At first glance, the Woodsmoke from Salsa is a lot to take in. It doesn't look normal. And it's got three wheel sizes and three geometry charts. It's the kind of bike that makes one pause, sit down and think.

Salsa Woodsmoke is shown here in 29+ shoes.

Salsa Woodsmoke is shown here in 29+ shoes.​

What is it?

The Salsa Woodsmoke is a bike that can take three different wheel sizes: 29+, 27.5+, or 29er wheels. Each of these different wheel sizes delivers distinct riding characteristics:
  • 29+ creates rollover, traction and momentum.
  • 27.5+ delivers quick, punchy grip and increased line choice.
  • 29er boosts traditional cross-country and climbing speed.
Rear end on 27.5+ has room for a front derailleur.

Rear end on 27.5+ has room for a front derailleur.​

The hard part of this trio is the 29+ wheel due to the huge diameter of the 3.0" tire tucked inside the frame. As the Trek Stache 9 proved, a bike with a 29+ tire can be made agile with an elevated chainstay to get that rear end short enough. But in typical Salsa fashion, they didn't hide that design feature at all. They embraced it and accentuated it with paint. So, you'll either love this aesthetic or not. Either way, it'll make you look.

But unlike its counterpart which had to give up a front derailleur in the the interest of space, big tire and short chainstays, the Woodsmoke can host a front derailleur. With some nifty engineering and some precision machining, the Woodsmoke has a front derailleur mount behind the seatstay! But not on the 29+ version though, as there's only room in the 29 and 27+ builds.

Salsa Woodsmoke elevated chainstay clears the interference between the big ring, stays and tires near the bottom bracket area.

Salsa Woodsmoke elevated chainstay clears the interference between the big ring, stays and tires near the bottom bracket area.​

The Woodsmoke is available in five builds:
  • Woodsmoke 29+ XO1 - U.S. MSRP $3999.00
  • Woodsmoke 29+ GX1 - U.S. MSRP $2999.00
  • Woodsmoke 27.5+ XO1 - U.S. MSRP $3999.00
  • Woodsmoke 27.5+ GX1 - U.S. MSRP $2999.00
  • Woodsmoke 29 NX1 - U.S. MSRP $1999.00
Availability is December 2016.

Continue to page 2 for 5 different color options and geometry charts »

Five different colors

Salsa must have high hopes for this bike as it is going to be available in five different colors for three different geometry configurations. From the sublime to the wild, this bike is going to turn some heads.

Woodsmoke 29 NX1 in Matte Black.

Woodsmoke 29 NX1 in Matte Black.​

Woodsmoke 29+ GX1 in Khaki.

Woodsmoke 29+ GX1 in Khaki.​

Woodsmoke 29+ XO1 in Warm Red.

Woodsmoke 29+ XO1 in Warm Red.​

Woodsmoke 27.5+ GX1 in White.

Woodsmoke 27.5+ GX1 in White.​

Woodsmoke 27.5+ XO1 in Green.

Woodsmoke 27.5+ XO1 in Green.​

Continue to page 3 for ride impressions and geometry charts »

How does it ride?

We've had a lot of experience with the Trek Stache 9 and the Niner Ros 9+ which both have 29+ wheels so we sought out this configuration for a test ride in Northstar Bike Park near Lake Tahoe, CA. After all, this is the configuration the shows the most promise but is very difficult to execute because of the large tire diameter and subsequent sluggish handling tendency.

The important geometry stat to look for is chainstay length since this is the key that unlocks the handling puzzle. The Trek Stache 9 is at 420mm, the Niner Ros 9+ at 445mm and the Woodsmoke measures in at 417mm. Considering that the Trek chainstay is a feat of engineering with a carved out BB shell to achieve 420mm, this Salsa ultra short chainstay is truly a marvel.

The fork on the Salsa is great too with a RockShox instead of a Manitou. The bike park trails were not ideal for the Woodsmoke by any means, but it performed flawlessly on the first day. Handling was quick and manageable. Steering with the 67.8 head angle was confidence-inspiring. With the 29 x 3.0 rollover ability and the slack head angle, rocks and rough terrain were confidently tackled by this hardtail.

Climbing traction was awesome too, as the rider seems to sit right over that rear tire. Dialing in the tire pressure at 14 psi rear and 12 psi front for our 150 lb. weight seemed to establish a happy medium. This was one capable and comfortable hardtail that allowed us to go fast in the difficult terrain. We cased a couple jumps though and the tire bounce on the rear was noticeable. Put a dropper post on this bike and that would expand the sweet spot of this rig.

Overall, we couldn't have asked for a better shakedown ride.

Salsa Woodsmoke Geometry for 29+.

Salsa Woodsmoke Geometry for 29+.​

Five different geometry charts

The curse of three different wheel sizes is different geometries and this usually results in compromises in one or more of the configurations. But Salsa did their homework and with different forks and and different rear wheel positions (enabled by their unique dropout), Salsa is proud to publish and tout all three geometries which are markedly similar in angles and BB heights.

Salsa Woodsmoke Geometry for 27.5+.

Salsa Woodsmoke Geometry for 27.5+.​

Salsa Woodsmoke Geometry for 29er.

Salsa Woodsmoke Geometry for 29er.​