midwestrider
I've narrowed down my choices for a gravel and light bikepacking rig to the Salsa Vaya and the Spec. Sequoia, and hope to do some test rides this weekend.  Different shops sell each, and both seem committed to finding the right bike fit.  

Specification wise, they both meet my needs; the biggest difference is the Sequoia is a Shimano package, and the Vaya uses Sram (I admit, I'd like the hydraulic brakes on the Sequoia slightly more).  Both bikes can take a size 40 tire.

The main differences seem to be in the geometry, and this is where I'm seeking advice.  This will be my first drop bar bike.  All of my other bikes, including my current gravel bike are flat bar.  The Sequoia has a higher bottom bracket than the Vaya (I'm in the 55/56 range for both bikes).  The wheel bases are within .5 inches of each other.  

This is a bike I'll be using for 100 mile gravel events, as well as light bikepacking along forest roads and such, so I expect long days in the saddle. I really don't expect to do much single track or jeep road style riding, as I've got a mountain bike for that.  Are there things I should look for with each bike, or areas I should watch out for?  What do you look for in bike geometry (with a drop bar bike) when your going to spend long periods on the saddle?

Thanks for all the helpful advice and stories.  This site has some experienced and passionate riders!
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midwestrider
One additional clarification:  the Vaya is the GX model, steel frame with carbon fork.  The Sequoia I'm considering is the Elite version.  The specifications between them seem very similar and the price is also close.
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moe53
I'm not familiar with the Sequoia but Spec has nice products. I am familiar with the Vaya, bought one when they first came out in 2010, 7 years, still riding it, very happy, takes 42 mm tires with fenders, very versatile bike. Salsa's bread and butter is adventure, touring, gravel. So I would keep that in mind. 
Enlightenment begins where the pavement ends. [idea]
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mr_slow
Having sold Specialized in the past, I'm biased... Knowing that its the first time in years (many years) that the red S has put the Sequoia model out, it may have some issues that will be solved with the 2018 model, but from the reviews it appears most only disliked the handlebar. All of that said, Specialized offers a lifetime warranty on their frames, Salsa offers a 5-year warranty on steel, titanium, and carbon frames. Both bikes seem to be pretty evenly spec'd; I can't stand WTB saddles, and everyone of my bikes has a Specialized saddle attached, so I feel you get a better saddle, and the wheels appear to be "bomb-proof" on the Specialized. 

I was going to get one of these, but the delay, from Specialized to consumer, caused me to look else where, and I put an order on a Moots. Again, take my opinion as a biased one, but I would go with the S. Regardless of which one you go with, you're bound to have a good time!

Cheers!
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ArachnidSentinl
Just bought a Specialized Sequoia Elite on Friday and I have absolutely no regrets. Haven't gotten to ride it much yet, but it's a sexy and solid bike!
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pauley
These bikes especially the Sequoia have been on my short list as I plan to get a new bike in the spring. Either one would be great for your needs and wants. Have you considered the Jamis Renegade Exploit? See also the Raleigh Tamland. Lots of good steel "gravelers" to choose from.
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dave schlabowske

Have you considered the Fyxation Crusher Carbon Adventure bike? The price is less than the Specialized Expert and just a bit more than the Elite for full carbon. Fyxation has plans for a new carbon fork that will have water bottle mounts on the legs and through bolt at the crown too. I can't say enough good things about mine. Undressed it is my 19lb road bike. Put all the bags on it and it becomes a nimble backpacking beast of burden. I really like the graphics on it too. I did a couple reviews for ridinggravel.com. Here is the checkpoint:  http://ridinggravel.com/gravel-bikes/fyxation-crusher-checkpoint/


Crusher-05009.jpg 

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Marinerecon
Great question and good way to go about making a choice. I ride a Vaya and it is the bike that made me enjoy cycling again. We live in SW Wisconsin which is really hilly and I really enjoy this bike, both on hard packed dirt/gravel roads and the paved roads.
I don't worry about speed but rather control and for me, an old fat guy, this bike is tops.
Pretty much a stock bike but I did replace the WTB saddle with a Brooks B17 with the big springs. Love it.
If you are ever in our part of the state please stop in and take it for a ride.
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Animal494
midwestrider wrote:
I've narrowed down my choices for a gravel and light bikepacking rig to the Salsa Vaya and the Spec. Sequoia, and hope to do some test rides this weekend.  Different shops sell each, and both seem committed to finding the right bike fit.  

Specification wise, they both meet my needs; the biggest difference is the Sequoia is a Shimano package, and the Vaya uses Sram (I admit, I'd like the hydraulic brakes on the Sequoia slightly more).  Both bikes can take a size 40 tire.

