Great trails, bleh bike - Review of the Salsa Woodsmoke


If you want a bike that you immediately need to make a bunch of upgrades to, then this is your bike!

Let me preface this. I have ridden several Salsa bicycles over the years and have had great experiences on them, but this bike just missed its mark.

I had this bike for two days and had a chance to ride it in varying terrain, here is my breakdown.

Day 1, illegal 1.5 mile trail in Portland

We did 5 laps with a climb and descend over wet and muddy roots. The plus tires were helpful going down, but were such a burden on the climb - constantly getting hung up on roots. You really have to stay on top of the pedals just to keep any amount of momentum. I thought the KS dropper post should be 150mm of travel, 125mm worked, but I wanted a bit more. Descending roots produced some real chatter, making me wish this bike had a slightly more slack HT angle. This was my first day on a bike with Boost spacing. I didn't feel any difference on stiffness at the wheels, but I did notice it for my Q factor. Neither good nor bad, just there.

Take away - with a different dropper post and a different geometry frame, this bike would be a ripper.

Day 2, Post Canyon in Hood River

Right out of the Family Man parking lot, we were hit with a long, steep climb. The plus size tires were noticeable with every turn of my crank. I still finished up the climb before the rest of the group, but not without a grunt of energy. Long descents followed and this is where the bike opened up - no more than my Ritchey P29er. The trails we hit were great for hardtails, but through every turn I kept wishing I had smaller tires, a slacker HT and more travel on the dropper post. This was my first time riding in Hood River and I was blown away with the trail system and conditions there and I can't wait to get back with my own bike.

Take away - still lacked what I prefer.

These were my first days on dirt for 2018 and my excitement was real, but that was due to great riding buddies and even better conditions - not the bike. Salsa also has this bike as an adventure bikepacking rig, but there is no way you would want to throw on another 30-50 lbs of gear and ride this bike for any amount of time. This bike is also priced too high at $3200. At this price I would expect a better dropper post and at least an upgrade from the Sun Ringle wheelset. With Salsa being under the QBP umbrella and access to great components, this could be a much better build. As is, I wouldn't want to drop more than $2700.

- Cody