Gravel bikes / test: The Salsa Warbird Carbon is a versatile gravel bike that is also well equipped for big, multi-day adventures. Our test bike was also peppered with some new components from e*thirteen.
Salsa Warbird Carbon: The Facts
Frame material: Carbon
Wheel size(s): 700c (650b compatible)
Maximum tire clearance: 45mm (700c) / 50mm (650b)
Axle dimensions (v/h): 12 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: Ja
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): Yes / Yes (additional clamp required)
bottle holder: Down tube up (2x), down tube down, seat tube
Other: Eyelets on top tube, cable routing for hub dynamo
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.601g / 1.720g / 3.321g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size 54.5): 8,51kg
Price: approx. 3.799 euros (series: 2.599 euros)
Versatile frame shows great Gravel know-how
US manufacturer Salsa can undoubtedly be described as a "Gravel veteran". They already had such bikes in their portfolio when the category of gravel racers was only known to a few in this country. A result of this long gravel tradition is the Salsa Warbird, which the guys and gals behind Salsa call their gravel race bike. In the USA in particular, there are already some exciting race formats for gravel fans and athletes, such as the Dirty Kanza or the Trans Iowa. The Warbird was designed precisely for these challenges: high demands on comfort, reliability and suitability for touring. However, the chic carbon bike was able to show in the test that this mixture not only works in the races mentioned, but also in “normal” gravel everyday life.
The Warbird's carbon frame makes a positive impression right from the start with its diverse mounting options for bags and really all imaginable accessories. Up to three bottle cages can be mounted in the frame triangle, a fourth would fit under the down tube. Front and rear luggage racks are just as possible as mudguards or a bag on the top tube. Even a cable duct for a hub dynamo on the fork has been thought of. If you also regularly ride in more demanding terrain, you can also retrofit a dropper post with internal cable routing. Here you really have to say: Everything done right salsa!
The Warbird is no less versatile when it comes to wheel sizes and tire clearance. It is available ex works with both classic 28″ wheels and 650b tires. In terms of tire clearance, there is no reason for criticism in either case: Even with the large wheels, large-volume 45mm tires fit through the fork and rear end. If you opt for the smaller wheels, you can even fit real mountain bike tires with a width of up to 2,1″. If you want to mount mudguards, you have to step a little shorter – or: narrower. 38mm or 47mm is the end here.
All in all, the frame of the Warbird is quite a gem and stands out from the crowd in terms of shape and lines. The steeply sloping top tube offers a high degree of variability in terms of geometry and size selection, but will probably take some getting used to optically for drop bar purists. In any case, the designers of the Warbird obviously took their inspiration from mountain bikes when it came to the geometry: not only does the fairly slack steering angle indicate this, but the relatively long reach also speaks for it and should encourage the rider to get out of the saddle sometimes, to get more control. The chainstays are also a bit longer than the average – overall, the Warbird is designed to run more smoothly and is therefore well-armed for long days in the saddle.
Geometry Salsa Warbird Carbon
|seat tube (in mm)
|Top tube horizontal (in mm)
|head tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Wheelbase (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
|Stacks (in mm)
Successful equipment with a small flaw
First of all: Our test bike only partly corresponded to the standard equipment of the Salsa Warbird Apex. The bikes are sold in this country via Cosmic Sports, who also have component manufacturers e*thirteen in their portfolio, who are contributing their new XCXr gravel cranks and the 9-39 cassette for our test example. The latter in particular is a real highlight and we certainly ask ourselves why more manufacturers don't use this model - but more on that in a moment.
|Salsa Warbird Carbon
|Salsa Waxwing Carbon
|WTB ST i23 TCS
|Maxxis Rambler 40mm
|Ram Apex 1
|Ram Apex 1
|e*thirteen XCXr Gravel 38t
|WTB Volt Sport
Apart from the mentioned cassette and crank, the drive consists entirely of Srams Apex 1 components. This is definitely a successful choice, because even if it is the entry-level group of the US manufacturer, it does not have to hide from more expensive counterparts in terms of performance or ergonomics. However, things are getting exciting on our bike mainly because of the two e*thirteen components. The carbon crank, which not only looks good, is extremely light at 398g including the 38 chainring and saves almost 300g (!) compared to the regular Apex crank, for example. The cassette from e*thirteen also saves weight (approx. 200g compared to Apex), but the larger bandwidth is particularly worth mentioning here. With 9-39, the e*thirteen XCX has an unusual gradation, but it brings a whopping 433% bandwidth. If that's not enough, you can also install the 9-42 variant and get a slightly easier gear.
