Author Topic: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!  (Read 63115 times)

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Offline Galloper

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #75 on: July 09, 2010, 09:12:33 am »
Straightened out - presumably with a big hammer :)

Offline mgersib

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #76 on: July 13, 2010, 02:47:42 pm »
For what it's worth, I bought a 2009 Fargo frame/fork yesterday at an unbeatable price ($375 brand new!). It's very easy to allow a couple of negative accounts convince you to steer clear of a purchase. IThe internet has given us nothing if not the ability to cast doubt into every decision we make in life. Though I appreciate the head's up by the original poster in this thread, I decided to trust the overwhelming positivity expressed in this thread on MTBR....

I've had nothing but an incredible experience in my travels with my Fargo.  Have fun with your new bike!

Cheers,
MG

Offline johnnyo

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #77 on: July 15, 2010, 01:56:40 am »
Greetings Again Folks:

Well, I'm now well over halfway on the trip from Whitehorse to Vancouver, and I must say that it has been quite a ride - all things considered.  I have been contacted by Tim from Salsa, and he has been outstanding in offering support and assistance.  Between him and Ed from Mighty Riders (the excellent Vancouver shop where I bought the bike) I've been able to get this bike to almost behave.  Here's what I've done with the Fargo that I've been having difficulties with...
1.  Moved the saddle back to the max allowable on the rails.
2.  Dropped the handlebar two spacers (20 mm?).
3.  Loosened the headset so that there is some movement at the bottom of the head tube fork interface.
4.  Wrapped the top, seat, and down tubes with spare inner tubes.
5.  Dropped the front and rear racks as low as possible - they now just clear the tire at the front, and touch the fender at the rear.
6.  Moved the rear rack as close as possible to the seatstays.
7.  Redistrubuted the weight in the panniers so that I've minimized the load on the front rack...  Now about 15 to 18 lbs total up front.
8.  I gave up on the bungee cord tie down idea for the panniers - it seemed to make the shimmy worse at all but the slowest of speeds. 
9.  I've now minimized the amount of gear hanging off the rear "deck" surface of the rear rack.  The tent and the thermarest are still there, but now are strapped crosswise on top of the two rear panniers, along with the sleeping bag.  This does make for a very large load on the rear wheel, but it seems to help reduce the shimmy.

Anyhow, as Galloper indicated, it appears that Salsa has some idea that the fork may be at issue...  This bike performs excellently with little or no load, but isn't capable (for me, at any rate) of loaded touring with panniers.  My next step is to try with a BOB trailer, which Tim at Salsa is kind enough to provide for me to see me through this tour.  Kudos to you, Tim - it's good to see a company that stands behind their product, even when it appears problematic.  I truly appeciate that Salsa could have left me literally on the side of the road, but instead, have gone out of their way to help make this trip the enjoyable experience it was planned to be.  Thanks for that.


Offline Galloper

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #78 on: July 15, 2010, 03:15:36 pm »
Glad you're on the road John, even if it's not quite behaving as a proper touring bike should.

I have to say that over all of this my view of Salsa has moved from one of mild irritation to one of utter contempt.   

Wrapping spare tubes around frame members strikes me as being a rather clever get you home fix.   

In the circumstances, I hope they have the decency to replace your bike with a good one.   

Offline johnnyo

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #79 on: July 20, 2010, 12:34:35 am »
I must say that Salsa has certainly stepped up to the plate to make this tour a success.  It is very remote in Southern Yukon and Northern BC, and it's been a challenge to get assistance with the bike.  I've had to rely on e-mail (where and when available) and some level of trial and error.  Like you Galloper, I'm a Sgt Major (infantry, just back from Afghanistan) and am quite used to making things happen.  You can imagine my frustration at the cobbling necessary to make this a go.  Anyhow, I've just picked up a BOB trailer, and am now in a more populated part of the province and anticipate that things will get much smoother. 

I think that the idea behind the Fargo is brilliant - disc brakes essentially mean no rim wear, plenty of braze ons, and (presumably) good geometry - should all add up to an excellent touring machine.  The fork geometry may be the issue for me, or maybe some manufacturing glitch, but this is definitely a bike worth considering - depending of course, on what you wish to do with it.  As I've stated, this is an awesome bike when ridden without a load...  We'll see how it goes with the trailer.  I've never used one before, so it'll be a good test - for me at least. 

Offline Galloper

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #80 on: July 20, 2010, 07:51:30 am »
I measured up my stuff and found that the weight of panniers and racks was 6kg against 8kg for the trailer complete with bag so not too much of a penalty.   The people I've seen who used trailers seemed pleased with them.

I agree with the concept, some of out Lakeland and Pennine trails are a bit of a chore on a road bike so a more robust and off road capable bike is a good idea.

