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Messages - johnnyo

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Routes / Re: Tornadoes and the UGRR?
« on: May 14, 2011, 11:25:54 am »
Good advice - we really appreciate the insight.  We will be going to Mobile in about a week, and then heading north.  Thanks for the update. 

Routes / Tornadoes and the UGRR?
« on: April 29, 2011, 12:15:27 pm »
Hi Folks:

My wife and I have planned to ride a part of the UGRR from Mobile to Cincinnati starting in late May.  Is this a non-starter now?  I have pretty much no experience with tornadoes, but from what I hear in the news the area appears to be devastated.  Would our going to this area be a hindrance or a burden on already taxed systems?  We also don't want to be "tornado tourists" or fleeing the weather either...

Any ideas on this?


Gear Talk / Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« 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. 

Gear Talk / Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« 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.

Gear Talk / Re: Salsa Fargo - Lemon of the year!
« on: June 30, 2010, 12:08:40 am »
Greetings All:

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.


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