When the Salsa Warroad launched, it was marketed as an endurance road bike, to be ridden all day on various surfaces, both paved and dirt, yet I wouldn’t characterize it wholly as a gravel bike. Not by today’s standards. These days, bikes like the Ibis Hakka, the Santa Cruz Stigmata, and the Trek Checkpoint – just naming bikes we’ve reviewed here in the past year or so – fly that banner with their massive tire clearances. Yet, the Warroad has carved a niche in this ever-expanding marketplace where companies are making moves to make you use your wallet. Well, I’d like to think that we offer no-bull reviews here on the Radavist and after spending a considerable amount of time on this bike, I’m ready to do just that…
We already looked at the details of this bike in the announcement post, so read on below for a long-term ride review.
Road? All-Road? Gravel? Bikepacking?
These lines of demarcation are often blurred and that’s 10000% the case here. Yes, the Warroad, especially in the 700c model offered, is a road bike. Yet with the 650b wheels and 47mm WTB Byway tires, it is considerably more capable on rough roads, or all-roads if you will. Yes, you can even ride gravel on this bike and with all the bosses for cages and cargo, you could even pedal it a bit further with some bikepacking bags. So what is it? That’s up to you to decide.
Impressive at the Ends
Looking at its profile, you’ll note that Salsa took special care in designing the frame’s monocoque form. At the ends of the frame, the rear dropouts and the fork ends, the profile thins, giving the bike not only a lighter visual profile but most importantly, a smoother ride, steering away from the oversized tubing profiles commonly associated with modern carbon bikes.
Yeah, carbon bikes are a lot of fun to ride, for the review period, but I tend to not hold a lot of personal interest in riding one for a longer run. If I’m being completely honest here, I prefer to ride steel. Yet the Warroad offers a very smooth ride, without gimmicky engineering feats like passive or active suspension. The elongated, thin, and bow-legged seat stays are designed to feel more springy than stiff. Paired with a higher volume, lower pressure tire and you’ve got a winning equation.
The fork is something I wish was available aftermarket. It’s got everything you’d need to make your disc road bike a slightly more capable, long-distance machine.
Climbing, descending and getting into those unexpected moments on even the most familiar roads are a real treat with Warroad. It’s not chattery, or erratic when the potholes swallow other potholes and become chewed up asphalt. While there isn’t that old familiar sway of a steel bike, for carbon, it’s one of the nicer riding frames I’ve ridden. On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being a production steel frame and 5 being a stiff carbon crit machine, I’d rank the Warroad as a solid 3.
Man, the Warroad has thought of everything. It has internal routing on the fork for a dynamo hub if you’d like to run a light, or a USB charger during endurance events. There are three bottle boss groupings in the front triangle, as well as one under the downtube, by the bottom bracket, and another on the top tube for a bolt-on bag. Then, there are cargo cage mounts on the fork and fender mounts. On top of that, all the cable routing is internal.
The paint and design are sharp, yet in an atypical move for modern brands, Salsa has hidden their logo on the top or inside face of the downtube, which will almost always be covered by your bottles. A lot of people during this review period didn’t know what bike this was. When I would tell them it was a Salsa, they would have to take a closer look to believe me.
One detail that was addressed in the release announcement is the tire clearance. Warroad clears a 47mm 650b tire like the Byway, but in my opinion, nothing larger. Especially if your roads can get sticky with mud or clay after rain. If you plan on running fenders, you’d have to downsize your tire size to 42mm.
Built as Bought
One spec that I actually really like is the 90mm stem and 44cm bars on the size 57.5cm, which has a 575mm effective top tube. Normally, bikes like this have longer stems, greatly altering the fitting. Meanwhile, my long legs meant my 80cm saddle height resulted in a lot of seat post extended from the frame, which added to the slight springy sensation. I’d love to ride this with a titanium post to further accentuate it.
This is an endurance bike, not a race bike, and the component selection speaks to that. When a build kit is as no-nonsense as this one, you can really enjoy the frame’s ride quality and not worry about the shifting, braking, wheel maintenance, or the contact points. I intentionally kept the bike stock, to get a proper immersion in the experience. Down to the bar tape, saddle, and tires.
I know what you’re thinking, as the Force 1 650b build comes in at $4,399 complete… It better have good components! Well, yeah. Yet, if you’ve already got a build kit, you can always just buy the Warroad frame for $1999 and it dons a much more minimal paint design.
As reviewed here, with bottle cages and pedals, the size 57.5cm comes in around 19.5lbs.
The tall – by comparison of other ‘race bikes’ – head tube adds to the comfort of riding the Warroad
Critical for the Sake of It
Honestly, the main thing I don’t like about the bike is its name. Granted a little bit of careful sanding could probably rub that right off. I get what the team at Salsa was going for: a bike within the Warbird family, yet offered as a slight permutation. Without beating a dead horse, as many people have expressed the same feelings, I will say that the naming does not take away from the quality of ride this bike delivers.
I’m also not a fan of press-fit bottom brackets, although they seem to be unavoidable on most carbon bikes. Yet, I will say, I didn’t hear a peep from this one during the months of riding in various weather conditions ranging from hot, to dusty, to warm, and dry. Not much of a need to take advantage of the fender mounts down here in Southern California.
The Salsa Warroad is an endurance road bike, that’s not afraid of those rough and tumble dirt roads. While competitively priced, the solid build kit, smooth-riding carbon frame design, and more than enough bosses for cargo carrying set this carbon road bike apart from its competitors. Sure, the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but overall, this is one of the tightest packages Salsa has delivered in recent years.
See more information at Salsa and throw your leg over one at your local Salsa dealer.