2013 Salsa Vaya 3 – 10,000 Mile Review

Salsa Vaya 10K Mile Review

2013 Salsa Vaya 3 – 10,000 Mile Review

This post is long overdue as it should have been published in July or August. Because I haven’t really been too vigilant in tracking my mileage on my 2013 Salsa Vaya 3 this year, the 10,000 miles milestone wasn’t apparent until I started looking at my miles in November.All apart

I had a feeling I was really close since the total mileage at the end of last year was only 14 miles away from 9000 miles. As it turned out, it took me a lot longer to make it to 10,000 miles since my 5000-mile review on December 18, 2014.

That meant I had 19 months to get another 5000 miles when it only took about 11 months to get 4000 after my 1000 mile review. It just shows that I rode my bike much more frequently the first year than the last couple of years even though I’ve been in so many more places (more on that later).

Thanks to Strava, I know the exact date and location when I crossed the 10,000 miles milestone. This all happened on July 3, 2016, on Highway 80 in the state of Wyoming as I rode from the town of Saratoga to Rawlins. I was at the 28-mile mark fighting strong headwinds that day right before the town of Sinclair.

I was in the middle of my Adventure Cycling Trans Am trip from Pueblo, Colorado to Florence, Oregon. Between this trip and when I wrote my 5000-mile review, a lot has happened. Let’s get into that and see what I think about my Salsa Vaya so far.

On top of Willow Creek

On top of Willow Creek


I bought this bike for the sole purpose of traveling, and I think I did a pretty good job in taking it with me on my journey for 19 months. Here are some places I traveled to between December 2014 and July 2016.

While most of these trips took place primarily on paved roads, there were several trips that required more of an off-road adventure. Places like Henninger Flats and Catalina Island required me to swap out my road tires for some mountain bike knobbies for the journey.

We were in all sorts of weather during this time as we were drenched by constant rain while riding through Europe, especially in France. I’ve taken it over 10,000 feet of climbing and descent in Colorado and crossed the Continental Divide multiple times. Most of my rides for my MeetUp consisted of coastal locations as well.

I practically threw everything at this bike in terms of road conditions and weather and my Salsa Vaya took it like a champ. I had to. This is my only bike, so I had no other choice since I sold or gave away all my other bikes.

Packed up bike

Upgrades & Additions

I also gave the bike a good amount of upgrades for this next 5000 mile. I wanted something I was going to love riding for a long time. I also wanted to make it easier for me to travel with it, so I did the following things:

As you can see, I went all out to make sure this bike was going to be with me for a long time. I also made a video called, “What’s My Ride”, which highlights the Salsa Vaya and all the new upgrades I made to it.

My Wish

If you follow the Salsa brand, they introduced a new touring bike called the Marrakesh. It was Salsa’s true touring bike answer to Surly’s Long Haul Trucker. It offers both drop bar and flat bar versions and comes with a rear rack and a Brooks saddle. A very intriguing offer if I didn’t already have my Vaya.

I have no interest in getting a Marrakesh as I feel that my Vaya would be ideal for off-road conditions. Of course, this is just in my own personal opinion without trying the Marrakesh, so take it with a grain of salt and do your research from others who may have the Marrakesh.

The one thing I do wish my Salsa Vaya had that the Marrakesh has is the fork with multiple braze on to install my Salsa Anything cages. Right now, I have to use velcro or pipe fasteners to keep the cages on. Not an ideal solution. I tried to see if I can get a Marrakesh fork for the Vaya, but they are not compatible. So it would be my one wish for Salsa to create a fork with multiple mount points for the Anything Cage.

Salsa Vaya w/S&S Coupler

Versatility & Security

There are 2 upgrades that I’ve been thinking about for a while. The first is to have another set of wheels built up, so I can wrap my mountain bike tires around it for bikepacking excursions without needing to change the tires completely. I’m thinking I will be doing more off-road trips in the future and to have the wheelset ready would be ideal and convenient.

The second upgrade is to change out my bolts for the handlebar and seats so that they are not standard hex bolts, but rather something that requires a key to secure and remove. I’m thinking of something from Bicycle Bolts.

