I haven’t done something like this on the blog for a few years. Who really cares what my favorite things and pictures are anyway? But in the spirit of change, developing my voice and challenging myself I am preparing several posts this month about some of my favorite bikes, family moments, experiences and images.
Today, I am playing it safe and starting out with a bike. Consider this post inspired by my friend Mark’s Bikes of 2022 series. Not just any bike, but a Tumbleweed Stargazer. In my humble opinion, this is the best drop bar, mountain, bike packing, rough road, single track escape vehicle in production. However…..this isn’t a review of any kind. There are plenty of those out there. Take a look at Logan’s Bikepacking.com, John’s Radavist or Russ’s Path Less Pedaled reviews. This bike simply rocks in every way, shape and form.
As I prepared images for my year end posts, it became crystal clear that the Tumbweed Stargazer was my most ridden bike of 2022. Honestly, I didn’t think it was as I put many miles on my dedicated gravel bikes as well as my full suspension mountain bike. Images don’t lie. I have more pictures of the Stargazer and the experiences I have had on it than any other, hence why I am writing about it first.
Many folks know I had quite a bit to do with the development and introduction of the Salsa Fargo. So the fact that I purchased a Tumbleweed outright was a bit of shock to many folks. I remember just moments after submitting the order, Daniel (founder of Tumbleweed) emailed me and asked me if I was buying this for work purposes? Ha! Nope, I shared that I had quit after 25 years and wanted to buy bikes from people I know, people/brands I admire and that the Stargazer was perfect, at least it looked so on spec sheets and initial reviews.
When folks find out I own a Stargazer, I often get one of two questions. The first being is “Why a Stargazer over a Salsa Fargo?” and “Isn’t a Stargazer just a knock off of a Fargo?” I usually shrug these types of questions off, but I think the answers are really important.
Why a Stargazer over a Fargo? Let me start by telling you that I still have a Fargo. Yep, I still own an original, V1 Fargo in Fun Guy Green. I played a big part in both developing that bike as well as marketing and selling it. More than any bike I personally worked on, I believe the Fargo helped drive significant change in the bike industry and in my life. That gen 1 Fargo brought together such an interesting mix of consumers. Honestly, my closest friends today are a result of that bike and the experiences the Fargo both enables as well as gave me. Interesting enough, I also met Daniel now of Tumbleweed through the Fargo.
Why am I driveling on about a gen 1 Fargo and why would I buy a Stargazer when I still own that fine steed? Simple. It’s old. It has some flaws. It doesn’t work well with many modern components. I wanted something that would enable similar experiences yet have updated geometry and worked with modern components. I also wanted a rigid fork and didn’t want suspension corrected geometry (if you want a suspension fork, this IS NOT the bike for you). Many will point fingers to the Fargo, but as Keith Bontrager once told me while in a bar in Minneapolis, “…New ideas are hard to come by if you take a look at and take history seriously.” Drop bar mountain bikes were not new when the Fargo came out and the Stargazer won’t be the last. Where I think the Fargo and the Stargazer are both unique and similar is in the experiences that they cater too and inspire.
Enter the Stargazer. While it may have some design inspiration similar to the Fargo’s, it really is a modern, drop bar, mountain bike with touring capabilities. As I look at pictures from the past year I have done pretty much everything on this bike. Single track, long solo gravel rides, group rides and touring. Aside from my fitness and getting killed on the group gravel ride, this bike can take literally every single thing you can throw at it. I find the handling perfect and without flaw. No flops at the bar or in the steering. Solid & planted are words I would use to describe my feelings when riding it. It’s so dang comfy. When I ride it I just want to keep going and keep turning down new roads, trails and paths.
This bike has provided my favorite bike riding memory of 2022 with the pushing and self discovery on 52e. It has given me a taste of the Tour Divide. It has introduced me to new people with similar interests. It has been a palette for me to learn to sew bike frame bags. It has never once let me down. It is my escape goat. So there you go. The Stargazer.
Let’s look at some pics. Click on any to move to slideshow mode!
If you look closely at the images, you can see some changes to my build and spec. Over the course of the summer and fall, it really did go though some significant changes. At the onset of spring, it started out with the intent of being a primary gravel bike as I waited for my custom gravel bike to be completed. By the middle of the year, it ended up with meatier dirt tires. It became a blank canvas I built my first, second, third and fourth frame bags ever for this bike. By fall, It became my explore bike for pavement & gravel routes while we stayed in Steamboat for a month. It also ended up as a really good Tour Divide type bike with a stint on the Divide between Steamboat to Wyoming and back.
Now it’s winter here and MN and here’s what I have planned for 2023? I am upgrading the frame to titanium and I am switching to SRAM and wider range cassette to give me greater trail and touring capabilities. With my newfound health and direction in life, I want to again do some bike packing & touring, both short and long. The Stargazer is my base in which I will find those jumping off points in my quest to live life to the fullest. I love this bike.
- For those interested, this frame and fork are for sale as I will be updating to the titanium version after the new year. Hit me up if you are interested and want a great deal on an Extra Medium Hit me up at G N A T at L I V E dot C O M or leave me comment and I will reach out to ya.
- Thanks to Ben at Heath Creek for the custom wheels and exceptional build on the bike. I’ll be back with the ti frame as soon as it arrives.
- I have no affiliation with Tumbleweed Bikes other than I have known Daniel for some time. I purchased this bike outright with my own $$. There is zero incentive for me to write this and share my thoughts. I simply really really like this bike.