2014 Salsa Warbird gravel road bike review

There’s simply no denying that Salsa’s got some damn fine looking bikes in their 2014 range. The kind of bikes that make you wanna get out and ride just by looking at them.

The Warbird gravel racer is just such a bike. Compared to a cyclocross bike, their dedicated gravel grinder gets a bit lower bottom bracket and a road bike fork, so you’re more “in” the bike for long distance riding comfort, as opposed to “over” it. In fact, it has the same 70mm BB drop as their Colossal road bikes, but with about a 2º slacker head angle and half degree slacker seat tube angle. That gives it a bit more stable ride over loose gravel and dirt roads without feeling slow. In fact, the stiff alloy frame makes it feel very fast…

2014 Salsa Warbird gravel road bike review

Sure, the titanium Warbird probably offers a bit smoother ride than the alloy bike, but it wasn’t as harsh as expected. The seatstays are flattened and aren’t reinforced to handle braking loads,  which seems to help over small chatter and rubble. It’s spec’d with a 27.2mm seatpost, too, which boosts its compliance a bit further. Clearance for up to 700×38 tires is the last volley in the war against rough roads (it’s spec’d with 700×35 Clement USH treads).

2014 Salsa Warbird gravel road bike review

Speeding down loose, rock strewn roads is one heck of a test for a road bike. The Warbird handled predictably if just slightly harshly, but what else would you expect from a race-oriented aluminum frame? It launched quickly, rewarding hard pedaling with snappy acceleration. I could hunker down and power along the road just as easily as on a normal road bike, but I think I’d put some carbon cockpits parts, including a flex seatpost, and fatter bar tape to dampen vibrations a bit if I were going to make it my own. It would still have to be red bar tape though – the complete look here with paint matched fork really makes it the best looking Warbird in the lineup and a definite improvement over the unpainted forks from 2012.

For 2014, two alloy complete bikes are offered, this one with an ENVE CX disc fork, and the new Warbird 3 with a Whisky carbon disc fork. There’s also a titanium Warbird, which likely smooths the ride a bit.

This is intended as a gravel race bike, not a leisurely dirt road adventure bike. They have other bikes for that.



  1. halfwheel on

    Could be just me, but not sure why mfrs don’t mount rear disc calipers inside the seat/chainstay frame instead of outside? This would allow for fender and rack mounts, which I’m also puzzled why they wouldn’t include them anyway. Sure, its a race bike, but how hard is it to include mounts? Just do it for the customer.

    OK, finished ranting. That is one sexy bike.

  2. patrik on

    Any word on when they’ll release a wet asphalt racer for sub-63-degrees-Fahrenheit conditions in which the humidity is less than 43% and the barometer is falling (not rising, as they have another model that covers that)?

  3. gringo on


    the tricky hex key excuse has not been valid since the ’60’s when Bondhus came out with the ball-end.

    many, many companies can make calipers fit inside just fine. This seems like a bike that would benefit from such placement.

  4. halfwheel on

    @ Ham, that’s not true, I’ve owned a trek portland since 06 without any hex issues, or heel issues. Calipers clears panniers as well.

    If anything else, mounting calipers inside frame protects it from everyday bumps and scrapes compared to my mtn bike w outboard mounted calipers.

    Gringo is correct, plenty of precedence for mounting calipers inside frame.

  5. Velociraptor on

    > Sure, the titanium Warbird probably offers a bit smoother ride than the alloy bike

    The above sentence in the original article makes no sense. All bike frames constructed from metal are constructed from metal alloys. Titanium bikes are constructed from titanium alloy.

  6. Pedals on


    They’ll never release that bike – global warming trends are going to make that market even more niche than it already is.

  7. nick on

    I guess I must be doing it wrong because I’ve been able to enjoy riding my Ti Warbird in the Northwest this year despite the conspicuous lack of fender eyelets. I’m also confused by my ability to mount bags on my saddle and bars and go on overnighters with the bike despite its lack of fender eyelets. Someone please tell me what I’m doing wrong by enjoying the bicycle for the 98% of stuff Salsa did correctly.

  8. Cat4 world champion on

    He said it is a gravel “race” bike. Race bikes do not have fenders or racks. No one should not buy this bike ever unless they are signed up for the Almanzo 100, Trans-Iowa or Crusher in Tushar. You may get an get an exception to race this bike in Iron-Cross or other ultra-cross races because of their distance. By no means can you use this bike for racing cross, commuting or general riding. This bike is for racing on gravel. If you want to do other things you must buy a separate bike for those tasks.

