Review: Salsa La Cruz

19 02 2010
Salsa LaCruz commuter

Salsa La Cruz commuter bike.

Last fall as I began to commute to New Haven more often by bicycle I quickly found the need to have a long distance commuter bike. I had ridden my Humu to New Haven several times but the singlespeed wasn’t really ideal for the 14 mile commute. I was getting to New Haven in under an hour but on the days there was a heavy head wind on State Street in Hamden, I would suffer badly. My only other options were off road mountain bikes and cruisers. I decided to disassemble the mountain bike that saw the least (no) usage and use the components to build my commuter bike around. I had some semi-specific details I wanted to satisfy with the commuter. First and foremost the frame material had to be steel. Steel is for real folks. Aluminum is light but the ride quality can’t match the comfort of steel. Next, I wanted disc brakes. Disc brakes have superior stopping power wet or dry, work well with heavy loads (panniers), and the donor bike had discs so, I wanted to reuse them. I wanted tire clearance for a 40c to 45c tire so, I could have the option to run anything from a 28c to 32c road tire, a 32c to 38c road or cyclecross tire, or a narrow 29er tire if I wanted. It had to have fender mounts and I wanted rack braze ons. Finally, I wanted the fit to be right. I wanted a road bike like fit. For my height I ride a 58cm frame with a top tube close to 23″ (58.4cm). After doing much research I discovered that the only frameset that satisfied my needs was the Salsa LaCruz. THEN I found out it was only available in Pop Orange. How sweet! Orange! Have I mentioned . . . nevermind.

I ordered the frameset and eagerly awaited it’s arrival.

When the Salsa LaCruz frame and fork arrived I was really stoked. I hadn’t built up a new ride for myself in a while. The LaCruz frame was beautiful. The finish quality, top notch. The paint looked great. And the color couldn’t be more perfect. The fork has gorgeous legs that taper to the dropout. There are no cantilever bosses on the frame or fork, only disc mounts and , it makes for a very clean look. The frame is constructed using True Temper OX Platinum tubing. It is a steel of the ‘air-hardened’ variety with a very high tensile strength on par with Reynolds 853. The tubing is all oversized and makes for a sturdy overall look. Salsa even did a fantastic job with the frame prep. I chased all of the threads with a tap but, they had all been perfectly cleaned by Salsa. Great job! The only other thing I did before starting my build was to spend some time using J.P. Weigle Frame Prep. Frame Prep is a product that rust inhibits the INSIDES of the frame tubes. You spray the prep into all the little weep holes in the frame tubes and the Frame Prep sticks itself to the inside walls of the tube creating a barrier to prevent rust should water find it’s way inside your bike. A very common concern for those who commute in inclimate weather.

After finishing my frame prep I started my build up. I will keep this short since I want to focus on the frame and how it rides in this review, not the parts build. The donor bike was loaded with lots of high end goodies that were a perfect fit for the LaCruz frame. Chris King ISO disc hubs, Chris King headset, Race-Face Evolve XC bottom bracket, Thomson stem, Avid disc brakes, and Paul ‘Love’ levers just too name a few. I needed to order 700c rims to re-lace the mountain wheels, I had to find a road crankset since the mountain cranks wouldn’t allow for large enough chainrings, and I needed a front derailler to go with the road cranks. I decided on Sun Ringle CR-18 rims with a polish finish and black DT champion spokes to build my wheelset with. I was fortunate enough to locate a used set of Truvativ Elita cranks with ISIS splines that were a perfect match to the bottom bracket I already had. Finally, I bought an inexpensive Shimano front derailler.

To be continued . . .

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