Business As Usual

Besides the regular cleaning and maintenance of the drive-train and cables, this bike has been ticking along without any issues. The wheels remained straight even though I subjected it to all sorts of riding conditions – a true testament of the DT Swiss’ spokes and the Salsa hub stock wheel build.

The S&S coupler has not changed the ride to this day. Taking it apart and putting it back together has never been easier. I did buy the recommended grease to use for the coupler. The bike remains a joy to ride even to this day.

My second set of drive train components works even after I’ve removed and reattached it when the bike is being transported. One of my Tektro brake levers lost it’s spring so that it doesn’t rebound back to the open state as smoothly. I could also use a new set of brake hoods as both left and the right side is ripping apart from the heavy usage. These are just minor things to change out.

Johnny & Salsa Vaya

Still In Love

As cyclists, we have this N+1 rule where we always need 1 plus the total number of bikes you currently own. I think I’ve found the perfect bike to hold on to if there was just one bike I can own and nothing else.

It isn’t the ideal bike to bring if I was to go on a fast road ride around town or a single track jaunt up and down the mountains, but it’ll work. Having a bike specific to each of these activities will certainly help, but the Salsa Vaya makes a good stand-in substitute when you don’t have any other alternates.

Final Thoughts

After 10,000 miles on the Salsa Vaya would I still recommend this bike for those looking for a touring bike? That’s going to be a resounding, “YES!” I know I’ve influenced at least 3 Salsa Vaya purchases with my 1000 and 5000-mile reviews. I hope that this 10,000-mile review will prove to those who have a Salsa Vaya that you have nothing to worry about for miles to come.The Bikepack Setup

Did you buy a Salsa Vaya because of this or previous reviews? Let me know in the comments below about your Salsa Vaya whether you like it or not. Having multiple views and opinions will help others out there who are shopping for the same bike.

As for the future reviews, I plan on doing a 20,000-mile review if the bike is still with me. My intention is to keep this bike for the long run, but anything can happen. That’s what life’s about, constant changes. The more I go on bike tours, I realize it’s less about the bike. The bike is just a tool to accomplish your goal. With any projects, having the best tools will make your life easier, and I think I have the best tool to help me build my dreams of travel.

If you haven’t read my previous reviews, here they are.

2013 Salsa Vaya 3 – 1000 Mile Review

2013 Salsa Vaya 3 – 5000 Mile Review

  • Sung
    Posted at 17:13h, 17 November

    I am probably one of the three people that ended up getting the Salsa Vaya after reading your reviews. I am an owner of Salsa El Mariachi and have been a fan of Salsa bikes, so it was an easy decision for me. When I started to look for a touring bike, I was leaning towards Vaya, and your reviews really helped to seal the deal. I have not put as much miles under me as you have, but every miles ridden have been a pure joy.

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 17:17h, 17 November

      Hey Sung! Thanks for your comment. This bike is pure joy to ride. I’m glad you’re liking yours.

  • Pingback:2013 Salsa Vaya 3 - 5000 Mile Review - Milestone Rides
    Posted at 17:22h, 17 November

    […] 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 […]

  • Matthew
    Posted at 05:10h, 14 January

    I am going to be doing a tour from Kansas City, MO to Washington DC starting in the middle of March. I went to District Bicycles in Stillwater, OK to try/buy a Disk Trucker or possibly the Marrakesh. Test rode both and liked them well enough. Then the guys started pulling different bikes off the rack for me to try. They weren’t dissuading me from either of the bikes I came in to look at, but were just showing me a few different options of what was out there these days. One of the bikes they gave me to try was the Vaya, and within the first 5 minutes, the seed of doubt about getting a non-specific touring bike turned into a giant redwood. One of the biggest things that sold me was that it was, and still is, by far one of the most confidence inspiring bikes I’ve ever been on. It was an odd (but nice) feeling of less sitting on top of the bike, but more “in” it, if that makes any sense.

