My Ultimate Salsa Fargo Project – Big Blue

Ok…I’ve been working on this project for over a year. After many road blocks and u-turns, it is complete. I am finally spilling the beans on my custom painted Salsa Fargo Titanium adventure bike. With that, I introduce you to Big Blue.

Introducing Big Blue

Before I get too far, I want to put out a disclaimer in that the specifications have changed a bit since this image was taken. First, those are some of the recalled SRAM brakes. These have been replaced with Avid Mechanicals and Rival shifters. I showed this spec because it is my dream set up and as soon as SRAM gets replacements, I will be upgrading and replacing. Yes, I love them that much. That is all I will say about the brakes at this time and they are only one reason that this bike took so long to build.  I just loved them so much, I couldn’t envision this bike without them. Oh….And I am replacing the high clamp front derailleur with a low clamp. This will make the frame bag fit perfectly and be tucked out of the way.

Here are a few build pics. Just a little artsy photo crap to share before some images of a few of my first experiences on the bike.

Scott@ Porcelain Rocket made me some killer cuben fibre bags. So light and so perfect.
Scott@ Porcelain Rocket made me some killer cuben fibre bags. So light and so perfect.
Cane Creek makes a killer headset
Cane Creek makes a killer headset
Ano blue
Ano blue
I like ti frames and ti seatposts
I like ti frames and ti seatposts
Another view of the front - I have a Fox fork as well and the frame is ready
Another view of the front – I have a Fox fork as well and the frame is ready
I have adventures planned
I have adventures planned
Maxle front and rear
Maxle front and rear

Here’s the breakdown

FRAME – Custom painted Salsa Fargo – Size large

FORK – Salsa Firestarter

HEADSET – Cane Creek 110



CRANK – SRAM XO – 26-39


CASSETTE – Shimano 10 speed for gravel (I think they are quieter) but bought a SRAM 11-34 for bikepacking/touring


BRAKES – Avid BB7 SL road


BAR – No name Taiwan bar

BAR TAPE – Salsa Gel Cork

STEM – Salsa Pro Moto

POST – Salsa Regulator

SADDLE – Fizik Aliante MTN

TIRES – WTB Nanoraptors

TUBES – Yes tubes – See below


HUBS – Bontrager DT

RIMS – Stans Crests

SPOKES – Sapim

SKEWERS – Rock Shox Maxle front and rear

SEAT BAG – Porcelain Rocket

FRAME BAG – Porcelain Rocket Custom

CAMERA/FEEDBAG – Bunyan Velo custom – A gift for my story in issue 3

NOT SHOWING – Waiting for king cages all around


Can't get the rear to hold air...I am certain has nothing to do with my extra winter weight....
Can’t get the rear to hold air…I am certain has nothing to do with my extra winter weight….

So…That’s a wrap on the components.  Only 1 snag so far and that is the tubeless conversion. Not going so well. Here is a shot from my first ride.  Front is still holding air perfectly.  The rear, however, now has an innovative rubber tube inside! 😉

All joking aside, I have big plans for this bike. It is going to be my bike of choice for all but true mountain biking. I forgot how much comfort the bigger tires give me on the gravel. I know folks are truly racing gravel now on road bikes, but for me and how/where I ride, the extra tire comfort is critical. This bike is truly perfect for me and I am so excited to take it on another trip.

As a side note, this set up is so darn light. Truly incredible. I have been riding Fargos since the inception of the idea. Several generations. I love them all. This one is truly the one (until the next one ;)) for me. It has replaced both my Warbird and my Vaya ti. It is the one bike I can do it all on.

So with that, here are a few images from my initial trials and tribulations.


Go far. Really really far. That is my dream. That is my plan.

26 thoughts on “My Ultimate Salsa Fargo Project – Big Blue

  1. “No Name Taiwan Bar”? I expect the new one I discussed with Andy at Frostbike to be named “NNTB”. 🙂 Oh…………very nice Fargo, by the way! Love the Bomb Pop Blue!

      1. Not reading into it, just giving an old friend a hard time, Mr. McCagerson. 🙂 By the way, I tried a Large and I am on the fence now as to whether to go with a medium instead. But I’ve always seemed to fall between sizes on Salsa bikes. Anyway, I hope you get some big trips in on this one. It looks like a great rig for the long haul.

    1. Thanks Doug. They are cool as well as functional. They are also almost exactly half the weight of my previous bags.

  2. Looks like an awesome ride Gnat! I know my Ti El Mariachi with a ti post rocks on the rough gravel roads and has been my go-to bike this spring. Hoping to get a rigid fork for it soon but lightweight forks with straight steerer tubes are getting harder to come by. Looking forward to seeing what adventures Big Blue takes you on. – Jason

  3. Wow, lovely build! I’m honored to be a small part of it — those Randi Jo Bartender bags are just about perfect. You and Glenn may have me sold on the cuben fiber bags as well!

    1. Mark for the time being my trips will be short. But, I will never stop dreaming and planning.

      Divide? Probably not in a single trip, but one day I hope to ride the Helena to Banff section and have my family waiting for me in Banff. That is my dream right now.