The drive thus strikes a successful balance between solid, durable and not too expensive components on the one hand and light, noble parts on the other hand, which bring a clear weight and performance advantage. Unfortunately, the brakes can't quite keep up: The TRP Spyre-C is one of the better mechanical disc brakes, but it doesn't play in the league of hydraulic stoppers in terms of controllability or braking performance. The advantage of the mechanical solution, however, is that it is easy to maintain and less prone to errors - anyone who wants to spend several days away from civilization with the Warbird could appreciate this.
The wheels from WTB make a good impression, which despite their rather wide, tubeless-capable rims and the rather wide Maxxis tires are pleasantly light overall. Thanks to the 23mm internal width, the Warbird's generous tire clearance can also be used here without any problems.
While the seating area as a whole falls under the category "solid and unfussy", the cockpit is definitely a highlight on the Warbird. This is mainly due to the cowbell handlebars, which we believe are among the best in this area with their dimensions and great ergonomics.
More tests, products and background information about the Velomotion Gravel Month:
- Storck Grix Platinum Ultegra Di2 gravel bike in test: Race tourer for gravel and off-road
- GT Grade Carbon Pro in the gravel bike test: Comfortable triangle for lots of driving fun?!
- Orbea Terra M30-D in the gravel bike test: Lively bike for training and gravel tours
- NS Bikes Rag+ 2 in the gravel bike test: Convincing aluminum all-rounder
- Rondo Ruut CF 2 in the gravel bike test: Fast gravel bike with a striking look
Let's Gravel: The Salsa Warbird Carbon
With its attractive appearance and the high-quality processed carbon frame, the Salsa Warbird Carbon is a real eye-catcher at first glance. Of course, Salsa can refer to a lot of experience in Gravel and is therefore technically convincing.
The Salsa Warbird has a geometry strongly inspired by mountain bikes, which is particularly evident in the looped top tube. This ensures a balanced geometry and allows the Salsa Gravelbike to be set more sporty or more comfortably according to individual preferences. In principle, however, you will not be able to turn the Salsa into a race bike due to the seating position, but at most you will get a sporty tourer, which should be more suitable for the Warbird's area of application.
But the Salsa Warbird is also very balanced in terms of performance. Because of the rear construction in connection with the seat post, the bike gets a solid ride comfort and knows how to skilfully master harder sections. However, the Salsa Warbird Carbon relies on calmness and control across the board. For example, the long reach and the flat steering angle give you a safe riding experience, which invites you to get up, especially on descents and technical passages, to be able to handle the bike better.
But the slightly longer chainstays also ensure smoother running and convey a safe driving experience. In addition, in conjunction with the high-quality carbon frame, which offers good power transmission, they ensure attractive propulsion. This combination gives us a lot of pleasure, especially on longer distances, because we can not only get to our destination safely and smoothly, but also quickly and do the right stretch.
Due to the smooth running, however, we have to make a few compromises in terms of liveliness. This is still very solid and more than sufficient for a tourer, but there is room for improvement here. Of course, this is probably due to the overall construction with longer struts, for example, which simply soften the Salsa Warbird a little and make it not quite as direct.
The successful accessory compatibility and the off-road-suitable equipment round off what we consider an appealing gravel tourer.
Other gravel bike highlights in the test:
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Test: With the Storck Grix, the premium German manufacturer is now also getting involved in the gravel market - and how! With its sporty orientation, the option of 650b tyres, a light overall package and lots of mounting options, the Storck Gravelbike is a versatile fun machine. Storck Grix Pro CX Extreme: The facts Frame material: Carbon Wheel size(s): 650b (700c can also be used) Maximum [...]
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