Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Go Fast Salsa Casseroll

Theme

So a few weeks ago I decided to look at take a stab at another bike project.  I had recently completed an All City Nature Boy and decided I wanted a geared counterpart to that excellent bike.  I really like the way the All City rides, and it fit me out of the box just great.  I like the lower bottom bracket, taller head tube, and relaxed head angle compared to modern racing cyclocross bikes.  Looking for those qualities brought me to somewhat unlikely conclusion, I wanted a Salsa Casseroll.


The Casseroll is likely the least heralded of Salsa's models.  It's color is understated, it's complete build parts spec is classically simple and not shouty, and frankly it looks a bit like a softy.  Now, if you're a guy or gal looking for a neo-classical sport tourer/commuter, this is perfect.  If you're looking for a slightly aggressive, yet stable gravel road bike it's probably not going to spring into your head as an option.  Seeing potential beyond the easy going complete build, I wanted to build a bike that would show another side of this bike.

Build

Here it is.  I like it, a lot.  I had most of the parts of the build already including kick but White Industries hubs laced to Hed rims with ultralight Sapim spokes, and a Ultegra 10 speed drivetrain with bar end shifters.  I added a cockpit and seatpost from Salsa, a carbon fork from Bontrager, and superb brakes from Avid.


These tires kick ass, period.  For hard, dry gravel I've yet to use better.  They roll like crazy, are affordable at $26.99 per, they have reflective sidewalls which I love, and they look great.  If they have a failing it's that when they break loose in corners they slide out really quickly.  Keeping that in mind, these are great.  Paired with the crazy fast wheels these make this bike feel like a road bike on tar.  Avid's Ultimate cantilever brakes are worth the price of admission.  They are hands down the best canti brakes I've used.


I've set the bike up with a compact, compact crank with 34-44t rings. The rear end is an Ultegra 11-28t cassette.  This set up really works well for the roads I ride.  It's high enough that I can't run it out on flat ground, and it's low enough to climb up the hills of Sogn Valley if I do my part.  Paired with Shimano bar end shifters shifting is flawless.


Salsa Cowbell 2 Bars are far and away my favorite drop bars I've used.  They look great, and feel better.  These are tightly double wrapped to increase the girth a bit for my XL sized hands.  Sram's 500 levers are really very good as well. Salsa's Promoto Ti stem holds everything together.


Salsa's new carbon 2 bolt seatpost works well, looks good, and matches the build very well indeed.  I am not super pleased that it is only offered in a 5mm offset version, but it that works for you it's a great post for the money.


This is another very versatile bike from Salsa.  With the addition of the cantilever brakes, this bike has much more capability than it's complete build would suggest.  I really like the bike for the purpose I've set it up for.  It's stiff, comfortable, stable, and it looks great.  Stop in and check it out if you are interested, or give us a call if you'd like more info on this bike, a frameset, or a complete.

Thanks for playing, have a great night.

22 comments:

Kevin said...

Will climb the hills of Sogn if you do your part-won't anything? I love it!

Steve Fuller said...

Nice build. The Salsa ProMoto Ti Stem is one of my favorite Salsa parts. After hearing you gush about those Conti tires, I'm going to have to pick up a pair to try.

Whose bar tape did you use?

Guitar Ted said...

Very nice. Does the Bontrager fork match the length of the Salsa?

I'd run the wheel all the way back in the rear end, but other than that, I can't find fault with your set up or reasoning behind it. Plus- it really does look killer. (Better than stock, actually!)

Ben said...

Kevin, you're right, anything will get you up if you do your part. The point of this bike is to minimize the size of the "part!"

Steve, love these tires. The tape is Bontrager Gel, it what we stock. Nice stuff at reasonable prices, they offer many good color choices and it holds up really well.

GT, the Bontrager fork is very close, but is a bit longer, probably 10mm. It does slacken out the bike a bit, but not a ton. I'll measure and get the cold hard facts tomorrow, (I'll also call return your phone call...) You'll have to ride this with the wheel forward, I think you'd like it actually. I certainly understand the rearward position thing, but this is really good as is. Quick yet stable. You'd like it.

Jerry said...

beautiful bike Ben. I'd like to take it for a ride.

Troy M said...

