When I began thinking about the Tour Divide in earnest last summer I assumed that I would attempt the race on a steel hardtail 29er, most likely either a Karate Monkey or an El Mariachi. These were attractive options for a few reasons, chief among them the fact that I could get them at cost. Then I found out about Salsa's plans to update the Fargo, their drop bar touring 29er. The new Fargo adopts a more traditional mountain bike geometry and is compatible with a suspension fork, making it close to my ideal for a Divide rig. I pre-ordered a complete from Milltown Cycles, and Salsa finally delivered it a couple weeks ago. Its arrival coincided with a period of relatively warm weather, and I was able to put in some good gravel miles right off the bat. Fargo owners love photographing their bikes in whimsical, picturesque surroundings, so here is my attempt to do the same:
FACT: I have never taken a good picture in my life.
After about two weeks and three hundred miles, I'm pretty much sold on this bike as a viable choice for a Tour Divide rig. The bike eats up gravel miles, rolling almost as well as a fat tired cross bike but seemingly capable of handling a lot more. The goofy looking Woodchipper handlebars, which I approached skeptically, are surprisingly comfortable and provide a really stable feel while in the drops. I plan on making a few component choices in the coming months, and I think that the end result is going to be awesome.
As an added bonus, the warm weather of about a week ago provided me with a great opportunity to simulate the muddy conditions of the Divide on some thawing Minnesota gravel. Here's what the Fargo looked like on day three of its life:
It may be time to take my dorkitude to the next level and get some 29er fenders.