Gravel Gear

Reviewed: Salsa Warbird Carbon Rival

Salsa was one of the first companies to embrace gravel riding, and the Warbird only bolsters its dedication to this relatively new category.

Comfort: 15.1/20
Versatility: 14.0/15
Build: 12.4/15 Value: 13.2/15
Handling: 11.3/15
Pedaling response: 12.6/15
Aesthetics: 4.5/5

Overall: 83.1/100

Salsa was one of the first companies to embrace gravel riding, and the Warbird only bolsters its dedication to this relatively new category. Aside from totally nailing the name, the Warbird excels in action, with a stiff carbon frame for maximum power transfer and shaped seatstays that flex just enough to take the sting out.

The Warbird’s low bottom bracket (70-millimeter BB drop) keeps the bike’s center of gravity lower, making for stable cornering in deep curves. But the bike doesn’t maneuver quite as easily through tough, rocky terrain as we’d like, thanks to its long wheelbase (1,024 millimeters) and chainstays (430 millimeters). Weaving our way through a minefield of tire-ripping rocks required muscling the bike around, forcing quick movements to avoid the jagged terrain.

It comes stock with Schwalbe Sammy Slick 35-millimeter tires, but this didn’t seem to be the most appropriate choice. With clearance for 44-millimeter rubber – and room to spare for mud and snow – the Warbird would have eaten up most of those sharp rocks with bigger, burlier tires.

Tires aside, this do-everything, go-anywhere bike does come ready for adventure with thoughtful details designed to accommodate the needs of serious bike packers and gravel racers. Full-length cable housing keeps nasty weather from jamming up the bike’s shifting and three water bottle mounts mean you can ride long miles on remote country roads without stopping for a resupply.

For those who enjoy off-pavement head-to-head racing over solo missions, the Warbird provides all the tools you need to go fast. A 14-centimeter head tube and 73-degree seat tube angle put you in a road-like position for optimal power transfer when the peloton gets feisty. The 50/34-tooth crankset and 11-32-tooth cassette also provide a wide range of gears, big enough for the fast, frantic miles of a race start but small enough to get you over Dirty Kanza’s Texaco Hill.

SRAM’s hydraulic disc brakes provide ample braking power for control on loose descents, and thru-axles in front and rear add stiffness and stability.

Price: $3,499
Component highlights: SRAM Rival 22 drivetrain with 50/34 crankset and 11-32 cassette; SRAM Rival Hydro brakes; DT Swiss R24 tubeless wheels
Weight: 19.40 pounds (size 55cm)