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Salsa Vaya 2 (2012): Ready To Go

After unboxing, some very detailed cleaning which let me get to know the bike thoroughly, fitting accessories, and transferring measurements from the Jamis Nova I’ve got the 2012 Salsa Vaya 2 mentioned previously (full bike photo) ready to go. While on its face this bike seems redundant and that the Nova would have met my needs, I think it’ll be a big improvement over the Nova for a couple reasons:

  1. The Nova with a 570mm ETT is a bit too large for me, evidenced by the 75mm stem needed to get the fit right.
  2. I prefer disc brakes on bicycles, even though the cantilever rim brakes on the Nova work well in most conditions.
  3. The Vaya has much longer head tube requiring far fewer spacers to get a comfortable position. This makes for an overall stronger/nicer setup.
  4. The Vaya comes with a crank that has 170mm arms. I’m not yet sure if this’ll work out for me, but I’m looking forward to trying it on long rides with lots of spinning.

Thus far I’ve only taken it on some short paved and trainer rides, but so it seems to fit well and I’m really looking forward to getting it out on some lengthy dirt road trips. With December and the first snows (and very cold headwinds on dirt roads) upon us I’m not sure this’ll be possible before spring, but I can hope…

In the mean time I spent a couple lazy hours over the past few days putting together my thoughts on the bike, mostly for my purposes a couple years from now. If you’re interested in that info and the full current build details, read on, or if you are interested in photos of this particular Vaya 2 click here

It’s not uncommon to see bikes which have had many of the logos removed, but I’m normally fond of this. I think that tastefully applied, matching logos can enhance the look of many consumer goods, so long as they don’t devolve into a billboard. However, the DT Swiss X470 logos (photo) that came on the wheels were quite an exception. Perhaps it was all of the red and white that’s not present elsewhere on the bike and them not matching the frame? After a bunch of thought I decided to remove them.

Peeling the labels then using a plastic scraper and paper towel along with some 99% isopropyl alcohol I was able to cleanly remove the labels. Once together with the simple, tasteful Clement logos on the tires I’m really happy with how these look.

The bike originally shipped (both OE and to me) with 42mm Continental Tour RIDE puncture resistant (non-reflective sidewall) wire bead tires. While I’m sure these are great tires, I installed the 35mm Clement X’Plor USH tires from the Jamis Nova, as I’ve been very happy with them. They have a slightly wider profile on the 18mm DT Swiss x470 rims (versus the 14mm on the Jamis), which should give them a little more volume and bite on soft stuff while the smoother center ridge will continue to do its job.

The bike came fitted with Avid BB5 Road brakes, and I strongly suspect that I’ll be replacing these. Not only are the pads roughly half the size of the BB7 family, they have an annoying tendency to become misaligned in the caliper during normal use. This causes them to gently set against the rotor, making a rubbing/ticking sound. Gently squeezing the brakes reseats them, but the noise will come back fairly quickly. It’s common enough that simply moving the bike around the house will trigger it. But, then the question arises of what to replace them with. Avid BB7 Road brakes are a possible option, but there’s a bunch of other options out there. Maybe I can find some BB7 calipers (only) for sale on eBay or something and use them with the spare Avid G2CS rotors I have down in the basement…

The bike also came with an Aheadset TR. 1-1/8 (photo) headset which is a basic cage bearing design, but I wasn’t too keen on the rubber upper pieces of it, and it was really lacking for any sealing. As I’m likely to end up in rain and poor conditions while on this bike I replaced it with a Cane Creek 100 that had previously been installed on the Titus Racer X 29er. I’m particularly fond of the plain look of the 100-series headsets, and I think it’s disappointing that Cane Creek no longer makes them. I had purchased and installed this one on the Titus almost a year ago, but as I’ve only ridden that bike three times since then I decided to put it on the Vaya where its plain look would go nicely. I’ll have to find something else to use on the Titus, maybe a Cane Creek 40, as they are another great headset.

