I am sitting here on a windy, wet, cold, nasty day here in the northeast and thinking of better days, salt free roads, and the coming season. Each fall I find a yard sale 10 speed, fix it up a bit, add fenders and sacrifice it to the salty roads just to keep on riding.
Now, as I look at the herd hanging on the wall, I am thinking that I really need to reduce the number as there are just too many that are similiar. hanging side by side are a Surly Straggler, a Salsa Vaya, and a CrossCheck. I know, I know, but I don't think I am the only boarderline bike hoarder...
The Vaya came to me when I helped out a buddy that needed a bail out, The crossCheck was too good a deal to pass up and the Straggler was bought as a frameset and built up.
I live in an area where there are miles and miles of beautiful secondary roads, state park carrage roads, lots of hills and mountian rides.
I tend to choose the Straggler for long mixed terrain rides, I built it with a triple crank as I am 57 years old and I appreciate a granny when coming into a 12%, climb somewhere around mile 45 of a 60 mile loop. The straggler by the scale is heavy compared to the Vaya. The Straggler, to me feels more responsive and the straggler appears to go faster by the gps compared to the Vaya. The straggler is a long long toptube ride compared to the Vaya. I am 5'10" and both bikes are size 54. The Vaya is a much more upright ride, reminds me of a nice Highbred. I do think that the 2 bikes were built with slightly different uses in mind.

So I guess I wanted to note that even though the straggler and the Vaya are both reported to be 54cm frames, there is a big difference in fit. the Vaya is more upright, while the straggler is more streched out. What I am trying to wrap my head around is why do I feel like the Vaya is so dull feeling to me, by tube set and weight, it should outshine the straggler. I think sometimes it is more perception than actual data that drives our decisions. Any thoughts? maybe it is that the Vaya might be just a little small? Maybe a 55 or 56 Vaya is a better match to a 54 straggler.
I do want to pass on one of the bikes, make room in the rack for something else...
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Hey Finnyct90, I love these conversations!

  1. Without realizing it, you have answered one of your own questions. YES the Straggler is faster. The Vaya is more upright=less aero. The longer top tube on the straggler provides less wind resistance because you are stretched out=more aero.
  2. As for the "feel" of the Straggler over the Vaya: Chainstay length and bottom bracket height have a great deal to do with the feel of any bike. A shorter chainstay gives a bike a snappier feel. Same with a taller bottom bracket. Whereas, longer chain stays and lower bottom bracket give a more stable ride. You Dig? Basically the Straggler is a mix of a Touring (slow and steady) frame and a Cross (nimble and snappy) frame which gain some of the best attributes from each. The Straggler, stable but snappy. We could nerd out on frame geometries for pages.... I believe this to be the most pertinent information to answer your question.
I hope this helps!
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Thanks for the reply,
I am not sure if the more aero position can be that much of a factor, I use both of these bikes for rides where an average speed of 13 to 14 mph is a pretty good clip for an older rider. Maybe the riding position has an influence on how much power you can transfer to the rear wheel though?
The Vaya is a great bike and I could see how it would really come into its own if you were heading out for a light tour. It feels like you could carry a minimal camping load and the bike would carry you on down the road or trail without any fuss. It is very easy on the back, well balanced and nice, all good qualities, nothing bad, just maybe a little bland? Then, I guess, if you are riding on a long tour over secondary roads it would be a good quality to have, the bike will take care of its self, leaving you to daydream, take photos and enjoy the trip.

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These two bikes are an extreme example of why it is necessary to look beyond the nominal frame size to more specifics of the geometry charts to get an idea how a bike will fit. The Surly Straggler has a very long top tube and a very short head tube resulting in a low stack and very long reach compared to most frames. The Vaya is the opposite with a short top tube and tall head tube giving it a high stack and short reach. It is no wonder the two 54cm frames feel so different.
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I gave up on relying on published frame sizes a long time ago.  The traditional center-to center (c-t-c), center of bottom bracket to center of top tube measured along the seat post, measurement for frame sizing for horizontal top tube bikes is long past.  That is, some measure seat tubes by c-t-c, center-to-top of top tube and center-to-top of seat tube.  Throw in sloping top tubes and it gets worse.  And then there is the whole S, M, L sizing concept.  I pretty much rely on effective top tube length when sizing bikes for me.  Stack and Reach is probably even better for the reasons BluesDawg mentioned but EFF get you close.

So, I guess I'm thinking, that in reality you have 2 very different sized bikes even though they're both listed as 54s.  And one of them, the Straggler, fits you much better and likely more efficient.

Finally, the geometry figures effect performance too.  That is, the head tube angle & fork rake which determine trail have a large impact on responsiveness and feel.
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Yes, 2 different bikes but, they both are great bikes. That is my problem (it's just terrible [smile] ), I like them both and I do think they both fit, just fit different, and that might be as intended by the designers. Like a ball peen hammer and a claw hammer, both good tools, just for slightly different jobs.

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