Salsa Ala Carte - A really really long term test
They say that style never goes out of fashion, a statement that I believe this applies to my Salsa Ala Carte. While cycling media outlets tend to focus on what's new and shiny I wanted to take a step back and write about my favorite bike in the whole world. In essence this is a really really long term test. 10 years in fact. So if you are a cycling aficionado that appreciates the finer things, or you have a time machine and thinking about going back in time to get yourself a set of Juicy 7 brakes, this journal entry is for you.
The original incarnation of the Ala Carte didn't really make it out of the workshop. It came delivered with its rigid steel fork, Juicy BB7 mechanical brakes and an entry level drive train. Straight out of the box, we fitted a Rockshox SID fork, the Juicy 7 hydraulic brakes and a SRAM XO drive train. Actually now I come to think of it, we set it up as a 2x10 before you could buy it off the shelf. So in order to fit the right rings in we had to go at the brand new cranks with a file to shave back one of the shoulders. 2x10 before it was cool kids!
As you would expect back in 2008, the finishing kit included a 100mm stem... yeah I said it. 100mm stems, Remember those? Lastly, to keep it all straight I had Richey Pro bars that were cut to 680mm wide.
Now before you scoff at this setup or make jokes about my age, I would like to argue my case. This setup was relatively standard at the time and I spend most of my time riding relatively flat XC trails in and around Melbourne, Australia. But keep on reading to know what this setup is like now. Think night & day.
But the magic didn't stop there. We custom built a set of hoops that were built by Tyrone McCarrol, bike mechanic genius, that built the wheels with so much spoke tension they sounded like a tuning fork when tapped with something metalic. We wouldn't recommend this unless you really know what you're doing, and for those who do know what they are doing, know this. These wheels have never been adjusted or trued in 10 years. The wheels were built using Hope Pro II hubs, DT Swiss XR 4.2D rims and DT Swiss competition spokes and pro-lock nipples.
Sometime during 2015 I decided that the Salsa needed a bit of a zhoosh-up. So based on advice from the infamous William Barrett it was decided that she needed a 1x drive-train, short stem with wide bars. Despite some reservations about the wide bars I decided to go with the flow and follow orders. So the Salsa once more went through a metamorphosis and became a Shimano XT 1x10 driven trail fun machine with a 60mm stem and 710mm wide flat bar.
What can I say...it transformed the bike, quite literally.
More stable, more confident, and just all round more awesome! But if you are checking out the above set of forks and thinking about heading down to your local IBD to pick up a set...forget about it. These are custom painted Rockshox SID forks that were are present from some awesome folks I used to work with at My Mountain the bike shop.
But the last feature of this bike that has not worn one bit. Hasn't needed to be updated or even serviced for that matter is the slogan on the rear stay. It says it all really. 10 years on, this is still my favourite bike and the only bike I will never sell.
"Ride and Smile"