16 Nov 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.
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.
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.
- Across 10 European countries in 2015
- 13 MeetUp bike tours from January 2015 to June 2016. Places included Catalina Island, San Luis Obispo County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.
- 2 ¼ Adventure Cycling Association Tours
- Crater Lake Loop and then a ride to Klamath Falls to take the train back to LA
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.
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:
- Installed S&S couplers so I can fit the bike in a standard luggage size box without accruing charges for a bike.
- Matching dark brown Brooks leather tape.
- Dark brown Selle Anatomica leather seat.
- Delta stem riser, so I have a more upright riding position.
- Changed out the derailleur hanger before my Pacific Coast North trip.
- Osaka Roadie Clip On bell.
- Set of Revelate Designs bikepacking bag system, which includes the Viscacha seat bag, handlebar harness, mountain feedbags, and gas tank.
- 2 King Cages for my bottles.
- 2 Salsa Anything Cage gifted to me by a friend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.