Another Salsa I would like to try. What would one run for air pressure for tar or gravel on the kick ass tires :) Is the radius of the cowbell 2 bars the same as the woodchippers? I gotta run the wookychippers on everything now they fit me so good. Hard to go back the dated standard drops, to narrow.

Ben said...

Jerry, this would make a fine swap for those Kona parts... ;) You're more than welcome to ride it.

Troy, you're also welcome to ride it. For psi I'm liking 40 ish, sometimes lower, sometimes higher. 55-60 on tar feels too high and a bit harsh. 30-40 feels great on gravel. Lower that 30 and the tires feel a bit too squirmy on hard gravel, but would likely be fine on most CX courses. The Cowbells are quite different than Woodchippers. They have far less sweep and flare. As to being narrow, the 44c's feel great to me, and you and I have similarly wide shoulders. They make a 46c, but that feels too wide for me. Stop by and check them out, you may like them for your traditional road bike. Woodchippers still rock on my big tire bikes, but I would not trade them for these in this situation.

Jerry said...

you read my mind. wheels are turning.

Wally said...

I am definitely going to look at those tires. I think this is the sixth post about them and if you gush that much, they have to be investigated.
The Casseroll looks good Ben. It's lines scream for a Brooks...love the canti's...wheel set....very very nice.

Wally said...

...about the Cowbells...I just ordered another set from NCC yesterday. I finally managed a long ride on my Vaya with the Cowbell 2 and they are amazing. I used old inner tube under the Thick and Zesty camo wrap and like it better than double wrap. I'm using 46cm Bells and find them perfect but then I'm more linebacker than wide receiver. I find I have 2-3 more usable hand positions with the Bells. Fantastic bars.

John said...

Ben- Cool bike. What do the Speeds measure out to once inflated? Wondering if I could fit the 42s on my Nature Boy...thanks!

jim C said...

Ben-
Absolutely perfect execution of an otherwise (using your words)softie. Best looking Casseroll I've seen. Tell me - what is the top tube bag you have installed? I need a minimalist bag for wallet and iphone for my Rawland commuter. Also, first I have seen the salsa carbon post - looks great and likely removes a bit of the road buzz. Are they reasonably light as well? Im looking for a light carbon post for my XC hardtail.

Ben said...

Wally, I love these tires and bars. They really just work for me.

John, see today's post about my All City Nature Boy with these tires. They measure 39mm's at their widest point on CX width rims. Plenty of clearance front and rear and they fit the bike well I think.

Ben said...

Jim, the bag is an Epic, (now Revelate,) Tank Bag. It is no longer made in this smaller size that I know of. I've used a similar bag from Fuel Belt with good success. It is about this same size, iPhone, camera, and a few gels or a bar. The post is fairly light and reasonably priced. It does ride nice.

John said...

Thanks Ben. Any idea on potential tubelessness of these? Guitar Ted might be the one to ask here...

Ben said...

John, on a true tubeless rim such as the Alpha 340s, I think these would work well tubeless. Conti tires in teh past have worked well for me, and I think these with their steel beads would work really well. I haven't got around to trying it yet, but I think it would make these an even bigger gravel contender.

Anonymous said...

I have a Casseroll and dig your setup. Especially replacing the brakes. Which Avid Ultimates did you buy? Avid's website shows a wide and narrow offerings.

Ben said...

I have a wide front set, and a narrow rear. They are interchangeable as to position, so it really doesn't matter which you get as they can be set to either. We sell them for $96.99 per if you are interested in a set.

alang said...

would you use those tires for longer distances - say, a 100+mi gravel/road race?

Ben said...

I would use these for long gravel races or tours provided the gravel wasn't super large, or terribly slippery. For hard, fast gravel in MN and the surrounding area this is a near perfect tire.

jim C said...

Ben - do you prefer the Conti 42's over the 35's for gravel?

Ben said...

Honestly I do. For how I am capable of riding them, the 42's are just as fast as the 35c's would be. I am addicted to the comfort, and they roll just as fast. On light wheels I'll take the weight penalty fr the all around comfort and control. If the word race ever entered my mind I might think other wise. If I'm honest though I would be no faster on the smaller tires, and I'd probably hurt less the next day on the larger ones.