    I discovered bike touring, oddly enough, because of Path Less Pedaled. Since I found their site years ago, I’ve wanted to do a tour, but a number of factors always worked against that goal. Finally now, leaving active duty with the military, and having a few months with really nowhere to be and no one to answer to but myself, I’m finally getting my chance! And thanks to you, Path Less Pedaled, Bike Touring Pro, Crazy Guy On a Bike, etc., for all of the information. Even if it’s information overload and has made picking things all the more difficult!

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 20:36h, 16 January

      Hey Matt! Thank you for writing in and telling me your story. I am glad you are finally able to get to go on bike tours now. I totally understand the feeling of being “in” the bike. You become one with it. The Vaya to this day is still making me smile on my journey.

      Good luck in your journey and check in with me about your trip. Would love to hear about it. Also, thank you for serving this great country of ours!

  • Jude
    Posted at 17:57h, 03 February

    Hey Johnny! Yes your initial feedback about your Vaya was really helpful to me before I bought mine. I just LOVE it. Sure it is not speedy fast and is heavy but it is a really versatile workhorse. I bought it because of its good fit for me, and its features and people are always commenting on how nifty it looks. It is bright green. I agree with Matt that you feel as though you are sitting “In” the bike and not “on” it! So true. Not something I experienced at all with the LHT I tried. I share your love of the Ortleib handlebar bag which is my favourite and newest piece of kit. My Ortleib rear panniers are now 30 years old and still chugging along! Good for you for planning your year in advance and keeping your focus n cycle touring. You remain an inspiration!

  • Michael Finn
    Posted at 19:25h, 11 May

    Hey Johnny,

    We must have passed on the road last summer shortly after you hit the 10k mark. I was with a group riding a portion of the Trans-am W–>E and we were in West Yellowstone on 7/4 and Rawlins by 7/11.

    I’m joining your meetup group for the June Bike travel weekend trip; hope you enjoy the remainder of your Southern tier trip.

    Retired my Cannondale T2000 once I finished my ride in Ohio; wasn’t worth the cost to fly it back and it gives me a functional bike to ride when I visit my folks. Bought the Marrakesh after I came back to San Diego, love it so far, but the June trip will be the first with any significant load. Sure my opinion won’t change.


    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 21:12h, 12 May

      Thanks Michael! It appears that our paths may have crossed last summer. Anyway, you’re in good hands with my guys at the MeetUp tour in June. Hopefully, we’ll get to meet when I get back.

  • Davide
    Posted at 07:38h, 05 June

    Hi Johnny, could I ask you your height? I’m thinking to buy one (better, one hand-made and I would copy a Vaya frame) and I’m still concerning about the right sizing as I’m 160cm high and my “horse” is 76,5cm. Thanks

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 07:32h, 21 June

      Hi Davide,

      Sorry for the late reply. I am 5 foot 6 inches tall. Again, apologies for the late reply.


  • Hailey M
    Posted at 06:17h, 15 July

    Your review led me to buy the 2018 Salsa Vaya. Its on order and I should be getting it this coming week. I am very excited! It will be my first touring bike so I’ll be entering a whole new world. Also planning to add your recommended racks as well. Thank you so much for your reviews!

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 07:05h, 16 July

      Hi Hailey,

      Glad my post was useful in helping you decide on the Salsa Vaya. It’s still my favorite bike to ride and is the only bike I’ve been traveling with exclusively. The Tubus rack is also solid. No major issues at all. Thanks for letting me know. If you have further questions or want to share your adventures, feel free to reach out to me again!

      Welcome to the adventure!


  • marc h miller
    Posted at 15:15h, 20 October

    Thanks for your great reviews on the Vaya, I ended up buying one after watching you. I had been researching for 8 months and trying a bunch of bikes. The Vaya just has a great feel about it. it moves when you want it to and it is supper smooth. Really like how versatile it is on many different surfaces.

    Vaya con Vaya


    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 08:46h, 06 November

      Hi Marc,

      Thank you for writing to me to let me know about your knew Vaya. Even up to this point, it is my most favorite and comfortable bike I own. At one point the only bike I owned but now I have an electric assist and a cyclocross bike. Those are both great but the Vaya still fits like a glove and dishes out the most bang without any issues. I am confident you’ll have many miles of enjoyment from this purchase. Keep me posted of your adventures!