I also like the brakes, the BB5s I find excellent, I have them on a Gary Fisher mtb and they provide good stopping power without the overkill of the full on mtb hydraulic types.

Enjoy the ride

Offline digimarket

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #81 on: July 26, 2010, 06:52:48 pm »
I have read all the posts carefully and have looked at the Salsa website for the geometry and specifications of the Fargo.  The engineers who have talked about the dynamics of harmonic vibration haven't taken the human body and load variations into account.  In most cases an inherent frameset vibration should be damped or eliminated by moving the body and or load around as has been tried by the Alaskan rider.  Since this was not effective with the OP and has been only partially successful the second rider I think it is time to look elsewhere.

Looking at the Fargo I see a very long wheelbase, 70 degree head angle 55mm fork and all steel construction (and it looks pretty beefy also).  This is a very stable geometry and there is no reason to expect a design problem with it.  I don't see any specs for the thickness of the tubing, but it isn't a super light bike so I think it would be stiff enough (although a 300 pound load could be pushing it).  So what is unique about this design that could create unique problems with shimmy?  I see two possibilities: 
1 - the odd vertical riser lugs used at the back of the rear triangle.
2 - the fact that it is a production frameset with front and rear disc brakes.

The only two times I personally have experienced shimmy on fast downhills was caused by hypothermia (I couldn't stop shaking the bars) in one case and a very floppy rear rack in the second case.  The rear load would oscillate back and forth (probably excited by some slight wheel imbalance) and at certain speeds get in resonance with the front end geometry (with a floppy handlebar bag) and things would get exciting.  Moving the load around and securing that handlebar bag made a huge difference.  I got a decent rear rack and never had the experience again.

Since the second rider has seen an improvement with increasing his rear rack weight and lightening the front I don't think the rear rack is the main culpret here - he has just changed the resonance frequencies of the elements of the overall system so they don't match up so badly.

I'm going to suggest that the real problem may be machine made wheels.  Even without a pad nearby, the straightness of a wheel is easy to eyeball, and I expect that is something these riders looked at early on.  However, on a bike with no rim brakes an slightly egg or oval shaped wheel is going to be very easily overlooked.  This will make for a slight up and down movement with every revolution, even the slightest left/right imbalance in the load will respond to this and impart a back and forth wobble to the frame (and rack) - inducing some degree of steering effect which will have secondary effects.  Hit a harmonic and the shimmy could get serious.  This sort of motion could have more than one harmonic (possibly with different parts of the load) within the range of speeds.  Moving the load around might only shift the harmonic points.  Some support for this theory can be found in the fact that the problem decreased for the second rider as a result of lowering the CG of the load.

I suggest the wheels and tires be inspected very carefully for roundness, straightness and balance.  Even a plastic wheel reflector can throw a wheel enough out of balance to get significant vibration at high speed.  If one pannier has something heavy in an outside location (particularly if it can move a bit) that could interact with the wheel forces in unpredictable ways. 

Stuffing the panniers tight with high density items close to the bike centerline and then compressing them with rope or straps to minimize movement should reduce vibration intensity.  If there is a handlebar bag in use -empty it or take it off completely.  If there are front panniers (and there should be for balance reasons) they should be low-riders centered on the steering axis) any other position for front load is going to make for undesirable dynamic steering effects.  The tire pressure in the front tire should be 10-20 psi less than the rear - depending on load percentage.

Bertoni Corsa Montadale, Bob Jackson, Viscount all rounder, Styre, Bianchi Boardwalk, Jamis Aurora, Schwinn Cimmaron, Schwinn High Sierra, Humber 3-speed.

Offline digimarket

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #82 on: July 26, 2010, 07:11:50 pm »
In re-reading the thread - I see that the second rider has already done all that could be done in securing and re-distributing the load - except that it sounds like he is using an over the wheel rack in the front - which is a particularly bad idea on a 70 degree angle headset - as alluded to by Tim in his first post.  Since the OP indicated he was using a low-rider rack on the front - this isn't a full explanation.  The second rider said he was using a handlebar bag (get rid of it), the OP never mentioned a handlebar bag.

Tim's comment: "We have had a small amount of people report a shimmy with a heavier front load on the Fargo, and it typically lies with load placement.  Due to the slacker head angle of the Fargo and the more "mountain" geometry, if the load is high, this is possible, but not common, as it also has to do with rider placement on the bike."
Bertoni Corsa Montadale, Bob Jackson, Viscount all rounder, Styre, Bianchi Boardwalk, Jamis Aurora, Schwinn Cimmaron, Schwinn High Sierra, Humber 3-speed.

Offline whittierider

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #83 on: July 27, 2010, 01:27:01 am »
Quote
machine made wheels
I think they can quickly be ruled out by the fact that his first wobble shows up at 4mph, where the wheels are turning less than one revolution per second.

