and that made them a "truer mtb", I suppose you could say. But yeah, it has been my experience that by putting a drop bar on a mountain bike you make many folks minds go wonky.

    I also wanted to share a recent friend's experience with the Fargo vs Vaya "one bike to do everything with" dilemma. He had a Bomb Pop Blue Fargo and loved it, but in an effort to pare down his fleet he got the recent Vaya/Bucksaw deal and sold off his Mukluk, Spearfish, a road bike, and the Fargo.

    He was very hesitant to sell the Fargo and questioned his decision until after getting the Vaya. He now couldn't be happier. I will add that the Fargo was mainly his go-to gravel road rig, and he did not use it as a mountain bike. The Vaya is doing what his fargo did and what his road bike did for him.

    YMMV
    Thanks for the insight.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

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    I have a 2014 Vaya and have been using it for dirt road touring, and other than wishing for more traction on occasion it's a great ride. Next year I may do the GDMBR and would like to use my Vaya. Has anyone done any long rides (1,000+miles) on a Vaya with the 650B conversion with wider, higher volume tires? Any reason this is not a good idea? It's much less expensive than buying a second bike.

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    well, i'm glad to have stumbled across this thread. even though i have a Fargo, i have been thinking about gravel bikes to replace my commuter and my roadie machine. Vaya never once entered my mind, i guess Warbird carries that flag for Salsa. i was unaware that Vaya could handle 50mm tires and this whole 650b conversion thing is quite a surprise. i'll have to add Vaya to my list....

    Quote Originally Posted by Geo Girl View Post
    I have a 2014 Vaya and have been using it for dirt road touring, and other than wishing for more traction on occasion it's a great ride. Next year I may do the GDMBR and would like to use my Vaya. Has anyone done any long rides (1,000+miles) on a Vaya with the 650B conversion with wider, higher volume tires? Any reason this is not a good idea? It's much less expensive than buying a second bike.
    N+1 is great if you can pull it off, but if your options are (1) race on the Vaya or (2) defer racing, then you have only one option.

    this couple built their Wolverines on 650b rims with 2.1 inch tires and toured far and wide on those bikes. they were not racing, but they did cover a lot of ground, they posted are several articles on Radavist if you care to search. i don't know, having ridden neither a Vaya, nor the route. but if you do it, i imagine you'll live to tell the story.

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    I can't speak for the Vaya, but I rode a Fargo for 2 years as my everything bike. I primarily used it for single track, as it is a fully capable mountain bike. Once you get used to single track in the drops, it makes perfect sense.

    I only got rid of mine as my consumerism got the best of me.

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    I have not ridden the 2017 Fargo Rival or Vaya GX, but if I had to choose a "do all" bike from the Salsa specs, it would be the Vaya. According to the Salsa specs, the new Vaya frame is made from the same steel as the 2014-2016 Fargo, and the new Fargo is made from the same steel as the Powderkeg tandem. The Vaya is lighter than last year and the Fargo got heavier. The Vaya will now fit 700x50 tires and possibly wider with a 650b wheel set. I am going to stick with my 2015 Fargo 2 unless Salsa revives the Ti Fargo.

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    Salsa Vaya + 650b wheelset + 2" knobbies:
    Salsa Vaya 650B Conversion Project (Wheels & Tires) | GRAVELBIKE
    In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
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    My 2012 Vaya w 650b wheels

    Here's mine. I switch between 700c and 650b depending on where I'm riding.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Vaya or Fargo as a do it all bike-vaya-650b-1s.jpg  


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    that's badass! how wide are those tires?
    In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee View Post
    I have a Vaya. If I were you I'd get a Fargo. If I didn't need the S&S couplers on my bike I'd have a Fargo.

    I mean, on my Vaya I can run up to 2.0" 29er tires, but only without fenders. With fenders I'm limited to 37mm tires, which puts the Vaya firmly into the category of a randonneuring, tourer, gravel bike - and a Fargo can do that and a whole lot more.
    You can put S&S couplers on a fargo too

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevrider View Post
    that's badass! how wide are those tires?
    That is pretty bad.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

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    650b tires

    Quote Originally Posted by kevrider View Post
    that's badass! how wide are those tires?
    They are Maxxis Ardent tires at 2.25 inches wide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrummerGal View Post
    They are Maxxis Ardent tires at 2.25 inches wide.
    wow. most of the 700c gravel bikes that are claimed to convert to 650b are said to accommodate 2.0 or 2.1 inch tires, so 2.25 is pretty strong. the more i learn about Vayas, the more i like 'em.
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    An update: that friend just bought the new Ti Fargo frame set and will soon be returning to the Fargo fold. Missed the Fargo too much.