  9. Chris on

    The aluminum stiffness thing is a myth. Aluminum is NOT stiffer than steel or titanium – that’s a fact. Be nice if writers and bike shop employees understood this concept. What makes so many aluminum frames stiff isn’t the material but the diameter of the tube. Make a steel or titanium tube the same diameter as the down tube on a Cannondale and you’d have an extremely harsh riding bike. If you still think aluminum is stiffer than steel explain why track sprinters use steel bars/stems instead of aluminum bars/stems. Also go ride a Vitus or Alan frame from the 80s. Those bikes were rolling barcaloungers and there’s a reason the Alan aluminum frame racked up more major ‘cross victories than any frame before or since.

  10. Pedals on

    “I thought all road bikes were gravel road bikes? I’ve been riding my bikes on gravel and more accurately—unpaved dirt roads and trails—for decades.” – Tom Ritchey

  11. Robert on

    @Cat4 world champion – No, don’t buy this bike for Trans-Iowa. Salsa did many things right with this machine, but maximum clearance for only a 38mm tire just doesn’t cut it on Iowa chunk. This machine should have been designed with clearance for the Clement MSO 40mm tire as an absolute minimum. Other frames are available that do this, so Salsa has no good reason for this limitation.

  12. Matt on

    The reason for the limitation is the ENVE fork, the rear has more clearance if you want something a bit squishier for your weight to ride on.

    You could actually get more clearance by going to the Warbird 3 with the Whiskey fork, but then you’d be riding a Whiskey rather than an ENVE fork. Then again, if you need 40mm tires and the ENVE only takes 38mm tires, then I guess if you had the Warbird 3 instead of the Warbird 2, then people would envy your tire clearance.

  13. maddogeco on

    I have a gravel road bike as a commuter. I don’t i have ever heard of a gravel road race in Australia. I’d love to have a crack at one. Anybody know of one? Like all gravel road bikes it just looks fun.

  14. queridiculo on

    The ENVE fork takes more than 40mm tires, it’s the rear chain stay that doesn’t leave much room beyond 40mm.

    Would have been nice if bikerumor took a minute to let us know what the difference over the 2013 model is other than red bar tape and a painted fork..

    Hydraulic discs, component choice etc.

  15. Mehukatti on

    I have a 2013 Warbird and it’s a great bike! Good geometry, very comfortable ride, but still good power transfer with the alu frame. I think the price of the frameset was very good, considering it came with Enve cx fork. By the way, that fork is great, feels very stable and zero brake chatter unlike with my previous Cannondale CX9 with Easton EC90X fork (although that was with rim brakes). Front brake was almost unusable in that bike. Built the ‘Bird with light hubs, ZTR Iron Cross rims, FSA K-force Light carbon cranks, Avid BB7, Ultegra 6700, etc. With the final weight being 8.8kg (19.4lbs).

    Props for Salsa for going with disc brakes on all bikes! Rims brakes are thing from the past.

  16. thatguy on

    maddogeco, the Almanzo formula is:
    1) find gravel/dirt/unpaved roads
    2) map a course
    3) tell your friends you’re having a race
    4) repeat annually

  17. Ajax on

    Hey, what happened to the headtube here? On the 2013 Warbird Aluminum, there used to be an integrated headtube. On the 2014 Warbird Aluminum, it looks like they are using a lower external headset cup on the bottom of the headtube instead of an integrated head tube. Well, at least it looks that way from the picture.

    IMO, the older 2013 integrated headtube looks better.

  18. duder on

    Gravel road bike racing is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.

    It’s the worst of part of MTB riding (gravel) + the worst part of road riding (no singletrack).

    Why would you even want to do this?

  19. Will on

    I’m so sick of hearing these “in the bike” vs. “on the bike” comparisons. WTF does that mean? I know what they’re getting at, but being 6’5″, I ride gigantic bikes, so I’m always “on the bike”. It just seems like a useless comparison to make.
    On topic, Salsa is indeed making killer bikes these days. My old Ala Carte still holds its own too.

  20. bobetzler on

    I wish someone would have told me not to ride my Merckx Corsa Extra on gravel roads. 🙂 [IMG]http://i39.tinypic.com/141nx29.jpg[/IMG]

  21. Fra on

    I can confirm that the 2013 Warbird can handle up to a 46 tire in the fork (I tested a Stans Notube The Crow 29 x 2.0 that has a hair all around) and a little less in the back.


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