The Salsa Fargo in all its glory.

The Salsa Fargo 27.5 + My American Monster Truck

Drew 17. August 2017

Fat tyres, drop bars and a go anywhere mentality. Drew’s "American monster truck" is a bicycle ready to take on whatever the trail throws at it. Read on for more

When it comes to blogs, I spend a lot of time with them. I don’t usually get a chance to write myself because I translate the posts from German to English. So this is an exciting chance to take my love of bicycles and their components and put it on paper.

My beautiful Salsa Fargo monster truck.

My beautiful Salsa Fargo monster truck.

The American in me always wanted a fat wheeled, roll-over-everything monster truck and the new 2017 Fargo 27.5”+ was the perfect choice. This post is meant to take you on a tour of the components I put on this off-road adventure rig and give you an idea about how the Fargo rides. So strap yourselves in, the Gravedigger is about to get rolling.

Trucking uphill is never an issue.

Trucking uphill is never an issue.

Frame / Fork

As the saying goes, ‘steel is real’ and I absolutely love steel frames. I like how they look and ride, as well as their reparability if something cracks or breaks. This makes steel frames perfect for off-road tours in faraway places. That’s why I was a little worried about going with Salsa’s Firestarter carbon fork that has a carbon steerer. It all seemed a little too risky, but I put my trust in the fact that Salsa has been producing off-road machines for quite some time now and the weight savings and small bump absorption of carbon was super appealing. So far, I haven’t had a single issue and the fork has grown on me. Though I chose to build the Fargo as a 27.5”+ bicycle, it has clearance for up to 29”+ wheels. I imagine a new wheelset would turn the Fargo into a totally different monster.

The frame and fork lay the perfect foundation for this beautiful build.

The frame and fork lay the perfect foundation for this beautiful build.

The Fargo is a bike for going far.

The Fargo is a bike for going far.

A wonderful burnt orange keeps the accents low-key.

A wonderful burnt orange keeps the accents low-key.

Another feature of the frame that I really like, is the orange accents. As you read on, you will find that there are other orange parts that make an appearance. All of these components were carefully chosen so that the bike had just enough orange to bring out the fine lines in the frame.

All of the components were carefully chosen to bring out the orange accents of the frame.

Wheels / Tyres

When I build up a new bike, I always lace my own wheels. It is somewhat of a meditation and I also get to choose exactly what hubs and rims I want without having to compromise. For this build, I went with Syntace W40 rims, an orange Hope Pro 4 rear hub and a Shutter Precision dynamo front hub. All of these parts are tried and true and together they make up a strong, durable wheelset.

An orange Hope Pro 4 hub is the heart of the rear wheel.

An orange Hope Pro 4 hub is the heart of the rear wheel.

Providing me with all the power I need, the Shutter Precision hub never falters.

Providing me with all the power I need, the Shutter Precision hub never falters.

The wide Syntace W40 rims are lightweight and durable.

The wide Syntace W40 rims are lightweight and durable.

As I was looking for tyres, I wanted something that was on the lighter side of the plus category, but still offered plenty of grip. When I came across Vitoria’s Bomboloni, I was sold with each tyre weighing in at 905 g. The tread gives me great grip and riding them tubeless allows me to run lower pressures depending on the terrain.

The Vittoria Bomboloni tyres are super wide and offer the prefect amount of grip.

The Vittoria Bomboloni tyres are super wide and offer the prefect amount of grip.

Cockpit

For the cockpit, I went with the unique Woodchipper 2 handlebars that are spec’d with the Fargo. They have super wide drops and the Rival 1 shift / brake levers are angled such that they give me a natural hand position. The Thomson Elite stem and Chris King headset are components that I have always wanted to incorporate into a build. The Fargo was definitely worthy of them so, while not necessary, I couldn’t help myself.

The Woodchipper 2 handebars coupled with SRAM Rival 1 brake levers give me plenty of control over rough surfaces.

The Woodchipper 2 handebars coupled with SRAM Rival 1 brake levers give me plenty of control over rough surfaces.

I have always dreamt of a Chris King headset and now I have one!

I have always dreamt of a Chris King headset and now I have one!

Thomson stems are sleed and well manufactured.

Thomson stems are sleek and well manufactured.

The Woodchipper 2 handlebars are wide and sweep back.

The Woodchipper 2 handlebars are wide and sweep back.

Brakes

SRAM Rival 1 brakes bring this monster truck of a bike to a halt. Coupled with orange Hope brake rotors, the modulation is great and my stopping power is superb.

