Salsa and Surly have been leaders in the world of bikepacking and off-road touring, long before the days of big box brands jumping on the bandwagon. Salsa has embraced the ethos “Adventure by Bike” since 2007, while Surly has made deep backcountry travel possible with the introduction of big wheels. Last weekend at QBP’s Saddledrive, Salsa released two new frames along with some exciting updates, and Surly has given a complete overhaul to the original twenty-niner, the Karate Monkey.
The Salsa Woodsmoke is a carbon fiber, short chain stay, big tired trail wrecking machine. The Woodsmoke is able to take 29 plus tires, 27.5 plus tires, or standard 29er tires. Salsa made this possible with an update to their Alternator dropouts, aptly named the Alternator 2. As opposed to the original Alternator the swinging mechanism is now separate from the frame and bolts into the frame; this helps reduce stress points on the carbon, instead putting the stress points on the replaceable dropout. These replaceable dropouts also allow the rear spacing to change from Boost 148mm, to 142mm, all the way down to the old standard 135mm. The replaceable dropouts also make the frame rack capable. The elevated chainstay helped Salsa shrink the chainstays down to 400mm on a 27.5 plus or 409mm with 29 plus tires. Up front the Woodsmoke can take up to a 140mm suspension fork, but was designed to also work with Salsa’s rigid Firestarter fork. One of the surprising inclusions that makes the bike especially unique for bikepacking use, is the hidden front derailleur mounts behind the down tube allowing for wider gearing options for those steep bikepacking trips (29+ and 2x are still not compatible).A bike with such massive tires used to mean compromises in maneuverability for the sake of rollover, not the Woodsmoke. The 29 plus tires sucked up trail chunk but the bike was still huckable around tight bends. With the 140mm slacked out demo bike, there was an expectation of some front end lift on the climb, but with a bike of that nature, it was surprisingly not there. While it was not the most capable climber of the day, the fact that you can narrow in the bikes purpose with different fork, gearing, and tire combinations means that this bike could be built to be a killer climbing bike for Tour Divide roads or a singletrack slayer for the Arizona Trail chunk. All these options make the Woodsmoke the quiver killing mountain bike you’ve been looking for. The Woodsmoke will come in 5 options this December, from 29 plus and 27.5 plus models in XO1 at $3,999 or these same models in a GX1 build at $2,999. The final option will be a traditional 29er rig at $1,999.