What It’s Designed For: Matt Acker’s Very Muddy Mid South Salsa Stormchaser SSGX

As you can imagine, the Mid South was intense this year. Between the Corona Virus pandemic and the weather, the team running the race had to scramble to adjust to the ever-changing circumstances. At the last minute, our coverage team decided to pull the plug, and we didn’t get a whole lot from the weekend, but luckily Jared Harber was able to shoot Matt Acker‘s winning Stormchaser. I wish we could have also shot Hannah Finchamp and Payson McElveen’s winning bikes, but as I said, it was a chaotic event!

This bike was just about the only thing Jared shot from the weekend and while we didn’t really get a lot of other coverage, we have a few things that we’ll be sharing shortly. I really wanted to share not only Jared’s amazing photos but Matt’s thoughtful insight into his build, which he rolled into 8th position, so read on below.

After I took delivery of my Stormchaser from Salsa I rummaged through the parts bin to see what goodies I might have to customize the bike for my needs. My goal was to make the bike light yet durable and ready to take the abuse of Oklahoma’s famous rugged roads. I opted for the 46cm carbon Cowchipper bars for a good blend of control and comfort and stuck with the TRP Spyres for their ease of adjustment and simplicity which I did have to adjust them a few times out on course as my pads were slowly ground down by the red mud.

I prefer a healthy dose of saddle to bar drop so the Ritchey stem gave me that extra reach and angle I was looking for. The zero offset post and Ergon saddle are my go-to for fast gravel shredding providing good shock absorption and a forward position.

When it comes to rugged conditions and the torque of SS life I found the light-alloy Hollowgram cranks up to the task along with the 30mm spindle to keep the drivetrain flex to a minimum. I love to source USA made parts whenever possible and Wolf Tooth has always had my back with solid chainrings that have a clean aesthetic, but I flipped the ring inside out to get the chain line nice and tight. Some people might cringe at using a light 11-speed chain, and it wouldn’t be my “daily driver” choice, but for race needs, they work great.

In the midwest a good ole 42-17 ratio is swell but I went with an 18t after looking at the forecast and anticipating mud. The 42-18 combo was perfect and I was stoked that I went easier as the hills and mud added up during the course of the day.

I’m a bit of a hand-built wheel snob and Velocity USA makes some of the best custom wheels around. They have been my go-to for many years now with Sapim CX-Ray spokes and alloy nipples to keep rotational mass low. Industry Nine hubs provide the durability and engagement I look for in a good singlespeed setup.

To round out the rolling setup I opted for the Teravail Rutland tires in the light and supple casing which I’ve used for many events as they roll smooth, set up tubeless easily, and are dependable.

The Stormchaser geometry was very stable in the squirrely, wet mud which kept me confident on the descents even as my brakes began to give out. The clearance between the frame and tires enabled me to mash through all the gnarly mud without fear and I never once had to stop and scrape mud off. The sliding dropouts held tight along with the stiff thru-axle setup keeping the chain line nice and straight despite the torque required to mash the steep soft hills. I was very happy with how the alloy frame and carbon fork rode throughout the day as the VRS gave the rear a snappy yet supple feel. Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about this setup as it was comfortable, nimble and handled the course well.

Salsa Stormchaser 57.5 frameset
Salsa Carbon Cowchipper 46cm handlebars
TRP Spyre mech. disc brakes w/TRP rotors
Ritchey WCS C260 -6deg. 90mm stem
FSA headset
MSW black bar tape
C-dale Save carbon 27.2 seatpost 0deg. offset
Ergon Mens SR Pro Saddle
Salsa seat collar
C-dale Hollowgram Crankset 175mm w/Wolf Tooth DM 42t chainring inverted for best chain line
RaceFace BSA30 BB
SRAM Red 11 speed chain
Surly 18t cog and spacer kit
Shimano XTR M9000 pedals
Velocity USA hand-built Ailerons in 28h with Sapim CX-Ray spokes, gold alloy nips and Industry Nine Classic road disc hubs
Teravail Rutland Tan sidewall light and supple 700x42c tires tubeless