While swapping headsets I also cut the steerer to a more appropriate length, fitting a 10mm spacer beneath the stem and a 20mm above, to give myself room for adjustment. The bike had originally come with almost 50mm of spacers below the stem; much more than I needed or was comfortable fitting to a bike. I’d moved them above the stem (photo) but was anxious to cut it to size. Now it’s how I like, with enough steerer for adjusting height and playing with different stems, but not any more than pokes up above my Garmin bike computer (photo).

Unfortunately while swapping the crown race I slightly chipped up the paint on the fork. One part is just below the crown race when the remover jaws slid beneath the race, and the other is where I moved the tool wrong and contacted the non-drive side leg and chipped the paint. If I’d borrowed a proper crown race puller or possibly been a little more careful this possibly could have been avoided, but the paint seemed sensitive enough that it’s hard to say. I’m rather disappointed with my clumsiness resulting in the first chip-type mar to this frame, but I guess it had to happen at some point. I’ll have this bike on gravel roads, so it’s inevitable that others will occur.

The Vaya 2 came from Salsa with what strikes me as a fairly ridiculous accessory, a leather chainstay protector that was unfortunately beginning to peel up. normally I’d never put such an item on my bike, but because it was already there I decided to try and salvage it. After purchasing some double-sided foam tape for sticking automotive trim pieces to cars I began cleaning it, only to realize that the process of cleaning the leather with 99% isopropyl alcohol and attempting to scrape the residue of simply reactivated the adhesive. I then stuck it to a plastic bag, polished the top side with some black Kiwi, buffed it, and stuck it to the bike. I’m actually pretty fond of how it looks; I think I’ll keep it for now.

I’m also not too keen on the Arundel-logo bar end plugs that are currently on the bike. They work, but don’t match the bike and with the bar positioned as I have it they’ll contact the top tube should the front wheel be turned too far to the side. This could damage the top tube, so I’ll have to figure out a solution either in the form of a softer plug or applying something to the top tube to absorb this impact. Maybe another piece of leather?

All said, after the few changes that I’ve made I’m quite happy with how the bike sits. As pictured, including all the bags/pump/empty bottles, it is 26.64 pounds, which I think is reasonable for a steel touring bike. I’m feeling a bit wanting for the nice summer days which allowed six hour dirt road rides and stops for beer without numb hands or risk of hypothermia — exactly the sort of thing this bike will be perfect for — but maybe there’s a nice day yet to be had in December… I can hope. While I’m tempted to replace the cables and housings (good practice for a couple year old bike), for now I should simply stop fiddling with the bike and ride it as I can. It’s set up great, and just what I’d wanted for a while. It just arrived at a rather unexpected time.

As it currently, the build is as follows:

Frame/Fork: 2012 Salsa Vaya (54cm, S/N M11110563)

Headset: Cane Creek 100 (PDF)

Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP

Crankset: SRAM Apex (48t – 34t)

Rims: DT Swiss X470 (Logos Removed)

Tires: Clement X’Plor USH

Hubs: SRAM MTH 506 F/R

Spokes: DT Swiss Champion (Straight 1.8mm, Black)

Handlebar: Salsa Cowbell 2 (44cm)

Stem: Cannondale C4 (110mm x +6°)

Seatpost: Salsa Pro Moto 2 (2.5mm setback, 27.2mm x 350mm)

Seatpost Collar: Salsa Lip-Lock (30.0mm)

Saddle: Specialized Avatar Comp Gel (143mm)

Bar Tape: Salsa Gel Cork Tape (Black)

Shifters/Brake Levers: SRAM Apex DoubleTap

Front Derailleur: SRAM Apex

Rear Derailleur: SRAM Apex (Medium Cage)

Cassette: SRAM PG 1050 (11-32)

Chain: SRAM PC 1031

Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy 3 (Black)

Brakes: Avid BB5 Road, 160mm Rotors

Bottle Cages: King Cage Kargo Cage and Stainless Steel Cage

Other Accessories: Planet Bike Superflash Stealth, UHMW Tape for Cable Rub, Timbuk2 Bike Seat Pack, Topeak Road Master Blaster (Large), Niner YAWYD with New Holland cap, Garmin Edge 510.

All photos of this bike, including unboxing and some mid-assembly, can be found here.

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