Salsa Cycles Sol Sessions First Report

I had the chance to visit the Salsa Cycles HQ in Minneapolis for the unveiling and riding of Salsa’s two new full suspension bikes. The bikes were designed to have a similar ride with wheel size being the main difference. The 26er called the El Kaboing has 5 inches of rear wheel travel and the 29er called the Big Mamma has 4 inches.

Salsa said they designed the bikes with three things in mind: performance, reliability, durability. The most notable features, which enveloped these three things, to me, were: the post mount rear brake tabs, three sealed main pivot bearings (two drive side one non-drive), one piece linkage, no rear end pivot, and maximized weld areas. I found it admirable that salsa was able to admit a weakness in their own products specking a Race Face seatpost and stem (they said they were working on getting their own products up to par for performance).

Here are some pictures of the more notable features on the bikes:
Salsa Linkage

Disc Mount
Rear Triangle

For more specs and pictures of the bikes visit Salsa’s website.

I had a chance to ride each of the bikes over a few days in Northwest Wisconsin (See issue 115 for more on the trail system). Salsa set up a deal with Western Spirit Cycling Adventures to take us (the lucky individuals who got to sample the new bikes) riding and camping for three days and two nights.

The first day we left Minneapolis and arrived a few hours later at the trailhead, applied sunscreen and bug spray, ate lunch, then rode bikes. I had the chance to ride the Big Mamma. The trail was tight, twisty, rocky, and in some spots, swoopy. The Big Mamma was a new experience for me as I hadn’t ridden a full suspension 29 inch wheeled bike. The bike handled better than I had expected—begging to be monster-trucked through the rock gardens and leaned into corners. The first ride was roughly ten miles. After the ride we packed up the bikes and headed to the camp site. There we set up our tents and ate dinner. After dinner we had chocolate fondue with fresh fruit as a dessert (Western Spirit fed us amazing food—especially for being out doors).

I missed hot breakfast the next morning and had to settle for cereal and milk. This day’s ride was scheduled to take five or so hours. I got to ride two bikes this day. For the first half of the ride I rode the El Santo (I was allowed to choose two other bikes aside from the two new ones to ride) then I got to ride the El Kaboing. To me this bike felt like a younger, more hyperactive sibling to the Big Mamma. The bikes had the same personality, but a different attitude. The El Kaboing liked to be jumped and maneuvered more so than the big wheeled Big Mamma, which is best off as point, shoot, and ride over everything kind of bike. I also learned a valuable lesson during this ride—mosquitoes easily bite through spandex. I’ve decided baggy shorts are a good idea for areas such as this. Post ride dinner was fajitas and guacamole—simply awesome. After dinner we enjoyed some good brews and tequila courtesy of Salsa.

The next day we packed up then rode one last time before heading back to Minneapolis for showers and one last dinner out with the Salsa crew and their families.

All said it was a more than great week of riding fun bikes, eating awesome food, drinking good beer (and tequila), and making new friends!