The main differences seem to be in the geometry, and this is where I'm seeking advice.  This will be my first drop bar bike.  All of my other bikes, including my current gravel bike are flat bar.  The Sequoia has a higher bottom bracket than the Vaya (I'm in the 55/56 range for both bikes).  The wheel bases are within .5 inches of each other.  

This is a bike I'll be using for 100 mile gravel events, as well as light bikepacking along forest roads and such, so I expect long days in the saddle. I really don't expect to do much single track or jeep road style riding, as I've got a mountain bike for that.  Are there things I should look for with each bike, or areas I should watch out for?  What do you look for in bike geometry (with a drop bar bike) when your going to spend long periods on the saddle?

Thanks for all the helpful advice and stories.  This site has some experienced and passionate riders!


To attempt to answer your actual question... the biggest difference between these two bikes in the geometry department is the stack / reach. Vaya is tall and short. Sequoia is much less so. Which is better for you is a matter of preference. Hope that helps.
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Animal494
dave schlabowske wrote:

Have you considered the Fyxation Crusher Carbon Adventure bike? The price is less than the Specialized Expert and just a bit more than the Elite for full carbon. Fyxation has plans for a new carbon fork that will have water bottle mounts on the legs and through bolt at the crown too. I can't say enough good things about mine. Undressed it is my 19lb road bike. Put all the bags on it and it becomes a nimble backpacking beast of burden. I really like the graphics on it too. I did a couple reviews for ridinggravel.com. Here is the checkpoint:  http://ridinggravel.com/gravel-bikes/fyxation-crusher-checkpoint/


Crusher-05009.jpg 



I see fyxation has their new carbon fork with cage/rack mounts for sale on their website (about half the cost of the niner rdo gravel fork though it's a straight alloy steerer). Do you know if they intend to deliver the crusher with this fork?

http://www.fyxation.com/products/carbon-fiber-adventure-fork

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dave schlabowske
No, that fork is only for their Quiver Disc. They are working on a new full carbon fork for the Crusher, but it is not done yet. The other difference between their upcoming fork and the RDO is theirs will be 12mm, not 15. 
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Animal494
dave schlabowske wrote:
No, that fork is only for their Quiver Disc. They are working on a new full carbon fork for the Crusher, but it is not done yet. The other difference between their upcoming fork and the RDO is theirs will be 12mm, not 15. 


Good stuff! Looking forward to it!
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Taco truck
Kind of the same boat I was in when I made my choice, I decided to go for the Vaya and a great bike it is. It fits well after a few adjustments and now I really love riding it on any surface. Difference out of the shop I had them put the woodchipper bars like the Fargo and man what a big difference makes riding long hauls more comfortable also I went to a brooks saddle, put a slight rise on my stack and now I feel the difference the mech brakes are top notch and you have plenty of stopping power even with gear!,

Hope you dig it as much as I have!!!

Cheers!
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midwestrider
Thanks for all the helpful feedback.  After lots of research and more than a few test rides, I'm moving forward with the Vaya GX.

The Sequoia is an excellent build and a great bike.  I ultimately just really liked the way the Vaya rode, and the parts spec makes sense for the type of riding I'll do.  It has no bad habits, and riding it felt very intuitive. I think this bike will be with me for many years to come.

I have BB7's on two other mountain bikes, but thought I would not like the road version a road style bike.  However they were very responsive and easy to use, quickly becoming a non-issue.  BB7's are pretty much bullet proof and idiot proof, so that appeals to me for bikepacking and long rides far away from it all...

The SRAM shifting always seems more pronounced than similar Shimano drivetrains, but in truth I've never really had difficulties with either set up, and I don't expect this bike to be much different.

I really liked the feel of the steel frame and carbon fork.  I'm looking forward to getting it out on some rough stuff now to see how it feels after many hours.  My only concern is how the gearing will do with a loaded bike up big hills.  I'll be doing a trip in Montana this summer, so I should know by then if I need a set of smaller rings for the front or not.  Last year I did the section of the TDR between Whitefish and the Crowsnest Pass area on my 29" mountain bike with much smaller gearing on front.  I ended up walking parts of the higher passes, not so much because of a lack of power, but a lack of energy and will, and I can't blame that on the bike.  