Offline digimarket

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #84 on: July 27, 2010, 02:55:45 am »
I used to tour on a Bianchi Volpe.  ...
The Volpe frame was made from Reynolds 520 alloy, which if memory served me right, is designed for light applications.  So I am left to believe that touring bikes should never be made out of 520/525 alloy.  520's and LHT's are made from generic chromoly tubing, so cannot comment on the properties of their tube sets.  That is why whenever the question comes up about what kind of bike should be purchased, I steer them to a Jamis Aurora Elite with its stiffer Reynolds 631 frame. The Elite looks good on paper, but I don't know anyone that has actually ridden one. ...

If my Volpe's frame had been stiffer, I would have kept riding it.  The fit was good, the components were good enough, and the bike was great to ride unloaded.

This poster doesn't say how much he weighs, but he has a valid point about Reynolds 520 - which does not indicate a steel alloy, but rather a set of tubes made of standard 4170 chrome moly in a Taiwan plant to Reynolds specifications.  Those specifications are for some fairly thin double butted tubes - that are better suited to credit card touring than fully loaded touring with a heavy rider.  You can find the thickness specifications on Reynolds website.  I have a Jamis Aurora (not elite) with the 520 tubeset and for me it is great - I weigh 160 and pack light. 

It is probably incorrect to say that the tubing used on the elite is stiffer unless it is also thicker walled (and therefore heavier) or larger diameter tubes it will not be stiffer.  That alloy may have a higher tensile strength - that would make it stronger, but the modulus of elasticity will be exactly the same as any other steel alloy. 
Bertoni Corsa Montadale, Bob Jackson, Viscount all rounder, Styre, Bianchi Boardwalk, Jamis Aurora, Schwinn Cimmaron, Schwinn High Sierra, Humber 3-speed.

Offline Galloper

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #85 on: July 27, 2010, 08:13:56 am »
In response to the comment on bar bags, yes, I was using one.   I have always wondered about the effect of a bar bag on stability but as I've used them on a number of other bikes without problem, and exactly the same load on A Surly LHT I discounted it on this occasion.

I've now started to wonder if the problem could be something to do with a heavier frame, on my alu framed Dawes and two lighter steel framed bikes, I didn't encounter the problem.

Offline njkayaker

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #86 on: July 27, 2010, 01:00:16 pm »
Hmm!   This is all getting rather serious.   Looking back over the posts there are 5 Fargo owners who are happy with their bikes and two, Johnnyo and myself, who have had major handling problems.   Add in a couple of defective forks and it's all starting to look rather dodgy.

I don't know how many Fargos Salsa produce and sell each year but with 2 out of 5 experiencing problems, that's about a 40% failure rate.   In terms of product quality that's disastrous!

I think Salsa now need to get to the bottom of this fairly quickly before someone gets spat off in front of an 18 wheeler.

This post is embarrassingly bad.

There is no way that the posts here can be trusted to be a random statistical sampling of "problems". It's also extremely irresponsable to draw conclusions from a sample size of 5!

It's well known that people who have problems are more likely to post about them. That would strongly imply that the rate of reported problems here is artificially high.

This sounds like a high school math problem.  I just retired from 30 years teaching same.  If there are 5 happy riders and 2 with problems, then there are 2 out of 7 with problems, so more like 28-29% with problems, not 40%.  Still not good, but better!
No, the math isn't the real mistake being made with this "analysis"!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2010, 01:05:48 pm by njkayaker »

Offline njkayaker

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #87 on: July 27, 2010, 01:14:23 pm »
4.  Wrapped the top, seat, and down tubes with spare inner tubes.
Never heard of doing this. With all the other things you did, one can't tell if this does anything. (It doesn't seem likely to me of doing anything.)

Offline btflmutant

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #88 on: July 28, 2010, 12:38:28 am »
I just had to chime in on this. I have a 09 Fargo that has about 6000 miles on it. 3 tours, including a fully loaded 1000 mile plus tour of Baja this past March. No shimmy what so ever, including a 45 mph descent! Felt very stable actually.

I have had zero problems and love the bike.

Offline Galloper

Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« Reply #89 on: July 28, 2010, 08:58:27 am »
njkayaker, I did actually admit my maths error on this, I was in the middle of something else and rushed it off without checking.   ~The maths is, in the post, dreadful but I have already owned up to that.

Statistically, however, comparing the number of posters on this site (and I admit that this may not be representative of the every Salsa Owner in the world) who haven't had problems with those who have, still reveals a relatively high percentage.   Add to that Salsa's own admission of problems with shimmying and it becomes even more apparent that there is a problem with this model.

And let's be clear about the nature of the problem, this is not something trivial, this is a bike which in my case was too dangerous to ride and in John's case appears to be equally serious.

As to the solution, well, getting the poor chap to wrap spare inner tubes around the frame is, frankly, laughable.   Whether that came from Salsa or the LBS I don't know.