I ended up taking off about 1 mm from the inside of the caliper.

When assembling the Fargo, I ran into the issue of the Hope floating rotor’s rivets hitting the Rival 1 brake caliper. The only way around this was to start filing and I ended up taking off about 1 mm from the inside of the caliper. Just another custom touch.

Rival 1 brakes and Hope floating rotors bring the Salsa Fargo to a safe and controlled stop.

Rival 1 brakes and Hope floating rotors bring the Salsa Fargo to a safe and controlled stop.

Drivetrain

The drivetrain is another interesting part of my Fargo build because it is made of two SRAM groupsets: GX and Rival 1. This was needed because of the Woodchipper 2 drop bars. A Rival 1 shifter routed to a derailleur of the same group, shifts up and down a GX cassette. The cranks and chain are also from the GX groupset. Everything together shifts super smooth, without issue. To put this drivetrain in motion, I chose the Hope F20 pedals. The fact that they are the same colour orange as all the other Hope components was definitely a plus.

The mixed component drivetrain shifts smooth like butter.

The mixed component drivetrain shifts smooth like butter.

The Hope bottom bracket matches the other Hope components, as well as being super reliable.

The Hope bottom bracket matches the other Hope components, as well as being super reliable.

Lights

Going dynamo was probably the best decision I have made of late. To shine the way, I chose a busch+müller Lumotec IQ-X front light. It gives off 100 Lux, which is great both on the street and trail.

Going dynamo was probably the best decision I have made of late.

For the rear light, I wanted something that was sleek, but was still plenty bright. Enter the SON LED rear light and I couldn’t be happier. Both lights are well designed and keep the Fargo and me safe as well as looking good at night.

busch+müller's Lumotec IQ-X front light shines bright and looks good.

busch+müller's Lumotec IQ-X front light shines bright and looks good.

The SON LED rear light is one of the best looking and preforming on the market.

The SON LED rear light is one of the best looking and preforming on the market.

Saddle / Seatpost

With a Thomson stem, of course I had to have a Thomson seatpost. Because I ride a Brooks B17 Imperial saddle, the setback version was the perfect choice. This is due to the classic saddle rail design that Brooks still uses, which sets the saddle to far forward on modern straight seatposts.

Some question how the setback Thomson seatpost looks, but like most things on bicycles, you either love it or hate it. My saddle is the only part of the bike that is not new. I have been riding it for 3 years now and I know my rear-end wouldn’t be happy with anything else.

My well broken-in Brooks saddle sits perfectly atop the setback Thomson seatpost.

My well broken-in Brooks saddle sits perfectly atop the setback Thomson seatpost.

The Ride

First and foremost, the Fargo is the monster truck of my dreams and I outfitted it with components that have each stolen my heart in one way or another. The 27.5” wheels accelerate quickly and the plus tyres absorb any small bump chatter.

The Fargo is the monster truck of my dreams.

The carbon Firestarter fork also helps in this regard, keeping off-road rides comfortable. When riding, I feel like I am sitting in the bike and not on top of it. This makes me feel extra secure, and long days in the saddle are never a problem.

Me bombing down some singletrack.

Me bombing down some singletrack.

The Fargo is ready to take me anywhere.

The Fargo is ready to take me anywhere.

The only thing left to do on this bike is get some bikepacking bags and take a multi-day tour into the wilderness. With this custom Salsa Fargo, nothing will stand in my way.

If you have any question or comments, need help with your custom build or want to show it off, hit me up below.

Drew

Drew

Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
  • Tim D. 26. February 2019

    Hello, I am considering buying a 2016 Fargo frameset, just looked up FAQ on Salsa website and they seem really firm on saying not to use 650b/27.5 wheels on the Fargo. Have you run into any weird handling issues?, or anything else like that?
    Thanks, Tim.

    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    • bike-components 28. February 2019

      Hi Tim,
      I currently ride a 2017 Fargo and that was the first year they moved into the plus category of tyres with the option of running 27.5”+. A 2016 version must be run with 29 x 2.1-2.3” wheels and tyres. This is mostly due to the bottom bracket height being too low, which can result in unwelcome / potentially dangerous pedal strikes.
      Hope this helps,
      Drew

  • Frédéric R. 27. May 2018

    Hello Drew, congratulation for your build… I have about a hundred questions for you but I would start with that caliper you had to cut off !!! What do you mean cutting of ?? Isn't more the brake pads ? Puzzle me a lot… Could you precise how you did that ? Any photos ?

