A couple of years ago I picked up a Salsa Fargo frame and fork with the idea of adventure touring. I had some 29’r disc wheels and a build kit from an old cross bike but then it sat. Two winters later it came together. After 250 miles of mixed day trips and commuting I can definitely recommend the rig. (At the time I clicked “Publish” I have about 700 miles, how the miles fly by when you are having a good time) It handles well from paved road to moderate single track. I completely agree with a friend of mine who commented on his Fargo, “It may not be my fastest bike but it sure is fun to ride!”
I picked a frame size larger than if I were picking a mountain bike frame. The Fargo is an 18 while I would normally ride a 16 in a traditional mountain bike. But the Fargo is such a “hybrid” of mountain and road bikes the size choice seemed valid. I wanted more room in the cockpit with a fit closer to a road bike than mountain bike. I built it with traditional drop bars and SRAM Rival drivetrain, plus SRAM triple mountain cranks with large chain ring replaced with a light Salsa bash ring, and SRAM mountain front derailleur. Soon I will replace the Rival rear derailleur with an Apex WiFLi to improve my low gear range. I am trying my first Brooks saddle, the standard B-17 with chromoly rails. It feels a little wide in comparison to my typical “racer’s” choice. My tire choice for now is to use what I had lying around, a Geax AKA 29X2.1 in the front and a Kenda Klimax Lite 29X1.95 in the rear. I will use them up then pick a new set of tires to try. Now I am burning up a set of Kenda Small Block 8’s, 29X2.1, folding bead and DTC rubber. I am very happy with the Small Blocks’ performance. At some point I want to try something in the 29X2.4 tire size range. Once the snow flies and the terrain gets icy I have a set of Kenda Klondikes, 29X2.1.
For bags and racks I started with the Salsa frame bag by Revelate Designs. That seemed like the easiest first choice. Then I got two of the Salsa Anything Cages for the fork. Beyond that I was not sure what I wanted to get. I made some modest choices with a quick release post mount rack from Axiom, a handle bar bag and pair of panniers from Sunlite. While the Sunlite bags seem like a good value their mounting system is not secure enough for off-road touring. Similarly there is too much play in the seat-post rack for bumpy roads.
Since then I have switched to a Revelate Designs seatbag, Viscacha. It is worth the investment. The minimum requirements for the distance from the seat rails to the tire should be strictly headed. I have also added the Revelate Designs GasTank top tube bag. I enjoy having a variety of bags for all my adventures and will be trying out Revelate’s Pika and Terrapin seat bags soon.
I carry a custom tool wrap under my seat with a Crank Bros multi-tool, spare tube, and patch kit when I am seatbag-less. Under the down tube I have a Mountain Morph pump by Topeak. The rest of the bike is rounded out with Ritchey bar and stem, Avid BB-7 road disc brakes, and Shimano/WTB wheelset. I am very happy with how all these bits work together. I may be seeking out a wider road bar in the near future.