Wishing you all the best for your upcoming summer gravel adventures.  The first big one that I'm planning for this bike is the Almanzo 100, and I'm hoping the warming trend for the upper midwest continues!   
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CADBiker
I got a titanium Vaya last year and it is my favorite bike out of 5 road/gravel bikes (Lynskey ti Helix and ti Sportive, ti Fargo and carbon Cutthroat)  I would keep this bike over the other 4 if for some reason I could only own one. This bike is crazy comfortable, will do gravel, tour, road and commute. A good saddle is a must for this bike. I have a Brooks B17. Just use different tires to accommodate conditions. I have never rode the Sequoia so I cant speak for it. I am a Salsa fan and I feel that Salsa has done a great job in addressing the "adventure" biking culture better than the other brands
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midwestrider
Thanks CADBiker, that's great to know, because for some reason the Vaya seems to be a bit of a sleeper bike this year.  There are absolutely none for sale on the used market, either.  I was really in love with the Cutthroat, and its a great bike.  Ultimately I decided that most of what I would do with it (or a Fargo) was doable with my 29" MTB, but both of those are great rigs that I'd love to have.  Just trying to keep the stable small...

I'm really looking forward to having a bike that I can use for both road and gravel, and this bike fits the bill really well.  I don't enjoy pavement riding very much, and I look at it as just what has to be done to get to the next section of trail, but on long bikepacking trips it seems like there are inevitable long stretches of asphalt.

I do wonder why Salsa stopped making the Ti version of the Vaya;  perhaps they just couldn't sell enough to make it worthwhile.
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ljsmith
midwestrider wrote:


I do wonder why Salsa stopped making the Ti version of the Vaya;  perhaps they just couldn't sell enough to make it worthwhile.


Probably because titanium is harder to work with, so it is expensive to manufacture.  Carbon is getting really cheap to make (look at all those Chinese frames on ebay for $300), and you can charge a premium for carbon because a lot of people think carbon is always better than other materials.  Carbon=PROFIT
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midwestrider
Thanks to our warmer than normal February weather, I got the new Vaya out for its first long ride today, and I'm really pleased with this bike.

This is the first drop bar bike I've ridden since I was a teen, and I was nervous about how it would fit and how I'd do.  I made really fast friends with the bike, and I stopped thinking about it at all after the first mile or two.  I loved all the different hand positions, and how easy it is to get to the brakes and shift levers from just about anywhere on the bars.  I thought that would be limiting, and that I'd need to worry about keeping my speed in check.  Its not really even a thing....  

Most of the ride was on really dirty pavement, with a little bit of really slushy gravel for a few miles.  However, the high position of the bars really inspires confidence, and I wasn't worried about a lack of control. Everything is very predictable and the bike is well behaved.  The only problem occurred back in the garage; my fat bike is really jealous and won't talk to me now...

All and all it was a really comfortable and fast two hours, and I can't wait to get it out again.  Hoping for more warm weather in the near future; and an early spring would just be the best this year!
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1eanda
I just got my Salsa Vaya GX. I really like it so far, waiting for my Salsa Down Under Front rack to arrive Sv6.jpg 
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RoverAl
Sequoia, Tamland, Vaya are on my short list for a new bike in the future.
Your Vaya looks nicer than the stock photos do. Surprised they have a 50-34 crankset though.  Waiting to see what the 2018 Tamlands look like , hopefully have fork mounts.
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NoCoGreg
A couple numbers for any weight weenies out there...

Salsa Warbird Carbon claimed frame weight is 1210 grams (2.7 lbs or 2 lbs 10.6 oz)

Wilier's Cento10 Air, one of their high end "aero" road bikes has a claimed frame weight of 990 grams.  

That's a difference of just under one half pound (7.7 oz to be more precise).  It's also about the same weight as one cup of water, or a third of the typical water bottle.

Put another way, the latest generation of carbon gravel bikes, if setup with some light wheels and reasonably light components, is not going to be much slower than a typical race bike.   Just a thot...  [wink]
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midwestrider
I've put a couple hundred miles on the Vaya so far, mostly gravel.  The bike does everything I was hoping for and I'm very happy with it.  Its so great to get out on the backroads and just grind away.  I've seen interesting places and ridden through areas I never would have been if not by bike.  

Here is a photo from last weekend's ride.  Still waiting for spring, but its getting closer!

Burning.jpg 
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Bullrun
2 years later I love my '15 Salsa Vaya Ti more than ever....I have ridden it with 41mm tires, with 25mm tires. On dirt roads, gravel, hwy 1 in Cali. Bitterroot valley Montana, St George Utah to Zion..Sedona Az to South rim Grand Canyon....everywhere and more.....All stock except Brooks saddle, several Revelate Bags, and Jwire cables....I absolutely love this bike! Would like to upgrade to custom wheelset with Chris King or White industries hubs...I really like HED rims...
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