18 Dec 2013 Salsa Vaya 3 – 5000 Mile Review
Chances are you are reading this post because you are looking for a product review for a Salsa Vaya 3 and came across my 1000 mile review last year. In that post, I promised to write about my 5000 mile review once I hit that milestone. Well, here I am! 4000 glorious miles later, I pass the 5000 mile threshold. And with that accomplishment, I have several insights and revelations I’d like to share with you.
Since the 1,000 mile review was first published, I did a bit of traveling not only from work and back, but have taken several trips on it…most of which are documented here on this blog. In case you missed it, here is the extensive list of places I’ve traveled to.
- Chino Hills, California to Joshua Tree National Park, California
- Ventura, California to Ojai, California (twice)
- Ventura, California to Los Angeles, California (twice)
- Vancouver, British Columbia to San Francisco, California, including the Canadian islands
- Las Vegas, Nevada – Up and down the Vegas strip during Interbike
- Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Rhode Island
- Verdugos mountains (twice)
- Hollywood sign (twice)
- Griffith Observatory (thrice)
The weather conditions were usually dry and sunny with the exception of the trip in Canada and the one day from Worchester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island, where I was riding in the rain pretty much the entire day.
Upgrades & Additions
With that many miles, there were many things that needed to be upgraded and replaced. Many of the things were for the Vancouver to San Francisco trip. Here is the list of things I swapped out and added since the 1,000 mile review.
- Full set of SKS fenders
- Ortlieb handlebar bag
- New bar tape
- 24T small chain ring
- Entire drive train replacement (cassette, chain, and chainrings)
- Planet Bike Super Flash Turbo light (battery-powered)
- Front bike light (battery-powered)
Everything else not mentioned remained the same from the first day I brought her home. You’ll notice that the entire drive train was replaced recently. More on that later.
Still Loving It
At the 1,000 mile mark, I had mentioned 3 favorite things I liked about this bike: the saddle, the handlebar, and the color scheme. I am happy to report that I am still in love with those 3 things. The stock saddle has served me very well. Well, enough where I don’t think I will ever replace it. I’ve lusted over a nice tanned Brooks saddle, but that’s not high on the priority list to swap out.
The handlebar- Cowbell 3 – is amazing! I love that it flares out a bit, and the curves make for a variety of really good hand positions. Because I had to unpack and reassemble the bike when I traveled to Vancouver as well as to Boston, I experimented with the angle of the bar. I rotated the bars up more to give me a better upright position when I am resting on the hood. That slight adjustment made the ride even better than before. Only thing I would change is the bar tape. The new tape did not last very long on my trip down the coast. It started to peel off after 1 week of riding in cold damp weather in Canada. Looking into real leather from Brooks next.
I am still very happy with the red and gold color scheme. I have yet to see another one like this. In fact, I have yet to run into someone on the road with the same Vaya. I’ve seen a few online, but I can’t wait for the day that I run into my bike’s doppelganger.
Now that I’ve ridden more extensively on it, I can confidently say that this bike was built to haul. I mean throw on 40 lbs of bags at a 60% front and 40% rear weight distribution, and this thing rides very well. In fact, if you want to load up 2 panniers, just throw it on the front rack. It is so stable and fun to ride that I don’t really notice the additional weight.
Trailhead leading up to a fireroad? Not a problem. Just deflate your tires (be sure you bring a pump to inflate again) and off you go riding through packed dirt. We ran into situations, like on our way back from Joshua Tree, where the road became more sandy, like what you would find at a beach. We had to jump off and push, or even lift our bikes. Thinking of that gives me bad memories.
Disc Brake Zen
In the 1,000 mile I described having a love and hate relationship with my first set of disc brakes. I have to say, nothing has changed. The brakes still squeal, especially under wet conditions. I actually don’t mind it as much now. In fact, I enjoy making them squeal when I roll up to cars. This way they know that I have arrived. It’s funny when my bike is louder than the cars out there.
I did buy extra brake pads, but have not changed them out yet. I had the pads adjusted prior to my ride down from Vancouver and by the time I made it back to Los Angeles, they were pretty worn down. I’m going to have to reassess and swap those out soon enough.
I’m not ruling out the possibility of changing to another brand as suggested by some folks who commented on my 1,000 mile review.
About a month ago, this little bike was riding like a champ, but I noticed that my crank was loose. I went to my local bike shop to see if I can have that swapped out. The mechanic looked it over and said I had to get all my components changed. The chain was stretched “beyond belief” (his words not mine) where he wanted to keep the chain to tell people what not to do. Apparently you’re not suppose to oil a chain and go out on a tour the same morning. You have to clean, then oil, and let the oil sit overnight on the chain. I did that a few times, including when I took my tour out to San Diego. A $300 lesson learned where I will need to be diligent about cleaning and lubing my chain. Luckily, I didn’t have to change my rear derailleurs (yet).
It has been pure joy to ride this bike for the past year and half. I love this bike so much that I’m selling my other bike, a Surly Cross Check, which I had built it up to be an upright city bike with all the bells and whistles, including a dynamo hub, internal gear shift, and other specific things picked out from the QBP catalog. The Salsa Vaya is just the best touring bicycle I’ve ever ridden, and the best all-around performer for those long rides across cities and states or even the short jaunts up and down the local mountains in Los Angeles. I can’t wait for my 10,000-mile review. If you follow this blog, you’ll get to see my adventures with “Rosa”. I think she deserves a name after 5,000 miles, don’t you?
Haven’t read my 1000 mile review? Click here to read.
Edit 11/17/2016: 2013 Salsa Vaya 3 10,000 Mile Review
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.