Reader Bike Check: A Singletrack-Slaying, Gravel-Grinding Salsa Fargo

On this reader bike check, we look at Patrick Goral's Salsa Fargo. He's created a bike that will devour anything from long, gravel roads to technical singletrack, all while hauling bikepacking gear for days.

All photos by Jeff Barber.

With the introduction of gravel bikes over the last few years, bike categorization is getting much trickier, and completely unnecessary in some cases.

With this newer breed of bikes that are ready to tackle anything from dirt roads with gravel over hardpack to root-strewn singletrack, why would someone want a bike for each discipline when they could have a multi-tool ready for a handful of jobs?

“I chose the Fargo because I wanted a dedicated bikepacking rig that could be suitable for a lot of different riding styles.  A lot of my riding is a mix of road, gravel, and singletrack and I wanted a bike that could handle it all well,” says Patrick Goral. Goral lives in Atlanta, works at Loose Nuts Cycles bike shop, and is a Singletracks contributor.

Goral owns a 2019 Salsa Fargo. The bike comes stock with drop bars, which he prefers. He also has made some unique modifications.


“I have found that having a drop bar mountain bike gives me a ton of hand positions that help with fatigue both on and off road. When I first built the Fargo, I used it primarily as a gravel bike, but over time it has shifted to handle rougher and rougher terrain.”

Since he’s owned the Fargo, he’s added a Fox 34 fork, a dropper post, and four-piston brakes. The Thomson dropper post is operated by the left SRAM Force shift lever. “Having a dropper has made the bike insanely capable and fun to ride,” he says.

Goral kept the stock, rigid fork on for some time, but found that the Fox 34 Stepcast made the Fargo far more capable. In order to maintain the correct head angle, he reduced the fork travel from 120mm to 100mm. “It feels like much less of a gravel bike, and more of an aggressive XC bike.”

He didn’t really dig the stock SRAM Force brakes either, so Goral put on a set of Hope RX4 four-piston calipers. “These brakes paired to a set of Hope floating rotors have allowed me to tackle any kind of trail I come across.”

Goral’s bike shop experience over the years paid off when he built this Fargo. The top of his favorites is the dynamo set up.

“K-Lite is the gold standard when it comes to dynamo lighting. Pushing 1300 lumens, and the only flashing dynamo taillight, they keep me out of the dark no matter what.”

The K-Lite can be connected to dynamo hubs to generate light from the hub movement without a battery.

Although Goral’s Fargo is as rugged as Grizzly Adams, he added a few refining touches here and there. Cane Creek titanium eeWings cranks turn the wheels with Xpedo M-Force 8 titanium pedals.

To pack on the cargo and necessities for grueling races and events, he had custom frame bags made by the Spindle in Atlanta.

“I have done a lot of bikepacking races on this rig, and it has crushed every one!”

Goral most recently raced in the 2018 CFITT (Cross Florida Individual Time Trial), the Tally Tango 160, another time trial in Florida, the Fried Clay 200k (which he organized), and he’s planning to tackle the Trans-North Georgia (TNGA) this year. The dropper post and suspension fork were a strategic add-on for the TNGA.

“I feel like the dropper and suspension fork are going to help me through a lot of the rougher sections. The bike is designed to be loaded down, which will help haul all the gear I’ll need through the over 40,000 feet of climbing on the route.”

Goral will likely continue to modify and play with different set ups for his variety of rides on the Fargo as time goes on. The level of modification and thought he has put into the bike have deeply connected him with the machine. The time he has spent suffering aboard the rig has probably deepened the connection further.

“If for some reason I had to sell every bike I have, and only keep one, it would definitely be my Fargo.”

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