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    Glad I found this thread- sort of. I'm currently trying to decide what steel gravel/adventure/whatever bike to get next year, and right now I'm mostly hemming and hawing between the Fargo and the Vaya. I'm really curious to see what changes the 2018 Vaya will have- if they increase its clearance for bigger rubber. I love the idea of running 29+ on the Fargo. That is just a fun size of rubber to roll.
    Crashing mountain bikes since 1990.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boo Bear View Post
    I'm really curious to see what changes the 2018 Vaya will have- if they increase its clearance for bigger rubber.
    based on what a dealer told me yesterday, you definitely want to hold your horses for another 3-4 weeks. the new stuff might be right up your alley.
    In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
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    I've had both including a first gen Fargo. In addition, for the duration of my ownership of both, I had an el mariachi which received the most attention. Looking back, I wish I would have kept the first gen Fargo and el mariachi. For me, it's not about whether a machine is "capable" of doing a specific job but rather is it "recreational." The vaya was not fun to ride in anything worse than loose gravel but really excelled on the tarmac. The Fargo first gen was very capable in the roughest of gravel and singletrack but did not quite deliver (as it wasn't designed for) on technical singletrack. I found myself returning to the el mariachi for most all of my riding including gravel and tarmac. I'm sure many on here will show you a very capable off-road vaya or a decently quick pavement-bound Fargo which is awesome to see the varying usage of both models and the seemingly limitless possibilities. So I ended up selling the vaya and Fargo because they weren't getting ridden. If I had to keep one it would've been the Fargo. More options, highly capable, broader spectrum Plus the color was much better in those days .

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    I am somewhat torn between a Vaya and a Fargo.

    1. Use - mostly pavement, some commuting, some dirt, but I don't want to worry about hitting some singletrack. Can the Vaya handle singletrack? No touring for me, but I will be (hopefully) pulling my daughter in a trailer.

    2. Steel vs Carbon fork? Weight/handling differences not sure I care that much.

    The LBS is a Salsa dealer, so I will be able to ride both. I like the Fargo's tire size versatility, but as far as higher volume tires,I am a set it and forget it guy, don't care to dick around with tire pressure much. And I hate riding on pavement with under-inflated tires. So I would likely throw 29er tires on the Fargo, perhaps a surly Extra Terrestrial. Any reason I should keep the stock 27.5 plus wheelset?

    I have a cross bike, which I will be trading in, and have taken that on single track, was fun.

    OK and the purple Fargo has got me kinda firm.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyriverag View Post
    I am somewhat torn between a Vaya and a Fargo.

    1. Use - mostly pavement, some commuting, some dirt, but I don't want to worry about hitting some singletrack. Can the Vaya handle singletrack? No touring for me, but I will be (hopefully) pulling my daughter in a trailer.

    2. Steel vs Carbon fork? Weight/handling differences not sure I care that much.

    The LBS is a Salsa dealer, so I will be able to ride both. I like the Fargo's tire size versatility, but as far as higher volume tires,I am a set it and forget it guy, don't care to dick around with tire pressure much. And I hate riding on pavement with under-inflated tires. So I would likely throw 29er tires on the Fargo, perhaps a surly Extra Terrestrial. Any reason I should keep the stock 27.5 plus wheelset?

    I have a cross bike, which I will be trading in, and have taken that on single track, was fun.

    OK and the purple Fargo has got me kinda firm.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    I beat the shit out of my vaya on singletrack, but its usually just a part of the ride. That is, you leave from the house ride pave and gravel and end up on singletrack. Would a fargo with 29x 2.2 or bigger tires be better/faster on singletrack? Yes. But it would also be slower on pave and gravel. If you are "mostly pavement", but want to keep your options open, that is classic vaya in my view. Especially since you know you enjoy riding your cross bike on singletrack. Vaya makes for a good trailer-tower too, but its I find drop bars arent as good as flat bars for trail-a-bike.
    Last edited by rth009; 01-05-2018 at 10:42 AM.

  28. #28
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    Aweosme, thanks for the insight/info.

    You feel strongly one way or another about the steel vs carbon forK?
    it's a challenge some of us are ultimately worthy of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tyriverag View Post
    Aweosme, thanks for the insight/info.

    You feel strongly one way or another about the steel vs carbon forK?
    I have never ridden a vaya with a carbon fork. Mine is a 2nd gen vaya frame (the orange one from 2011, the first with replaceable derailleur hanger). All I can say is that it is a rigid steel fork, but is very comfortable for a rigid fork. I swear if I look down at is while riding on washboard, I can see the fork move slightly fore and aft, but who knows if that is real or my perception. My vaya is a 60cm and it is not particularly light, even with tubeless Stans Arch, but its very durable and rides well. Im sure I could lose a bit with a carbon fork, but I dont care about that and from what ive read, unless you get the right carbon fork, it may be less compliant than steel.

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