  4. Hello,
    I recently found your blog and have enjoyed reading about your bike builds let alone seeing your photography. I noticed that on your Warbird you went with bar end shifters while on your new Fargo you have chosen brifters. I’m very curious about what influences your decisions in regards to which shifters you go with for each bike. By the way, I love the blue paint and the exposed TI stays.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Specifically on the Warbird build it was a build of convenience. I built the bike at minimal purchases. I had most of those parts laying around. With the Fargo ti, it was a ground up 12+ month build and I had zero desire to not build it specifically the way I wanted it!!

  5. Hi Gnat,
    Thanks for you answer. Not to go on a tangent from your Fargo post but, I’m building up a Warbird now and researching everything. I’ve ridden gravel before with my Vaya (touring setup) which has bar end shifters, but I hadn’t considered them for the Warbird. Would you consider the bar end shifters a novel experiment on the Warbird? Though I really like the drive train setup you have on the Fargo. It is nearly the same as what I want on the Warbird. And I just happen to have some SRAM brifters laying around. We have a LOT of big hills here in the PacNW.

    1. I rode the Warbird all last year with bar ends and they perform exceptionally. If I was doing a ground up build though, I would personally like the ability to shift at the lever. It is just faster and doesnt require repositioning and allows for out of the saddle shifting. That said i have never had a bar end shifter fail and I have had SRAM levers fail. Both options work and have different advantages. Its a battle I have of durability/functionality versus performance every time I build a new bike. In this case the hydraulic brakes drove my decision. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

  6. Yes, not needing to relocate hands to shift was what I was wondering about. I totally agree on the issue of durability, hence my going with bar end shifters on my touring Vaya. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing about your adventures on Big Blue. 🙂

  7. Jason, I’ve built and ridden more than a few of the new Fargos this winter and spring. The models with the carbon fork are a great achievement within the genre, at least since the first Fargo was introduced. And for those looking for a tough-as-nails steel model, the yellow one still gets it done. As you are aware, the Ti Fargo this year is really special.

    Great build and wonderful photos!

  8. Hi Gnat, I am pulling the trigger on my first Fargo and can’t wait!! I was debating between the 2 and the 3 and am leaning towards the 3. Drivetrain wise, they are almost identical and the real differences are the carbon fork and can creek thunder buster seatpost. For the $600 difference (which basically is the cost of what I could buy the fork and seat post for after the fact) is it worth the upgrades to get on the front end? My main use will be to use it as a commuter with some occasional gravel trail rides with some friends.

    How much of a difference will one feel with the carbon fork? Is it like a day/night thing? This is my first steel bike, so I am assuming the Chromoly fork will be pretty nice too.

    I am seriously considering buying a thunder buster seat post for about $150. In my mind, this will be a more noticeable performance improvement for the money? And I still come out $500 cheaper than the Fargo 2.

    Again, I am kinda a newbie at this so I would appreciate any and all advice. Thanks!!!

    1. Thanks for the comment and congrats.

      The main differences between the two forks are really weight and functionality. The steel fork is almost 1lb heavier but has more functionality for attachments such as low riders and a center mounted light. It is also QR so for many this means added versatility because you may own an existing wheelset that is compatible.

      The Thudbuster really does add comfort. I have ridden and toured with the ST version.

      Again congrats and let me know if you have any more questions.

      1. So speaking in terms of value for money, would it be a safe assessment to say that it is better to go for the Fargo 3 and then purchase a Thunderbuster ST, as opposed to getting a Fargo 2?

      2. Wish I could answer for you but I cant. Value is a personal measurement. My value is skewed given I took a year to build my personal bike with zero compromises and some obvious and questionable needs (custom paint?!).

  9. Good point on the value question – it’s all relative. So how about I put it this way, is the Fargo 3 good as is and capable enough without making any changes to the seat post, fork etc. I will be getting a Brooks B17, but otherwise want to leave it stock. I hope that I won’t find too much “missing” from it.

  10. I ended up going for the Fargo 3 – can’t wait until it gets here! Thanks for the help/advice on the bike. Just two last questions:

    1. How have you liked the Stan’s Crest setup you have? I like what I have read about those rims, but am thinking possibly of DT Swiss 320 hubs vs Industry nine torch hubs

    2. What portable camera di you use/suggest for bike rides. Love the quality of your results. I have a gas tank bag and would preferably like soemthing that fits in there.


    1. Congrats! Hope you love yours as much as I love mine. Regarding the Stans Crests, so far they are OK. I had the Stans 355 prior and ran them for many years with not one true job. These are just a smidge less solid as those. I am using DT 350 hubs with mine.

      Camera? Oh…That’s a tough one. I use a lot of stuff and for my personal inspiration, I change it up often. I still think one of the best buys in photography right now is the Panasonic LX7. I personally don’t put them in gas tanks as they vibrate. I often carry them on my body as it acts like suspension or in a mountain feed bag.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s