    Thank you very much

    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    • bike-components 28. May 2018

      Hi Frédéric,

      I didn’t actually cut from the caliper. I more of filed the lower end of it. The problem was due to the Hope floating rotors rubbing up against the caliper. To fix this, I took off maybe a millimeter of metal from the caliper, which solved the problem. Here, there were no problems with the brake pads. Sadly, I don’t have any pics available. Hope this clears up your question.

      Drew

  • Dawnen K. 24. April 2018

    Hi Drew,
    What was the total cost of your build? I am just curious haw it compares to the $2,300 price point of the 2018? I think it would be fun to build a bike but don't know much about it. I suppose people do it more to get the components they want vs to save money on the cost of the bike. Is that correct?

    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    • bike-components 25. April 2018

      Hi Dawnen,
      My build cost me 2,700€, but of course that was because of the components I built the bike with. I am truly a bike nerd and this was the first new frame that I had built up, so I wanted it to be special. I would say that many people start from a frame because they are looking for something that they can't get stock. For example, I wanted dynamo lighting and a Chris King Headset and all of it with orange Hope parts, so I had to start with the frame. However, the stock versions are also a great option if they have everything you need. I hope this answers your question.

      Drew

  • Adrian R. 8. March 2018

    Really helpful article and a lovely bike build, Drew. One thing I'm hoping you can clear up - I'm reading conflicting views on whether the 2017 (warm grey) frameset alone comes stock as a 142x12 (given that the fork is non-Boost) or whether it comes stock with the Boost plates?

    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    • bike-components 8. March 2018

      Thanks so much Adrian!
      To answer your question, yes the 2017 frames come stock with 148 mm (Boost) Alternator dropouts. As you mentioned, the fork is not Boost. Hope this helps.

      Drew

    • Adrian R. 8. March 2018

      Great, thanks for the quick reply, Drew. Confusion continues as my LBS is saying that they provide their 2017 frameset with the 142mm as stock - guess we'll see!

    • bike-components 8. March 2018

      No problem Adrian. In the end, whichever they provide, you can always swap out the Alternator dropouts to get the OLD you are looking for. Good luck!

      Drew

  • Guy B. 10. February 2018

    your blog makes me dream - riding that bike too!
    What about the endweight of it? Size L? Actually thinking where i still could get hold of those components, especially the same frame as, sorry, the new purple one is definitely not my taste :-)
    And as my favorite color is ... orange, your bike just seems like, yes i already wrote that, a dreambike
    as for the stem, i would choose a bit higher one for a more comfortable position on long trips (last year 780km in 5 days from Luxembourg to the dutch coast, passing through the Ardennes, with around 8 kilos of luggage - light travelling) and clickpedals
    You don‘t by any chance know someone selling that same grey frame in size L?
    congrats for you „monster“
    Guy

    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    • bike-components 12. February 2018

      Hey Guy,

      Thanks for your comment. My entire bike, with mud, weighs in at around 14 kg. I can only recommend the Fargo for long trips like your Luxembourg to Dutch Coast tour. However, I have asked around and there is no way for us to get a Fargo in the 2017 grey/orange colour. I personally would go for the purple and get in repainted, which often can be even more individual. The titanium version is also always an option. ;)
      If you have any more questions let me know!

      Drew

  • dave m. 23. January 2018

    Enjoyed your fargo blog; your passion is clear. I also have one with a factory build. My second (sometimes first) favorite in the quiver. This bike is designed for adventure. Only thing I am changing to mine is the lack of front suspension. Despite rolling low pressures, the forearms blow up on a quick descent over washboard. That said, I am putting a Lauf TR boost up front. The required modifications to wheel/cabling are formidable but will hopefully be worth the effort. Very cool you lace your own wheels. That is more hipster than hipster knows--in a kafka sort of way. Thanks again for the wonderfully written blog.

    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    • bike-components 24. January 2018

      Hi Dave,
      I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. Adding a Lauf fork to your build sounds like a great idea. I’m sure the effort will be worth it. As you said, some descents can get rowdy and the bike can handle more than our arms =P. I would love to see pictures of your updated build when you have some.
      Happy monster trucking!
      Drew

  • Cinda L. 29. August 2017

    It commented before I was done! Great job on the blog. Very easy to understand even for people that have no clue about bikes. Impressed....and not just because I'm your Mother :)

    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
  • Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.
    Blog comments are published with first name and first letter of surname.