I've just purchased a Salsa Fargo specifically for a loaded tour down the Alaska Hwy from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to my home in Vancouver, BC. I did read this series of reports, and thought that it was a bit overstated, and that Galloper was overestimating the shimmy. I did a test ride of the bike before purchase with no load, and it was stellar. I even used it around my home with a partial load, and although there was some shimmy, I thought it not excessive and a result of poor packing on my part. Now, sadly, I have to admit that 500 km into this tour, I'm ready to try just about anything to get rid of the brutal wobble and shimmy that this bike is generating when fully loaded. I have the XXL frame (I'm 6'5" and weigh 220 lbs), and have it loaded with about 75 lbs of gear (front and rear panniers, handlebar bag, and a tent on the rear rack - Surly "Nice" racks BTW) and like Galloper, have nothing but problems with shimmy - at all speeds that I've been bold enough to try. And yes, I admit my error in not fully testing the bike before undertaking this tour.
I've tried changing the front to rear loading ratio, moved the panniers closer to the BB (as close as the racks and my heels will allow) and have all of the heavy items in the very bottom of the panniers. I've also tried putting the heavy items closest to the frame. I've even used bungee cords to try and pull the panniers closer to the centre line of the frame, thinking that it is the mounting mechanism of the pannier that might be contributing to this. Nothing seems to work. Pushing hard on the handlebar while peddling in a bit of a staccato fashion seems to break the rhythm of the shimmy, but is slowly grinding me down...
I'm no stranger to loaded touring, and the load that I described is what I normally do tours with. To date, I have never experienced this sort of problem with the bikes I use - either touring specific bikes (an old 80's era Miyata and a similar vintage Nishiki) or the old non-suspension Trek 820 mountain bike that I was going to use. I'm just getting set to send a similar message to Salsa now, and will keep you posted on how that turns out.
Right now, I would suggest that if you are thinking about buying this bike for a loaded tour, check it out thoroughly. Load it up if you can. I know that that sounds a bit over the top, as I suspect that there are very few if any bike shops that will accommodate that request, but if you can, do it. It will save you the headache that I am now living with.
Good luck if you purchase the Fargo.
John, Thanks for writing in. I received your email today, and I replied with my personal cell phone. We will do whatever we can to help you out, so give me a ring and lets figure it out.
Tim, Salsa Cycles