Full Review: 2012 Salsa Cycles Casseroll

Salsa Casseroll
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For the past couple months I have been riding the 2011 Salsa Casseroll on the road, on side streets, commuting, off the beaten path and really it has been the bike strapped to the roof of my car while traveling all over NC, SC and TN. I will be sad when I have to send this bike back as it truly is the Cadillac of road bikes (minus the drivetrain.) You can read the preview over yonder before you dive into my full review.

What is so different about the Salsa Casseroll?

Normally bike shops have these Casseroll’s grouped with their road bikes. To me, that is a huge mistake. These bikes take the road very well but the tall head tube, mount for rear rack, beautiful front rack and ability to rock fatty 700×38 with fenders this bike is more than a road bike. This bike is a go to commuter, light touring and really to do everything beside the hard single track riding.

This bike would fit in well next to your Trek Madone for when you want to be more up right, haul some panniers or maybe take the slower path next to your kids and want a more stable riding geometry.

The bike is ready for multiple riding positions

Earlier this week I witnessed the most beautiful Casseroll build to date with swept back urban bars and paul brake levers with bar end shifters. The woman riding it was glamorous looking with a rear rack and panniers. The silver bits all over really accented the paint and made me feel giddy that this person really got it. The bike had some minor swaps from the stock build (handlebar, brake levers, bar end shifters) and she totally rocked it hard core. It made me want to run home, order up some parts and duplicate the build.

The Build of the Bike

Salsa Casseroll

Tiagra STI Shifters

The bike has some Shimano bits, shifters are STI Tiagra 3×9. Brakes are Tektro. Cranks are Sugino.

For the person riding 20-30 miles maybe twice a week or the girl commuting through crappy weather these parts will be perfect. If riding in rain or anything other than dry weather I may suggest to put on mini v-brakes for better modulation and stopping power.

The build won’t break the bike, and gives you the ability to upgrade parts as you would like.

With the Pro’s there are always Cons

The bike is relatively heavy, it isn’t a super light weight steel tubing. If you are carrying it up and down steps it won’t break your back, but it will surprise you next to that Madone.

The geometry is for light touring comfortable riding. You won’t get a snappy feel out of it, especially with the Sugino triple crank and bb. It will excel and the fat tires float over rough terrain, but will feel slow next to your 700×23 tires.

I wish they had run a compact crank up front and mountain bike gearing in the back. Truth be told I hate triples and as it is a 9 speed in the back they could have kept it at the same price.

Final Thoughts

If this was my personal bike I would totally rock a Salsa Casseroll but with a custom build. Ordering a frame and fork, zip tying a little basket to the front rack, running new 10-speed 105 5700 group in silver. The external bottom bracket will stiffen up the cranks a bit. If I was looking to haul I would run 10 speed mountain gearing in the back, and keeping a compact in the front.

To me the Casseroll is for someone that understands fatter road tires, ability to run geared or single speed, racks, fenders and all that good stuff. It is for someone that has the eye for a custom bike but can’t drop the cash yet.

It’s a good bike and at $1200 you really can’t beat up on the parts for the extras you get.

This bike was provided at no-charge for review. Yes, I am a QBP rep but also have strong opinions that hopefully were shared during this review. I wasn’t bribed or threatened on this review. Amen.

10 Comments

  • Laurence says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve had my Casseroll, “Colonel Mustard” (you’ll understand the name when you see the colour of the older model), for nearly 5 years and it’s been through several iterations (single-speed, Sturmey-Archer 2-speed, moustache bars, track bars (they looked a bit silly) flat bars). Currently I run it with drop-bars and an 8-speed Alfine hub. Simple and clean.

    My only quibbles with the bike are braking power and tyre clearance (I have to run 32mm tyres to accommodate guards, and even that’s a bit tight). Both these problems have been rectified with this model thanks to the replacement of road callipers with ‘cross brakes.

    For me, it’s the perfect long distance commuter bike. It fares pretty well for touring too; Colonel Mustard has been to far-off lands such as Hungary and Austria.

    In three words; comfortable, strong and reliable.

  • Dave Collard says:

    Ola! Bikeshopgirl,
    Thanks for the info, In today’s hypercompetitive world, everything matters. When you’re talking about bicycling, every little detail matters from the frame of the bike to the pedals to the fasteners that hold the wheels on. Every ounce of weight makes a difference, and anything that can give you an advantage has to be included. This includes the helmet, the shirt and shorts and even the shoes. And having a boa lacing system on the shoes that gives a consistent, comfortable fit means you have one less thing to have to worry about. Your feet.
    Keep up the good work

  • balazs says:

    “I would run 10 speed mountain gearing in the back, and keeping a compact in the front.” Could you please elaborate on this? What components did you think about? I am about to build one.

    • Bike Shop Girl says:

      balazs – There is new 2×10 technology out that gives you a super wide range of gearing and shifts well in all range.

  • Mark says:

    We both have Casserolls, set up in the “Dutch” style. We love them.
    My wifes:
    http://www.fototime.com/7088B376AF05210/orig.jpg
    and mine:
    http://www.fototime.com/074695D4EC2B2B7/standard.jpg
    One of the things making the Casseroll a great handling bike is the low bottom bracket (75mm drop). Makes for a smooth stable ride in contrast to the usual hybrids with their high mountain-style BBs. Also gets your feet closer to the ground when stopped. Wonderful city bike. Although not lightweight, much less heft than their massive Dutch counterparts.

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  • Austin says:

    What is the rear rack pictured on the demo bike?

  • Bike Shop Girl says:

    @austin – An older Bontrager (trek) interchange rack.

  • Austin says:

    I just wanted to drop by and express my love for the Salsa Casseroll. I got my ’12 Casseroll in August of 2012 and I have loved every minute of riding it. I have ~1000 miles on it with the stock set-up. I haven’t changed anything at all other than adding lights/bottle holder. The front rack is great. I strap my bag to it with bungee cords and I’m off. It is super comfortable, I love how it feels to ride and it has a great range of gears. AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL. Good lord, I wish they still made this bike, I would get one for my wife. RIP Salsa Casseroll.

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